With the conclusion of bowl season, two thing stand out. First, the National Championship game was absolutely unpredictable. Auburn’s much maligned defense dominated Oregon’s high powered running game. Oregon’s defense held quarterback Cam Newton in check. In the end, Auburn won by 3 as the SEC took home its 5th straight national championship. With Oregon as an almost 10 point favorite, The Power Rank got this one wrong.
Second, Black New Year’s for the Big Ten. The powers from the Midwest went 0-5 in New Year’s Day games, including an embarassing loss by co-champion Michigan State to Alabama. While The Power Rank missed the championship game, we were more accurate on the Big Ten. Ohio State and Wisconsin are good; everyone else is mediocre. Ohio State won a dramatic Sugar Bowl against Arkansas, while there’s no shame in Wisconsin’s close loss to TCU in the Rose Bowl. (OK, Badgers fans might disagree, but TCU is a solid program). Four other Big Ten teams lost, while Iowa needed a late interception returned for a touchdown to beat Missouri.
Overall, The Power Rank predictions went 16 for 29 against the line for a 55% win percentage. In addition, there was a push in the Auburn Oregon game and 5 games in which our system would not bet because our predictions were too close to the line. Not bad for an algorithm that doesn’t have any information about injuries or even understands the rules of American tackle football. In arriving at these results, we took lines from USA Today the night before each game. A hypothetical bet was made against the most favorable line. For example, Auburn was both a 2.5 and 3 point favorite against Oregon. Since we had Oregon winning by almost 10, we took Auburn -3. The game was a push. Strangely, the line moved to Oregon by 1 by the time the game kicked off.