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26 Aug 2014

Varsity Numbers: Updated 2014 Projections

by Bill Connelly

With the 2014 college football season approaching quickly -- the FBS slate kicks off at 6 p.m. EDT on Thursday when Texas A&M takes on South Carolina in Columbia -- I figured it would be best to celebrate like we always do: by sharing some last-second F/+ projections.

The world keeps spinning after we publish the annual Football Outsiders Almanac: Players get hurt or kicked off their respective teams, we figure out tweaks to make the projections better, etc. Therefore, the projections we share in the FOA are outdated the moment the book is published.

Below are the updated F/+ projections for 2014. So what changed in this forecast? First of all, some of the returnee data changed as players left and my own data just got more accurate. Second, on the S&P+ end of the equation, I moved from a weighted five-year average for the "History" portion of the projections, to a weighted three-year average. There's a lot of redundancy in using Years 3, 4, and 5 in the equation, and three-year results seem to give me either similar or better numbers.

Again, this didn't make for any serious impact, but it did change some numbers a bit.

Team Conf Proj.
S&P+
Rk Proj. FEI Rk Proj. F/+ Rk Proj.
Off. F/+
Rk Proj.
Def. F/+
Rk
Florida State ACC 279.4 1 0.271 3 33.7% 1 29.8% 4 37.7% 1
Alabama SEC 263.5 2 0.279 1 30.2% 2 28.8% 5 31.5% 5
Oregon Pac-12 242.9 3 0.279 2 25.0% 3 35.8% 2 14.2% 26
Stanford Pac-12 237.7 5 0.253 4 22.4% 4 13.3% 30 31.4% 6
South Carolina SEC 237.5 6 0.217 6 20.5% 5 25.7% 9 15.2% 24
LSU SEC 234.6 12 0.212 7 19.5% 6 21.2% 14 17.9% 18
Oklahoma Big 12 228.5 18 0.238 5 19.3% 7 12.7% 31 25.9% 10
Auburn SEC 234.2 14 0.198 8 18.7% 8 28.7% 6 8.8% 39
Michigan State Big Ten 234.5 13 0.189 9 18.4% 9 2.2% 61 34.5% 3
USC Pac-12 236.2 8 0.176 11 18.1% 10 6.9% 43 29.3% 8
Georgia SEC 236.0 10 0.174 12 18.0% 11 21.1% 15 14.9% 25
Ohio State Big Ten 236.0 9 0.171 13 17.9% 12 25.6% 10 10.1% 34
Baylor Big 12 236.3 7 0.151 19 16.9% 13 30.9% 3 3.0% 58
Texas A&M SEC 235.1 11 0.152 18 16.7% 14 35.8% 1 -2.5% 72
Clemson ACC 238.5 4 0.133 23 16.6% 15 12.6% 32 20.5% 15
UCLA Pac-12 227.5 19 0.185 10 16.4% 16 19.6% 17 13.2% 28
Oklahoma State Big 12 228.8 17 0.169 14 15.9% 17 7.3% 42 24.6% 11
Wisconsin Big Ten 231.4 16 0.142 21 15.3% 18 14.9% 28 15.6% 22
Louisville ACC 233.2 15 0.123 27 14.8% 19 17.2% 21 12.3% 32
Arizona State Pac-12 225.0 20 0.164 15 14.7% 20 24.3% 12 5.1% 52
Missouri SEC 223.6 22 0.158 16 14.1% 21 10.8% 35 17.3% 19
Notre Dame Ind 221.1 26 0.143 20 12.7% 22 17.0% 22 8.4% 43
Washington Pac-12 220.8 27 0.136 22 12.3% 23 15.9% 23 8.6% 41
Central Florida American 221.2 25 0.131 24 12.1% 24 15.1% 25 9.2% 36
Ole Miss SEC 222.4 23 0.122 30 12.0% 25 0.2% 68 23.8% 12
Team Conf Proj.
S&P+
Rk Proj. FEI Rk Proj. F/+ Rk Proj.
Off. F/+
Rk Proj.
Def. F/+
Rk
Virginia Tech ACC 224.4 21 0.110 35 11.9% 26 -10.8% 89 34.6% 2
Mississippi State SEC 221.5 24 0.108 36 11.1% 27 1.6% 65 20.5% 14
Boise State MWC 218.6 28 0.123 28 11.0% 28 9.6% 37 12.5% 30
Kansas State Big 12 212.2 37 0.154 17 11.0% 29 20.2% 16 1.7% 60
Michigan Big Ten 218.2 29 0.122 29 10.9% 30 12.4% 33 9.5% 35
BYU Ind 217.2 31 0.120 31 10.6% 31 3.8% 53 17.3% 20
Iowa Big Ten 215.2 33 0.128 25 10.5% 32 2.1% 62 18.8% 16
Florida SEC 217.1 32 0.111 34 10.1% 33 -11.9% 91 32.0% 4
Arizona Pac-12 214.1 35 0.101 37 8.9% 34 11.5% 34 6.2% 49
Texas Big 12 211.0 39 0.115 33 8.7% 35 2.0% 63 15.5% 23
North Carolina ACC 215.0 34 0.091 38 8.6% 36 13.9% 29 3.2% 57
Oregon State Pac-12 207.5 46 0.124 26 8.3% 37 14.9% 26 1.6% 62
Houston American 209.1 41 0.115 32 8.3% 38 2.5% 59 14.0% 27
TCU Big 12 214.1 36 0.085 39 8.1% 39 -13.1% 95 29.2% 9
Miami ACC 217.6 30 0.066 44 8.0% 40 28.6% 7 -12.6% 101
Nebraska Big Ten 208.4 44 0.085 40 6.6% 41 -2.8% 76 16.0% 21
Georgia Tech ACC 209.0 42 0.066 43 5.8% 42 15.4% 24 -3.8% 75
Texas Tech Big 12 206.6 48 0.078 42 5.8% 43 25.3% 11 -13.7% 106
Utah Pac-12 205.4 50 0.081 41 5.7% 44 -1.0% 71 12.4% 31
Pittsburgh ACC 210.0 40 0.053 47 5.4% 45 3.1% 57 7.7% 44
Penn State Big Ten 211.1 38 0.046 48 5.3% 46 -7.3% 85 18.0% 17
Northwestern Big Ten 204.7 51 0.063 45 4.6% 47 4.7% 50 4.4% 54
Duke ACC 203.9 53 0.059 46 4.2% 48 17.5% 19 -9.1% 91
Indiana Big Ten 207.4 47 0.024 55 3.3% 49 25.9% 8 -19.4% 112
Cincinnati American 202.2 57 0.044 49 3.0% 50 5.0% 49 1.0% 64
Team Conf Proj.
S&P+
Rk Proj. FEI Rk Proj. F/+ Rk Proj.
Off. F/+
Rk Proj.
Def. F/+
Rk
Northern Illinois MAC 200.1 60 0.044 50 2.4% 51 14.9% 27 -10.0% 93
Maryland Big Ten 202.9 56 0.028 54 2.4% 52 -4.0% 80 8.8% 38
Bowling Green MAC 206.3 49 0.007 58 2.2% 53 9.3% 38 -5.0% 79
Utah State MWC 208.6 43 -0.004 62 2.2% 54 -25.8% 124 30.1% 7
Toledo MAC 204.5 52 0.010 57 1.9% 55 8.2% 40 -4.5% 76
Fresno State MWC 207.6 45 -0.013 67 1.5% 56 5.6% 45 -2.6% 73
Washington State Pac-12 197.5 63 0.034 52 1.3% 57 4.6% 51 -2.0% 69
Marshall Conf USA 203.2 55 0.004 59 1.3% 58 9.6% 36 -7.1% 86
Vanderbilt SEC 199.9 61 0.016 56 1.0% 59 2.2% 60 -0.2% 66
Navy Ind 195.5 66 0.031 53 0.7% 60 21.5% 13 -20.2% 114
East Carolina American 203.3 54 -0.010 64 0.6% 61 5.6% 46 -4.5% 77
West Virginia Big 12 191.4 75 0.041 51 0.1% 62 -3.9% 78 4.1% 55
Arkansas SEC 200.4 59 -0.012 66 -0.3% 63 6.1% 44 -6.7% 85
Virginia ACC 198.6 62 -0.015 68 -0.9% 64 -22.8% 117 21.0% 13
Syracuse ACC 195.0 68 -0.001 60 -1.1% 65 -3.9% 79 1.8% 59
Tennessee SEC 201.8 58 -0.040 75 -1.3% 66 -10.3% 88 7.6% 45
Minnesota Big Ten 193.1 71 -0.012 65 -2.1% 67 -7.6% 87 3.4% 56
Nevada MWC 192.9 72 -0.016 69 -2.3% 68 17.3% 20 -22.0% 118
Rutgers Big Ten 189.2 83 -0.002 61 -2.5% 69 -2.7% 74 -2.4% 71
N.C. State ACC 193.8 70 -0.030 73 -2.8% 70 -11.9% 92 6.3% 48
Iowa State Big 12 188.8 84 -0.006 63 -2.9% 71 1.7% 64 -7.4% 87
UTSA Conf USA 196.5 64 -0.052 78 -3.2% 72 0.2% 67 -6.6% 84
Boston College ACC 192.4 74 -0.034 74 -3.4% 73 -4.6% 81 -2.2% 70
UL-Lafayette Sun Belt 190.4 79 -0.027 72 -3.5% 74 3.5% 55 -10.5% 94
Team Conf Proj.
S&P+
Rk Proj. FEI Rk Proj. F/+ Rk Proj.
Off. F/+
Rk Proj.
Def. F/+
Rk
Tulsa American 192.7 73 -0.043 76 -3.7% 75 -20.2% 113 12.7% 29
Ball State MAC 194.5 69 -0.066 83 -4.4% 76 4.6% 52 -13.4% 105
Illinois Big Ten 196.1 65 -0.075 86 -4.5% 77 -2.8% 75 -6.2% 82
North Texas Conf USA 195.4 67 -0.080 88 -4.9% 78 -15.3% 98 5.5% 51
Temple American 183.9 95 -0.024 71 -5.0% 79 5.0% 48 -15.0% 109
Kentucky SEC 189.9 81 -0.056 79 -5.1% 80 3.2% 56 -13.4% 104
Connecticut American 181.7 96 -0.022 70 -5.4% 81 -17.4% 105 6.5% 47
San Diego State MWC 188.4 85 -0.060 80 -5.6% 82 -16.4% 100 5.1% 53
SMU American 190.5 78 -0.074 85 -5.8% 83 -7.0% 84 -4.7% 78
South Florida American 185.1 94 -0.051 77 -6.0% 84 -21.1% 114 9.1% 37
Colorado State MWC 189.4 82 -0.074 84 -6.1% 85 -13.8% 96 1.6% 63
California Pac-12 186.5 91 -0.061 81 -6.2% 86 -1.6% 72 -10.8% 95
Memphis American 186.4 92 -0.062 82 -6.3% 87 -19.8% 109 7.2% 46
San Jose State MWC 191.1 76 -0.091 93 -6.5% 88 3.6% 54 -16.7% 110
Rice Conf USA 190.5 77 -0.089 91 -6.6% 89 -7.5% 86 -5.7% 81
South Alabama Sun Belt 187.7 86 -0.078 87 -6.8% 90 -1.9% 73 -11.7% 99
Western Kentucky Conf USA 187.1 87 -0.082 89 -7.1% 91 -2.9% 77 -11.3% 96
Team Conf Proj.
S&P+
Rk Proj. FEI Rk Proj. F/+ Rk Proj.
Off. F/+
Rk Proj.
Def. F/+
Rk
Buffalo MAC 190.2 80 -0.106 101 -7.5% 92 -14.1% 97 -0.9% 67
Tulane American 186.7 89 -0.090 92 -7.6% 93 -23.8% 121 8.6% 40
Arkansas State Sun Belt 185.3 93 -0.093 94 -8.1% 94 -17.9% 106 1.7% 61
Wake Forest ACC 186.8 88 -0.104 98 -8.3% 95 -26.8% 125 10.2% 33
Florida Atlantic Conf USA 186.6 90 -0.105 99 -8.3% 96 -22.8% 118 6.1% 50
Middle Tennessee Conf USA 181.2 97 -0.102 97 -9.6% 97 -19.4% 108 0.2% 65
Kent State MAC 177.4 104 -0.096 95 -10.2% 98 -10.9% 90 -9.5% 92
Colorado Pac-12 179.5 98 -0.110 102 -10.4% 99 -12.1% 93 -8.7% 90
Hawaii MWC 179.3 100 -0.121 105 -11.0% 100 -16.9% 101 -5.0% 80
Kansas Big 12 175.9 106 -0.106 100 -11.1% 101 -30.7% 126 8.5% 42
Central Michigan MAC 171.6 113 -0.085 90 -11.1% 102 -0.7% 70 -21.6% 117
Army Ind 173.8 108 -0.102 96 -11.4% 103 1.5% 66 -24.3% 121
UNLV MWC 179.4 99 -0.142 107 -12.0% 104 -6.1% 83 -17.9% 111
Purdue Big Ten 172.8 110 -0.115 104 -12.3% 105 -12.5% 94 -12.2% 100
Wyoming MWC 177.7 103 -0.142 108 -12.4% 106 -5.4% 82 -19.5% 113
Louisiana Tech Conf USA 171.3 114 -0.112 103 -12.6% 107 -17.1% 104 -8.0% 88
UL-Monroe Sun Belt 177.2 105 -0.143 109 -12.7% 108 -22.7% 116 -2.6% 74
Air Force MWC 175.7 107 -0.146 110 -13.1% 109 5.5% 47 -31.7% 122
Ohio MAC 178.1 102 -0.161 114 -13.3% 110 -25.4% 123 -1.2% 68
Troy Sun Belt 178.4 101 -0.175 116 -14.0% 111 8.4% 39 -36.4% 125
Akron MAC 173.5 109 -0.158 113 -14.3% 112 -20.0% 111 -8.6% 89
Southern Miss Conf USA 169.1 116 -0.148 111 -14.9% 113 -23.4% 120 -6.4% 83
Western Michigan MAC 167.6 117 -0.142 106 -15.0% 114 -16.9% 102 -13.0% 102
Texas State Sun Belt 171.9 112 -0.180 118 -15.8% 115 -20.2% 112 -11.5% 98
New Mexico MWC 172.0 111 -0.186 120 -16.1% 116 18.9% 18 -51.0% 128
UAB Conf USA 169.3 115 -0.179 117 -16.4% 117 2.9% 58 -35.7% 123
UTEP Conf USA 163.6 118 -0.168 115 -17.3% 118 8.1% 41 -42.7% 126
Florida International Conf USA 157.3 123 -0.149 112 -17.9% 119 -21.2% 115 -14.6% 108
Idaho Sun Belt 161.7 119 -0.182 119 -18.5% 120 -23.9% 122 -13.0% 103
Old Dominion Conf USA 161.4 120 -0.193 121 -19.1% 121 -17.0% 103 -21.2% 115
Appalachian State Sun Belt 157.7 122 -0.212 123 -21.0% 122 -19.2% 107 -22.8% 119
Georgia Southern Sun Belt 156.2 124 -0.219 124 -21.7% 123 -19.9% 110 -23.5% 120
Eastern Michigan MAC 160.8 121 -0.245 126 -21.9% 124 0.1% 69 -43.8% 127
Georgia State Sun Belt 150.0 128 -0.202 122 -22.4% 125 -23.3% 119 -21.6% 116
Miami (Ohio) MAC 155.1 125 -0.230 125 -22.5% 126 -33.8% 127 -11.3% 97
Massachusetts MAC 152.4 126 -0.250 127 -24.2% 127 -34.2% 128 -14.3% 107
New Mexico State Sun Belt 152.4 127 -0.291 128 -26.3% 128 -16.4% 99 -36.2% 124

Ball State moved up six spots, Buffalo moved up four, and five teams (Georgia Tech, Kent State, Michigan State, Texas Tech, and Virginia) moved up three. On the flip side, seven teams moved down three spots (Air Force, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, UConn, USF, and Wake Forest), four moved down four (Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, and TCU), and Iowa State moved down five.

Using the new rankings, here's a quick rundown of the top three teams in each FBS conference:

  • AAC: No. 24 UCF, No. 38 Houston, No. 50 Cincinnati
  • ACC: No. 1 Florida State, No. 15 Clemson, No. 19 Louisville
  • Big 12: No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 13 Baylor, No. 17 Oklahoma State
  • Big Ten: No. 9 Michigan State, No. 12 Ohio State, No. 18 Wisconsin
  • Conference USA: No. 58 Marshall, No. 72 UTSA, No. 78 North Texas
  • MAC: No. 51 NIU, No. 53 Bowling Green, No. 55 Toledo
  • MWC: No. 28 Boise State, No. 54 Utah State, No. 56 Fresno State
  • Pac-12: No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Stanford, No. 10 USC
  • SEC: No. 2 Alabama, No. 5 South Carolina, No. 6 LSU
  • Sun Belt: No. 74 UL-Lafayette, No. 90 South Alabama, No. 94 Arkansas State

South Carolina is the most interesting of the top teams to me. The Gamecocks basically lose four of their top five players from last year, but they return almost literally everybody else, and our numbers tend to lean on depth over star power. We'll see if the 'Cocks reward the faith there.

The Playoff

Along with updated numbers come updated playoff probabilities. Teams are grouped according to their percentage chance of making the first ever College Football Playoff. Brian Fremeau sent me these numbers, and he'll be updating them all year in the Wednesday FEI columns. Can't wait to see how this unfolds (and whether the assumptions on which these numbers are based turn out to be true):

  • >40%: Florida State 79.3%, Alabama 71.3%
  • >30%: Oregon 35.5%
  • >20%: Stanford 27.4%, Oklahoma 23.8%
  • >10%: Michigan State 18.6%, Ohio State 15.9%, Baylor 15.6%, LSU 13.7%, South Carolina 11.9%
  • >5%: Oklahoma State 9.9%, Clemson 9.9%, Wisconsin 9.5%, Auburn 8.8%, Louisville 7.5%, USC 6.2%, Georgia 6.0%, Texas A&M 5.2%
  • >2%: Iowa 3.9%, UCLA 2.4%, Virginia Tech 2.1%
  • >1%: Notre Dame 1.9%, Kansas State 1.6%, Arizona State 1.5%, Washington 1.4%, Missouri 1.3%, TCU 1.3%
  • >0.5%: Michigan 0.9%, Marshall 0.8%, Ole Miss 0.8%, Boise State 0.8%, Mississippi State 0.7%
  • >0.0%: Texas 0.5%, Pitt 0.3%, Nebraska 0.3%, UCF 0.3%, Houston 0.2%, Texas Tech 0.2%, Arizona 0.2%, Florida 0.2%, BYU 0.1%, NIU 0.1%, Penn State 0.1%

Seven teams saw their playoff chances go up at least one percent: Florida State (+5.9%), LSU (+3.0%), Oklahoma State (+2.8%), Alabama (+2.6%), Louisville (+2.4%), Michigan State (+1.9%), and Baylor (+1.2%).

Five teams saw their playoff chances go down at least one percent: Clemson (-1.7%), Auburn (-3.7%), Oregon (-5.1%), Oklahoma (-6.0%), Ohio State (-6.5%).

Nerd fight!

F/+ is a combination of S&P+ and FEI, and that goes for both in-season numbers and preseason projections. Brian and I each came up with our own projections, then mashed them together; S&P+ and FEI disagree rather strongly about quite a few teams.

Among top-50 teams, S&P+ likes Clemson and Baylor significantly more than FEI and shows favoritism toward others like Virginia Tech, Miami, Louisville, and Mississippi State. FEI, meanwhile, has a pro-Big 12 bent: Kansas State is projected 20 spots higher by FEI (and I tend to side with FEI on this one), while Oklahoma is projected 13 spots higher (I'm a little queasier about this one). The Fightin' Fremeaus also prefer Oregon State, UCLA, Houston, and Utah quite a bit more.

Near the top, though, there is minimal disagreement. Four of S&P+'s top five are also in FEI's top 10, and seven of S&P+'s top 10 are in FEI's top 12.

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 26 Aug 2014

7 comments, Last at 28 Aug 2014, 12:35pm by Lance

Comments

1
by hoegher :: Tue, 08/26/2014 - 5:46pm

So, I'm assuming you have the ability to form your own opinions, but probably heavily influenced by your numbers. IRREGARDLESS:

What's one team you think will fall short of their pre-season F/+ (preferably in the Top 10) and one team you think will outperform their projections (preferably outside the Top 25)?

For a Big Ten bias, I'll go Michigan State (because eff Sparty) and Minnesota (because Jerry Kill), respectively.

4
by Flounder :: Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:10pm

We'll see overall how things turn out, but I'm supremely confident MSU (yay Sparty) will outperform its offensive F/+ projection.

2
by SaxonRBR :: Tue, 08/26/2014 - 7:19pm

The projections here don't have any special teams data (volatility), but the projections in the almanac are Off F/+ plus Def F/+ = F/+. Unless you're projecting Bama's F/+ as over 60 - in which case, carry on!

6
by Bill Connelly :: Wed, 08/27/2014 - 4:15pm

I'm in preseason form in my copy-pasting skills. Divide Off and Def by two, and everything works out as it should.

3
by herewegobrownie... :: Tue, 08/26/2014 - 7:30pm

I hope I am wrong, but 12th is still way, way too high for OSU after the Braxton Miller injury.

5
by dwest718 :: Wed, 08/27/2014 - 1:59pm

Bill,
Tried to email you yesterday and got bounced back a couple times so I figured I'd post here. I'm looking for a list of the Program F/+ %s for this year if it's available. Last year, the number was included for all major conference teams in the almanac, but this year only the Program F/+ ranking has been included.

Agree with SaxonRBR's comment as well that the Off and Def F/+ numbers appear to be off significantly in the table above.

Thanks,
David

7
by Lance :: Thu, 08/28/2014 - 12:35pm

I'm surprised (but happily so) by the Oklahoma State ranking. I am not familiar enough with the nuts and bolts of the squad, but I hear things like "most turn-over of starters in the country" and "super hard schedule" and "Oklahoma is the greatest Big XII team ever, period, Bob Stoops, beating Alabama, national title" and so on from the local (Oklahoma) sports radio crowd and I figured OSU would be lucky to win 6 games. Seeing them at #17 puts a smile on this homer's face, and even seeing them listed as a possible (9.9%!!) play-off participant is amazing.

I hope F/+ holds up and maybe all the things will go just right for the Cowboys!