Well, folks, it’s that time of year again. School has started back up, it’s ridiculously hot in Los Angeles and ESPN continues to obsess about the Southeast Conference. Here at the Daily Trojan, we thought we would add a little spice to your life by bringing you some college football pick’em predictions.
How did we make these predictions? Well, we flipped a coin.
OK, not really. Because football games generally only have two outcomes — win or lose — we created a logistical regression model using historical data for each team including passing offense and defense, rush offense and defense, turnover margin and ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index rankings. The output of this regression was then used to predict the outcomes of each of the games for Week 1.
Yes, there is a significant amount of change in the average team’s roster from year to year; thus, last season’s stats are not an ideal predictor for the performance of this year’s team. However, until Week 1 is over and we can incorporate that data into our model, our model is primarily dependent upon each team’s performance last year. To account for this, we included ESPN’s preseason FPI rankings in our model, which is a measure of team strength and meant to be a predictor of a team’s performance throughout the season. For our model, FPI rankings act as an aggregate of pre-season rankings for each of the teams.
As the season progresses we plan to incorporate game stats from each week and weight that data more heavily than the team’s 2014 stats so that our predictions are based more on the statistics and results of this season’s games.
With those caveats out of the way, here’s a look at all of the matchups this week between Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
|Day||Time||Home Team||Away Team||Home Team Odds||Away Team Odds|
|Sat||4:00 PM||Texas A&M||Arizona State||41.26%||58.74%|
|Sat||8:00 PM||Southern California||Arkansas State||94.97%||5.03%|
|Fri||4:00 PM||Southern Methodist||Baylor||0.08%||99.92%|
|Sat||1:00 PM||Tennessee||Bowling Green State||90.00%||10.00%|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Nebraska||Brigham Young||61.82%||38.18%|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Tulsa||Florida Atlantic||62.29%||37.71%|
|Thu||3:00 PM||Central Florida||Florida International||78.90%||21.10%|
|Sat||4:30 PM||West Virginia||Georgia Southern||56.80%||43.20%|
|Fri||6:00 PM||Illinois||Kent State||81.87%||18.13%|
|Fri||4:00 PM||Western Michigan||Michigan State||9.12%||90.88%|
|Sat||7:00 PM||Southern Mississippi||Mississippi State||3.29%||96.71%|
|Sat||4:30 PM||Northern Illinois||Nevada-Las Vegas||99.06%||0.94%|
|Sat||4:30 PM||Florida||New Mexico State||99.13%||0.87%|
|Mon||5:00 PM||Virginia Tech||Ohio State||8.36%||91.64%|
|Thu||4:00 PM||Central Michigan||Oklahoma State||23.18%||76.82%|
|Sat||12:00 PM||Eastern Michigan||Old Dominion||9.85%||90.15%|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Temple||Penn State||38.51%||61.49%|
|Thu||3:00 PM||South Carolina||North Carolina||58.54%||41.46%|
|Sat||4:30 PM||Notre Dame||Texas||76.02%||23.98%|
|Thu||6:00 PM||Minnesota||Texas Christian||5.84%||94.16%|
|Sat||5:00 PM||Florida State||Texas State||87.14%||12.86%|
|Sat||12:30 PM||Arkansas||Texas-El Paso||98.37%||1.63%|
|Thu||7:00 PM||Arizona||Texas-San Antonio||98.77%||1.23%|
|Sat||3:00 PM||North Carolina State||Troy||97.73%||2.27%|
|Fri||7:15 PM||Boise State||Washington||80.53%||19.47%|
|Thu||5:00 PM||Vanderbilt||Western Kentucky||12.50%||87.50%|
Although Week 1 games are usually cupcake opener games — we’re talking about you, Baylor and Michigan State — there are a number of interesting matchups to look forward to.
Alabama (3) vs. Wisconsin (20)
Though this game is the only Week 1 matchup between AP Top 25 teams, in past years this game would be considered a cupcake opener for Alabama. Alabama is known for its tough rush defense and big front seven, which would pose quite a challenge for Wisconsin’s run-heavy offense. However, since the team gave up 281 yards against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl last year, expect to see Alabama come out ready to prove themselves.
Despite Melvin Gordon III leaving for the NFL after a fantastic 2014 season, the Badgers still have a running threat in Corey Clement. Even as the second-string, Clement rushed for 949 yards last season, proving he has the potential to be an offensive threat for Wisconsin.
Unless Wisconsin can get its passing game going, they’re going to have a tough time running against Alabama’s talented rush defense. Our model predicts Alabama winning this one handily.
TCU (2) at Minnesota
Last season TCU played Minnesota early in the season and routed them at home 30-7. While our model predicts this game to likely be a repeat of last year, there are several reasons why this game could be closer than our model indicates.
While it’s true that TCU, headed by Heisman hopeful Trevone Boykin, is a well-rounded team with high expectations, Minnesota is looking to continue its upward trend from last year. Minnesota has talent on both offense and defense despite losing running back David Cobb and tight end Maxx Williams, and with their home-field advantage, the Gophers are aiming to make this game much closer than it was last time around.
If TCU sticks to their guns and continues playing as well as last year, they should come out on top to start their national championship campaign.
Ohio State (1) at Virginia Tech
What initially was seen as an easy Week 1 match up for Ohio State has taken an interesting turn. The suspensions of Corey Smith, Jalin Marshall, and Dontre Wilson as well as Joey Bosa’s recent foot injury have affected the Buckeyes at the wide receiver and on the defensive line.
Ohio State’s personnel woes, combined with playing an away game against a team looking for a second big upset, could make this an opening game closer than our model indicates. Even if Virginia Tech creates a few scares, Ohio State will come on top to avenge their loss last season.
Arkansas State at USC (8)
It would be almost sacrilege for us to not discuss USC in our pick’em predictions. Our model heavily favors USC in their Saturday matchup against Arkansas State, which went 7-6 last season and doesn’t play in a Power 5 conference. While it’s true that last season we had several games in which we fell asleep at the wheel against lower-ranked opponents, with Kessler at the helm of our offense and increased depth and experience in our line, the Trojans look to have an easy win to start the season.
Data provided by cfbstats.com
Team logos courtesy of sportslogos.net
Patrick is a senior majoring in economics. His blog, “College Football Pick’em,” runs every week.