The (Conference) Champions have been crowned, the Playoff Committee has made their final selections, and every fan in the blogosphere has an opinion on why they’re wrong. Bowl season is upon us and as such I’ll be calling my shots on who should win their bowl and who will probably end up with a dirty taste in their mouth to close the season. I’ll be checking on how Forward Progress fared with its first round of postseason picks, but first a quick refresher if you missed last week’s predictions. While the algorithm does return point spreads for matchups they don’t translate well to actual score outcomes (yet). Instead, you should think of them as an indicator of confidence in the predicted winner, meaning a 1 point win is very iffy while an 8 point win is almost guaranteed.

  • (12) Stanford-28 vs. (10) USC-31
    • This game was tight, just as indicated by the computer. USC pulled it out and took their home first Pac-12 championship in nearly 10 years. Forward Progress is 1-0!
    • Prediction-Confirmed: USC by less than 1 point.
  • (20) Memphis-55 vs. (14) UCF-62
    • The computer was right on this one, though it was a close shave. This barn-burner went to double overtime, much closer than predicted spread indicated. Even so, 2-0!
    • Prediction-Confirmed: UCF by 4 points
  • (11) TCU-17 vs. (3) Oklahoma-41
    • Oklahoma brought the house against the Horned Frogs, making a strong case for their inclusion in the playoffs. Once again, the computer thought it would be tighter than it actually turned out, but got the right winner in the end.
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Oklahoma by 1.5 points
  • (6) Georgia-28 vs. (2) Auburn-7
    • Auburn was steamrolled by the Bulldogs after a hard fought win against rival Alabama the weekend before. This was a big miss by the computer as it thought Auburn and Georgia were close to an even match.
    • Prediction-Missed: Auburn by 1 point
  • (25) Fresno State-14 vs. (NR) Boise State-17
    • As predicted, Boise beat Fresno in their rematch but left it closer than expected.
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Boise State by 4 points.
  • (7) Miami-3 vs. (1) Clemson-38
    • Forward Progress expected a blowout and we definitely got one! Clemson solidified their number 1 ranking and all but assured their place in the playoff.
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Clemson by 7.5 points.
  • (8) Ohio State vs. (4) Wisconsin
    • This game threw the playoff picture into complete disarray as 2 loss Ohio State handed Wisconsin their first loss. We’ll get to the playoff drama in a bit, but the computer called this one right too, though may have been a little overconfident on the Buckeye’s chances.
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Ohio State by 4 points.

After the dust cleared, I went 6/7 on the predictions I laid out last week and hit 85% accuracy overall. Not too shabby! Here are the final rankings before Bowl season begins so we can see who the computer would have put in the playoff.


  Team Predicted Wins Ranking Date Rank Movement
1 Ohio State 247 2017-12-03 0
2 Georgia 241 2017-12-03 3
3 Alabama 240 2017-12-03 -1
4 Clemson 240 2017-12-03 0
5 Penn State 240 2017-12-03 1
6 Washington 240 2017-12-03 1
7 Auburn 237 2017-12-03 -4
8 Oklahoma 233 2017-12-03 1
9 Wisconsin 233 2017-12-03 -1
10 Notre Dame 225 2017-12-03 1
11 Oklahoma State 225 2017-12-03 1
12 Texas Christian 225 2017-12-03 -2
13 Northwestern 222 2017-12-03 0
14 Virginia Tech 222 2017-12-03 0
15 Stanford 214 2017-12-03 2
16 UCF 214 2017-12-03 11
17 USC 214 2017-12-03 1
18 Michigan 207 2017-12-03 -2
19 Iowa 203 2017-12-03 0
20 Iowa State 203 2017-12-03 2
21 Louisville 203 2017-12-03 -1
22 North Carolina State 203 2017-12-03 -1
23 Michigan State 198 2017-12-03 0
24 Texas 198 2017-12-03 2
25 Boston College 195 2017-12-03 -1

Oh boy, this might be even more dramatic than the actual playoff selections! Forward Progress remains very hot on Ohio State, giving them 6 more predicted wins than number 2. Georgia jumped up after their solid performance against Auburn and Alabama dropped into a four way tie for the last two spots. Since this ranking method doesn’t take prediction confidence into account there would have to be a little human fudging to figure out who would have the best chance of actually hitting the 240 wins prediected by the computer. Personally, I would put Clemson at 3 and ‘Bama at 4 among those choices after a ‘calibrated eye test’.

The committee disagreed with Forward Progress (I’m sure they’re regular readers), and stuck Oklahoma in the top 4 in place of Ohio State. Many fans and commentators felt that Ohio State should have been selected in place of Alabama given their comparative schedules, but that argument can be fought elsewhere.

From now until January 8th College Football will be taking over your television, as Bowl organizations pit teams from rival conferences against one another according to byzantine hierarchies and contract agreements. I’ll be cherry picking a few of the more notable matchups and calling the games before they happen.

  • (22) Virginia Tech vs. (19) Oklahoma State
    • Prediction: Oklahoma State by 1.4 points
  • (13) Stanford vs. (15) TCU
    • Prediction: TCU By 2 points
  • (18) Washington State vs. (16) Michigan State
    • Prediction: Michigan State by 0.25 points
  • (8) USC vs. (5) Ohio State
    • Prediction: Ohio State by 11.75(!) points
  • (11) Washington vs (9) Penn State
    • Prediction: Penn State by 0.035(!) points
  • (6) Wisconsin vs. (10) Miami
    • Prediction: Wisconsin by 8.15 points
  • (12) UCF vs. (7) Auburn
    • Prediction: Auburn by 6.65 points
  • (14) Notre Dame vs. (17) LSU
    • Prediction: Notre Dame by 6.35 points
  • (3) Georgia vs. (2) Oklahoma
    • Prediction: Georgia by 3.34 points
  • (4) Alabama vs. (1) Clemson
    • Prediction: Clemson by 0.11 points

Like most Bowl seasons the computer is expecting a healthy mix of close games and total blowouts but the playoffs should be close. Happy watching and be back in January for a final post-mortem on Forward Progress’s first season!