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    Undefeated Odds (10/28/2013)

    Paul Bessire, General Manager, PredictionMachine.com
    By Paul Bessire

    Monday, October 28 at 3:00 PM ET

    A year and a day ago, we took a look at the BCS Scenarios and undefeated odds of the six remaining BCS-AQ teams - Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Kansas State, Oregon and Louisville - that had yet to lose through the first nine weeks of the college football season. At that time, just one team was more likely than not to end the season undefeated and we projected the odds that all six remained undefeated to be at just 0.06% (or 1-in-1,718). With odds that unlikely, one may argue that we should wait on this exercise even longer into the season, but, at the very least we feel it's futile to start looking at the chances of multiple unbeatens until around Week 10 in the season (because things like Missouri blowing a 17 point lead and then hitting an upright in OT happen almost every week in college football).

    Now we are left with eight undefeated teams in all of FBS - Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Baylor, Ohio State, Miami (FL), Fresno State and Northern Illinois - six of which are from BCS-AQ conferences. As the national debate over which team deserves what and would beat whom and about doomsday scenarios with three-plus undefeated teams or a one-loss team putting together a better resume than an undefeated squad, we think it is an appropriate time to put the rest of college football's regular and conference championship season into proper context.

    Simulating College Football:

    For the analysis below, we had the Predictalator simulate every (real and hypothetical) matchup 50,000 times on a play-by-play basis and using up-to-date rosters, depth charts and strength-of-schedule adjusted statistical inputs for every team and player.

    One of the coolest things that the Predictalator can do is answer the question: Which is the best team in college football? We can also easily rank all 125 FBS teams. We do this by simulating every team against every other team 50,000 times and ranking teams based on win percentage results from those simulations.

    This is a very important distinction from other “computer” based rankings in college football such as what can be seen in the BCS formulas. BCS computers are only allowed to look at wins and losses and must ignore margin of victory. The Predictalator is the opposite. We don’t care about actual wins and losses when trying to determine which teams are best. We look at how likely teams are to win over everyone else if they could all play on neutral fields with current rosters. It’s essentially a gauge of the overall talent, coaching, experience, decision-making and current health of all teams. (Meanwhile, human pollsters seem to be split on whether votes should go to the most deserving teams or the best – and it would be impossible to argue that voters ignore margin of victory or their own personal biases towards teams, players, coaches, conferences and/or regions of the country.)

    As it stands, the updated College Football Power Rankings (as of 10/27) are not drastically different from many polls or the BCS standings. Though Oregon is currently #1 in our Power Rankings - the first time Alabama has not been #1 in 54 consecutive weeks of the Power Rankings - and would be favored by 1.5 points over Alabama on a neutral field, those two teams are only separated by 0.01% in our analysis and are the top two teams with a bullet. Like in the BCS Standings, Miami (FL) is the weakest of the BCS-AQ undefeated teams, though the Hurricanes rank seventh in the BCS and just 17th in our rankings (behind two teams that have already lost three games). And, while Northern Illinois and Fresno State are getting love from the pollsters for not losing any games, neither ranks in our top 30. 

    College Football’s Undefeateds:

    There are currently six undefeated teams in BCS-AQ – Alabama, Oregon, Baylor, Florida State, Miami (FL) and Ohio State. Before we get into hypothetical BCS title matchups, let’s review the remaining schedules for each undefeated team to look at the realistic chances that the teams finish the season without a loss. 

    The six undefeated teams have 27 remaining regular season games combined and could play in five conference championship games - though, since Miami (FL) and Florida State play each other, it is impossible that all six will be undefeated heading into their conference title contests. In all 26 of those 27 games, the current undefeated team is favored in our projections. The lone exception is the game that two of them play against each other this week when the Hurricanes go to Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles. Miami is also the only team on this list that would be an underdog in the conference championship game as of right now as well. The closest remaining games for the current BCS-AQ undefeated teams are: Miami (FL) vs. Virginia Tech (60.3%), Baylor @ Oklahoma State (64.7%), Ohio State @ Michigan (69.6%), Oregon @ Stanford (70.2%), Ohio State in B1G Championship (72.6%) and Baylor @ TCU (73.3%). Even though every other game is won by the current unbeaten in at least 75% of our simulations, NO BCS-AQ team is more likely than not to go undefeated (only Fresno State is greater than 50% likely to end the season without a loss in FBS). 

    Here are the chances that each current undefeated FBS team wins all of its remaining regular season (and conference championship) games:

    Oregon Ducks

    Current Power Rank: 1
    Current Strength-of-Schedule Rank: 66
    Games Remaining: 5 (with conference championship)
    Undefeated Chances: 39.9% (fourth highest among BCS-AQ, fifth highest overall)
    Closest Remaining Game: at Stanford (November 7)
    Teams that would be favored over Oregon on a neutral field: None
    Estimated BCS Title Game Chances (as undefeated team): 39.9% (if Oregon wins out, the Ducks should be in)

    Alabama Crimson Tide

    Current Power Rank: 2
    Current Strength-of-Schedule Rank: 42
    Games Remaining: 5 (with conference championship, though one of those games is against FCS Chattanooga)
    Undefeated Chances: 49.2% (highest among BCS-AQ;
    Closest Remaining Game: SEC Championship Game (December 7)
    Teams that would be favored over Alabama on a neutral field: Oregon
    Estimated BCS Title Game Chances (as undefeated team): 49.2% (if Alabama wins out, the Tide should be in)

    Florida State Seminoles

    Current Power Rank: 3
    Current Strength-of-Schedule Rank: 41
    Games Remaining: 6 (with conference championship)
    Undefeated Chances: 40.3% (third highest among BCS-AQ, fourth highest overall)
    Closest Remaining Game: ACC Championship (if Miami on a neutral field, otherwise, Miami this week)
    Teams that would be favored over Florida State on a neutral field: Oregon, Alabama 
    Estimated BCS Title Game Chances (as undefeated team): 32.4% (if Florida State wins out and either Alabama or Oregon loses, Florida State should be in)

    Baylor Bears

    Current Power Rank: 5
    Current Strength-of-Schedule Rank: 95 (yeah, that's about to change quickly)
    Games Remaining: 5 (all against teams in top 40 of our Power Rankings)
    Undefeated Chances: 23.4%
    Closest Remaining Game: at Oklahoma State (November 23)
    Teams that would be favored over Baylor on a neutral field: Oregon, Alabama, Florida State
    Estimated BCS Title Game Chances (as undefeated team): 15.1% (if Baylor wins out and two teams from Alabama, Oregon and Florida State lose, Baylor should be in)

    Ohio State Buckeyes 

    Current Power Rank: 6
    Current Strength-of-Schedule Rank: 73
    Games Remaining: 5 (with conference championship, the next three of those are 90%+ victories for Ohio State)
    Undefeated Chances: 44.7% (second most likely among BCS-AQ and third most likely in FBS)
    Closest Remaining Game: at Michigan (November 30)
    Teams that would be favored over Ohio State on a neutral field: Oregon, Alabama, Florida State, Texas A&M, Baylor (all by at least 6 points)
    Estimated BCS Title Game Chances (as undefeated team): 22.4% (if Ohio State wins out and three teams from Alabama, Oregon, Baylor and Florida State lose, Ohio State should be in)

    Miami (FL) Hurricanes

    Current Power Rank: 17
    Current Strength-of-Schedule Rank: 72
    Games Remaining: 6 (with conference championship)
    Undefeated Chances: 6.4%
    Underdog in Remaining Game: at Florida State (November 2), ACC Championship
    Estimated BCS Title Game Chances (as undefeated team): 2.1% (if Miami wins out and two teams from Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Baylor and lose, Miami should be in)

    Fresno State Bulldogs

    Current Power Rank: 34
    Current Strength-of-Schedule Rank: 110
    Games Remaining: 5 (with conference championship)
    Undefeated Chances: 58.7%
    Closest Remaining Game: MWC Championship

    Northern Illinois

    Current Power Rank: 51
    Current Strength-of-Schedule Rank: 105
    Games Remaining: 5 (with conference championship)
    Undefeated Chances: 23.3%
    Closest Remaining Game: at Toledo (November 20)

    A few notes on the undefeated odds above:

    • Chances there are still seven undefeated FBS teams on December 8 (after conference title games): 0.007% (or 1-in-14,000)
    • Chances Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Baylor and Ohio State are undefeated on December 8: 0.83% (or 1-in-121)
    • Chances that Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Baylor, Ohio State and Florida State all have at least one loss on December 8: 7.7% (or 1-in-13)
    • Chances that there are no undefeated teams in FBS on December 8: 2.4% (or 1-in-41)
    • Chances that Alabama is undefeated in regular season then loses SEC championship game: 12.5% (or 1-in-8)
    • Chances that Oregon is undefeated in regular season then loses PAC-12 championship game: 4.4% (or 1-in-23)
    • Estimated chances of a one-loss team in the BCS Championship Game: 38.9%
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