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Compu-Picks 2011 Preview: C-USA

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Jul 24, 2011


2011 Compu-Picks Previews Each 1-A League: Conference USA

Below is the preview for Conference USA, consisting of three tables.

The first table outlines the projected rankings for each C-USA team, sorted in each division from best to worst, and then presents the following selected key stats:
Rank - Projected 2011 ranking, from 1 to 120
2010 Rank - 2010 ranking using the current compu-picks model
Prev 4 yr - ranking of the average rating from 2006-2009
Recruit Rank - ranking of past 4 years of recruiting (each year equally weighted), from scout.com
Recruit Trend - the difference between the past 3 years of recruiting and the previous 3, ranked from best to worst
Injuries - starts lost to injury during the 2010 season (from Phil Steele)
Turnovers - turnover margin during the 2010 season, from cfbstats.com
Draft Losses - based on the 2011 draft
Ch - new head coach, per collegefootballpoll.com (1 indicates a new coach, . indicates no new coach)
Starters - returning offensive / defensive starters, per Phil Steele magazine (* if the QB returns), with some edits due to subsequent news

The second table shows the expected number of total wins for each team, as well as the odds for each potential number of wins, based on 2500 season simulation runs (note: a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%).

The third table shows the odds of winning the league, the expected number of league wins for each team, as well as the odds for each potential number of league wins, based on 2500 season simulation runs (note: a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%).

Projected ranking and key statistics

Team Rank 2010 Rank Prev 4 yr Recruit Rank Recruit Trend Injuries Turnovers Draft Losses Ch Starters
Southern Mississippi 49 57 66 64 81 25 9 0 . 7*/7
Central Florida 54 38 76 61 31 18 4 6 . 6*/4
East Carolina 80 81 64 95 104 20 -7 2 . 6*/6
Alabama-Birmingham 95 92 105 110 97 29 -6 0 . 7*/9
Marshall 99 100 90 76 61 22 -6 3 . 5/9
Memphis 114 116 107 82 54 15 -13 0 . 3/6
Southern Methodist 44 71 103 70 18 38 -12 0 . 10*/8
Houston 57 73 52 69 34 21 -6 0 . 6*/6
Tulsa 59 48 56 77 44 26 17 2 1 10*/8
Rice 83 108 97 83 57 35 -7 1 . 9*/8
Texas-El Paso 90 98 94 88 105 39 -5 0 . 2/9
Tulane 107 101 115 86 65 11 -2 0 . 6*/8

Projected Results - All Games

Team Rank SOS E(wins) 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Southern Mississippi 49 94 8.65 . 7% 15% 18% 18% 15% 10% 7% 5% 2% 1% 1% 0% 0%
Central Florida 54 91 7.68 . 3% 7% 12% 16% 19% 15% 13% 8% 4% 2% 1% 1% 0%
East Carolina 80 56 4.82 . 0% 1% 2% 4% 6% 9% 15% 18% 16% 14% 9% 5% 2%
Alabama-Birmingham 95 88 3.97 . 0% 1% 1% 2% 4% 6% 10% 13% 16% 18% 15% 9% 4%
Marshall 99 71 3.23 . 0% 1% 1% 1% 2% 4% 6% 11% 15% 18% 19% 15% 9%
Memphis 114 95 2.86 . 0% 1% 0% 1% 1% 3% 6% 9% 14% 17% 18% 17% 13%
Southern Methodist 44 73 7.61 . 2% 6% 11% 17% 18% 17% 14% 8% 4% 2% 1% 0% 0%
Houston 57 100 8.47 . 8% 13% 16% 18% 16% 12% 7% 5% 3% 1% 1% 0% 0%
Tulsa 59 66 6.50 . 0% 2% 5% 10% 16% 18% 17% 13% 9% 5% 2% 1% 0%
Rice 83 84 4.93 . 0% 1% 2% 4% 6% 10% 13% 18% 15% 14% 9% 5% 2%
Texas-El Paso 90 92 4.71 . 0% 1% 3% 3% 6% 10% 12% 16% 16% 14% 11% 5% 3%
Tulane 107 93 3.79 0% 1% 1% 1% 2% 4% 5% 8% 12% 15% 18% 15% 11% 7%

Projected Results - League Games

Team Rank Division Odds E(wins) 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Southern Mississippi 49 48.5% 6.01 . 21% 25% 23% 14% 8% 6% 2% 1% 0%
Central Florida 54 28.0% 5.33 . 9% 17% 24% 21% 16% 8% 4% 2% 0%
East Carolina 80 14.0% 4.26 . 4% 8% 14% 21% 20% 15% 10% 6% 2%
Alabama-Birmingham 95 4.9% 2.92 . 1% 3% 6% 10% 15% 21% 22% 16% 7%
Marshall 99 3.6% 2.65 . 1% 2% 3% 8% 15% 20% 23% 18% 10%
Memphis 114 1.0% 1.64 . 0% 1% 1% 3% 7% 14% 22% 27% 26%
Southern Methodist 44 34.1% 5.74 . 13% 23% 24% 19% 12% 6% 2% 1% 0%
Houston 57 31.6% 5.63 . 14% 22% 23% 17% 12% 7% 3% 2% 1%
Tulsa 59 23.6% 5.18 . 9% 17% 21% 20% 15% 9% 5% 3% 1%
Rice 83 5.9% 3.81 . 1% 4% 11% 17% 23% 21% 14% 7% 2%
Texas-El Paso 90 2.9% 2.52 . 1% 2% 4% 8% 12% 18% 22% 20% 13%
Tulane 107 1.9% 2.32 . 1% 1% 3% 6% 11% 18% 25% 23% 12%

Some commentary about the projections:

1) CUSA has fairly interesting parity at the top. There's a clear distinction between the five at the top (SMU, USM, UCF, Houston, Tulsa) and the rest, but within the top five, really anyone can win the league. For whatever reason, there just isn't all that much separation between those five. USM has something of an edge, but it's more because they get UCF at home and skip both Houston and Tulsa as opposed to it being a function of them projected as being much better than the rest.

There are a few important notes and caveats I need to make about this model:

1) Compu-Picks does not endorse implicitly or explicitly any form of illegal gambling. Compu-Picks is intended to be used for entertainment purposes only.

2) No guarantee or warranty is offered or implied by Compu-Picks for any information provided and/or predictions made.

3) This preseason model is primarily based on the main compu-picks model. Essentially, it attempts to predict how well a team will rate given its rating history, as well as a number of other data points, such as returning starters, draft talent lost, turnovers, recruiting, etc. This means, among other things, that the rankings are power rankings based on how good a team projects to be, as opposed to a more cynical (though accurate) model that attempts to project how the BCS will rank a team by making adjustments to favor those with easy schedules and punish those with tough schedules.

4) For three teams (Auburn, Oregon, UNC), you can see that they're projected to half a new coach. This was a manual adjustment I made to the data based on the off-field issues that each program is dealing with. A new coach is a negative predictive factor, so estimating a 50% chance of having a new coach makes an impact. For UNC, it's more that there's a pretty reasonable chance that they'll replace Butch Davis (or be forced to) before the season. For the other two, it's more a reflection of the possibility that the ongoing investigations will unearth more trouble, possibly leading to a coach replacement and/or current players being declared ineligible. For those two, estimating a 50% chance of a new coach is mainly a proxy for that possibility. It's admittedly arbitrary, but I believe that it's reasonable given the current climate.
I have also provided adjusted division (or league) odds in a number of instances. For the Pac-12 South, it shows the odds of each team winning adjusting for the fact that USC will be ineligible (the original calculation does not account for this). For various other instances, it would only be relevant if the team in question does in fact become ineligible for the division/league title. Should that not happen, you can ignore the adjusted odds.

5) There is a substantial amount of noise in these projections, which is to be expected given the large number of unknowns (who will have good and bad luck with injuries, which young players will improve and which won't, how specific matchups will come into play, etc.). Right now the standard error is a bit over 0.2 on a scale of about -1 to +1. It's important to look at the projections with this in mind to get a sense of how material the projected differences are. Given a standard error around 0.2, it is safe to project Alabama to be a much better team than Mississippi St, but it is not safe to project Arkansas to be any better than LSU, much less a lot better.

6) At this point, there are a number of model features that need to be investigated further. Chief among these is the distribution of extreme events. It appears that the model may be overstating the probabilities of extreme events, such as 12-0 or 0-12 records, or major underdogs winning their division/league. Please keep this in mind when looking at the distribution of win probabilities.

2011 Compu-Picks Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at cfn_ms@hotmail.com

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