Northwestern at Michigan preview on Detroit News

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 3.54.11 PMOver at the Detroit News, I previewed the Northwestern at Michigan game.

Both teams have great defenses. The markets predict a total of 35 points, not far from The Power Rank prediction of 38.7. It will be a slow, ugly game.

However, Northwestern has an offense that ranks worse in my numbers than the Maryland team that Michigan shut out last week.

In addition, Northwestern defends the pass better than the run. This plays into the hands of Jim Harbaugh, who has run of 57% of plays.

To read the full article, click here.

College football playoff probabilities after week 5

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 3.41.52 PMEach week, I calculate the probability that each team makes the college football playoff. You can find these numbers over at Bleacher Report along with my analysis.

This week, I wrote about how Utah is overrated. J.B. Long of the Pac-12 Network was nice enough to tweet it to his followers, which brought this backlash from Utah fans.

Utah fans are right up there with Auburn fans for internet etiquette. Gotta love the passion of college football fans.

To check out my college football playoff probabilities after week 5, click here.

The minimalist guide to Alabama at Georgia

kiffin_bamaAlabama at Georgia might be the best game that college football has scheduled right now for the rest of the season. Both teams rank in the top 3 of my current college football rankings.

Let’s look at two factors that will affect the outcome of the game.

How often will Alabama throw?

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has called passes on 53% of plays this season, well above the 46% from the last two seasons.

Some of this increase in passing come from situational football, as Alabama trailed Ole Miss for the entire second half. However, this increased tendency to throw even with questions at quarterback marks a shift for this program.

It’s not a good idea to throw that much against Georgia. In my rankings based on yards per play adjusted for schedule, Georgia has the 4th best pass defense but the 50th ranked rush defense.

Kiffin seems stubborn about throwing the ball. In last year’s playoff semi-final, Ohio State also had a better pass than rush defense. However, Kiffin still called more passes than runs despite racking up over 6 yards per carry.

Alabama increases their odds of winning if they hand the ball to Derrick Henry.

Can Georgia continue their efficient passing?

Georgia fans didn’t expect much from Grayson Lambert. After he lost the starting QB job at Virginia this spring, he transferred to Georgia to sit on the bench.

Instead, Lambert earned the starting job and has led a Georgia offense that has gained over 10 yards per pass attempt this season.

Maybe this shouldn’t be too surprising. Last season, Georgia ranked 11th by my yards per attempt adjusted for strength of schedule with Hutson Mason. It’s easy to throw the ball when a team runs as well as Georgia.

Georgia’s top ranked rush offense faces Alabama’s top ranked rush defense in clash of strength. When Lambert does throw on about 38% of plays, he’ll find it difficult against a strong pass defense.


My best numbers (which I usually save for members) give Georgia a four point edge at home against Alabama, close to the 2.5 point margin in the markets. I expect the game to come down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

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BYU at Michigan preview in Detroit News

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 9.33.48 AMOver at the Detroit News, I looked at Michigan through efficiency numbers and previewed the BYU game.

By yards per play, Michigan’s run defense looks amazing. In fact, the entire defense has been terrific.

On offense, the passing game hasn’t been great but looks better by the numbers than many would expect.

At the end of the article, I previewed the BYU game and stated that my prediction of Michigan by 5.5 was probably low. (I did a better job with the preview in this article.) Michigan won 31-0 in a dominating performance.

To read the article, click here.

BYU at Michigan and other football predictions for Sept 26-27

It’s the last weekend in September, and it’s time to separate the contenders from pretenders in college football. Let’s look at some games.

Michigan by 5.5 over BYU

There are 3 reasons I think this prediction might be low.

First, Michigan has a really good defense. As expected, they have played well in all 3 games this season. However, you might brush off the UNLV game as too poor an opponent to draw any conclusions.

However, UNLV gained 493 yards on 5.67 yards per play in their opener against Northern Illinois. Last week, Ohio State had 298 yards on 4.52 yards per play against the same defense.

This in no way says that UNLV has a better offense than Ohio State. Variance plays a huge role in these results. In addition, UNLV QB Blake Decker was a little banged up against Michigan.

However, this suggests we can take seriously the 235 yards on 3.79 yards per play Michigan’s defense allowed against UNLV.

Second, Michigan’s defense faces BYU’s back up QB Tanner Mangum, who took over after Heisman caliber starter Taysom Hill got hurt. Mangum, a former four star recruit who recently returned from his Mormon mission, has looked solid in 3 games.

However, luck has played a big role in his results. He threw a 42 yard hail mary to win the game against Nebraska. In addition, Boise State’s secondary let his receivers get behind them twice for gains of 80 and 74 yards. This most likely won’t happen against Michigan.

Third, there’s the Jake Rudock factor. Many Michigan fans have seen the QB’s play as shaky through 3 games. However, he’s completing 65% of his passes for 6.14 yards per play, just below the college football average.

I don’t think it’s time to worry about Rudock. He’s made some bad throws, some of which have resulted in interceptions. I expect his play to improve.

Get the rest of my best predictions

I save my best college and pro football predictions for members.

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