Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

Compu-Picks 2011 Preview: Mountain West

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Jul 24, 2011


2011 Compu-Picks Previews Each 1-A League: Mountain West

Below is the preview for the Mountain West, consisting of three tables.

The first table outlines the projected rankings for each Mountain West team, sorted 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
Boise State 5 3 7 72 73 15 8 15 . 7*/7
Texas Christian 12 4 10 59 5 21 9 18 . 3/5
Air Force 32 32 46 91 94 25 5 0 . 6*/8
San Diego State 70 36 104 90 82 16 -6 6 1 8*/5
Colorado State 93 105 87 92 87 22 -8 0 . 8*/6
Wyoming 97 95 82 105 77 10 -2 4 . 7/7
New Mexico 101 115 83 99 66 27 -12 0 . 6*/9
Nevada-Las Vegas 110 106 98 87 84 16 -1 0 . 7/4

Projected Results - All Games

Team Rank SOS E(wins) 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Boise State 5 72 10.76 . 39% 30% 16% 8% 4% 2% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% .
Texas Christian 12 79 10.04 . 15% 28% 26% 16% 8% 3% 2% 1% 0% 0% 0% . .
Air Force 32 80 8.71 . 3% 9% 20% 25% 22% 12% 5% 2% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0%
San Diego State 70 75 6.42 . 1% 2% 5% 10% 14% 18% 18% 13% 10% 5% 2% 1% 1%
Colorado State 93 90 5.05 . 0% 1% 2% 5% 8% 11% 15% 16% 13% 13% 8% 5% 3%
Wyoming 97 87 4.67 . 0% 1% 1% 2% 5% 12% 15% 18% 17% 14% 8% 5% 2%
New Mexico 101 57 3.53 . . 0% 0% 1% 1% 3% 7% 16% 21% 21% 17% 9% 4%
Nevada-Las Vegas 110 58 2.42 . . 0% 0% 0% 1% 2% 4% 6% 12% 18% 23% 19% 15%

Projected Results - League Games

Team Rank League Odds E(wins) 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Boise State 5 60.0% 6.33 . . 55% 29% 12% 3% 1% 0% 0% .
Texas Christian 12 24.8% 5.67 . . 20% 41% 27% 9% 2% 0% 0% .
Air Force 32 12.0% 5.07 . . 8% 28% 37% 17% 6% 2% 1% 0%
San Diego State 70 2.2% 3.47 . . 1% 4% 14% 31% 27% 15% 6% 2%
Colorado State 93 0.6% 2.24 . . 0% 1% 5% 13% 22% 25% 21% 12%
Wyoming 97 0.4% 2.07 . . 0% 1% 2% 9% 22% 32% 23% 10%
New Mexico 101 0.1% 1.80 . . 0% 0% 2% 6% 19% 28% 30% 14%
Nevada-Las Vegas 110 0.1% 1.37 . . . 0% 1% 5% 12% 22% 33% 28%

Some commentary about the projections:

1) The Mountain West looks like it has the least amount of parity of any league. Even a model which admittedly seems to over-emphasize the tail probabilities (i.e. odds of extreme events) still has over a 96% probability that the league will be won by Boise, TCU or Air Force. And that shouldn't really be surprising. If you look at the 4-year ranks from 2006-2009, the BEST of the other teams was Wyoming at 82nd. Yes, you get an occassional surprise, like SD St in 2010, but none of the bottom five have stayed up for long. This is why the league seems very unlikely to obtain the BCS waiver when (assuming they're still eligible) they apply after this year. Over half the league is atrocious by BCS standards. Until and unless that changes, the Mountain West will always be on the outside looking in.

2) I'm not sure there's really anything especially interesting to write about Boise at this point. The table pretty much says it all. They've been very good for a while, they still don't recruit well, they're going to again have a pretty weak schedule, they'll be solid Mountain West favorites, and they'll be highly likely to win 11 or 12 games. But those are all things pretty much everyone already knew.

3) TCU is an interesting story. Like Boise, they've been very good for a while, they don't recruit well, and they've got a soft schedule. Unlike Boise, they've got a lot of rebuilding to do, with only 8 returning starters and none of them a quarterback. Of course, also unlike Boise, their recruiting has been improving strongly, with a 2011 class that's light-years ahead of what they're used to. Overall, it's pretty obvious that they should take a step back, but it's unclear how much of one. Unlike some other programs who recruit fantastically to try to fill in the holes (cough, cough, Auburn), TCU doesn't have that kind of huge talent base (unless that 2011 class becomes really good really fast, which is fairly unlikely).
On the other hand, this team has been so consistently good that it's tough to think they'll just collapse all of a sudden. 10 wins is the model's projection, and given their history of sucess and soft schedule (@ Boise and vs BYU will be tough, @ Air Force could be tough, but that's really about it for noteworthy opponents), 10 wins seems very achievable.

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

Follow cfn_ms on Twitter