Now that the 2012-2013 college bowl season has ended in a perhaps unsurprising fashion — and I don’t mean Alabama winning, I mean the entire sports world up in arms over something Brent Musberger said — it’s time to look back and grade the performance of our bowl season predictions and contest advice.
For those new to the site, as part of our premium services we offer picks for college bowl pick’em contests, which seem to be getting quite a bit more popular over the years. We also offer computer-determined betting predictions (point spread, over/under, and money line value picks) for every bowl game.
In summary, we had our third straight strong year with our bowl pick’em advice, while our betting pick performance was mixed.
2012-2013 College Bowl Pick’em Results
We published a total of 12 bowl pick’em pick sets this year, 9 for competing in game winner based bowl pick’ems with confidence points, and three for game winner contests without confidence points. As a group, they performed very well, including a few outstanding results.
- 11 of our 12 published pick sets finished in the top 3.5% of ESPN and the top 6% of Yahoo. That generally should be good enough to come in top five or six in a 100-person pool, top two or three in a 50-person pool, and first or second place in a 25-person pool.
- Our non-confidence pick sets did especially well this year on ESPN, with 2 of 3 finishing in the 99.6th percentile. On Yahoo! they were 97th percentile.
- Our worst pick set out of all twelve still beat 85% of the nation, and that was a pick set targeted for a large pool, which uses more of a boom-or-bust strategy.
Before we get started, just a quick reminder that our bowl pick’em picks crushed the public again in 2011-12, notching a second consecutive top-2% finish in ESPN’s college bowl pick’em game. For this year’s bowl picks and contest advice, click the image below or sign up now:
It’s 2012-2013 college football bowls season! Time yet again to become emotionally involved in contests between schools you’ve barely heard of playing in games named after sports bars. For those who love college football, it really doesn’t get much better.
Of course, the arrival of the 2012-2013 college bowls also brings with it the thrills of bowl pick’em contests and bowl betting. And with 70 teams playing in 35 games this year, getting prepared for making bowl season picks can be quite a daunting task. TeamRankings is ready to help, with stats, rankings, predictions, picks and contest strategy advice for all of the 2012-2013 college football bowl games.
Three weeks into the 2012-13 college football season we’re starting to get a clearer picture of teams. Some, like USC or say, the entire Big Ten, have stumbled to open the year. Others, like Alabama, have exceeded even some of our loftiest preseason expectations. It’s still early, but these early results do mean something, even if most people tend to overreact to them.
To get a good picture for expectations going in to conference play, we can use our college football projections page. These numbers use our power ratings to simulate the season thousands of times, while also applying some nifty techniques like error analysis.
(Since it’s still very early in the season, we don’t have very high confidence our current ratings are correct — or very close to correct — for all teams, so when we do our season simulations we also analyze “what if” scenarios that assume our rating for each team is actually wrong by a certain amount. It’s cool stuff.)
Now that the 2011-2012 college bowl season has come to a close, we wanted to recap how we did with our picks and advice for college football bowl pick’em contests.
Overall, we did very well relative to the public this year, although not quite as good as last year’s super performance. Still, we’ve received several emails and comments from customers who either won or scored in the money in their bowl pick’em contests, which is always good anecdotal evidence.
Based on final pre-kickoff predictions, our algorithmic game winner picks went 24-11 (68.6%) overall, their third best performance over the past seven bowl seasons.
Straight Up Winners With Confidence Points
Most bowl pick’em pools are based on picking game winners while also ordering your picks with a “confidence rating” from 35 (highest) to 1 (lowest). Get a pick right, and you get the associated confidence number as points, and the person with the most total points once all the games are done is the winner.
Note that I put “confidence rating” in quotes. In fact, determining optimal strategy for most confidence point based pools is a lot more complex than just actually ordering your picks based on the level of certainty you have in them winning. That’s where we come in, with data-driven strategies to help our users game the system, in effect, to increase their overall shot at winning a pool.
Don’t Worry, There Are More Exciting Bowl Finishes To Come: Expect About 9 More Bowls To Be Decided By A Field Goal Or Less
After Saturday’s exciting bowl season opening act, we’ve had a couple days of rest before things kick back into gear Tuesday in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl.
Over/under on the number of times you or any of your friends actually say “Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl” tomorrow night: 1.5 (figure on one time minimum, in order to make fun of how long the name is).
You’re forgiven if you think that the closeness of the first few games won’t be topped. We’ve already had a 50-yard game-winning field goal as time expired in the New Orleans Bowl, plus a two minute drive to score a go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds left in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
But don’t fret. In recent years, nearly a quarter of all bowl games have been decided by 3 points or less:
Last week we compiled a list of Bowl team coaching changes to aid our bowl pick’em analysis. We’ll be updating that list throughout the week, but today we thought we’d take a quick look at how new coaches have done in their bowl games.
You might think that teams with new coaches would struggle in their bowl games, but according to the data, they’ve been just fine.
2011-2012 NCAA College Football Bowl Games Mailbag: User Questions About Pick’em Strategy, ATS Results, and Bowl Packages
We’ve gotten a ton of emails over the past few days about our 2011-2012 college football bowl games section, so we thought it would be a good idea to post some of the questions and answers.
One factor that you should keep your eye on come bowl season is the past bowl performance of a coach or a program.
Does a coach’s precision offense always have some extra rust after three weeks of inactivity? Or perhaps he’s known more for recruiting superior athletes than for any special scheme, and that athleticism edge is unaffected by the down time, so his teams tend to excel.
To help investigate these past performance issues, we’ve included a Bowl History page for every bowl game. For example, here is the Wisconsin vs Oregon Bowl History. Links to every single Bowl History page can be found on our 2011-12 College Bowl Game Schedule.
Below, we discuss three bowl games where at least one of the coaches has a bowl history trend you might want to be aware of. To find trends pertaining to the rest of the bowls, make sure to dig into our Bowl History pages.
We’ve seen LSU play Alabama once already this season. In fact, they play every year, as you can see on our LSU-Alabama head-to-head results page.
Don’t worry, we’re not here to complain about the fact that the BCS Title Game is a rematch. We’re here to learn from it.
Bowl game rematches are relatively rare. We only have seven in our database, which goes back to 2003:
If you’ve taken a look at our philosophy — or even if you’ve just taken a spin around the site — you know we’re all about the data. Our predictions are based on objective, measurable info: final scores, game dates, locations, team stats, betting lines, player stats, roster info.
But we know that the game isn’t played by robots, and that the numbers can’t tell you everything. There are some ‘soft factors’ that intuitively must be important, but can’t be measured, or are rare enough that the historical patterns don’t tell us much.
Yesterday we tackled one of those difficult-to-measure factors with our Bowl Snub Index. Teams that feel slighted by their bowl invite may bring their frustration on the field, while teams who received a very beneficial invite may just be happy to be there. (Or, who knows, maybe they try extra hard to prove they belong.)
Today, we’ll go over a factor that is easier to measure, but that has a difficult-to-predict effect — coaching turmoil. Will a coaching change fire up a team, or will it leave them mopey and disillusioned?