Friday, December 19, 2014

College Football Math: Bowls!

Bowl season starts tomorrow. 76 teams and 39 games and Christmas and the inaugural College Football Playoff! Can you stand it???

But before we get to the bowl games, a quick note. This is likely my last big post on College Football for the year, and I want to get a little sappy. I feel lucky to be able to write this blog and do math on College Football and other things; it's such a rewarding hobby. Thanks to my beautiful wife who has little interest in football math for proof-reading each post, often while she was falling over with sleepiness. What a great wife she is! Thanks to everyone for reading all season. I hope it was as fun and interesting for you as it was for me. Stay tuned for the next big topic!

Now back to business.

Who's going to win?

America already won. Having 4 teams in an inaugural playoff adds so much fun to the college football regular season. So many teams were in contention late, so many regular season had CFP implications, I loved it! Hope you did too.

OK, which team is most likely to win the CFP?


Maybe some math?

Oregon and Alabama are nearly equally likely to win their semifinals, but the model rates Oregon slightly higher than Bama so Oregon is the model favorite to win the CFP.

OK, what CFP final matchups are we likely to see?

With both teams being 9-10 points favorites, Oregon vs. Bama is the most likely finals match-up. But there's a 50/50 chance we get something else!

What's the actual most likely outcome of this whole shebang?

Oregon beating Alabama by 3 is the single most likely outcome for the college football playoff.

You know there are other bowls right? Not just the CFP?


What about them?

Well, these are the most watchable games of the bowl season. Notice that the CFP semifinals aren't the top two. Remember, Watchability is a context neutral statistic that doesn't know about bowl games or CFPs or ducks. Also, the team in darker green is the modeled favorite.

Here's the full schedule, click to enlarge.

Last new topic: How's the bowl season shaping up by conference?

In terms of bowl representation, SEC forever.
  • The SEC has 14 teams
  • 12 of those teams are playing in bowl games
  • The model has the conference favored to win in all 12 games
Next comes the ACC with 79% (11/14) of its teams in bowls, then Independents, then Big Ten (what? Big Ten??? It surprised me too, but wait for it, the Big Ten's reputation will be redeemed).

Going to a bowl is great, but winning a bowl is what you want to do!

Of course. The SEC is expected to win the most bowl games (8.1) but the Pac-12 is expected to have a higher winning %.

Here's where the Big 10 resumes its familiar spot.

A last bit of bowl game math: here's a chart showing how likely each number of wins is for each conference. For example, the SEC has a 6% chance of winning 11 of its bowl games, and a 1% chance of going 12/12

That's a wrap on the major college football math. Thanks again for reading and go Huskies!

Friday, December 5, 2014

College Football Math: Last Week of the Regular Season

It comes down to this. At last, on Sunday we'll find out which are the four initial CFP teams. But there's a lot of football to be played between now and then. According to the model, if Oregon and Bama (and FSU, kind of) lose they still have a chance to back into the CFP. Everyone else is lose and you're out.


Also both dashboards have been updated.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

College Football Math: Week 14

edit: both the dashboard and extended dashboard are up to date

For this week I refreshed my chart from week 12 showing how team's CFP chances are likely to look after this weekend. For most teams, this weekend is do or die; lose and you are functionally out. The 3 top CFP teams (Oregon, FSU, Bama) are the only teams with even a little wiggle room.

Most Watchable Games

  • Most watchable games from this week are listed below
  • CFP Leverage is the difference winning makes (vs. losing) in the team's CFP chances. For example, Mississippi State has a 61% better chance to make the CFP if they win than if they lose (more about this)
  • Watchability is a measure of how good the teams are, and how close the game is likely to be
  • The box up and to the right of this post has more background information on all the math and links to both dashboards

Full schedule 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

College Football Math: Week 13

Do you watch college football solely for the national championship? If yes, you're doing it wrong. This week will break you of that. While plenty of teams with CFP aspirations are playing this week, they're mostly playing cupcakes like Indiana and Western Carolina. The top games look like fun to me but the have no relevance for the College Football Playoff. Just need to forget the CFP exists and enjoy football. 

Plus there's always the chance Boston College upsets FSU and we're spared the farce of FSU in the CFP.

  • Full Schedule is below
  • Watchability is a measure of how good the two teams are, and how close the game is likely to be

    • This post has way more detail on everything Watchability. Quick refresh:
      • Watchability is a combination measure of how good the two teams playing are and how likely the game is to be close
      • Teams are shaded by their chance to win, the greener the better

    College Football Math: Dashboard Updates

    Dashboards are updated through week 12. 

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

    College Football Math: Week 12

    Tick tick tick. The games left to decide who plays in the inaugural CFP are getting fewer and fewer. Below is an updated chart from last week, showing each team with a non-zero chance at making the CFP, with their chance of making the CFP if they win (in green) and if they lose (in red).

    In what should come as a surprise to no one, this is a huge huge weekend for Alabama and Mississippi State.

    • Most watchable games from this week are listed below
    • CFP Leverage is the column on the far right (I posted more about this last week)
    • Watchability is a measure of how good the teams are, and how close the game is likely to be
    • The box up and to the right of this post has more background information on all the math and links to both dashboards

    Full schedule below

    College Football Math: Destiny

    Which college football teams control their own playoff destiny?

    I was wondering about this question, so I added an output to my last simulation that shows how likely each team is to make the CFP if they win each of their remaining games. So if Alabama wins out, how often do they make the playoff? (Spoiler alert: Bama controls their own destiny).

    I did this calculation for each of the teams with even a sliver of a chance at the CFP remaining.

    Tier 1: Controls their own destiny

    No surprises here. Mississippi State and Florida State are undefeated, and Oregon, Alabama and Arizona State would all be 1-loss Pac-12 or SEC champs if they won out. Of course, only 3 of these teams could actually do it (Bama/MissSt play on Saturday, UO/ASU will play if they win the rest of their regular season games). Which leads me to:

    Tier 2: Almost controls their own destiny

    TCU and Baylor each have one loss. If both TCU and Baylor win the rest of their games, the committee will probably need to choose between them. Both will have a quality loss and several quality wins, but TCU has been on a roll and they have the inside track being ranked #4 by the committee against Baylor's #7. The model reflects this, putting TCU in the slightly better position.

    Nebraska surprised me. My impression of Nebraska isn't great, but all I remember is them almost losing to an FCS team. But should they win out, they'd be a 1-loss conference champ, with 3 decent wins to close out the season (@Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa) and a win over Ohio State in the Big 10 championship game. That's an impressive resume! I was surprised, but I think Nebraska would have a very strong CFP case.

    Tier 3: Needs help

    I didn't know where to put Ohio State. They didn't belong in Tier 2, they don't belong with Ole Miss and Auburn, and god knows I'm not putting them in their own tier. One loss Ohio State has a decent CFP argument, but their B1G schedule was a little weaker and they lost to Virginia Tech.

    Ole Miss and Auburn would have a shot if they won out, but they'd need help, first to get into the SEC title game and then to eek into the CFP as 2-loss SEC champs.

    Tier 4: Gasping

    Each of these teams has an outside shot of making the CFP if they win out, but they need chaos across the FBS to get close.