If it's about to be bowl season, it's time to break out the score projection formula and apply it to this year's set of games. I've used the formula in five past seasons, and it's been a success in four of them.
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. In 2012, it went 24-11 straight up and 19-14-2 against the spread. In 2013 it took a dive, going 16-19 straight up and 15-19-1 against the spread, but it rebounded in 2014 to 24-15 both straight up and against the spread. In total, that's 109-70 (.609) straight up and 97-76-6 against the spread (.558).
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.
As in past years, I am making these projections 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 my six year old formula that hasn't been updated in any way.
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 the consensus lines as reported here, and they reflect the lines as of the morning of December 14 when I finished the projections and got to doing this writeup.
UPDATE: I changed the lines to those available at the same link on the morning of December 18. I did this to keep it consistent with past years when I used the lines from the day before bowls start.
|New Mexico||Arizona vs. New Mexico||AZ -7.5||AZ 34.3-33.6||NM + points|
|Las Vegas||BYU vs. Utah||Utah -2.5||Utah 24.8-24.6||BYU + points|
|Camellia||Ohio vs. App State||ASU -7.5||ASU 32-18||App State|
|Cure||San Jose State vs. Georgia State||SJSU -2.5||GSU 27-25||GSU + points|
|New Orleans||Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech||LT -2||LT 36.18-36.14||ASU + points|
|Miami Beach||WKU vs. South Florida||WKU -2.5||WKU 38-30||WKU|
|Potato||Akron vs. Utah State||USU -6.5||USU 28-21||USU|
|Boca Raton||Toledo vs. Temple||Temple -1.5||Tol 26-23||Toledo + points|
|Poinsettia||Boise State vs. Northern Illinois||BSU -8.5||BSU 34-27||NIU + points|
|GoDaddy||Georgia Southern vs. Bowling Green||BGSU -7.5||BGSU 39-30||BGSU|
|Bahamas||MTSU vs. Western Michigan||WMU -3.5||WMU 34-31||MTSU + points|
|Hawaii||San Diego State vs. Cincinnati||Cin -1.5||SDSU 33-26||SDSU + points|
|St. Petersburg||UConn vs. Marshall||Marshall -4.5||Marsh 22-11||Marshall|
|Sun||Miami (FL) vs. Washington State||WSU -3||WSU 34-29||WSU|
|Heart of Dallas||Washington vs. Southern Miss||UW -8.5||USM 26-25||USM + points|
|Pinstripe||Indiana vs. Duke||Indiana -2||Duke 37-36||Duke + points|
|Independence||Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech||VT -13.5||VT 39-32||Tulsa + points|
|Foster Farms||UCLA vs. Nebraska||UCLA -6.5||UCLA 32-29||Neb + points|
|Military||Pitt vs. Navy||Navy -3.5||Navy 29-21||Navy|
|Quick Lane||Central Michigan vs. Minnesota||Min -6||CMU 24-20||CMU + points|
|Armed Forces||Cal vs. Air Force||Cal -7||AFA 33-30||AFA + points|
|Russell Athletic||UNC vs. Baylor||Bay -2.5||Bay 40-38||UNC + points|
|Arizona||Nevada vs. Colorado St.||CSU -3||CSU 28-26||Nev + points|
|Texas||LSU vs. Texas Tech||LSU -7||LSU 44-39||TTU + points|
|Birmingham||Auburn vs. Memphis||AU -2.5||Mem 38-27||Memphis + points|
|Belk||NCSU vs. Miss State||MSU -5.5||MSU 30-29||NCSU + points|
|Music City||Texas A&M vs. Louisville||UL -1.5||TAMU 26-23||Texas A&M + points|
|Holiday||USC vs. Wisconsin||USC -3||Wisc 22-21||Wisconsin + points|
|Peach||Houston vs. FSU||FSU -7||Hou 27-25||Houston + points|
|Orange||Oklahoma vs. Clemson||OU -3.5||OU 37-30||Oklahoma|
|Cotton||Michigan State vs. Alabama||Bama -9.5||Bama 26-19||MSU + points|
|Outback||Northwestern vs. Tennessee||UT -8||UT 25-15||Tennessee|
|Citrus||Michigan vs. Florida||UM -4||UM 20.3-15.9||Michigan|
|Fiesta||Notre Dame vs. Ohio State||OSU -6.5||OSU 29.3-22.5||Ohio State|
|Rose||Stanford vs. Iowa||Stan -7||Stan 29-26||Iowa + points|
|Sugar||Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss||Miss -7||Miss 38-37||OSU + points|
|TaxSlayer||Penn State vs. Georgia||UGA -6.5||UGA 20-17||PSU + points|
|Liberty||Kansas State vs. Arkansas||Ark -11||Ark 36-27||KSU + points|
|Alamo||Oregon vs. TCU||Pick||TCU 44-40||TCU|
|Cactus||West Virginia vs. Arizona State||Pick||WVU 34-27||WVU|
|National Championship||Alabama vs. Clemson||Bama -7||Bama 27-26||Clemson + points|
I will keep track of how the picks do as the season progresses, and I'll add an entry for the national title game once the semifinal games are over.
Last year, the formula predicted a modest 7-5 bowl record for the conference. That's what the final record ended up being, though the system was 9-3 in picking those specific games. I am proud that it nailed Ohio State's upset of Alabama and had Auburn-Wisconsin a dead heat (and they went to overtime, if you remember).
This year, the formula is more bullish on the conference, predicting wins in eight of ten bowls. One of the two losses it sees coming is Auburn to Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl, and seeing as how the Tigers already beat Ole Miss, that one wouldn't be a shock (especially with multiple defensive coaches now distracted by new jobs at South Carolina). The other is Florida losing to Michigan, and the Wolverines are the betting favorite in that one anyway.
That said, the formula isn't high on the teams' ability to cover the spread. Texas A&M and Tennessee are the only conference teams it likes against the spread, although it was less than half a point away from picking a Florida cover in the Citrus Bowl. (Update: Florida now covers the spread thanks to the line updates.)