Compu-Picks 2012 Analysis: Week Four Games

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Sep 18, 2012


2012 Compu-Picks Analysis: What results to date can tell us about key week four games

One new piece of analysis I'm doing this year is looking at some of key matchups and what Compu-Picks thinks the results of these matchups will say about the rest of the season.

With three weeks of results in the books, we've learned a fair amount about a number of teams. Given what we've learned, how should we adjust our projections? This analysis attempts to do that, adjusting the original preseason projections given win/loss information (as in previous articles, ONLY wins and losses are considered; in-game information such as margin or other statistics are not considered).

First up is Clemson at Florida St. I start with the preseason spread (as can be seen here) and current spread for comparison purposes, then look at the original Compu-Picks preseason projection of Florida St's probability of winning this game. I then show the adjusted probability given each successive piece of information. As you can see, Clemson's win over Auburn made an impact, though a number of other data points (most notably Auburn's subsequent loss to Miss St) dropped the impact a bit.

Overall, this analysis gives Clemson a bit better than a 1 in 4 shot at this game, which is more like what you'd expect from a 10 point line rather than a 14 point line. Essentially, the Compu-Picks estimate would have originally leaned towards Florida St (though not by enough to hit even a level 1 confidence point), but while the Vegas line has shifted towards FSU, the Compu-Picks analysis has moved a bit towards Clemson, overall changing the lean. That said, it's not a particularly meaningful lean, especially given the relatively looseness of this analysis.

One thing to note here is that I've added a column to the right showing the number of simulations left after taking each additional W/L result into account (i.e. throwing out simulations where Auburn beat Clemson leaves us with 1,980; throwing out the simulations where FSU lost their AA opponent leaves us with 1,978 [i.e. that was an extremely unlikely result], etc.). As the number of simulations decreases, it's worth taking the resultant win probabilities with some degree of skepticism. In this case, the numbers stay pretty decently high, but in some later tables, this isn't the case.

Preseason Line for Clemson at Florida St. 10.5
Current Line for Clemson at Florida St. 14.0 Simulations Left
Original Compu-Picks Probability of Clemson win over Florida St. 22.38% 5001
Probability Given Clemson Win over Auburn 30.15% 1980
Probability Given Florida St. Win over AA 30.08% 1978
Probability Given Clemson Win over Ball St. 30.29% 1948
Probability Given Florida St. Win over AA 30.29% 1948
Probability Given Clemson Win over AA 30.30% 1947
Probability Given Florida St. Win over Wake Forest 29.64% 1903
Probability Given Wake Forest Win over North Carolina 28.32% 1317
Probability Given Mississippi St. Win over Auburn 27.13% 774

Next up is the other key game of the weekend, Michigan at Notre Dame. The same types of calculations occur here as we saw for Clemson - Florida St. Here the system largely agrees with the line movement; it makes sense, given what we've seen on the field, that it would shift towards Notre Dame. However, in this case the system made Michigan a meaningful favorite over Notre Dame preseason, and while the estimate has certainly moved, it wasn't by enough to justify the current line. Then again, this simple W/L analysis doesn't factor in the blowout loss by Michigan to Bama, the dominant win by Notre Dame over Michigan St, or Michigan's struggles against Air Force (then again, it also doesn't factor in Michigan's struggles against Purdue).

The system's lean here is overall stronger than Clemson-FSU, but it's hardly overwhelming, especially when you note the data that simple W/L necessarily overlooks.

Preseason Line for Michigan at Notre Dame 2.5
Current Line for Michigan at Notre Dame 7.0 Simulations Left
Original Compu-Picks Probability of Michigan win over Notre Dame 64.33% 5001
Probability Given Michigan Loss to Alabama 60.54% 3609
Probability Given Notre Dame Win over Navy 58.31% 3121
Probability Given Michigan Win over Air Force 59.83% 2940
Probability Given Notre Dame Win over Purdue 57.49% 2369
Probability Given Michigan Win over Massachusetts 57.57% 2364
Probability Given Notre Dame Win over Michigan St. 51.61% 1242
Probability Given Alabama Win over Arkansas 52.55% 1058
Probability Given Michigan St. Win over Boise St. 53.85% 572

Thursday night's game between BYU and Boise could be interesting, though the books don't seem to think so, with a 7.5 point line (and apparently rising). Have the books seen something Compu-Picks missed?

It's certainly possible, though if so it's fairly hard to see it. Boise's loss to Michigan St was close, but Michigan St's loss to Notre Dame wasn't. And meanwhile, BYU has been dominant in their wins and very close in their loss (and Utah's loss was extremely close). If anything, digging into the box scores suggests that the probability movement may be a bit overstated.

This is especially true given that there are only 33 simulations left after removing the non-compliant simulations. That's a pretty small number to think that 42% is necessarily accurate, especially since the final move (49% to 42%) was in the opposite direction of what you'd expect given Michigan St losing to the Irish (normally, you'd expect that to increase, not decrease BYU's chances).

So overall, this is a strong pick. This game looks like a tossup, but the line is over a touchdown. In other words, we're basically looking at last Thursday's Rutgers-USF game all over again (except here the line is 7.5 instead of 10), and we all remember how that ended...

Preseason Line for BYU at Boise St. n/a
Current Line for BYU at Boise St. 7.5 Simulations Left
Original Compu-Picks Probability of BYU win over Boise St. 57.19% 5001
Probability Given BYU Win over Washington St. 58.88% 4662
Probability Given Boise St. Loss to Michigan St. 65.26% 2838
Probability Given BYU Win over AA 65.33% 2835
Probability Given Boise St. Win over Miami (Ohio) 61.83% 2261
Probability Given BYU Loss to Utah 53.62% 1214
Probability Given Utah St. Win over Utah 49.37% 79
Probability Given Notre Dame Win over Michigan St. 42.42% 33

Another key game of this weekend is Kansas St at Oklahoma. Here, Compu-Picks called it a near-lock of a Sooner win preseason, and while results so far push it a bit towards Kansas St (as does the line movement), neither one was a big move. Compu-Picks liked the Sooners on the preseason line, and hasn't seen enough data to change its mind. Factoring in KSU's dominance over Miami might have shifted it a bit, but this still looks like value on the home team (though as noted in the season preview, the system may simply be underestimating KSU, as Bill Snyder is no stranger at all to over-achieving expectations).

Preseason Line for Kansas St. at Oklahoma 16.5
Current Line for Kansas St. at Oklahoma 14.0 Simulations Left
Original Compu-Picks Probability of Kansas St. win over Oklahoma 5.46% 5001
Probability Given Kansas St. Win over AA 5.51% 4958
Probability Given Oklahoma Win over UTEP 5.27% 4875
Probability Given Kansas St. Win over Miami (Fla.) 6.11% 3766
Probability Given Oklahoma Win over AA 6.11% 3765
Probability Given Kansas St. Win over North Texas 6.24% 3575
Probability Given Miami (Fla.) Win over Boston College 6.94% 720
Probability Given Mississippi Win over UTEP 7.28% 563

Compu-Picks isn't surprised at all by the extreme line in Arizona-Oregon, despite the Wildcats' surprsingly strong start. The system rated Oregon as a juggernaut, and while there have been injury issues, it's hard to see the Ducks' performances to date as undermining that assessment in any meaningful way (other than that their second string isn't all that great). And given Arizona's struggles against Toledo (again, simple W/L doesn't reflect that level of detail), it's hard to really see this assessment as being wrong. This looks like a blowout waiting to happen.

Preseason Line for Arizona at Oregon n/a
Current Line for Arizona at Oregon 24.0 Simulations Left
Original Compu-Picks Probability of Arizona win over Oregon 0.40% 5001
Probability Given Arizona Win over Toledo 0.66% 2428
Probability Given Oregon Win over Arkansas St. 0.66% 2411
Probability Given Arizona Win over Oklahoma St. 1.80% 388
Probability Given Oregon Win over Fresno St. 1.81% 386
Probability Given Arizona Win over AA 1.86% 376
Probability Given Oregon Win over AA 1.86% 376
Probability Given Toledo Win over Wyoming 1.31% 153
Probability Given Fresno St. Win over Colorado 1.72% 116

Staying in the Pac-12, Oregon St at UCLA is another game that the system assesses as being too low of a line. The opening line of 11 seemed in the ballpark of right, but it's now down to 8 points, which seems like value on UCLA, and that's before factoring in Wisconsin's near-loss to Utah St and struggles against their AA opponent, both of which take a definite bite out of Oregon St's only win to date.

Preseason Line for Oregon St. at UCLA n/a
Current Line for Oregon St. at UCLA 8.0 Simulations Left
Original Compu-Picks Probability of Oregon St. win over UCLA 30.09% 5001
Probability Given UCLA Win over Rice 26.96% 4258
Probability Given Oregon St. Win over Wisconsin 34.83% 2337
Probability Given UCLA Win over Nebraska 28.46% 1279
Probability Given UCLA Win over Houston 27.11% 1195
Probability Given Wisconsin Win over Utah St. 28.10% 1007
Probability Given Nebraska Win over Southern Miss 26.78% 844

Another line movement that Compu-Picks disagrees with is Rutgers-Arkansas. It opened at pick, and has now moved a full touchdown towards the Hogs. Even if you think that Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson will play (and he's still questionable from what I've seen), it's hard to lay any points, much less a full touchdown, on this absolute train wreck of an Arkansas team. Especially against a Rutgers team that's been playing very well so far. This may well be the best value on the whole board this week.

Preseason Line for Rutgers at Arkansas n/a
Current Line for Rutgers at Arkansas 7.0 Simulations Left
Original Compu-Picks Probability of Rutgers win over Arkansas 33.55% 5001
Probability Given Rutgers Win over Tulane 35.80% 4385
Probability Given Arkansas Win over AA 35.68% 4370
Probability Given Rutgers Win over AA 35.80% 4344
Probability Given Arkansas Loss to La.-Monroe 57.47% 308
Probability Given Rutgers Win over South Florida 63.33% 150
Probability Given Arkansas Loss to Alabama 64.49% 138
Probability Given South Florida Win over Nevada 64.36% 101
Probability Given Alabama Win over Michigan 64.56% 79

Well, except for ECU-UNC anyway. Here, Compu-Picks started out thinking it was a tossup, and results to date have only swung the assessment towards ECU. It's true that UNC's losses were close, but that were getting annihilated at Louisville before the late comeback. It's just as likely that the Cardinals simply took their foot off the gas pedal and had trouble turning it back on as it is that UNC is going to turn a solid second half effort into a run going forward. I would say that Compu-Picks is overstating ECU's chances here a bit, but honestly this seems like a tossup to me.

Preseason Line for East Carolina at North Carolina n/a
Current Line for East Carolina at North Carolina 17.0 Simulations Left
Original Compu-Picks Probability of East Carolina win over North Carolina 47.05% 5001
Probability Given East Carolina Win over AA 49.17% 4562
Probability Given North Carolina Win over AA 46.49% 4070
Probability Given East Carolina Loss to South Carolina 44.85% 3799
Probability Given North Carolina Loss to Wake Forest 50.52% 2490
Probability Given East Carolina Win over Southern Miss 62.30% 573
Probability Given North Carolina Loss to Louisville 62.88% 528
Probability Given Nebraska Win over Southern Miss 63.16% 494
Probability Given Louisville Win over Kentucky 63.48% 408

This is one of those "maybe, MAYBE there's a chance" games. Compu-Picks called it preseason for Auburn and has (obviously) switched its predicted winner, but it still gives the home team a shot. This is partially because it doesn't get to realize how badly Auburn lost at Miss St or how close they came to dropping ULM, and partially because it doesn't see the dominance of LSU's wins. All that said, Auburn is still a very talented team, and this is LSU's first road game, and probably against the best team they've seen so far. There's a reasonable chance Auburn gets totally blown out, but there's also at least a minor shot at an upset here. It's probably worth noting that I'm probably going to stay pretty skeptical of LSU until and unless they get out the Swamp still undefeated. I could certainly be wrong... but for now I'm not sold yet.

Preseason Line for LSU at Auburn 9.5
Current Line for LSU at Auburn 20.5 Simulations Left
Original Compu-Picks Probability of LSU win over Auburn 43.71% 5001
Probability Given LSU Win over North Texas 44.04% 4957
Probability Given Auburn Loss to Clemson 53.74% 1963
Probability Given LSU Win over Washington 56.34% 1633
Probability Given Auburn Loss to Mississippi St. 63.97% 952
Probability Given LSU Win over Idaho 64.04% 951
Probability Given Auburn Win over La.-Monroe 62.82% 893
Probability Given Washington Win over San Diego St. 64.05% 776
Probability Given La.-Monroe Win over Arkansas 60.42% 48

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.

2012 Compu-Picks Blog

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