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2013 College Football Bowl Score Projections

66% of the time, it works every time.


For the fourth year now, I have applied a score projection formula to the bowl season. It has been both pretty good and pretty consistent.

In 2010, it went 23-12 straight up and 19-14-2 against the spread. In 2011, it went 22-13 straight up and 20-14-1 against the spread. Last year, it went 24-11 straight up and 19-14-2 against the spread. In total, that's 69-36 (.657) straight up and 58-42-5 against the spread (.576).

You can see how it works by following the link in the first paragraph up there, but it's basically a way to predict games based on points score and points allowed with a fairly crude adjustment for opponent. I've attempted to fancy it up to make it less crude over the years, but I've found that the simpler method always wins. Go figure. If you're looking for a more intellectually rigorous (and apparently inconsistent), try Bill Connelly's F/+ picks.

This year, I am making these my entry into the Yahoo! bowl pick 'em group (don't delay, join today!). The contest doesn't use point spreads, but it does use confidence points. To deal with that, I lined the games up by margin of victory and gave the most confidence points to the largest projected MOV and went on down. See if your judgment is better than that of a systems administrator's dodgy math work.

The way to read this table is that the "Projection" column covers the games straight up and the "Pick" column covers the games against the spread. In the latter, I like to put "Team + points" to emphasize when the system picks an underdog. There is no special meaning beyond that. The colors, as they appear, will be self explanatory. The spreads are from 5dimes as reported here, and they reflect the lines as of the evening of December 16 when I finished the projections and got to doing this writeup.

Bowl Teams Favorite Projection Pick
New Mexico Washington State vs. Colorado State WSU -4.5 CSU 36-29 CSU + points
Las Vegas Fresno State vs. USC USC -7 Fresno 35-29 Fresno + points
Famous Idaho Potato Buffalo vs. San Diego State Buffalo -1 Buffalo 32-21 Buffalo
New Orleans Tulane vs. UL-Lafayette Tulane -1 Tulane 27-25 Tulane
St. Petersburg Ohio vs. East Carolina ECU -13.5 ECU 41-26 ECU
Hawaii Boise State vs. Oregon State OSU -3 BSU 36-27 BSU + points
Little Caesars Pitt vs. Bowling Green BGSU -5 BGSU 33-14 BGSU
Poinsettia Utah State vs. NIU NIU -1.5 NIU 28-26 NIU
Military Marshall vs. Maryland Marshall -2.5 Marshall 41-23 Marshall
Texas Syracuse vs. Minnesota Minn -4 Minn 26-16 Minnesota
Fight Hunger BYU vs. Washington UW -3 UW 29-25 UW
Pinstripe Rutgers vs. Notre Dame ND -15 ND 33-21 Rutgers + points
Belk Cincinnati vs. UNC UNC -3 Cincy 27-24 Cincy + points
Russell Athletic Miami (FL) vs. Louisville UL -3 UL 35-21 Louisville
Buffalo Wild Wings Michigan vs. Kansas State KSU -3.5 KSU 33-29 K-State
Armed Forces MTSU vs. Navy Navy -6 Navy 30-28 MTSU + points
Music City Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech Miss -3 Miss 29-27 GT + points
Alamo Oregon vs. Texas Oregon -13.5 Oregon 40-26 Oregon
Holiday Arizona State vs. Texas Tech ASU -14 ASU 45-32 TTU + points
Advocare V100 Arizona vs. Boston College Zona -7.5 Zona 33-27 BC + points
Sun Virginia Tech vs. UCLA UCLA -7 UCLA 24.45-17.43 UCLA
Liberty Rice vs. Mississippi State MSU -7 Rice 26-22 Rice + points
Chick-fil-A Duke vs. Texas A&M A&M -12 A&M 41-33 Duke + points
Gator Nebraska vs. Georgia UGA -8.5 UGA 37-32 NU + points
Heart of Dallas UNLV vs. North Texas UNT -6.5 UNT 35-20 North Texas
Outback Iowa vs. LSU LSU -7 LSU 27-23 Iowa + points
Capital One Wisconsin vs. South Carolina Wisc -1 Wisc 27-20 Wisc
Rose Stanford vs. Michigan State Stan -5 Stan 17-16 MSU + points
Fiesta UCF vs. Baylor Baylor -17 Baylor 45.47-28.37 Baylor
Sugar Oklahoma vs. Alabama Bama -15.5 Bama 30-16 OU + points
Cotton Oklahoma State vs. Missouri Mizzou -1 OSU 32-30 OSU + points
Orange Clemson vs. Ohio State OSU -2.5 OSU 39-34 Ohio State
BBVA Compass Vanderbilt vs. Houston VU -2.5 UH 32-21 UH + points
GoDaddy Arkansas State vs. Ball State BSU -8.5 BSU 38-24 BSU
BCSNCG Auburn vs. Florida State FSU -8.5 FSU 49-24 FSU

The SEC doesn't come out of this looking so great, with a projected 5-5 record. It's really bad in the national title game, as the margin of victory there is the largest of bowl season by a touchdown. On the latter point, I will refer you to my SEC Championship Game post where I emphasize that the details of the formula make it bad for projecting games with teams like this year's FSU and Auburn. It picked Missouri back then, for what it's worth.