Happy 2018! I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday season and managed to catch a few of the excellent Bowl games since my last update. The 2017-2018 season comes to a close tomorrow as the Alabama Crimson Tide face off against the Georgia Bulldogs for the NCAA FBS Championship. But first, let’s take a look at the bowl games I called at the beginning of December to see how Forward Progress fared during the (sometimes) tough competition of bowl season.

  • (22) Virginia Tech - 21 vs. (19) Oklahoma State - 30
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Oklahoma State by 1.4 points
  • (13) Stanford - 37 vs. (15) TCU - 39
    • Prediction-Confirmed: TCU By 2 points
  • (18) Washington State - 17 vs. (16) Michigan State - 42
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Michigan State by 0.25 points
  • (8) USC - 7 vs. (5) Ohio State - 24
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Ohio State by 11.75(!) points
  • (11) Washington - 28 vs (9) Penn State - 35
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Penn State by 0.035(!) points
  • (6) Wisconsin - 34 vs. (10) Miami - 24
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Wisconsin by 8.15 points
  • (12) UCF - 34 vs. (7) Auburn - 27
    • Prediction-Missed: Auburn by 6.65 points
  • (14) Notre Dame - 21 vs. (17) LSU - 17
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Notre Dame by 6.35 points
  • (3) Georgia - 54 vs. (2) Oklahoma - 48
    • Prediction-Confirmed: Georgia by 3.34 points
  • (4) Alabama - 24 vs. (1) Clemson - 6
    • Prediction-Missed: Clemson by 0.11 points

Out of the 10 Bowls I explicitly predicted I only mis-called 2! Pretty good accuracy for cross-conference play if I may say so, though one of those misses was a playoff game. Overall the numbers aren’t as good for bowl season as a whole, hitting 59% for the field. While I would prefer for the model to function well for every team in the league I am much happier that it seems to do better with teams at the high end of the range rather than the less well-known teams. Now, let’s see how the bowl games have impacted the computer rankings.


  Team Predicted Wins Ranking Date Rank Movement
1 Alabama 245 2018-01-02 2
2 Georgia 245 2018-01-02 0
3 Ohio State 245 2018-01-02 -2
4 Auburn 238 2018-01-02 3
5 Oklahoma 238 2018-01-02 3
6 Penn State 238 2018-01-02 -1
7 Clemson 236 2018-01-02 -3
8 Oklahoma State 232 2018-01-02 3
9 Wisconsin 232 2018-01-02 0
10 Texas Christian 230 2018-01-02 2
11 Washington 226 2018-01-02 -5
12 UCF 225 2018-01-02 4
13 Virginia Tech 224 2018-01-02 1
14 Texas 217 2018-01-02 10
15 Iowa State 214 2018-01-02 5
16 Notre Dame 212 2018-01-02 -6
17 North Carolina State 211 2018-01-02 5
18 Northwestern 210 2018-01-02 -5
19 Boston College 208 2018-01-02 6
20 Iowa 206 2018-01-02 -1
21 LSU 206 2018-01-02 16
22 Louisville 203 2018-01-02 -1
23 Michigan 203 2018-01-02 -5
24 Michigan State 200 2018-01-02 -1
25 South Florida 198 2018-01-02 1

These are certainly interesting! I’m glad to see that the two finalists are topping the list but after that there is some strange movement going on based on some of the Bowl outcomes. Auburn lost their game against UCF but remains higher than them and gained a few positions in the process. The same thing happened to Oklahoma despite their loss to Georgia. LSU jumped 16 places by losing to Notre Dame who lost 6 places because of their win.

My off the cuff response to this is to assume that those teams performed better than they usually do in those games, forcing the model to predict them as stronger teams in a variety of categories despite their loss. I can definitely follow the logic but it is certainly counter to how human usually think about rankings.

Tomorrow is the Championship so be sure to tune in and see who takes home the trophy! Forward Progress thinks that Georgia will be the better team at a neutral field, spotting them 0.63 points. Come back next week for a post-mortem on the season and my plans for improvements in 2018!