Sunday, October 21, 2012

And then there were 11 - Looking at the remaining undefeated college football teams

With the completion of week 8 of the college football season, there are 11 teams that remain with unblemished records.  Let's take a look at each one along with the chances they might finish undefeated.  The analysis below will use my computer's current ratings and projections.

#1 K-State tops my computer's list at 7-0 and is projected to finish 12-0 and do so convincingly (73%).  They do still have a number of tough opponents in Texas Tech (#6, 6-1), Texas (#9, 5-2), TCU (#16, 5-2), Oklahoma St (#18, 4-2), and Baylor (#26, 3-3), but if they play like they have been, they should finished with a perfect record.  There is a 24% chance they finish with a loss and 3% that they get two losses so it isn't a lock however.

#3 Oregon is next also at 7-0 and is also projected to finish the regular season undefeated, with a higher probability, 78%, than K-State.  But they would have to play the Pac-12 Championship game, likely against USC in a rematch from earlier in the year.  But in large part to having that game at home, even including it Oregon still has a 77% chance of finishing 13-0.  They would have a 21% chance of one loss and a 2% chance of two.

Next is #4 Alabama at 7-0 and also projected to finish the regular season undefeated (62%).  They, like Oregon, would have a conference championship game and would likely have to face a tougher opponent than Oregon in Florida and also not get it at home.  The result is, when including this game, that Alabama is projected to lose one game along the way (44%) but still have a 40% chance of staying undefeated.  Note that the computer is not necessarily projecting they would get to the SEC championship game and lose it, rather just that there is a greater chance of them losing one of their remaining games than not.  They could get to the SEC championship game with that loss and still win that game.  Including the championship game, they'd have a 15% chance of two losses.

#5 Florida is also 7-0 and also projected to finish the regular season undefeated (67%).  But like Alabama, when including the championship game they are more likely to finish with one loss than none (54% to 24%) and have a 20% chance of two losses.

Oregon State is undefeated but only #11 at 6-0 having had one of their games postponed/cancelled due to travel issues.  Without replaying that game, they are projected to finish 9-2 (46%).  Why the drop-off?  Their remaining schedule includes Oregon (#3), @Stanford (#15), and ASU (#19).  They do have a 4% chance at no losses and 31% of just one.

Notre Dame is only ranked #13 by the computer but is 7-0 and thus in this discussion.  Given that they still have to play @Oklahoma, and @USC, they are projected to finish 10-2 (61%).  They are given a 1% chance of no losses and 36% of just one.

Mississippi State is 7-0 but has played the 2nd weakest schedule of all the remaining undefeateds (weaker than Rutgers and Louisville, even being in the SEC) and is thus just #21.  They also have @Alabama, Texas A&M, and at LSU remaining resulting a projected 9-3 record (42%).  They are given only a 0.1% chance of no losses, 4% of one, and 24% of two.

Rutgers is #23 at 7-0 and with a remaining schedule where the toughest opponent is #46 Cincinnati, they are projected to go undefeated (63%).  They do have a 33% chance of one loss and 4% of two.

Ohio State is 8-0 but only #29 due to some very close wins over some not so tough teams at home (3-5 Cal and 3-4 Purdue) and a 3 point win over a 2-5 Indiana, plus their toughest opponent thus far only being #45 Nebraska.  Given their current rating, they are projected to finish 10-2 (40%) but have a 36% chance of just one loss and a 10% chance of none, so it isn't out of the question.

Louisville is undefeated but only #49 due to a weak schedule and is projected to finish only 10-2 (46%).  The key game is finishing the season @Rutgers and they are given a 31% chance of just one loss but only a 1% chance of none.

Last, Ohio University is 7-0 but only #71.  They are given a 10% chance of staying undefeated and a 34% chance of just one loss, but most likely is 10-2 (38%).

There you have it.  Who do you think will finish undefeated?