Will Texas A&M be sneaky good in 2016?

Yes, but it might not show up in the win column. Let me explain.

Texas A&M plays in the SEC West, the most difficult division in college football. With strength of schedule adjustments, the Aggies look better in my team performance ratings than their record over the past few seasons (8-5 in 2014, 2015).

The Power Rank’s preseason model with its schedule adjustments ranks Texas A&M 10th for 2016. The Aggies are a strong program that would be the favorite on a neutral site against all but 9 teams. However, this rank doesn’t translate into a high expected win total.

Texas A&M is the fourth of seven SEC West teams in the rankings. They travel to play the three teams below them (Arkansas in Arlington, Mississippi State and Auburn) and also play Tennessee out of division. This difficult schedule implies a predicted win total of 7.6 games.

The Aggies struggled throwing the ball last season. However, the arrival of graduate transfer QB Trevor Knight, the Sugar Bowl MVP during his time at Oklahoma, should help the passing game immediately.

On the other hand, Texas A&M has had an atrocious rush defense the past three season. They don’t match up well against strong rushing teams like Alabama and LSU.

This article was adopted from The 2016 College Football Win Totals Report, which has my predictions for all 128 bowl subdivision teams. For more information on how to get your copy, click here.

How many games will Michigan win in 2016?

This is an excerpt from The 2016 College Football Win Totals Report, which has my predictions for all 128 bowl subdivision teams. For more information, click here.

A preseason rank of ninth might seem low to Michigan fans.

The defense returns almost every significant starter from last season. If this unit does not end the season in the top ten by my adjusted yards per play, it would be a disappointment.

There’s also the Jim Harbaugh factor. My preseason model looks at a four year window of team ratings. While this usually gives an accurate assessment of team strength, it will underestimate a team on a rapid rise.

stanford_harbaugh

Michigan does have some questions to answer. The quarterback battle will get the headlines, but the offensive line might be even more critical for a team determined to impose its will at the line of scrimmage.

In addition, Michigan had exceptional special teams last season. Jabrill Peppers will still return kicks this season, but special teams coach John Baxter left for USC during the off season.

Michigan will start the season higher than ninth in the preseason AP and Coaches polls. Since these preseason human polls are surprising predictors of team strength, this suggests my predicted win total of 9.4 games might be low.

Get college football win totals for all 128 teams

You can look at my predictions in The 2016 College Football Win Totals Report. Here’s what you get:

  • A win total for all 128 bowl subdivision teams.
  • The hidden factor that makes accurate preseason college football predictions possible.
  • 3 surprising teams based on expected win total.
  • Which human polls to trust in making predictions. The answer might surprise you.

You can get this report by signing up for my free email newsletter.

But that’s not all you get. Each week during the season, the newsletter contains a sample of my best college and pro football predictions usually reserved for paying members of the site.

To get The 2016 College Football Win Totals Report and in season predictions, enter your email and click on “Sign up now!”








How many games will Tennessee win in 2016?

win_totals_twitter

This is an excerpt from The 2016 College Football Win Totals Report, which has my predictions for all 128 bowl subdivision teams. For more information, click here.

While the preseason model considers four years of team performance, it gives last year the most weight. This feature helps the Volunteers.

In 2015, Tennessee lost four games. However, each of these games came against quality competition, and Tennessee never lost by more than a touchdown. Two of these losses came against Alabama and Oklahoma, two of the four teams that made the College Football Playoff.

My ranking algorithm gives teams credit for playing tight games against quality competition. In addition, Tennessee has 17 returning starters, another input to my preseason model, split almost equally on both sides of the ball. These factors lead to Tennessee’s preseason rank of 7th.

Tennessee still has its questions. QB Josh Dobbs can get better, and neither the offense or defense ranked in the top 25 by my adjusted yards per play last season.

Still, Tennessee is projected to win 9 games. They get top ranked Alabama at home, which implies a 40% win probability. The preseason model projects road trips to Georgia and Texas A&M as coin flip type games.

Tennessee’s fate in these three critical games will determine whether they can win more than 9 games.

Get college football win totals for all 128 teams

You can look at my predictions in The 2016 College Football Win Totals Report. Here’s what you get:

  • A win total for all 128 bowl subdivision teams.
  • The hidden factor that makes accurate preseason college football predictions possible.
  • 3 surprising teams based on expected win total.
  • Which human polls to trust in making predictions. The answer might surprise you.

You can get this report by signing up for my free email newsletter.

But that’s not all you get. Each week during the season, the newsletter contains a sample of my best college and pro football predictions usually reserved for paying members of the site.

To get The 2016 College Football Win Totals Report and in season predictions, enter your email and click on “Sign up now!”








Finally!! College football preseason rankings for 2016

ncaaf2016_preseasonWhich college football teams will dominate in 2016?

Which teams will have value in the market for win totals?

It might seem difficult to answer such questions before the season begins. College football relies on the ungainly actions of hormonal young men. Throw in the randomness of a bouncing football, and it seems unpredictable.

However, it is possible to make accurate preseason college football predictions. My preseason rankings come from a regression model that considers team performance, turnovers (both over the past four seasons) and returning starters.

The visual shows the top teams, while the list at the bottom gives all 128 bowl subdivision teams.

How to construct a simple preseason model

For team performance, I use my college football team ratings. These numbers come from taking margin of victory in games and adjusting for strength of schedule with my proprietary algorithm.

Team performance tends to persist from year to year, as Alabama and Rice will never trade places in the college football hierarchy. Hence, the four years worth of team ratings makes up the most important input into the model.

While turnovers can greatly impact a team’s rating, turnovers tend to be random from year to year. If a team has 20 more take aways than give aways during the season, they most likely over performed in their rating. The model uses turnovers to adjust this rating down to better estimate the true strength of the team.

Finally, teams with many returning starters tend to perform better the following season. When only 6 starters return due to early exits to the NFL draft (Ohio State in 2016), we expect a dip in team performance.

How well does the preseason model predict games?

The regression model doesn’t account for every factor in evaluating a college football team. For example, it fails to consider whether the starting quarterback returns for this season.

Despite these flaws, the preseason model picked the winner in 73.3% of games during the 2015 season. This only includes games between two bowl subdivision teams, excluding the cupcake games with FCS teams.

Don’t expect the model to work quite that well again. The firing of Baylor coach Art Briles alone might screw up its predictive ability, and I always encourage you to make subjective adjustments based on situations.

However, the model should be solid in 2016. Over the past three seasons, the preseason rankings has predicted the winner in 71.7% of games (1519-599 with no predictions in 144 games).

Get the college football win totals report

These preseason rankings also drive my college football win totals, which I make available to those who sign up for my free email newsletter. To sign up, enter your best email and click on “Sign up now!”








Let’s look at 3 stories based on these preseason rankings that jump out at me.

Michigan vs Ohio State

In August of 2015, Ohio State was the toast of college football. Urban Meyer’s team had won the first playoff, and the preseason chatter revolved around his success on the recruiting trail.

Then in the most inexplicable game of 2015, Ohio State lost to Michigan State, a team without star QB Connor Cook. The loss cost the Buckeyes a spot in the playoff, and then 10 Buckeyes got drafted in the first 3 rounds of the NFL draft.

In contrast, Michigan had all kinds of question in August of last year (2015). They were coming off a 5-7 season, and all hopes rested on incoming coach Jim Harbaugh.

Michigan ended the season with a surprising 41-7 win over Florida during bowl season. Harbaugh crushed it on the recruiting path, landing top recruit Rashan Gary and a top 5 class.

Now, heading into 2016, many believe that Michigan is a much better team than Ohio State. There are numerous reasons to doubt this.

  • Ohio State beat Michigan in the Big House 42-13 last season.
  • Ohio State’s recruiting over the past four years has outpaced Michigan according to my numbers.
  • Michigan has questions at QB and offensive line heading into 2016.
  • Ohio State has to replace many starters, but one of them is not QB J.T. Barrett.

My preseason model has Michigan a slim half a point ahead of Ohio State. It’s too close to call, and Michigan travels to Columbus to play the Buckeyes this year.

Stay tuned for my Big Ten East win probabilities.

Can LSU contend for a national title?

Last year, Les Miles almost lost his job. LSU lost three straight SEC West games, and the Mad Hatter looked like a goner.

The LSU administration then suddenly changed course, announcing they would retain Miles after an LSU win over Texas A&M. This might actually make sense, since Miles has averaged over 10 wins per season despite playing in college football’s best division.

Now, LSU checks in at 3rd in my preseason rankings, a clear contender for the SEC West and playoff spot. Let’s look at the top reasons.

  • Leonard Fournette
  • 9 starters back on both sides of the ball
  • The hiring of coordinator Dave Aranda, whose defense at Wisconsin ranked 12th, 16th and 12th over the past 3 years in my yards per play adjusted for schedule
  • Did I mention Leonard Fournette?

There’s only one problem, and he’s the guy taking snaps from the center. QB Brandon Harris completed a meager 54% of his passes last year, allowing defenses to key on Fournette in critical games.

Harris looks like a stumbling block for this team. However, he did have off season surgery to fix a sports hernia that might have affected his play late in the season.

Also, Les Miles has had success without a star QB. LSU played in 2013 BCS title game despite the maybe average play of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee at QB.

Florida State vs Clemson

It seems like Clemson should be ahead of Florida State heading into the 2016 season.

Clemson beat Florida State on their way to the national title game against Alabama. Despite the 5 point loss against Bama, you could argue Clemson should have won. They dominated the line of scrimmage but couldn’t overcome blown coverages in the secondary.

However, my preseason ranking like Florida State, as the Seminoles rank 2nd over Clemson at 5th. The returning starters variable plays a critical role in this rank.

Florida State has 17 returning starters, which includes star running back Dalvin Cook. In contrast, Clemson returns only 12 starters. In addition, the Tigers had heavy attrition in the secondary, including 3 players that got drafted by the NFL.

In addition, Clemson beat Florida State by 10 last year. However, Florida State had more yards per play than Clemson, an indication of a fairly even game. The Seminoles couldn’t overcome a 2 for 12 rate in converting third downs.

However, Clemson might have the trump card. They bring back Deshaun Watson, the best quarterback in the nation. Florida State is still deciding between returning starter Sean McGuire at QB or a few younger players.

Sign up for the free email newsletter

To get my college football win totals report, available after July 6th, 2016, sign up for my email newsletter.

In addition, you get a sample of my college football predictions usually only available to paying members of the site. In 2016, these numbers correctly predicted the winner 76.2% of games.

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Full college football preseason rankings

1. Alabama, 21.2
2. Florida State, 19.3
3. LSU, 17.3
4. Clemson, 16.3
5. Oklahoma, 16.2
6. Stanford, 15.7
7. Tennessee, 14.8
8. Mississippi, 13.2
9. Michigan, 12.6
10. Texas A&M, 12.3
11. Ohio State, 12.1
12. Arkansas, 11.8
13. Notre Dame, 11.8
14. Louisville, 11.3
15. Baylor, 11.3
16. Georgia, 11.0
17. Oklahoma State, 10.8
18. Oregon, 10.7
19. USC, 10.4
20. North Carolina, 10.1
21. TCU, 9.9
22. Wisconsin, 9.8
23. Mississippi State, 9.5
24. Utah, 8.9
25. Nebraska, 8.7
26. Washington, 8.6
27. Brigham Young, 8.6
28. Florida, 8.3
29. Michigan State, 7.9
30. Washington State, 7.3
31. Virginia Tech, 7.2
32. Auburn, 7.1
33. Pittsburgh, 6.7
34. South Carolina, 5.9
35. West Virginia, 5.8
36. Iowa, 5.8
37. UCLA, 5.6
38. Arizona, 5.5
39. Texas, 5.4
40. Miami (FL), 5.2
41. Houston, 5.2
42. Texas Tech, 5.0
43. Penn State, 3.9
44. Vanderbilt, 3.7
45. Memphis, 3.6
46. Toledo, 3.5
47. Georgia Tech, 3.4
48. Cincinnati, 3.4
49. Boise State, 3.4
50. Kansas State, 3.3
51. South Florida, 3.2
52. Missouri, 3.0
53. Arizona State, 2.6
54. Temple, 2.6
55. Boston College, 2.5
56. California, 2.1
57. Georgia Southern, 2.0
58. Northwestern, 1.9
59. North Carolina State, 1.9
60. Minnesota, 1.8
61. Navy, 1.3
62. Western Kentucky, 1.3
63. Iowa State, 1.0
64. Syracuse, 0.9
65. Northern Illinois, 0.7
66. San Diego State, 0.6
67. Indiana, 0.5
68. Western Michigan, 0.3
69. Bowling Green, 0.0
70. Air Force, -0.3
71. Connecticut, -0.3
72. Virginia, -0.5
73. Wake Forest, -0.6
74. Utah State, -0.6
75. Duke, -0.6
76. Purdue, -1.2
77. Colorado, -1.2
78. Maryland, -1.3
79. Marshall, -1.5
80. East Carolina, -1.8
81. San Jose State, -1.8
82. Tulsa, -2.2
83. Kentucky, -2.3
84. Rutgers, -2.4
85. Appalachian State, -2.4
86. Central Michigan, -2.4
87. Oregon State, -2.7
88. Illinois, -4.2
89. UCF, -5.5
90. Arkansas State, -5.7
91. Army, -5.9
92. Middle Tennessee State, -6.6
93. Louisiana Tech, -6.7
94. SMU, -6.9
95. Nevada, -7.0
96. Ohio, -7.5
97. Colorado State, -7.9
98. Florida Atlantic, -7.9
99. Troy, -8.0
100. Southern Miss, -8.0
101. Kent State, -8.1
102. Ball State, -8.6
103. Georgia State, -8.9
104. New Mexico, -9.1
105. Wyoming, -9.2
106. Louisiana Lafayette, -9.3
107. Hawaii, -9.4
108. Rice, -10.1
109. Buffalo, -10.3
110. Tulane, -11.0
111. Kansas, -11.4
112. UNLV, -12.0
113. Akron, -12.5
114. Fresno State, -12.6
115. South Alabama, -12.7
116. Old Dominion, -13.9
117. Miami (OH), -14.3
118. Florida International, -14.4
119. Louisiana Monroe, -14.8
120. North Texas, -15.2
121. Eastern Michigan, -15.2
122. UTEP, -15.9
123. Idaho, -16.0
124. Massachusetts, -16.6
125. UTSA, -17.4
126. New Mexico State, -18.8
127. Texas State, -20.9
128. Charlotte, -24.0

Euro 2016 is wide open – win probabilities at knock out stage

euro2016_winprob_knockout

At the knock out stage of Euro 2016, it’s any country’s trophy.

These win probabilities come from my world football/soccer rankings, which performed favorably in predicting matches according to an academic study.

The Economist cited this study in a recent article.

A few notes on the results.

  • Germany is the top European country at 2nd in my rankings, but they haven’t impressed so far. In addition, their back four looks vulnerable.
  • France has home field advantage, which gives them the largest win probability at 28.9%.
  • Belgium has their golden generation of talent (8th in my rankings). However, they always seems to disappoint.
  • Italy has a rich tradition of football excellence. However, this seems like the least skilled Italian team I’ve ever seen.
  • England? Nah… or maybe their poor performance in big tourneys is bad luck.

Here are the win probabilities for Euro 2016 at the knock out stage for all 16 teams.

1. France, 28.9%.
2. Germany, 16.9%.
3. Belgium, 16.5%.
4. Spain, 9.6%.
5. England, 6.0%.
6. Portugal, 5.0%.
7. Croatia, 4.8%.
8. Switzerland, 3.9%.
9. Italy, 2.5%.
10. Poland, 2.1%.
11. Wales, 1.1%.
12. Hungary, 1.0%.
13. Iceland, 0.8%.
14. Slovakia, 0.4%.
15. Northern Ireland, 0.4%.
16. Republic of Ireland, 0.3%.