Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bowl Game Predictions and Confidence Rankings 2016

With the bowl games set to start this Saturday, it's time to use the Random Walker Rankings to predict the winners. Additionally, following the ESPN Capital One Bowl Mania format, we have a confidence rank/score for each game, where 1 is least confident and 42 is most confident. Our predicted winners are the higher ranked teams and the confidence rank is based on the difference in percentage of walkers between the two teams.

As the games proceed, I will update this post with the results and tally the final score and how the Random Walkers entry does in the ESPN competition.

WinnerLoserConfidence Score
Appalachian StToledo1
North Carolina CentralGrambling St3
Western MichiganWisconsin4
MemphisWestern Kentucky5
Eastern MichiganOld Dominion6
Colorado StIdaho8
VanderbiltNorth Carolina St9
Louisiana-LafayetteSouthern Miss10
WyomingBrigham Young11
Arkansas StCentral Florida13
MarylandBoston College14
Middle Tennessee StHawaii15
Washington StMinnesota16
North CarolinaStanford17
ColoradoOklahoma St18
TroyOhio U.19
Georgia TechKentucky21
Ohio StateClemson22
ArmyNorth Texas23
West VirginiaMiami FL24
Mississippi StMiami OH25
HoustonSan Diego St27
Virginia TechArkansas28
New MexicoTexas-San Antonio30
Texas A&MKansas St31
TempleWake Forest32
TulsaCentral Michigan33
MichiganFlorida St34
NavyLouisiana Tech35
South FloridaSouth Carolina36
Air ForceSouth Alabama37
Alabama/Washington winnerOhio State/Clemson winner38
Penn StateSouthern Cal40
Boise StBaylor41

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Final Regular Season Rankings of 2016

Alabama, Clemson, Penn State, Washington, Western Michigan, and Oklahoma capped off their impressive seasons with conference championships this weekend. This presents the most challenging scenario for the College Football Playoff committee. Alabama and Clemson seem to have the strongest cases for the playoff, but Ohio State, Penn State, and Washington each have a very strong case for the final two spots. Michigan, Western Michigan, and Oklahoma also had great seasons that many could use as justification for an 8-team playoff.

The random walkers, who don't care about explicitly about conference championships or preseason favorites or school reputation, have Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Penn State as the top 4 teams for almost all parameter values. The only exceptions are that at low "p" values (where strength of schedule is most important), Washington moves into number 4 and Penn State falls to 5, and at high "p" values (where win-loss record is most important) undefeated Western Michigan moves into the top 4 while again Penn State falls out.

It will be interesting to see if the CFP committee agrees. I can see three possible outcomes, ranked below in order of likelihood:
1) "Eye test" wins out: Ohio State and Washington get in.
2) Conference championships and head-to-head win out: Penn State and Washington get in.
3) "Eye test" and stronger weighting towards late season results win out: Ohio State and Penn State (9 game win streak after starting 2-2) get in. This is how the random walkers would vote.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rankings through November 26, 2016

Alabama still reigns supreme while the Big 10 dominates the playoff discussion with 4 teams in our top 6. The result of "The Game" leads to a potential nightmare scenario for the playoff committee. Neither Ohio State nor Michigan qualified for the Big 10 championship game which will feature Penn State and Wisconsin. A Penn State win will mean that in addition to winning the Big 10, they will also have a head-to-head win over Ohio State. The committee would then have to choose between leaving Ohio State out, leaving out the Big 10 champion who beat Ohio State, or possibly leaving out one loss ACC or Pac 12 champions. The decision would be much easier if Penn State loses, Clemson loses, or Washington loses. I don't mention Alabama because I think they are guaranteed a spot no matter what happens in the SEC championship game.

I anticipate a lot of talk about an 8-team playoff over the next week. A possible approach would to give the Big 5 conference champions a spot plus a Group of 5 team and 2 at-large picks. This year I think that would look like Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State/Wisconsin, Oklahoma/Oklahoma State, Western Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Rankings through November 19, 2016

After a fairly quiet week, with the exception of Louisville's upset loss and Ohio State's narrow escape, the rankings have mostly stayed the same. As we approach Rivalry Week, Ohio State vs Michigan, Washington vs Washington State, Alabama vs Auburn, and Clemson vs South Carolina loom large.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Rankings thru November 12, 2016

Now things get interesting! As we have almost every year, an upset-filled week throws everything off. With undefeated Clemson, Michigan, and Washington and 1-loss Texas A&M all losing to unranked or not highly ranked (in the case of USC) teams, that week finally arrived. And with the upset US presidential election result this week, I guess it was the appropriate time.

With regards to the CFP, only Alabama is secure. Clemson and the Ohio State/Michigan winner still seem likely but their margin of error is slim. Louisville now has new life and Washington will be sweating it out until the end because of their weak schedule.

One final observation from these rankings is that the Big 10 is looking like the dominant conference with spots 3-6, including two loss Penn State and Wisconsin ahead of several one loss teams. Wisconsin's two losses are to Ohio State and Michigan, while Penn State has lost only to Michigan and Pittsburgh (who just beat Clemson) while beating Ohio State. Thus the flow of random walkers is mostly staying among these four teams which helps support their rankings.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rankings thru November 5, 2016

Texas A&M's upset loss and Ohio State's blowout win of Nebraska were the big results of the weekend, but neither change the likely Alabama, Clemson, Washington, and Michigan/Ohio State winner as the playoff selections. Last week, we were in perfect agreement on the ranking of the top 6 teams with the CFP. I doubt we will repeat that since Texas A&M only dropped to #6, but I expect the top 5 will agree.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Rankings through October 29, 2016

With the season's first College Football Playoff rankings set to be released on Tuesday, it is definitely time to check in with the random walker rankings to see where teams stand. Alabama is leaving right where they left off back in January with a dominant first half of the season. Currently Clemson, Washington, and the winner of the upcoming Michigan and Ohio State game also seem to be in great position for the top 4 playoff. But we still have over a month left in the season, so we should expect upsets to shuffle the landscape.