College Football is here. Finally.
It has been nearly eight months since Florida State beat Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. A lot has happened. None of it has been on the field.
All that time has been filled with speculation and projections. Polls are out. Writers have made their selections as to who they think will win each conference and who will make the playoff. Now, none of it matters. And that’s a good thing.
Projections make for good talk. They create expectations (both fair and unfair) and allow fans to simulate the season in their minds before it plays out in front of their own eyes. Certain games have already been pegged as pseudo-championship game for particular conferences. In reality though, nobody knows which games will be most important. It’s part of the reason why television networks wait as long as they can to pick start times for games. They can’t see the future, either.
The KPI Rankings start at zero and the data will be driven only by what happens in the sample size of this season. It makes the numbers look funny for a few weeks while the rankings stabilize, but so do regular old standings. Be patient. It will be worth the wait.
Games on Television: The sortable TV schedule is now available. Use the filters and sorters to customize your own schedule for Week 1.
Projections: Ignore the teams picked for a moment, and let’s look at which conferences are being projected into the playoff (especially now that the Selection Committee has replaced the polls). There were some interesting takeaways from ESPN.com’s Expert Predictions on Conference Champions, Final Four and National Champion:
- 88 of the 92 teams projected to reach the first college football playoff were conference champions. The other 4 spots were reserved for an SEC team not projected to win the conference championship.
- Of the 27 Power 5 conference champions not projected to go to the playoff, 16 are from the Big 12, 6 from the Big Ten, 4 from the Pac-12 and 1 from the SEC (one person took one SEC team for the playoff, but not the champion)
The takeaway? An overwhelming majority of people feel like a conference champion is going to have an edge over a second place team from another conference.
Yes, No. 5 is going to be significantly more upset than No. 69 is in the NCAA Basketball Tournament because of the stakes involved and the margin of error. The teams with the best case to be ticked will be the fifth Power 5 conference champion who is left out, and the fourth Power 5 conference champion who may get jumped. Then again, there is zero precedent from the Selection Committee to go by. So, it’s all speculation.
Top 10 Games in Week 1, ranked by G-Score (Note: G-Score data and final KPI rankings from the 2013 season are being used)
- Cowboys Classic: #1 Florida State vs. #11 Oklahoma State (Saturday 8 p.m. ET, ABC)
- #17 Clemson at #14 Georgia (Saturday 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- #22 Texas A&M at #6 South Carolina (Thursday 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
- Advocare Texas Kickoff: #21 Wisconsin vs. #18 LSU (Saturday 9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- #33 Fresno State at #23 USC (Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX)
- #34 Miami (FL) at #27 Louisville (Monday 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- #41 Rice at #16 Notre Dame (Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC)
- #42 Penn State vs. #19 Central Florida (Dublin, Ireland) (Saturday 8:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2)
- #46 North Texas at #30 Texas (Saturday 8 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network)
- #10 Ohio State vs. #56 Navy (Baltimore, MD) (Saturday 12 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
Just For Fun: I ran the DIFF and EXP numbers for last season’s teams based on this season’s schedule. The conference rankings based on that data were: 1-SEC, 2-ACC, 3-Pac-12, 4-Big Ten, 5-Big 12, 6-MAC, 7-Mountain West, 8-American, 9-Sun Belt and 10-Conference USA. A 13-0 Florida State team finished atop the KPI Rankings. Remember, projections are meaningless. I just couldn’t help myself.
- There are 10 Week 1 matchups between Power 5 conference teams. 3 of the 10 are conference games (2 from the SEC, 1 from the ACC). The MAC and American each will play one conference game this week as well.
- 46 of the 85 FBS games in Week 1 (54%) involve an FCS team. 43% of the total sum of FBS-FCS matchups occur in Week 1, while 70% of the season’s FBS-FCS matchups occur in the first two weeks. The average score in FBS-FCS matchups in 2013 was 42.9-15.6, a margin of +27.3 PPG.
Week FBS vs FCS Games % of Total FCS Games Total Games % of Games vs FCS 1 46 43% 85 54% 2 29 27% 74 39% 3 7 7% 58 12% 4 11 10% 57 19% 5 1 1% 54 2% 6 0 0% 57 0% 7 4 4% 54 7% 8 1 1% 53 2% 9 0 0% 49 0% 10 0 0% 54 0% 11 2 2% 51 4% 12 0 0% 50 0% 13 6 6% 60 10% 14 0 0% 61 0% 15 0 0% 14 0%
- Based on EXPs, home teams are expected to win 67 of 77 games on campus in Week 1.
- There are 8 neutral site games scheduled in Week 1 (including Rutgers-Washington State and Ohio State-Navy). There will be a total of 5 more neutral site games in Weeks 2-14 plus 5 conference championship games at neutral sites on December 5-6.
- The expected average margin (based on EXPs) in Week 1 is 27.3 PPG. The average margin in Week 1 of 2013 was 22.9 PPG, the third highest of any week last year.
Come back often this weekend for updated data. Remember to follow along on Twitter at @KPISports.