Normally this would be where I try to write a bowl projections update, but since none of us know what the hell is going on or if there will be any bowl games outside of the college football playoff, which is also a huge if, I thought it would be easier to track Louisville’s week-over-week analytical trajectory.
However, before I get to that I did want to give a major tip of the cap to the folks over at CollegeFootballNews.com who put together as complete a list of as possible including a multitude of factors that make it virtually impossible for anyone to put together any sort of projection for this. They included just about everything ranging from the amount of teams available this year for bowl games, the amount of teams that will even have a chance of going .500 in their adjusted, as well as external factors such as which states would never let a bowl game be played in a global pandemic. The results are … fascinating.
They currently have Louisville playing Tennessee in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, which would be all kinds of fun.
The rest of the bowl projections are currently holding off on projecting anything outside of the CFP or the New Years 6 until we have something more concrete to go off of. Especially with the announcement of the Big 10 deciding to play football after all.
So enough talking about things we don’t know about, let’s talk about the things we truly understand: robots.
Let’s start with my personal favorite, Bill Connelly’s SP+:
What is SP+? Connelly tries to explain it quickly, “it is, at its heart, a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of what college football teams can most consistently do to win football games.” It’s brilliant, it’s awesome, and Vegas and its bettors pay close attention to it due to its winning record against the spread. If you’re interested in the ins and outs of Connelly’s madness, here’s a good read.
Entering Week 1, SP+ had Louisville ranked at #41 in the country with an SP+ Rating of 7.3, meaning UofL is 7.3 points better than average while Clemson is 26 points better than average. SP+ also projected Louisville to win 6 games. However, SP+ is extremely conservative with its win projections, and “if you have an 80% chance of winning, it counts as 0.8 wins, and 60% counts as 0.6 wins. Using these average totals, you’ll see no one projected to go unbeaten or winless.”
So please consider this before you yell at a computer algorithm. It’s almost as bad as arguing with your GPS, that is unless you’re using Apple Maps. Apple Maps is trash.
Now here’s how the preseason 6-win projection looks with pretty colors and more numbers that we all definitely understand:
Mad at the computer? I have good news! With a week of data under its belt, SP+ churned out its new set of ratings and projections. UofL checks in at #18, but you should take that with a grain of salt because Connelly deleted any teams not playing this fall.
The real numbers that you want to pay attention to are that UofL’s SP+ rating is now a 10.9 and the Cardinals’ win total projection went up by an entire game. Considering there’s only 11 games to be played, that’s a massive jump (thanks, FSU).
Here’re the updated game-by-game projections:
If you’re still pissed off, I have more good news: there’s another computer you can hate.
Let me introduce you to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI).
What is the FPI? Here is ESPN’s explanation: “Each team’s FPI rating is composed of a predicted offensive, defensive and special team component. These ratings represent the number of points each unit is expected to contribute to the team’s net scoring margin on a neutral field against an average FBS opponent.” It is meant to be a predictive measure, and its projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using the FPI, past results and remaining schedule, and it changes on a weekly basis during the season.”
Prior to the start of the season, the FPI had Louisville ranked 20th and gave the Cardinals an FPI Score of a 12.9. The FPI score measures a team’s true strength on net points scale; expected point margin vs average opponent on neutral field, similar to Connelly’s SP+. In Louisville’s 11 games, FPI projected the Cards to finish with a record of 8.0-3.3.
However, following a week full of upsets and good looks at teams that we thought would be better (*cough* FSU *cough*), the FPI now ranks the Cards #14 with a 12.1 FPI score. UofL’s record projection, however, remained relatively unchanged as it now sits at 7.9-3.3.
In the preseason the FPI gave Louisville an 83% chance to beat Miami, but that has since fallen to 76.7%, which is still bullish.
Here’s the latest FPI game-by-game projections for the remainder of the season:
If we get through these next few weeks without a loss we can really start dreaming big, and so can these big, dumb computers.