Inside some strength of schedule numbers

TCU coach Gary Patterson had an interesting line today on the Mountain West football coaches conference call. We all know the issue of style points is a big one in college football.

But what about this spin on style points?

"Do you have to score 59 or can you hold teams to zero and 3?"Patterson asked. "What exactly is winning and how you go about it?"

TCU has given up one field goal in its last three games. Boise State has two shutouts this season and now leads the nation in total defense, with the Horned Frogs right behind at No. 2. No question Boise State could have won its last several games more impressively, but the starters barely saw time in the second half against New Mexico State, Toledo and San Jose State.

But when we think about style points, the natural inclination is to think about offense. Oregon embodies that. The Ducks have climbed from No. 11 in the preseason poll to No. 1 in the human polls for having a prolific offense. But take a deeper look at the schedules of Oregon, Boise State and TCU.

The Ducks have played FBS teams that are a combined 11-20. Boise State has played FBS teams that are a combined 16-24. TCU has played FBS teams that are a combined 18-23.

Look at the road ahead: Oregon has teams that are a combined 22-15 left on its schedule. Boise State: 23-16. TCU: 16-16.

As much as folks want to knock the non-AQ schools for a poor strength of schedule, it appears the combined records for the opponents of all three teams are in the same neighborhood.

Oklahoma is No. 1 in the BCS standings based on its superior computer average, and that has to do with its strength of schedule. As ESPN BCS guru Brad Edwards told me today in an e-mail, "My gut is that it will be really hard for Boise to finish in the BCS top two without being ranked No. 1 in at least one of the polls ... and it will take a lot of help for that to happen."

Oregon is ranked No. 1 in those human polls, but as you have just seen, its schedule is no more impressive than the one Boise State or TCU plays.