Predictions and viewer’s guide for college football bowl games in 2014

ncaaf2014_prebowl_ensYou want to know which teams will win a bowl game. A predicted margin of victory would also help with your bowl pool.

The Power Rank’s bowl predictions are based on aggregating a number of different predictions. These ensemble predictions should outperform the prediction from any single method.

The first predictor comes from my team rankings, the first calculations on this site. After developing a ranking algorithm based on the mathematics of randomness, I applied it to margin of victory in football games. The method accounts for strength of schedule and devalues the effect of blow outs.

Now, I also apply the ranking algorithm to yards per play to rank offenses and defenses. This gives an alternative perspective on teams immune from the randomness of turnovers.

The ensemble also considers my preseason rankings. It might seem silly to use such dated calculations. However, team strength tends to persist from season to season. From 2005 through 2013, the higher ranked team in the preseason rankings have won 60.3% of bowl games, almost as good as the 62.3% accuracy of the team rankings.

The ensemble predictions below aggregate my predictions from these three sources.

A viewers guide

You might have the time to watch all 39 post season college football games, but probably not. Which games should you choose?

The predictions below rank bowl games based on two criteria. First, the game rankings consider the strength of the two teams. You’d rather watch Alabama and Ohio State than Utah State and UTEP.

The second criteria for the game rankings is closeness of the outcome as estimated by the ensemble predictions. Arizona and Boise State might not be top 10 teams, but my methods predict a 50-50 game that might be decided by single play. That makes it worth tuning into the Fiesta Bowl.

The number next to each team gives their rank in my ensemble rankings. The top ten teams are shown in the visual at the top of this article.

1. Mississippi versus TCU at a neutral site.
Mississippi (8) will beat TCU (10) by 1.0 at a neutral site. TCU has a 47% chance of beating Mississippi.

2. Ohio State versus Alabama at a neutral site.
Alabama (2) will beat Ohio State (3) by 4.5 at a neutral site. Ohio State has a 37% chance of beating Alabama.

3. Kansas State versus UCLA at a neutral site.
Kansas State (12) will beat UCLA (17) by 1.6 at a neutral site. UCLA has a 45% chance of beating Kansas State.

4. Michigan State versus Baylor at a neutral site.
Michigan State (6) will beat Baylor (13) by 4.5 at a neutral site. Baylor has a 37% chance of beating Michigan State.

5. Oklahoma versus Clemson at a neutral site.
Oklahoma (15) will beat Clemson (21) by 2.7 at a neutral site. Clemson has a 42% chance of beating Oklahoma.

6. Boise State versus Arizona at a neutral site.
Arizona (31) will beat Boise State (32) by 0.1 at a neutral site. Boise State has a 50% chance of beating Arizona.

7. Arkansas versus Texas at a neutral site.
Arkansas (24) will beat Texas (29) by 1.2 at a neutral site. Texas has a 47% chance of beating Arkansas.

8. West Virginia versus Texas A&M at a neutral site.
West Virginia (20) will beat Texas A&M (28) by 2.6 at a neutral site. Texas A&M has a 42% chance of beating West Virginia.

9. Nebraska versus USC at a neutral site.
USC (18) will beat Nebraska (27) by 3.6 at a neutral site. Nebraska has a 39% chance of beating USC.

10. Auburn versus Wisconsin at a neutral site.
Auburn (5) will beat Wisconsin (19) by 7.7 at a neutral site. Wisconsin has a 28% chance of beating Auburn.

11. Florida State versus Oregon at a neutral site.
Oregon (1) will beat Florida State (11) by 10.8 at a neutral site. Florida State has a 22% chance of beating Oregon.

12. Notre Dame versus LSU at a neutral site.
LSU (14) will beat Notre Dame (34) by 6.5 at a neutral site. Notre Dame has a 32% chance of beating LSU.

13. Boston College versus Penn State at a neutral site.
Penn State (40) will beat Boston College (47) by 1.1 at a neutral site. Boston College has a 47% chance of beating Penn State.

14. Mississippi State versus Georgia Tech at a neutral site.
Mississippi State (9) will beat Georgia Tech (30) by 8.6 at a neutral site. Georgia Tech has a 26% chance of beating Mississippi State.

15. Miami (FL) versus South Carolina at a neutral site.
Miami (FL) (16) will beat South Carolina (35) by 6.9 at a neutral site. South Carolina has a 30% chance of beating Miami (FL).

16. Utah versus Colorado State at a neutral site.
Utah (36) will beat Colorado State (48) by 2.6 at a neutral site. Colorado State has a 42% chance of beating Utah.

17. Brigham Young versus Memphis at a neutral site.
Brigham Young (42) will beat Memphis (51) by 1.6 at a neutral site. Memphis has a 45% chance of beating Brigham Young.

18. Iowa versus Tennessee at a neutral site.
Tennessee (46) will beat Iowa (53) by 1.5 at a neutral site. Iowa has a 45% chance of beating Tennessee.

19. Cincinnati versus Virginia Tech at a neutral site.
Virginia Tech (38) will beat Cincinnati (52) by 3.0 at a neutral site. Cincinnati has a 41% chance of beating Virginia Tech.

20. East Carolina versus Florida at a neutral site.
Florida (25) will beat East Carolina (44) by 5.3 at a neutral site. East Carolina has a 35% chance of beating Florida.

21. Georgia versus Louisville at a neutral site.
Georgia (4) will beat Louisville (33) by 11.5 at a neutral site. Louisville has a 20% chance of beating Georgia.

22. Missouri versus Minnesota at a neutral site.
Missouri (22) will beat Minnesota (43) by 6.3 at a neutral site. Minnesota has a 32% chance of beating Missouri.

23. Oklahoma State versus Washington at a neutral site.
Washington (39) will beat Oklahoma State (55) by 3.0 at a neutral site. Oklahoma State has a 41% chance of beating Washington.

24. Rutgers versus North Carolina at a neutral site.
North Carolina (63) will beat Rutgers (65) by 1.1 at a neutral site. Rutgers has a 47% chance of beating North Carolina.

25. Arizona State versus Duke at a neutral site.
Arizona State (26) will beat Duke (60) by 7.8 at a neutral site. Duke has a 28% chance of beating Arizona State.

26. North Carolina State versus UCF at a neutral site.
UCF (37) will beat North Carolina State (64) by 6.0 at a neutral site. North Carolina State has a 33% chance of beating UCF.

27. Illinois versus Louisiana Tech at a neutral site.
Louisiana Tech (59) will beat Illinois (70) by 3.1 at a neutral site. Illinois has a 41% chance of beating Louisiana Tech.

28. Navy versus San Diego State at a neutral site.
Navy (69) will beat San Diego State (73) by 1.3 at a neutral site. San Diego State has a 46% chance of beating Navy.

29. Maryland versus Stanford at a neutral site.
Stanford (7) will beat Maryland (56) by 15.8 at a neutral site. Maryland has a 13% chance of beating Stanford.

30. Western Michigan versus Air Force at a neutral site.
Western Michigan (71) will beat Air Force (79) by 1.0 at a neutral site. Air Force has a 47% chance of beating Western Michigan.

31. Houston versus Pittsburgh at a neutral site.
Pittsburgh (41) will beat Houston (67) by 6.0 at a neutral site. Houston has a 33% chance of beating Pittsburgh.

32. Central Michigan versus Western Kentucky at a neutral site.
Western Kentucky (75) will beat Central Michigan (85) by 2.4 at a neutral site. Central Michigan has a 43% chance of beating Western Kentucky.

33. Toledo versus Arkansas State at a neutral site.
Toledo (74) will beat Arkansas State (87) by 2.7 at a neutral site. Arkansas State has a 42% chance of beating Toledo.

34. Marshall versus Northern Illinois at a neutral site.
Marshall (23) will beat Northern Illinois (80) by 13.8 at a neutral site. Northern Illinois has a 16% chance of beating Marshall.

35. Fresno State versus Rice at a neutral site.
Rice (91) will beat Fresno State (95) by 1.7 at a neutral site. Fresno State has a 45% chance of beating Rice.

36. Nevada versus Louisiana Lafayette at a neutral site.
Nevada (76) will beat Louisiana Lafayette (94) by 5.5 at a neutral site. Louisiana Lafayette has a 34% chance of beating Nevada.

37. South Alabama versus Bowling Green at a neutral site.
Bowling Green (97) will beat South Alabama (109) by 1.8 at a neutral site. South Alabama has a 45% chance of beating Bowling Green.

38. Utah State versus UTEP at a neutral site.
Utah State (54) will beat UTEP (115) by 16.1 at a neutral site. UTEP has a 13% chance of beating Utah State.

Become a member of The Power Rank

These ensemble predictions are different from those that I’ve posted this season on the blog. Those sample predictions each week also incorporated data from the betting markets.

These enhanced ensemble predictions, which we use to make picks for spreads and totals, are available members. To learn about becoming a member, click here.

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