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    College Preview: In-Depth Analysis

    Last Updated: 8/24/2016

    College Football Preview Pages:

    Over/Under Win Total Picks (100+ Teams)
    In-Depth Team Analysis
    Power Rankings

    The Predictalator has already played the 2016 College Football regular and postseasons 50,000 times before the games are actually played.

    Below, we explain How This Works, summarize the season and project bowl participants for each bowl.

    Season Summary

    The bowl matchups below reflect our best projections based on the results from our predicted season. It is important to note, however, that there are not always objective means for bowl selection, especially with the newly formed College Football Playoff and its corresponding selection committee. We do our best to project what will happen based on expected win-loss records and conference championship game results.

    This season is especially interesting because we project exactly as many teams to win 6.0 or more games as there are bowl spots. For that reason, some bowls break conference affiliation to appropriately fill spots. That being said, from the Power 5 conferences, Texas, Wisconsin, Colorado, Kentucky each win between 5.5 and 5.9 games in our projections, meaning it is likely that a couple of them will become bowl eligible and take the place of lesser teams below.

    And oh yeah, this is what this section said two years ago:

    Here is the excerpt from this exact spot in last year's Season Summary (posted 8/14/2014):


    In the most likely College Football Playoff, ACC champion, Florida State, tops Big Ten champion Ohio State, by a score of 39-27 in the Rose Bowl (one of two bowls hosting the College Football Playoff Semifinals). In the Sugar Bowl, Oregon, the second-best team in the country based on the Predictalator's analysis, wins a shootout over Alabama, the most likely SEC champion, by an average score of 38-34... Baylor, the most likely Big 12 winner in this analysis, could be on the outside of the playoff looking in as the only "Big 5" title winner not in the four-team playoff. Not only do we expect a down year for the Big 12 (relative to where it was throughout the last decade), the lack of conference title game could be a problem. A one-loss Big 12 champion will have a tough time getting into the playoff over a one-loss Big Ten champion that also wins its conference championship. This is all theory, though, and not quite as easy to project as the win, losses and conference title game results.

    We are not going to forget that outcome around the PredictionMachine.com offices. The problem is that, like 2015, 2016 looks much more open. In 2014, Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State (pre-Braxton Miller injury when that was published) were clear, obvious favorites in their respective conferences and Alabama was the best team in the best conference and had a relatively (for an SEC West team) favorable schedule. The entire 2014 pool of logical potential playoff participants going into the year, included the actual four teams that made it, Baylor, Wisconsin (cake schedule) and the rest of the SEC West. That was about it.

    This year, only Oklahoma is a clear Power 5 conference favorite. The Sooners are projected to win 10.9 games, which is the most in college football and two full wins more than the second place team in the Big 12, Oklahoma State. Sure, Baker Mayfield and company play against Ohio State in Week 3, but they only play three total teams in our preseason Top 25 - Ohio State (#7), TCU (#21) and Oklahoma State (#12) - with two of those games at home. The Sooners outgained opponents by 3.5 yards-per-play last season which was the best mark in college football and the best predictor of future success in the sport. Oklahoma is the most likely team to make it to and win the CFP.

    Clemson is the next most likely Power 5 Conference champion, but the Tigers have to travel to Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Florida State with a home game agaisnt rising Lousiville as well. After a great showing to end last season, Clemson has a really good shot to make it in, even with one loss, but the ACC is not strong enough for anyone else to expect to get in without an undefeated season.

    After that, it gets pretty fuzzy. That leaves the SEC, Pac-12 (shut out last year), Big Ten and Notre Dame are the likely suppliers of the other two playoff participants. Looking at the standings below and you will see how muddled this gets. LSU, Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee, Washington, Ole Miss, Florida State, Michigan and Notre Dame, all have power rankings and win totals in line with the CFP discussion. Unfortunately, most of them play each other and could canibalize their conferences.

    Alabama, #3 in our power rankings is an underdog at #2 LSU AND #5 Tennessee. #7 Ohio State travels to #1 Oklahoma and hosts #10 Michigan. LSU and Ole Miss are part of the brutal SEC West. And, while Washington (#9) and Notre Dame (#13) each has a more favorable schedule than the others, those teams are borderline Top Ten squads heading into the season and it would be difficult to expect them to make it to 11+ wins.

    That leaves us with a College Football Playoff for 2016 that includes Oklahoma and Clemson as well as the Big Ten favorites - Ohio State (largely based on home field advantage against Michigan) - and the SEC's favorite - LSU (largely based on home field advantage against Alabama). The most likely CFP does not include the third (Alabama), fifth (Tennessee) or sixth (Ole Miss) best teams in the country due to them all playing each other in the SEC.

    In the CFP, Oklahoma plays Ohio State again, this time on a neutral field and still wins a semifinal matchup against the Buckeyes, 34-30. In the other semifinal, LSU bests Clemson, 31-30. In the most likely College Football National Championship, Oklahoma wins 50,000 simultations just 50.1% of the time and by an average score of 33.8 - 33.7 (whoa).

    In addition to the relative chaos and lack of clarity in the CFP, Tennessee, Washington, Okahoma State, South Florida, Southern Miss and Western Michigan are of great interest to watch this year. None of those teams has found incredible (conference winning and/or elite bowl earning) success in recent years, but each is loaded with returning starters and talent in a conference (or in Tennessee's case, a division) taking a step back otherwise.

    In conference championship games, Clemson wins over Pitt, 34-24, to win the ACC. LSU overtakes Tennessee, 32-28, to claim the SEC crown. Washington tops UCLA by a score of 30-26 for the Pac-12 title. Ohio State gets by Iowa 26-21, easily in the Big Ten finale. And in non-Power 5 conference championships, Southern Miss edges Middle Tennessee State, 35-30, for the C-USA championship, Western Michigan bests Ohio, 39-29, to take the MAC. Boise State gets by San Diego State, 24-21, to win the Mountain West. And, in the AAC Championship Game, South Florida wins over Houston, 31-29.

    How This Works
    Just as the Predictalator plays any individual game 50,000 times before it's actually played, it can also play entire seasons 50,000 times before they are actually played. That is what we have done for the 2016 college football (FBS) season. The actual regular season and bowl schedules have been played 50,000 times, allowing us to compute likely records, expected bowl matchups and power rankings.

    Using the Predictalator is not as much of a concern to us as making sure that we have the best possible inputs for players' statistics, progression over time and age, roles, health and playing time as well as teams' coaching styles and weather.

    In general, we apply strength-of-schedule-adjusted, relevant statistics from the player's collegiate games to a fairly traditional player development curve that is driven by class and previous playing time. Not only does this curve help to set average player inputs, it combines player health history to dictate the variance ("boom or bust" potential) of a player's inputs.

    Playing time is more art than a science, especially in college football. We have done our best to estimate playing time for all players who are expected to see significant starting time in 2016. That being said, some playing time gaps have been filled in by our best approximations of average bench and role players on teams.

    After all of the math and analysis is conducted, we import each team's schedule and play EVERY game 50,000 times.

    Playable against-the-spread picks in the NFL last regular season went 110-85 (56% ATS), the fourth time in the last six seasons that the Predictalator picked every NFL game at a greater than 56% rate against-the-spread. Also, NFL Playoff picks are 44-20 (69% ATS) all-time on the site.

    In College Football, totals and the Lock of the Week have been consistently strong. Highlighted, "normal" or better (greater than 57% confidence to cover) over/under plays in college are 58% all-time and have been profitable in four of the previous six years. Meanwhile, Locks of the Week, the strongest against-the-spread pick each week in college football are 61-34 (65% ATS) all-time.


    Check out the Shop now to learn more.

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    AAC Preview


    South Florida Bulls
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: Birmingham

    Houston Cougars
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Military

    Temple Owls
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: St. Pete

    Cincinnati Bearcats
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Boca Raton

    Tulsa Hurricane
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: Miami Beach

    Connecticut Huskies
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: Cure

    Memphis Tigers
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: New Orleans

    Navy Midshipmen
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: Armed Forces

    East Carolina Pirates
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: None

    Southern Methodist Mustangs
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: None

    Tulane Wave
    Conference Standing: 11
    Projected Bowl: None

    UCF Knights
    Conference Standing: 12
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    ACC Preview

    Clemson Tigers
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: Fiesta

    Louisville Cardinals
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Orange

    Florida State Seminoles
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: TaxSlayer

    Pittsburgh Panthers
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Sun

    North Carolina Tar Heels
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: Belk

    Miami (FL) Hurricanes
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: Russell Athletic

    Wake Forest Deacons
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: Pinstripe

    Virginia Tech Hokies
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: Military

    Boston College Eagles
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: Quick Lane

    Georgia Tech Jackets
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: St. Pete

    North Carolina State Wolfpack
    Conference Standing: 11
    Projected Bowl: None

    Duke Devils
    Conference Standing: 12
    Projected Bowl: None

    Syracuse Orange
    Conference Standing: 13
    Projected Bowl: None

    Virginia Cavaliers
    Conference Standing: 14
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    Big 12 Preview

    Oklahoma Sooners
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: Peach

    Oklahoma State Cowboys
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Sugar

    TCU Frogs
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: Liberty

    Baylor Bears
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Texas

    Texas Tech Raiders
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: Russell Athletic

    West Virginia Mountaineers
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: Cactus

    Texas Longhorns
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: None

    Iowa State Cyclones
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: None

    Kansas State Wildcats
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: None

    Kansas Jayhawks
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    Big 10 Preview

    Ohio State Buckeyes
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: Peach

    Michigan Wolverines
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Rose

    Iowa Hawkeyes
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: Outback

    Nebraska Cornhuskers
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Citrus

    Michigan State Spartans
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: Music City

    Penn State Lions
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: Foster Farms

    Northwestern Wildcats
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: Pinstripe

    Minnesota Gophers
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: Holiday

    Indiana Hoosiers
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: Heart of Dallas

    Maryland Terrapins
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: Quick Lane

    Wisconsin Badgers
    Conference Standing: 11
    Projected Bowl: None

    Illinois Illini
    Conference Standing: 12
    Projected Bowl: None

    Purdue Boilermakers
    Conference Standing: 13
    Projected Bowl: None

    Rutgers Knights
    Conference Standing: 14
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    C-USA Preview

    Southern Miss Eagles
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: Arizona

    Middle Tennessee Raiders
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Heart of Dallas

    Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: Hawaii

    Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Bahamas

    Marshall Herd
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: Boca Raton

    Old Dominion Monarchs
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: None

    Florida Atlantic Owls
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: None

    Charlotte 49ers
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: None

    UTSA Roadrunners
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: None

    Florida International Panthers
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: None

    UTEP Miners
    Conference Standing: 11
    Projected Bowl: None

    Rice Owls
    Conference Standing: 12
    Projected Bowl: None

    North Texas Green
    Conference Standing: 13
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    Independents Preview

    Notre Dame Irish
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: Orange

    Brigham Young Cougars
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Poinsettia

    Army Knights
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: None

    Massachusetts Minutemen
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    MAC Preview

    Western Michigan Broncos
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: GoDaddy

    Toledo Rockets
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Bahamas

    Central Michigan Chippewas
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: Miami Beach

    Ohio Bobcats
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Camellia

    Bowling Green Falcons
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: Famous Idaho Potato

    Northern Illinois Huskies
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: New Mexico

    Kent State Flashes
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: Armed Forces

    Akron Zips
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: None

    Buffalo Bulls
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: None

    Ball State Cardinals
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: None

    Miami (OH) Redhawks
    Conference Standing: 11
    Projected Bowl: None

    Eastern Michigan Eagles
    Conference Standing: 12
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    Mountain West Preview

    Boise State Broncos
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: Cotton

    San Diego State Aztecs
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Arizona

    Air Force Falcons
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: Hawaii

    Utah State Aggies
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Famous Idaho Potato

    Nevada Pack
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: Poinsettia

    San Jose State Spartans
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: Las Vegas

    New Mexico Lobos
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: None

    Colorado State Rams
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: None

    UNLV Rebels
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: None

    Wyoming Cowboys
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: None

    Hawaii Warriors
    Conference Standing: 11
    Projected Bowl: None

    Fresno State Bulldogs
    Conference Standing: 12
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    Pac-12 Preview

    Washington Huskies
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: Rose

    UCLA Bruins
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Sun

    Washington State Cougars
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: Alamo

    Oregon Ducks
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Foster Farms

    USC Trojans
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: Cactus

    Stanford Cardinal
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: Holiday

    Arizona Wildcats
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: Las Vegas

    California Bears
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: New Mexico

    Utah Utes
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: Texas

    Colorado Buffaloes
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: None

    Arizona State Devils
    Conference Standing: 11
    Projected Bowl: None

    Oregon State Beavers
    Conference Standing: 12
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    Sun Belt Preview

    Appalachian State Mountaineers
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: GoDaddy

    Arkansas State Wolves
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: New Orleans

    Troy Trojans
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: Cure

    Georgia Southern Eagles
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Camellia

    Georgia State Panthers
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: Independence

    Idaho Vandals
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: None

    Louisiana-Lafayette Cajuns
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: None

    South Alabama Jaguars
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: None

    New Mexico State Aggies
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: None

    Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: None

    Texas State Bobcats
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: None

    See: How This Works, Bowl Summary and Conference Previews: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Independents, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt

    SEC Preview

    LSU Tigers
    Conference Standing: 1
    Projected Bowl: Fiesta

    Tennessee Volunteers
    Conference Standing: 2
    Projected Bowl: Sugar

    Alabama Tide
    Conference Standing: 3
    Projected Bowl: Orange

    Ole Miss Rebels
    Conference Standing: 4
    Projected Bowl: Outback

    Georgia Bulldogs
    Conference Standing: 5
    Projected Bowl: TaxSlayer

    Arkansas Razorbacks
    Conference Standing: 6
    Projected Bowl: Citrus

    Florida Gators
    Conference Standing: 7
    Projected Bowl: Music City

    Texas A&M Aggies
    Conference Standing: 8
    Projected Bowl: Liberty

    Mississippi State Bulldogs
    Conference Standing: 9
    Projected Bowl: Belk

    Auburn Tigers
    Conference Standing: 10
    Projected Bowl: Birmingham

    Vanderbilt Commodores
    Conference Standing: 11
    Projected Bowl: None

    Kentucky Wildcats
    Conference Standing: 12
    Projected Bowl: None

    Missouri Tigers
    Conference Standing: 13
    Projected Bowl: None

    South Carolina Gamecocks
    Conference Standing: 14
    Projected Bowl: None


    Playable against-the-spread picks in the NFL last regular season went 110-85 (56% ATS), the fourth time in the last six seasons that the Predictalator picked every NFL game at a greater than 56% rate against-the-spread. Also, NFL Playoff picks are 44-20 (69% ATS) all-time on the site.

    In College Football, totals and the Lock of the Week have been consistently strong. Highlighted, "normal" or better (greater than 57% confidence to cover) over/under plays in college are 58% all-time and have been profitable in four of the previous six years. Meanwhile, Locks of the Week, the strongest against-the-spread pick each week in college football are 61-34 (65% ATS) all-time.


    Check out the Shop now to learn more.

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    The Predictalator

    As the calendar flips to August, attention turns to football. NFL and College Football packages are now available with previews launching August 17th and August 24th respectively. Playable against-the-spread picks in the NFL last regular season went 110-85 (56% ATS), the fourth time in the last six seasons that the Predictalator picked every NFL game at a greater than 56% rate against-the-spread. Also, NFL Playoff picks are 44-20 (69% ATS) all-time on the site.

    In College Football, totals and the Lock of the Week have been consistently strong. Highlighted, "normal" or better (greater than 57% confidence to cover) over/under plays in college are 58% all-time and have been profitable in four of the previous six years. Meanwhile, Locks of the Week, the strongest against-the-spread pick each week in college football are 61-34 (65% ATS) all-time.

    Check out the Shop now to learn more.

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