Initial 2012 College Football Preseason Projections & Conference Win Odds

posted in College Football

The Associated Press is set to release their annual preseason college football poll this weekend, fueling the speculation and anticipation of fans across the country.  So now seems like a good time to announce that the preliminary version of our TeamRankings 2012 college football preseason projections are up on the site.  Last year, our inaugural 2011 college football preseason projections proved overall to be successful, especially if your goal was to unearth some value in Vegas futures odds and win totals. Here we go again for 2012…

Doing well against Vegas lines is always nice, but as this is only our second year doing preseason college football projections, so nothing’s a guarantee. We feel like we’ve got a decent predictive system created, but we’re still learning and refining as we go. Hopefully we’ll get to do a future post that lays out our prediction methodology for college football in more detail, along with aspects we see as current strengths and weaknesses.

What makes the predictions below “preliminary” in nature? They still don’t incorporate some key data, most notably final team rosters, which we won’t process and analyze until 3-5 days before the season starts. (This is primarily just a consequence of when our data provider updates roster information for the new season, but we’d want to wait until teams finalize their rosters anyhow, to make predictions based off the best possible data.) Our goal is to get our final preseason projections posted no later than Tuesday, August 29.

In the meantime, the preliminary numbers below still offer a directional guide for the upcoming year, and provides some insight into unique and interesting situations going into college football this year.  All BCS conference projections are in the table below, or you can check out all conference and FBS teams on our college football projections page, which is updated daily throughout the season. A few notable teams are highlighted below:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Last year’s National Champions emerged from the toughest conference in football, the SEC, to reach the pinnacle of the BCS.  Our projections for Alabama are even better this season than they were in 2011.  They give ‘Bama higher than a one in eight chance of finishing the regular season undefeated, despite fighting through an even tougher SEC that’s now added Missouri and Texas A&M.  The Crimson Tide will again be serious national title contenders.

Oklahoma Sooners

Texas’s reputation may be what’s holding the Big 12 together, but it’s Oklahoma’s play that will keep the conference prominent on the national stage.  After spending most of last year ranked number 1, the Sooners faltered down the stretch with three losses in six games. This year our models see a return to elite status however, with Oklahoma having the second highest projected win total of any team. Be on the lookout for Bob Stoops next to the Big 12 trophy when December rolls around.

USC Trojans

Lane Kiffen’s crew is finally out from under a postseason bowl ban, and star QB Matt Barkley has returned for another season in an attempt to reach his first bowl game. The addition of Penn State transfer Silas Redd has increased the hype around the Trojans though, and some in LA are thinking championship. Our projections think USC will be very good, with a 93% chance to be bowl eligible, but a title? That’s far more of a stretch for a team we currently project to be the third best in the Pac 12. They’ll likely have a pretty good year, but greatness may have to wait.

Wisconsin Badgers

When creating the bizarrely named Legends and Leaders divisions last year, the Big Ten put a lot of effort into maintaining a competitive balance. They probably never expected that two perennial football powerhouses, Ohio State and Penn State, would not be allowed to play in the conference championship game.  The demise of those two teams has opened the door for the clear new conference favorites, the Badgers. Wisconsin may not be that much better than the rest of the Big Ten, but the 45% of the time that either PSU or OSU wins the division still likely ends up with Bret Bielema and company in the conference title game.

Agree? Disagree? Drop a comment and we’ll give our Nerd perspective in return…

Preliminary 2012-2013 College Football Preseason Projections
ACC Atlantic
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
Florida St936292%28%7%
Clemson7.24.84.43.673%9%2%
Boston Col6.45.64464%7%1%
NC State6.15.93.64.460%5%1%
Wake Forest4.67.42.85.238%2%0%
Maryland4.27.82.55.533%2%0%
ACC Coastal
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
GA Tech8.33.75.42.685%18%4%
VA Tech7.84.24.93.179%16%3%
N Carolina7.94.14.73.30%0%4%
Miami (FL)6.55.54.43.664%10%1%
Virginia4.67.42.95.139%2%0%
Duke4.97.12.45.640%2%0%
Big 12
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
Oklahoma10.21.87.41.697%37%16%
Oklahoma St9.52.56.72.395%22%8%
Texas8.93.16.12.991%15%5%
TX Christian8.43.65.63.487%12%4%
Kansas St754.44.673%4%1%
W Virginia754.24.873%4%1%
Baylor6.35.73.85.264%3%1%
Texas Tech6.35.73.45.664%2%0%
Iowa State482.46.631%1%0%
Kansas391.17.914%0%0%
Big East
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
S Florida7.94.14.62.479%23%4%
Cincinnati8.23.84.32.785%19%4%
Pittsburgh7.44.63.93.177%14%2%
Rutgers7.34.73.63.476%11%2%
Temple5.95.13.43.656%11%2%
Connecticut6.95.13.33.768%9%2%
Louisville663.13.958%9%1%
Syracuse4.17.92532%3%0%
Big Ten Leaders
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
Wisconsin9.32.75.82.293%31%8%
Ohio State8.73.35.22.80%0%5%
Penn State7.74.34.63.40%0%3%
Illinois6.55.53.74.365%6%1%
Purdue5.86.23.14.956%5%0%
Indiana3.58.51.36.724%1%0%
Big Ten Legends
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
Michigan8.33.75.82.286%23%3%
Nebraska8.23.84.93.184%14%4%
Michigan St7.64.44.83.276%12%2%
Iowa7.44.64.23.875%6%2%
Northwestrn5.16.92.95.146%2%0%
Minnesota4.57.51.86.237%1%0%
Pac 12 North
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
Oregon10.61.47.71.399%36%21%
Stanford9.72.37.21.896%22%9%
California5.86.23.95.156%2%0%
Oregon St5.16.93.65.446%2%0%
Washington5.16.93.35.745%1%0%
Wash State4.27.82.56.530%0%0%
Pac 12 South
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
USC9.32.76.62.493%20%8%
Utah8.63.46.32.785%10%5%
UCLA5.56.54.14.951%3%1%
Arizona5.46.63.65.450%2%0%
Arizona St5.26.83.55.546%1%0%
Colorado3.68.41.87.223%0%0%
SEC East
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
Florida9.12.95.62.492%16%7%
Georgia8.33.74.73.387%6%4%
Vanderbilt7.54.54.13.977%4%2%
Missouri7.44.64477%5%2%
S Carolina7.14.93.74.375%4%1%
Tennessee753.44.675%3%1%
Kentucky4.17.91.46.629%0%0%
SEC West
TeamWinsLossesConf WinsConf LossesBowl EligibleWin ConfUndefeated
Alabama10.11.96.31.798%26%14%
LSU9.52.55.62.496%17%9%
Arkansas8.13.94.73.384%8%3%
Texas A&M844.53.584%7%3%
Miss State6.85.23.14.972%2%1%
Auburn6.65.43.14.968%2%1%
Mississippi4.67.41.86.236%0%0%

  • Husker

    The biggest disparity I see offered on win totals would be Louisville. I have even odds on 8.5 wins, or -170 at 9 wins. I can also get them at -400 to NOT win the conference, which would appear to have some value. You guys obviously like them a lot less than Vegas!

  • Dave

    Interesting analysis as usual. Main team that sticks out is USC – after last season ended I immediately thought that USC would be among the favorites for the title this year. I still think they will win the title, so I was surprised that you guys don’t have them as highly regarded as I think they are. Maybe the loss of Kalil hurts them a lot. Or maybe they are not as complete of a team on defense to contend for a title. My prediction is USC or Bama for the title this year. But maybe it will be a SEC team winning it again (Bama or LSU).

    I’m a Stanford fan, and even though they lost Andrew Luck, I still think they will win 10 games, so I’m glad your analysis agrees with this. The running game is just so good, that it doesn’t matter who is the QB – as long as he can make 10 yard play action passes Stanford will be fine. Honestly Stanford should have ran the ball even more than they did last year – especially in the Oregon game when they were getting 5 yards a carry against the Ducks. Luck made some costly mistakes that cost the team in that game. 2012 Losses will be to USC and Oregon, and close wins over Notre Dame, Cal and Washington. If Stanford can somehow upset USC or Oregon that will throw a wrench in the Pac-12. Should be a fun season of college football!

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Dave — One of the biggest things pulling down USC’s projection is simply that they were a pretty big step behind the top 8 teams last year, according to the power ratings that are the base of these projections:
    http://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/ranking/predictive-by-other?rating_date=2012-01-10 They should be better, but not better enough to leapfrog ALL the teams that were ahead of them last season.

  • http://www.teamrankings.com/ David Hess

    Husker — Louisville did well in Big East play last season, but not so hot outside the conference. You might say they got a little lucky that their losses came mostly to non-conference opponents, and they didn’t really play well enough on the year to “deserve” being tied atop the Big East standings. They also are returning slightly fewer starters than the average Big East team, and don’t have a strong history of success (which would be a positive for our algorithm). Of course, once we make our final projections that take into account returning stats, they may bump up slightly — not enough to make them a favorite in the conference, though.