Updated BTBS Projections

Being that we're roughly one-third of the way through the college football season, I thought it would be a good time to re-visit the BTBS projections and see what's changed over the last five weeks.  But first, let's take a look at where the BTBS projections have done particularly well or poorly.

Finger on the pulse

Here's the against-the-spread record for the BTBS projections by team:

  • 4-0.  Florida State, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Miami-FL, Northern Illinois, Syracuse, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
  • 3-0.  UConn, Illinois, Kansas State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State.
  • 2-0.  South Florida, Western Kentucky.
  • 4-0-1.  Minnesota.

Have pretty much nailed a good percentage of the east coast (that's what she said), going undefeated on 19 teams in all, including three ACC teams and three Big East teams.  Seem to have these teams figured out.

  • 4-1.  Bowling Green, Buffalo, BYU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC.
  • 3-1.  Ball State, Boise State, Boston College, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Colorado, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Indiana, Kent State, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Southern Miss, Texas, Troy, UL-Monroe, Wake Forest, Western Michigan.

This does start to explain why evenings aren't usually very good to me: I've got a much more accurate finger on the pulse of the eastern and midwestern teams, while the western teams have been more of a crapshoot.

  • 2-1.  Arizona, Arkansas State, Baylor, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Missouri, N.C. State, Oklahoma, SMU, Temple, UL-Lafayette, Virginia, West Virginia.
  • 2-1-1.  California.
  • 3-2.  Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Idaho, Miami-OH, Michigan, Navy, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee, Toledo, UAB, UTEP, Virginia Tech, Washington State.
  • 2-2.  Air Force, Central Florida, Colorado State, Iowa, Iowa State, Marshall, Mississippi State, North Texas, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, UCLA.
  • 1-1-1.  Houston.
  • 2-3.  LSU, New Mexico, Purdue, Stanford, Washington.
  • 1-2-1.  Texas Tech.
  • 1-2.  Arizona State, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Rutgers, Tulane.

No real analysis here.  A big mass of teams for which I'm a game within .500.

  • 1-3.  Eastern Michigan, Maryland, Memphis, Nevada, New Mexico State, Ohio, San Diego State, South Carolina, Tulsa.
  • 1-4.  Army, Georgia, Rice.
  • 0-3.  Akron, Duke, Ole Miss, TCU.
  • 0-4.  Vanderbilt.

Why do you taunt me, Akron, Ole Miss, TCU, and Smart Kid Schools (Duke, Rice, Vandy)?

Anyway, when you're reading the after-the-jump projections, you can use this to keep in mind how many grains of salt you should be using.

Range of Spreads

In terms of performance analysis, I also looked at the range of the spread to see if there's a particular group of picks for which I'm performing much better or worse.

  • 0-5 Pts.  38-21-1 (0.642).
  • 5-15 Pts.  60-34-1 (0.637).
  • 15-25 Pts.  29-28 (0.509).
  • 25+ Pts.  16-8 (0.667).

So really, it's the 15-25 point range that has me befuddled to date.  Really, that makes a little bit of sense.  Here's where junk-time touchdowns can make a big difference, along with how quickly the favorite gets rolling or how long they leave their starters in.  More often than not, the pre-ordained blowouts are pretty easy to pick, and 64% for the spreads below 15 points really is, I think, pretty damn good.  But it's those damn three-TD spreads that get me.

Anyway, on to the projections!  Fun fact: there are 68 bowl bids available...and these projections spat out exactly 68 bowl-eligible teams.  YIKES.  What happens if there are less than 68?  Go down to the 5-7 teams, I guess?  Either way, this is a good time for both UL-Monroe and UL-Lafayette (not to mention Temple!) to squeeze out six wins.  Automatic bid for anybody with six!

Big 12

North Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Missouri 6-3
10-3
Holiday
Nebraska 6-2
9-3
Sun
Kansas 3-5
7-5
Insight
Colorado 2-6
3-9

Kansas State
1-7
3-9

Iowa State
1-7
4-8

South Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Texas* 8-0 13-0 BCS Championship
Oklahoma 7-1 9-3
Cotton
Oklahoma State 6-2
9-3
Alamo
Texas A&M 4-4
7-5
Texas
Texas Tech 4-4
6-6
Independence
Baylor 0-8
3-9

 

  • No major changes here, only Colorado and K-State switching places in the North and ATM and Tech switching places (despite a head-to-head Tech win) in the South.
  • Missouri wins the North by virtue of a 0.4-point win over Nebraska Thursday night.  MAJOR North title implications Thursday night...as if you didn't know.  Meanwhile, Kansas needs to get things together a bit--they're undefeated, and that's nice, but they're not performing better than Mizzou or Nebraska right now, and being that their schedule is a bit harder (even with Tech's iffy play and OU's "struggles"), they'll need to.
  • And despite the fact that they quit playing ten minutes into last Saturday night's game against Arkansas, Texas A&M is projected to keep winning here and there.  Their reward: a game against Navy in Houston.

ACC

Atlantic Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Clemson* 5-4 8-5 Chick-Fil-A
Boston College
5-3 9-3 Gator
Wake Forest
4-4 7-5 Music City
Florida State
4-4
6-6
Meineke Car Care
N.C. State
3-5
6-6
Emerald
Maryland 2-6
3-9

Coastal Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Virginia Tech
9-0
12-1
Orange
Miami 7-1
11-1
Sugar
Virginia (!)
5-3
6-6
EagleBank
Georgia Tech
4-4
7-5
Champs Sports
North Carolina 1-7
5-7

Duke 0-8
2-10

  • Florida State sinks a couple of spots, and N.C. State and Maryland switch places.
  • Looks like Bobby Bowden's career ends in Charlotte at the Meineke Car Care Bowl.  And yes, I just had to look up where the Meineke Car Care Bowl is played.
  • I'm not sure what caused the BTBS numbers' sudden fascination with Virginia, but apparently they're due a bit of a turnaround.  And after the projections completely nailed the UVa > UNC pick, I'm not asking any questions.
  • Speaking of UNC...had them missing a bowl before the season, still do.  Not sure why they're not as good as everybody thinks they're supposed to be, but...they're not.

Big East


Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Pittsburgh
6-1
10-2
Fiesta
Cincinnati 5-2
10-2
Gator
South Florida
5-2
9-3
Papajohns.com
West Virginia
5-2
9-3
Meineke Car Care
Connecticut 4-3
7-5
International
Louisville 2-5
5-7

Syracuse 1-6
4-8

Rutgers 0-7
5-7

  • Rutgers has PLUMMETED.  From 9-3 and the Orange Bowl to a winless conference slate.  I'm sure they're just lying in the weeds before getting hot the last half of the year again (like last year), but...yeah, the Dom Natale Experiment has not exactly been memorable...at least not in a positive way.
  • Meanwhile, Cincy's mediocre play over the last couple of weeks has allowed Pittsburgh to take over the projected title.  A couple of weeks ago, Cincy was projected to go undefeated.  Now, not so much.
  • Really, this would be the best-case scenario for the Big East--four teams with at least nine wins, at least a couple of which will likely thump an inferior bowl opponent thanks to the Big East's mediocre slate of bowls.
  • Seriously...PLUMMETED.

Big Ten


Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Penn State 7-1
11-1
Rose
Ohio State 7-1
10-2
Outback
Wisconsin 7-1
11-1
Capital One
Iowa 6-2
10-2
Alamo
Minnesota 4-4
7-5
Insight
Michigan 3-5
7-5
Champs Sports
Michigan State
3-5
5-7

Purdue 3-5
4-8

Northwestern 2-6
5-7

Illinois 2-6
3-9

Indiana 0-8
3-9

  • Like Rutgers, Illinois has also sunk like a stone...but thanks to the low quality of the bottom of this conference, they don't sink all the way to the bottom.
  • Another best-case scenario, really--four teams with 10-11 wins.  The top and bottom of the conference has really defined itself in pretty stark fashion.  Penn State gets the nod here, but that could be because the preseason projections are still weighted as 40% of the overall projected total (there still isn't enough data from 2009 to make the 100% switch yet).
  • I'm slowly buying into Wisconsin...not anywhere near complete buy-in yet, but I'm coming around.  Now watch them lose three in a row.
  • (And yes, I'm thinking a 10-2 USC team gets the BCS nod over an 11-1 Wiscy team.  Call me crazy.)

Conference USA

East Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
East Carolina
6-3
7-6
New Orleans
Southern Miss
5-3
7-5
Hawaii
Central Florida
3-5
5-7

Marshall
3-5
5-7

UAB
3-5
4-8

Memphis
2-6
3-9

West Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Tulsa*
9-0
11-2
Liberty
Houston
6-2
10-2
Armed Forces
UTEP
4-4
5-7

Rice
3-5
3-9

SMU
3-5
4-8

Tulane
2-6
4-8

  • ECU's projection (was 3-5, 4-8 in the preseason) has fallen back in line...due as much to the rest of the division being pretty iffy as much as anything.  Marshall and Memphis have both fallen a bit.  Meanwhile, Houston falls back in line with their preseason 2nd-place finish...and SMU is no longer projected to be decent.  Thanks to their inexplicable whipping of Houston, UTEP moves up...I had them 0-8, 2-10, and now they're almost in line for a bowl bid.

Independents


Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Navy
--
9-4
Texas
Notre Dame
--
8-4
Poinsettia
Army
--
2-10

  • Congrats, Notre Dame.  Your three tight wins over inferior competition have bumped your projection from 6-6 to 8-4.  Keep up the good work.

MAC

East Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Bowling Green
6-3
7-6
GMAC
Temple
5-3
6-6
St. Petersburg
Ohio
4-4
6-6
New Mexico
Akron
4-4
5-7

Kent State
3-5
4-8

Buffalo
2-6
4-8

Miami-OH
1-7
1-11

West Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Central Michigan*
8-1
10-3
Little Caesar's
Toledo
7-1
9-3
International
Northern Illinois
6-2
8-4
EagleBank
Eastern Michigan
3-5
4-8

Western Michigan
3-5
4-8

Ball State
1-7
1-11

  • Really, the only major changes here are that Ball State has dropped off the face of the planet (they were projected 4-4, 6-6), and Buffalo has slightly exceeded their initial projections (they were 0-8, 1-11).  It's still CMU > BGSU in the title game, though the mighty Temple Owls are catching up to BGSU in a hurry.  Looks like it's going to be a nice turnaround season for Toledo, though they should probably be careful since they did almost try to lose to Ball State last week--took a miracle TD pass to beat the suddenly lowly Cardinals.

Mountain West


Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
BYU
8-0
11-1
Las Vegas
TCU
7-1
11-1
Armed Forces
Utah
6-2
9-3
Poinsettia
Air Force
4-4
6-6
New Mexico
Colorado State
4-4
7-5
Humanitarian
New Mexico
2-6
3-9

San Diego State
2-6
4-8

Wyoming
2-6
4-8

UNLV
1-7
3-9

  • Despite beating Clemson, TCU is now projected to lose to BYU after pretty iffy defensive performances against Texas State and SMU.  Otherwise, no real surprises here.  Looks like Dave Christensen's run of luck at Wyoming is about to crap out.

Pac-10


Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Oregon 9-0
11-1
Rose
USC 7-2
10-2
Orange
California 5-4
8-4
Holiday
UCLA
5-4
8-4
Sun
Oregon State
5-4
6-6
Emerald
Washington
5-4
6-6
Las Vegas
Arizona
4-5
5-7

Stanford
4-5
5-7

Washington State
1-8
2-10

Arizona State
0-9
2-10

  • Arizona and Arizona State have both fallen from their initial projections (of 7-5 and 4-8, respectively).  Everything else has stayed basically in the same order, including Stanford, who looks like another team riding a string of good luck and about to crash and burn.  I hope the projections are wrong, though--would love to see the Cardinal play a role in the Pac-10 race, just for variety's sake.
  • And yes, the combination of a) really good projections, and b) improved play of late means Oregon is still projected to win the conference.  I'll believe it when I see it, but if they beat USC in Eugene, they're obviously the favorite.

SEC

East Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Florida* 9-0 13-0 BCS Championship
Georgia 5-3
8-4
Outback
Tennessee 5-3
8-4
Chick-Fil-A
South Carolina 3-5
6-6
Independence
Kentucky
2-6
6-6
Music City
Vanderbilt
0-8
3-9

West Division Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Alabama 8-1
12-1
Sugar
LSU 6-2
10-2
Capital One
Arkansas 4-4
8-4
Cotton
Auburn
4-4
8-4
Papajohns.com
Ole Miss
2-6
6-6
Liberty
Mississippi State
1-7
2-10

  • Only minor changes so far...Vandy and Kentucky trade places in the East, and Auburn and Ole Miss trade in the West.  Otherwise, status quo here.  Auburn is seen as a surprising success early in the season, but they've done pretty much exactly what they were projected to do.

Sun Belt


Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Troy 8-0
9-3
New Orleans
Middle Tennessee 5-3
8-4
Motor City
UL-Monroe
5-3
6-6
GMAC
Florida Atlantic 5-3
5-7

UL-Lafayette
4-4
6-6
St. Petersburg
Arkansas State
4-4
5-7

Florida International
3-5
3-9

North Texas 2-6
4-8

Western Kentucky 0-8
0-12

  • That's right, it's Temple vs UL-Lafayette in the St. Petersburg Bowl, otherwise known as The Final St. Petersburg Bowl.  I'll say this, though: I'll watch it.

WAC


Proj.
Conf.
Proj.
Overall
Proj.
Bowl
Boise State 8-0 13-0 Fiesta
Nevada 7-1 8-4 Hawaii
Fresno State
6-2
8-4
Humanitarian
Louisiana Tech
4-4
5-7

Utah State
4-4
5-7

San Jose State
3-5
4-8

Hawaii
2-6
4-9

Idaho
2-6
5-7

New Mexico State
0-8
2-11

  • Looks like Nevada should rebound fine the rest of the season, helping Mizzou's rankings out a bit.  Meanwhile...come on, Idaho and Utah State!  Find one more win somewhere, and you're bowling!

Bowl Projections

Date Bowl Tie-ins Matchup
12/19 New Mexico MWC vs WAC Air Force (6-6) vs Ohio (6-6)
12/19 St. Petersburg Big East vs C-USA Temple (6-6) vs UL-Lafayette (6-6)
12/20 New Orleans C-USA vs Sun Belt #1 East Carolina (7-6) vs Troy (9-3)
12/22 Las Vegas MWC #1 vs Pac-10 BYU (11-1) vs Washington (6-6)
12/23 Poinsettia MWC vs Pac-10 #6 Utah (9-3) vs Notre Dame (8-4)
12/24 Hawaii C-USA vs WAC Nevada (8-4) vs Southern Miss (7-5)
12/26 Little Caesar's Pizza! Pizza!
Big Ten #7 vs MAC Central Michigan (10-3) vs Middle Tennessee (8-4)
12/26 Meineke Car Care ACC #5-7 vs Big East #3 West Virginia (9-3) vs Florida State (6-6)
12/26 Emerald ACC #5-7 vs Pac-10 N.C. State (6-6) vs Oregon State (6-6)
12/27 Music City ACC #5-7 vs SEC
Wake Forest (7-5) vs Kentucky (6-6)
12/28 Independence Big 12 vs SEC Texas Tech (6-6) vs South Carolina (6-6)
12/29 Eagle Bank ACC #8 vs Army Virginia (6-6) vs Northern Illinois (8-4)
12/29 Champs Sports ACC #4 vs Big Ten #4-5 Georgia Tech (7-5) vs Michigan (7-5)
12/30 Humanitarian MWC vs WAC Fresno State (8-4) vs Colorado State (7-5)
12/30 Holiday Big 12 #3 vs Pac-10 #2 Missouri (10-3) vs California (8-4)
12/30 Texas Big 12 #8 vs Navy Navy (9-4) vs Texas A&M (7-5)
12/31 Armed Forces C-USA vs MWC TCU (11-1) vs Houston (10-2)
12/31 Sun Big 12 vs Pac-10 #3 Nebraska (9-3) vs UCLA (8-4)
12/31 Insight Big Ten #6 vs Big 12 #6 Minnesota (7-5) vs Kansas (7-5)
12/31 Chick-Fil-A ACC #2 vs SEC Tennessee (8-4) vs Clemson (8-5)
1/1 Outback Big Ten #3 vs SEC Ohio State (10-2) vs Georgia (8-4)
1/1 Capital One Big Ten #2 vs SEC Wisconsin (11-1) vs LSU (10-2)
1/1 Gator ACC #3 vs Big East/ND Cincinnati (10-2) vs Boston College (9-3)
1/1 Rose BCS vs BCS Penn State (11-1) vs Oregon (11-1)
1/1 Sugar BCS vs BCS Alabama (12-1) vs Miami (11-1)
1/2 International Big East vs MAC Toledo (9-3) vs UConn (7-5)
1/2 PapaJohns.com Big East vs SEC South Florida (9-3) vs Auburn (8-4)
1/2 Cotton Big 12 #2 vs SEC Oklahoma (9-3) vs Arkansas (8-4)
1/2 Liberty C-USA #1 vs SEC Tulsa (11-2) vs Ole Miss (6-6)
1/2 Alamo Big Ten #4-5 vs Big 12 #5 Iowa (10-2) vs Oklahoma State (9-3)
1/4 Fiesta BCS vs BCS Boise State (13-0) vs Pittsburgh (10-2)
1/5 Orange BCS vs BCS Virginia Tech (12-1) vs USC (10-2)
1/6 GMAC ACC #9 vs MAC Bowling Green (7-6) vs UL-Monroe (6-6)
1/7 BCS Championship BCS #1 vs BCS #2
Florida (13-0) vs Texas (13-0)
  • Some BIG-TIME firepower in the BCS bowls.  Some combination of Va Tech, Miami, Alabama, and USC could make for interesting matchups, especially if somehow USC and Alabama ended up facing off for late-1970s supremacy.
  • Most interesting matchups:  Sugar, Rose, Alamo, Holiday, Liberty, Meineke Car Care, Las Vegas (rematch of last year's LockerGate controversy, or whatever we're supposed to call it), and St. Petersburg (because I'm a masochist).  But really, the most potentially fun game to watch could be the Champs Sports bowl, with Georgia Tech and Michigan combining to rush 100 times.
  • Least interesting: GMAC (YUCK), Fiesta, Humanitarian (the bowl rematch nobody asked for).
  • Still Florida vs Texas in the title game, but I'm REALLY hoping one of them loses, just to see if Boise has enough juice to sneak into the title game undefeated.  It took BYU a few years to work itself up the prestige ladder when they won in 1984, and even then it took an unprecedented number of flops from higher-ranked teams.  We're seeing plenty of flops this year, but Boise will need at least one or two more to hop into the title game.  And while they obviously wouldn't win, I have to say I've been really impressed with the amount Boise's overall athleticism has improved in the last couple of years. They're not big enough to compete with Texas, Florida, or Alabama, but speed really won't be an issue.
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