College Football Pick’em: Week of 8/31

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 Oklahoma Akron 98.31% 1.69%
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%
Thu 8:59 PM Hawaii Colorado 34.58% 65.42%
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%
Sat 4:00 PM Kentucky Louisiana-Lafayette 79.20% 20.80%
Sat 9:00 AM Georgia Louisiana-Monroe 99.66% 0.34%
Sat 12:30 PM Auburn Louisville 65.30% 34.70%
Thu 5:30 PM Utah Michigan 71.25% 28.75%
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%
Thu 6:00 PM Idaho Ohio 14.64% 85.36%
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%
Sun 12:00 PM Marshall Purdue 92.43% 7.57%
Thu 3:00 PM South Carolina North Carolina 58.54% 41.46%
Sat 9:00 AM Northwestern Stanford 21.79% 78.21%
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%
Sat 12:30 PM UCLA Virginia 89.92% 10.08%
Fri 7:15 PM Boise State Washington 80.53% 19.47%
Thu 5:00 PM Vanderbilt Western Kentucky 12.50% 87.50%
Sat 5:00 PM Wisconsin Alabama 28.39% 71.61%

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.

Notable Matchups:

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

Team logos courtesy of

Patrick is a senior majoring in economics. His blog, “College Football Pick’em,” runs every week.

1 reply

Comments are closed.