The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 16, 2018

PiRate Ratings–College Football Week 4

This Week’s PiRate Rating Spreads

Thursday, September 20
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Temple Tulsa 8.4 9.6 8.3

 

Friday September 21
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Central Florida Florida Atlantic 17.3 16.5 16.6
Illinois Penn St. -26.8 -23.9 -28.2
USC Washington St. 2.8 1.8 3.1

 

Saturday September 22
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Iowa St. Akron 18.5 15.2 17.5
Marshall North Carolina St. -16.0 -12.5 -14.4
Massachusetts Charlotte 10.2 9.7 11.0
Indiana Michigan St. -20.5 -18.8 -20.5
Maryland Minnesota -2.4 -3.4 -3.3
Ball St. Western Kentucky 1.6 0.6 -0.2
Purdue Boston College -10.2 -9.0 -11.1
Syracuse Connecticut 33.9 32.3 34.3
Miami (Fla.) Florida Int’l. 32.4 26.6 31.4
North Carolina Pittsburgh 0.8 0.0 0.6
Florida St. Northern Illinois 13.6 11.8 13.0
Bowling Green Miami (O) -3.6 -5.3 -4.1
Ohio St. Tulane 37.3 34.7 38.4
Georgia Tech Clemson -18.0 -15.8 -19.2
Cincinnati Ohio U 1.8 2.2 1.0
South Florida East Carolina 15.4 18.9 17.0
Wake Forest Notre Dame -7.7 -6.4 -8.5
Toledo Nevada 9.0 10.8 9.1
Virginia Louisville 4.8 5.2 4.4
Georgia St. Western Michigan -11.4 -10.3 -11.3
Rutgers Buffalo -2.3 -5.5 -5.7
Oregon St. Arizona -10.1 -10.8 -11.6
Oregon Stanford -5.6 -3.0 -5.5
Tennessee Florida -10.9 -8.8 -12.0
Kentucky Mississippi St. -12.1 -10.6 -12.9
Michigan Nebraska 26.9 27.2 29.8
West Virginia Kansas St. 9.5 10.0 9.8
Ole Miss Kent St. 26.5 25.3 28.1
Southern Miss. Rice 14.9 15.1 16.7
Auburn Arkansas 24.7 26.1 28.6
Oklahoma St. Texas Tech 14.7 14.3 16.3
SMU Navy -1.6 -5.2 -2.3
Louisiana Coastal Carolina 3.7 2.6 4.1
Arkansas St. UNLV 2.6 2.3 3.9
Texas TCU 0.2 -0.4 0.4
Oklahoma Army 29.5 27.8 30.2
LSU Louisiana Tech 23.0 20.4 22.9
Baylor Kansas 4.4 3.3 5.9
Vanderbilt South Carolina -7.1 -5.2 -6.3
Memphis South Alabama 26.8 27.0 27.3
Utah St. Air Force 13.2 14.6 15.3
UTEP New Mexico St. -3.9 -3.1 -4.5
UTSA Texas St. 11.1 12.4 12.5
UL-Monroe Troy -1.2 -2.9 -2.0
Old Dominion Virginia Tech -34.2 -29.7 -34.3
Liberty North Texas -17.1 -21.5 -17.8
Missouri Georgia -14.7 -12.5 -14.9
Alabama Texas A&M 28.9 28.0 30.4
Iowa Wisconsin 0.3 0.6 0.1
Washington Arizona St. 22.5 21.5 25.4
San Diego St. Eastern Michigan 10.9 10.1 11.5

 

FBS vs. FCS
Home Visitor PiRate
Colorado St. Illinois St. 10.5
Central Michigan Maine 5.0
Duke UNC-Central 49.9
Appalachian St. Gardner-Webb 40.9
BYU McNeese St. 19.0
Houston Texas Southern 45.6
Hawaii Duquesne 27.1

 

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 139.3 137.2 141.2 139.2
2 Georgia 132.2 128.4 133.6 131.4
3 Clemson 129.8 126.7 130.5 129.0
4 Ohio St. 128.7 126.2 129.3 128.1
5 Washington 126.8 124.4 129.1 126.7
6 Mississippi St. 123.8 121.1 124.4 123.1
7 Oklahoma 122.6 121.3 123.2 122.4
8 Michigan 122.3 121.1 122.8 122.0
9 Penn St. 122.7 119.8 123.2 121.9
10 Michigan St. 122.6 120.3 122.3 121.8
11 Auburn 121.4 120.2 123.6 121.7
12 Stanford 120.0 117.6 120.5 119.4
13 Notre Dame 119.4 115.8 117.8 117.6
14 Miami 117.9 116.3 117.7 117.3
15 Boston College 118.2 115.3 118.4 117.3
16 Virginia Tech 116.5 116.0 116.4 116.3
17 Wisconsin 117.0 114.3 116.6 116.0
18 Oklahoma St. 116.4 114.6 116.7 115.9
19 Duke 115.6 113.2 115.2 114.7
20 L S U 114.1 114.0 115.2 114.4
21 Missouri 114.5 113.0 115.7 114.4
22 T C U 114.2 113.3 113.2 113.5
23 Boise St. 113.5 112.7 113.9 113.4
24 Iowa 114.3 111.9 113.7 113.3
25 N. Carolina St. 113.6 113.0 113.2 113.3
26 Texas A&M 113.4 112.2 113.8 113.1
27 Central Florida 113.0 112.8 113.1 113.0
28 S. Carolina 112.3 111.1 111.7 111.7
29 Oregon 111.4 111.5 112.1 111.7
30 West Virginia 112.0 111.2 111.4 111.5
31 Utah 111.1 109.3 112.0 110.8
32 Texas 111.4 109.9 110.6 110.6
33 Florida 110.8 109.1 111.1 110.3
34 Fresno St. 110.0 108.3 109.9 109.4
35 Iowa State 110.0 108.0 109.3 109.1
36 Georgia Tech 109.3 108.3 108.7 108.8
37 Washington St. 109.1 108.2 108.0 108.4
38 Northwestern 109.1 107.2 108.9 108.4
39 California 109.4 106.6 109.0 108.3
40 Kentucky 108.8 107.6 108.5 108.3
41 Syracuse 109.0 107.6 108.1 108.2
42 U S C 108.9 107.0 108.1 108.0
43 Wake Forest 108.7 106.4 106.3 107.1
44 Arizona St. 107.3 105.9 106.6 106.6
45 Minnesota 106.7 106.2 106.6 106.5
46 Memphis 105.0 107.3 106.3 106.2
47 Florida St. 105.8 104.9 105.1 105.2
48 Kansas St. 105.5 104.1 104.5 104.7
49 Utah St. 103.5 105.0 105.1 104.5
50 Purdue 105.0 103.3 104.3 104.2
51 Ole Miss 104.0 103.7 104.8 104.1
52 Texas Tech 104.7 103.2 103.4 103.8
53 Vanderbilt 102.6 103.4 102.9 103.0
54 BYU 102.2 102.8 102.9 102.6
55 N. Texas 101.4 104.1 102.2 102.5
56 Houston 102.1 102.9 102.3 102.4
57 Colorado 101.1 102.7 102.4 102.1
58 Pittsburgh 102.3 102.0 101.7 102.0
59 Virginia 102.2 102.7 101.1 102.0
60 Baylor 102.3 100.1 101.7 101.4
61 San Diego St. 100.2 100.7 101.4 100.7
62 Arizona 101.2 99.5 101.1 100.6
63 Maryland 101.2 99.8 100.3 100.4
64 Louisville 100.4 100.4 99.8 100.2
65 N. Carolina 100.6 99.5 99.8 100.0
66 Kansas 100.9 99.8 98.9 99.9
67 South Florida 98.3 101.0 99.0 99.4
68 Indiana 99.1 98.5 98.8 98.8
69 Florida Atlantic 98.3 98.8 99.0 98.7
70 Arkansas 99.7 97.0 98.0 98.2
71 Temple 97.2 97.2 97.6 97.3
72 Toledo 96.6 98.3 96.5 97.1
73 Nebraska 98.4 96.9 96.0 97.1
74 Tennessee 96.9 97.3 96.1 96.8
75 Buffalo 95.4 97.7 96.7 96.6
76 Wyoming 96.6 96.5 96.4 96.5
77 Navy 95.5 98.3 95.2 96.4
78 Army 96.1 96.5 96.0 96.2
79 Marshall 94.6 97.5 95.8 96.0
80 Northern Illinois 95.3 96.0 95.1 95.5
81 Appalachian St. 94.5 96.0 95.8 95.4
82 U C L A 96.2 96.0 93.2 95.1
83 Akron 94.4 95.8 94.8 95.0
84 Louisiana Tech 93.6 96.1 94.8 94.8
85 Ohio U 93.9 95.1 94.7 94.6
86 Tulane 94.3 94.6 93.9 94.3
87 Cincinnati 93.2 94.8 93.2 93.7
88 Air Force 93.3 93.4 92.8 93.2
89 Eastern Michigan 92.3 93.6 92.9 92.9
90 Illinois 93.0 92.9 92.0 92.6
91 Troy 90.9 92.2 92.3 91.8
92 Western Michigan 90.9 92.5 91.7 91.7
93 Tulsa 91.3 90.1 91.8 91.1
94 Nevada 91.1 90.9 90.9 91.0
95 SMU 91.5 90.6 90.4 90.8
96 U N L V 90.0 91.6 90.5 90.7
97 Arkansas St. 89.6 91.0 91.4 90.7
98 Miami (O) 89.0 90.7 89.7 89.8
99 U A B 88.9 91.1 89.1 89.7
100 Middle Tennessee 89.0 90.2 89.9 89.7
101 Rutgers 90.5 89.6 88.6 89.6
102 Florida Int’l. 87.5 91.8 88.3 89.2
103 New Mexico 86.9 88.8 87.2 87.6
104 Georgia Southern 86.3 87.7 86.6 86.9
105 UL-Monroe 86.7 86.2 87.3 86.8
106 Oregon St. 88.0 85.7 86.5 86.7
107 East Carolina 85.9 85.1 85.0 85.3
108 Central Michigan 84.0 86.7 84.4 85.0
109 W. Kentucky 83.1 86.3 84.2 84.5
110 Massachusetts 83.2 85.2 84.4 84.3
111 Colo. State 84.0 84.8 83.9 84.2
112 Southern Miss. 82.5 85.7 83.0 83.8
113 Bowling Green 83.4 83.4 83.6 83.5
114 Ball St. 82.1 84.5 81.6 82.7
115 South Alabama 81.2 83.3 82.0 82.2
116 U T S A 79.4 83.8 80.2 81.2
117 Old Dominion 79.8 83.8 79.6 81.1
118 Hawaii 80.6 82.9 79.4 81.0
119 Liberty 81.2 79.5 81.4 80.7
120 Kent St. 80.4 81.4 79.6 80.5
121 Louisiana 79.5 81.4 80.5 80.5
122 Coastal Carolina 78.8 81.8 79.4 80.0
123 Georgia St. 77.1 79.7 77.9 78.2
124 San Jose St. 78.5 79.3 76.7 78.2
125 Connecticut 78.1 78.3 76.8 77.7
126 Charlotte 75.0 77.5 75.3 75.9
127 N. Mexico St. 74.7 76.9 74.6 75.4
128 Texas State 70.8 73.9 70.2 71.6
129 Rice 70.6 73.6 69.3 71.2
130 U T E P 68.8 71.8 68.2 69.6

 

PiRate Rating By Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average AAC Overall
Central Florida 113.0 112.8 113.1 113.0 1-0 2-0
South Florida 98.3 101.0 99.0 99.4 0-0 3-0
Temple 97.2 97.2 97.6 97.3 0-0 1-2
Cincinnati 93.2 94.8 93.2 93.7 0-0 3-0
East Carolina 85.9 85.1 85.0 85.3 0-0 1-1
Connecticut 78.1 78.3 76.8 77.7 0-1 1-2
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average AAC Overall
Memphis 105.0 107.3 106.3 106.2 0-1 2-1
Houston 102.1 102.9 102.3 102.4 0-0 2-1
Navy 95.5 98.3 95.2 96.4 1-0 2-1
Tulane 94.3 94.6 93.9 94.3 0-0 1-2
Tulsa 91.3 90.1 91.8 91.1 0-0 1-2
SMU 91.5 90.6 90.4 90.8 0-0 0-3
AAC Averages 95.5 96.1 95.4 95.6
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average ACC Overall
Clemson 129.8 126.7 130.5 129.0 0-0 3-0
Boston College 118.2 115.3 118.4 117.3 1-0 3-0
N. Carolina St. 113.6 113.0 113.2 113.3 0-0 2-0
Syracuse 109.0 107.6 108.1 108.2 1-0 3-0
Wake Forest 108.7 106.4 106.3 107.1 0-1 2-1
Florida St. 105.8 104.9 105.1 105.2 0-2 1-2
Louisville 100.4 100.4 99.8 100.2 0-0 2-1
Coastal Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average ACC Overall
Miami 117.9 116.3 117.7 117.3 0-0 2-1
Virginia Tech 116.5 116.0 116.4 116.3 1-0 2-0
Duke 115.6 113.2 115.2 114.7 0-0 3-0
Georgia Tech 109.3 108.3 108.7 108.8 0-1 1-2
Pittsburgh 102.3 102.0 101.7 102.0 1-0 2-1
Virginia 102.2 102.7 101.1 102.0 0-0 2-1
N. Carolina 100.6 99.5 99.8 100.0 0-0 0-2
ACC Averages 110.7 109.5 110.2 110.1
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average B12 Overall
Oklahoma 122.6 121.3 123.2 122.4 1-0 3-0
Oklahoma St. 116.4 114.6 116.7 115.9 0-0 3-0
T C U 114.2 113.3 113.2 113.5 0-0 2-1
West Virginia 112.0 111.2 111.4 111.5 0-0 2-0
Texas 111.4 109.9 110.6 110.6 0-0 2-1
Iowa State 110.0 108.0 109.3 109.1 0-1 0-2
Kansas St. 105.5 104.1 104.5 104.7 0-0 2-1
Texas Tech 104.7 103.2 103.4 103.8 0-0 2-1
Baylor 102.3 100.1 101.7 101.4 0-0 2-1
Kansas 100.9 99.8 98.9 99.9 0-0 2-1
Big 12 Averages 110.0 108.5 109.3 109.3
Big Ten Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average BTen Overall
Ohio St. 128.7 126.2 129.3 128.1 1-0 3-0
Michigan 122.3 121.1 122.8 122.0 0-0 2-1
Penn St. 122.7 119.8 123.2 121.9 0-0 3-0
Michigan St. 122.6 120.3 122.3 121.8 0-0 1-1
Maryland 101.2 99.8 100.3 100.4 0-0 2-1
Indiana 99.1 98.5 98.8 98.8 0-0 3-0
Rutgers 90.5 89.6 88.6 89.6 0-1 1-2
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average BTen Overall
Wisconsin 117.0 114.3 116.6 116.0 0-0 2-1
Iowa 114.3 111.9 113.7 113.3 0-0 3-0
Northwestern 109.1 107.2 108.9 108.4 1-0 1-2
Minnesota 106.7 106.2 106.6 106.5 0-0 3-0
Purdue 105.0 103.3 104.3 104.2 0-1 0-3
Nebraska 98.4 96.9 96.0 97.1 0-0 0-2
Illinois 93.0 92.9 92.0 92.6 0-0 2-1
Big Ten Averages 109.3 107.7 108.8 108.6
Conference USA
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average CUSA Overall
Florida Atlantic 98.3 98.8 99.0 98.7 0-0 2-1
Marshall 94.6 97.5 95.8 96.0 0-0 2-0
Middle Tennessee 89.0 90.2 89.9 89.7 0-0 1-2
Florida Int’l. 87.5 91.8 88.3 89.2 1-0 2-1
W. Kentucky 83.1 86.3 84.2 84.5 0-0 0-3
Old Dominion 79.8 83.8 79.6 81.1 0-2 0-3
Charlotte 75.0 77.5 75.3 75.9 1-0 2-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average CUSA Overall
N. Texas 101.4 104.1 102.2 102.5 0-0 3-0
Louisiana Tech 93.6 96.1 94.8 94.8 0-0 2-0
U A B 88.9 91.1 89.1 89.7 0-0 2-1
Southern Miss. 82.5 85.7 83.0 83.8 0-0 1-1
U T S A 79.4 83.8 80.2 81.2 0-0 0-3
Rice 70.6 73.6 69.3 71.2 0-0 1-2
U T E P 68.8 71.8 68.2 69.6 0-0 0-3
CUSA Averages 85.2 88.0 85.7 86.3
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average Conf. Overall
Notre Dame 119.4 115.8 117.8 117.6 x 3-0
BYU 102.2 102.8 102.9 102.6 x 2-1
Army 96.1 96.5 96.0 96.2 x 2-1
Massachusetts 83.2 85.2 84.4 84.3 x 1-3
Liberty 81.2 79.5 81.4 80.7 x 1-1
N. Mexico St. 74.7 76.9 74.6 75.4 x 0-4
Indep. Averages 92.8 92.8 92.9 92.8
Mid-American Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MAC Overall
Buffalo 95.4 97.7 96.7 96.6 1-0 3-0
Akron 94.4 95.8 94.8 95.0 0-0 2-0
Ohio U 93.9 95.1 94.7 94.6 0-0 1-1
Miami (O) 89.0 90.7 89.7 89.8 0-0 0-3
Bowling Green 83.4 83.4 83.6 83.5 0-0 1-2
Kent St. 80.4 81.4 79.6 80.5 0-0 1-2
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MAC Overall
Toledo 96.6 98.3 96.5 97.1 0-0 1-1
Northern Illinois 95.3 96.0 95.1 95.5 1-0 1-2
Eastern Michigan 92.3 93.6 92.9 92.9 0-1 2-1
Western Michigan 90.9 92.5 91.7 91.7 0-0 1-2
Central Michigan 84.0 86.7 84.4 85.0 0-1 0-3
Ball St. 82.1 84.5 81.6 82.7 0-0 1-2
MAC Averages 89.8 91.3 90.1 90.4
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MWC Overall
Boise St. 113.5 112.7 113.9 113.4 0-0 2-1
Utah St. 103.5 105.0 105.1 104.5 0-0 2-1
Wyoming 96.6 96.5 96.4 96.5 0-0 2-2
Air Force 93.3 93.4 92.8 93.2 0-0 1-1
New Mexico 86.9 88.8 87.2 87.6 0-0 2-1
Colo. State 84.0 84.8 83.9 84.2 0-1 1-3
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MWC Overall
Fresno St. 110.0 108.3 109.9 109.4 0-0 2-1
San Diego St. 100.2 100.7 101.4 100.7 0-0 2-1
Nevada 91.1 90.9 90.9 91.0 0-0 2-1
U N L V 90.0 91.6 90.5 90.7 0-0 2-1
Hawaii 80.6 82.9 79.4 81.0 1-0 3-1
San Jose St. 78.5 79.3 76.7 78.2 0-0 0-3
MWC Averages 94.0 94.6 94.0 94.2
Pac-12 Conference
North Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average P12 Overall
Washington 126.8 124.4 129.1 126.7 1-0 2-1
Stanford 120.0 117.6 120.5 119.4 1-0 3-0
Oregon 111.4 111.5 112.1 111.7 0-0 3-0
Washington St. 109.1 108.2 108.0 108.4 0-0 3-0
California 109.4 106.6 109.0 108.3 0-0 3-0
Oregon St. 88.0 85.7 86.5 86.7 0-0 1-2
South Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average P12 Overall
Utah 111.1 109.3 112.0 110.8 0-1 2-1
U S C 108.9 107.0 108.1 108.0 0-1 1-2
Arizona St. 107.3 105.9 106.6 106.6 0-0 2-1
Colorado 101.1 102.7 102.4 102.1 0-0 3-0
Arizona 101.2 99.5 101.1 100.6 0-0 1-2
U C L A 96.2 96.0 93.2 95.1 0-0 0-3
Pac-12 Averages 107.5 106.2 107.4 107.0
Southeastern Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SEC Overall
Georgia 132.2 128.4 133.6 131.4 1-0 3-0
Missouri 114.5 113.0 115.7 114.4 0-0 3-0
S. Carolina 112.3 111.1 111.7 111.7 0-1 1-1
Florida 110.8 109.1 111.1 110.3 0-1 2-1
Kentucky 108.8 107.6 108.5 108.3 1-0 3-0
Vanderbilt 102.6 103.4 102.9 103.0 0-0 2-1
Tennessee 96.9 97.3 96.1 96.8 0-0 2-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SEC Overall
Alabama 139.3 137.2 141.2 139.2 1-0 3-0
Mississippi St. 123.8 121.1 124.4 123.1 0-0 3-0
Auburn 121.4 120.2 123.6 121.7 0-1 2-1
L S U 114.1 114.0 115.2 114.4 1-0 3-0
Texas A&M 113.4 112.2 113.8 113.1 0-0 2-1
Ole Miss 104.0 103.7 104.8 104.1 0-1 2-1
Arkansas 99.7 97.0 98.0 98.2 0-0 1-2
SEC Averages 113.8 112.5 114.3 113.6
Sunbelt Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SBC Overall
Appalachian St. 94.5 96.0 95.8 95.4 0-0 1-1
Troy 90.9 92.2 92.3 91.8 0-0 2-1
Georgia Southern 86.3 87.7 86.6 86.9 0-0 2-1
Coastal Carolina 78.8 81.8 79.4 80.0 0-0 2-1
Georgia St. 77.1 79.7 77.9 78.2 0-0 1-2
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SBC Overall
Arkansas St. 89.6 91.0 91.4 90.7 0-0 2-1
UL-Monroe 86.7 86.2 87.3 86.8 0-0 2-1
South Alabama 81.2 83.3 82.0 82.2 1-0 1-2
Louisiana 79.5 81.4 80.5 80.5 0-0 1-1
Texas State 70.8 73.9 70.2 71.6 0-1 1-2
Sun Belt Averages 83.5 85.3 84.3 84.4

 

PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 113.8 112.5 114.3 113.6
2 ACC 110.7 109.5 110.2 110.1
3 B12 110.0 108.5 109.3 109.3
4 BTEN 109.3 107.7 108.8 108.6
5 P-12 107.5 106.2 107.4 107.0
6 AAC 95.5 96.1 95.4 95.6
7 MWC 94.0 94.6 94.0 94.2
8 IND 92.8 92.8 92.9 92.8
9 MAC 89.8 91.3 90.1 90.4
10 CUSA 85.2 88.0 85.7 86.3
11 SUN 83.5 85.3 84.3 84.4

This Week’s Top 5 Group of 5 Teams

  1. South Florida
  2. Central Florida
  3. North Texas
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Buffalo

 

This Week’s Playoff and Bowl Projections

Bowl Conferences Team 1 Team 2
New Mexico MWC CUSA San Diego St. [Northern Illinois]
Cure AAC SBC Central Florida Appalachian St.
Las Vegas MWC Pac-12 Fresno St. Arizona St.
Camellia MAC SBC Akron Georgia Southern
New Orleans CUSA SBC UAB UL-Monroe
Boca Raton MAC CUSA Marshall Western Michigan
Frisco AAC MAC [Utah] Toledo
Gasparilla AAC CUSA South Florida Florida Atlantic
Bahamas AAC CUSA Houston Florida Int’l.
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Buffalo Utah St.
Birmingham AAC SEC Memphis Vanderbilt
Armed Forces AAC Big 12 Navy [BYU]
Dollar General MAC SBC Ohio U Troy
Hawaii CUSA MWC Louisiana Tech Hawaii
Heart of Dallas Big Ten CUSA [Army] Southern Miss.
Quick Lane ACC Big Ten Wake Forest Indiana
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 Texas Tech California
Independence ACC SEC Virginia [Coastal Carolina]
Pinstripe ACC Big Ten Boston College Wisconsin
Texas Big 12 SEC Iowa St. South Carolina
Music City ACC/Big Ten SEC Duke Missouri
Camping World ACC Big 12 Notre Dame West Virginia
Arizona MWC SBC Boise St. Arkansas St.
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 TCU Washington
Belk ACC SEC North Carolina St. Auburn
Peach At-large At-large Virginia Tech Oklahoma St.
Military AAC ACC Cincinnati Pittsburgh
Sun ACC Pac-12 Syracuse Colorado
San Francisco Big Ten Pac-12 Minnesota USC
Liberty Big 12 SEC Texas Kentucky
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Iowa Stanford
Gator ACC/Big Ten SEC Michigan Florida
Outback Big Ten SEC Michigan St. LSU
Fiesta At-large At-large Oregon North Texas
Citrus ACC/Big Ten SEC Miami (Fla.) Texas A&M
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Ohio St. Washington St.
Sugar Big 12 SEC Oklahoma Mississippi St.
PLAYOFFS
Cotton FBS PLAYOFF Penn St. Georgia
Orange FBS PLAYOFF Alabama Clemson
Champ. Game Winners Alabama Georgia
Teams in [Brackets] are at-large selections

Sweet 16 Games on TV This Week

All times given are Eastern Daylight

Friday Night

Washington State at USC  10:30 PM  on ESPN

USC has dropped consecutive road games, the most previous not being all that close.  With a true freshman quarterback and his top receiver also being a true freshman, can the Trojans score enough points against the Air Raid offense of the Pirate, Mike Leach.

Washington State is 3-0 but has yet to face strong competition, but if the Cougars can win this game, they become a contender for the Pac-12 North Division title.

Saturday
12:00 Noon

Georgia at Missouri  ESPN

Georgia should win this game by playing smashmouth football against a Missouri defense that just gave up a lot of points and yards against Purdue.  However, the Tigers may have overlooked an 0-2 team.  Still, Georgia looks invincible at least until they travel to the Bayou later in the season.

Minnesota at Maryland  BTN

All of a sudden, the Big Ten West looks open for more than one team.  Minnesota is a silent 3-0, and a win in College Park could find the Gophers ranked and in contention for the division flag.

Maryland’s win over Texas would have meant a lot more had they not gotten their Terrapin shell handed to them by lowly Temple.  The Terps must win this game to have any chance at becoming bowl eligible.

Notre Dame at Wake Forest ABC

Notre Dame is a very soft 3-0, and they have played all three games at home.  This will be the Irish’s first road game and first ACC opponent of the season.  They play at a Wake Forest team that made a valiant comeback that came up a bit short against Boston College.  Notre Dame must go 12-0 or 11-1 with a lot of help to have any chance of making the playoffs.

3:30 PM

Clemson at Georgia Tech ABC

We are not going to tell you that this game should be close, but…..

Clemson has not really fired on all cylinders yet.  It can be hard to play two separate offensive game plans every week, and the two quarterback system may prove to be a liability at some point.

The Tigers have been upset both of the last two years in conference play.  We don’t expect this to be one of those games, but we are anxious to see how CU uses their two QBs in conference play.

Georgia Tech’s multiple option offense should be forced into more passing situations against the top defensive front in the nation, but should Clemson’s offense not sustain a good number of drives, the Tigers may give up some points in the second half.

Kansas St. at West Virginia ESPN

West Virginia missed Saturday’s game, and so far teams that had games cancelled have not been all that sharp.  They face a Kansas State team that is going to need to pick up an upset or two to reach bowl eligibility this year.  The Mountaineers need to pick up a statement win in conference play to strike fear in the Oklahoma’s, Oklahoma State’s, and TCU’s.

Texas A&M at Alabama CBS

This week, the Crimson Tide have done something that has not been done in 17 years.  At the end of the 2001 season, National Champion Miami of Florida rated 9.6 points ahead of #2 Oregon.  Alabama is the first team since to be more than a touchdown ahead of the number two team in our ratings.

At this point, we’re not sure the Buffalo Bills could beat Alabama at New Era Field in the snow.  Alabama looked as good if not better than the 1995 Nebraska team that won the national championship with ease.

What makes this game so inviting is that Texas A&M played Clemson a couple weeks ago.  In that game, the Aggies looked like they belonged on the same field with a top 10 team.  If Alabama makes this another laugher, that will tell us all just how far ahead of another potential playoff team they have advanced.

TCU at Texas Fox

These teams don’t particularly care much for each other, and with TCU coming into this game with doubts, while the Longhorns are sky high, it should be quite interesting.  Prior last Saturday, TCU looked like a cinch to win this game according to the ratings.  After the ‘Horns clobbered USC and TCU blew up in a four-minute stretch against Ohio State, this game becomes a toss-up in the ratings.

What’s up for grabs in this game is a chance to become a key contender for the number two spot in the conference standings, which in the Big 12 will get you in the Conference Championship Game.

4 PM

South Carolina at Vanderbilt SEC

South Carolina is another team that had a game cancelled unexpectedly due to the weather.  They have not played since Georgia mutilated them in Columbia.  At this point, the Gamecocks are playing for a Citrus Bowl bid, as Georgia is not going to lose two conference games.

Vanderbilt did everything but outscore Notre Dame in South Bend, Saturday.  The Commodores outgained the Irish by 40 yards, but they suffered a loss of at least 11 points due not being able to hang onto the ball.  If the Commodores can come out with a chip on their shoulders, this can be a close game that could be decided in the final minutes.  However, as long time Commodore fans know, Vanderbilt has been known to come out flat and not show up the week after they experienced a moral victory.

7 PM

Florida at Tennessee ESPN

The winner of this game will earn a bowl bid this year.  That’s more than enough to make a game important, but this is the first chance for two new coaches to get the upper hand over their rival in this big rivalry game.

Tennessee’s defense has looked strong the last two weeks against an FCS team and the #130 FBS team.  How will they look against a better than average SEC offense?  Better yet, if you can only score 24 points at home against UTEP, how are you going to score enough to beat the Gators?

Mississippi St. at Kentucky ESPN2

One of these two teams will be 4-0 after this game, almost assuredly ranked in the top 25, and a serious contender for the Citrus or even Sugar Bowl should Alabama and Georgia both make the playoffs.

The win over Florida in Gainesville is looking mighty good for the Wildcats, while Mississippi State looked a lot like Penn State in their last two games, which shouldn’t surprise many people that know that Coach Joe Moorhead was the offensive coordinator in Happy Valley.

Texas Tech at Oklahoma St. FS1

After getting pasted by Ole Miss in week one, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury was square in the middle of a hot seat in Lubbock.  The 63-point showing in a win over Houston has cooled the seat a bit, but the Red Raiders have an uphill climb to find four more wins and get bowl eligible.  Anything short of a bowl bid would most likely be the end of the Kingsbury era.

Oklahoma State looked like a playoff contender in their comfortable win over Boise State.  The Cowboys look like the top contender to their rival Sooners in the Big 12, and if they slow down the Red Raiders and hold them to 28 points or less, while winning by double digits, OSU could move on to a 9-0 start when they go to Norman in November.

 

7:30 PM

Michigan St. at Indiana BTN

Michigan State has been a major disappointment to start this season.  The Spartans had the most experience returning in FBS football this year, off a team that won 10 games last year.  A much closer than expected opening win over Utah State was followed by a loss at Arizona State.  After a week off, they now find themselves travelling into a potential ambush in Bloomington.

Indiana is 3-0 for the first time since 2015 and just the second time in the last nine seasons.  The Hoosiers look like a potential bowl eligible squad, and they basically need to pull off one conference upset to get to 3-6 in the league and guarantee six wins.  Their rebuilt defense is looking strong enough to keep them in this game, and if MSU hasn’t snapped out of their funk, the Hoosiers could surprise and move to 4-0.  The last three times IU began 4-0, they made it to a bowl game.

8:00 PM

Stanford at Oregon ABC

This may be the top game of the weekend.  The winner of this game will be the co-contender with Washington and possibly Washington State for the Pac-12 North flag.  Neither team has been exceptionally strong so far, and Stanford’s win over USC lost a lot of its oomph when USC was clobbered by Texas.  The key to this game may be the health of Bryce Love.  Love did not play against UC-Davis after rushing for 136 yards against USC.  Last year, he torched Oregon with 147 yards and two touchdowns.

Oregon’s defense against the run has looked solid this year, while the Ducks’ passing game behind Justin Herbert has been spectacular at times.  The Ducks have had this game circled on their schedule since Spring practice.  The Cardinal have embarrassed the Ducks with consecutive slaughters the last two seasons, and the Ducks will be inspired to shut down Stanford’s running game and force the Cardinal out of their game plan.

8:30 PM

Wisconsin at Iowa Fox

If Wisconsin continues to look lifeless on offense for 20 minutes per game, the Badgers are not going to win the Big Ten West.  They are in a precarious position having to come to Iowa City for a prime time game, where the Hawkeyes enjoy an incredible home field advantage.

Iowa rarely puts up flashy offensive yardage numbers.  But, when you limit opponents to 42 rushing yards and 209 total yards per game, you can win by scoring 24 points and gaining 380 total yards.  They gang tackle and rarely let an opponent get many yards after contact.

10:30 PM

Arizona St. at Washington ESPN

The late game on ESPN is usually exciting, because it involves two teams with wide open offenses from the West Coast.  Also, frequently, these teams cannot play a lot of defense.  This mold was broken Saturday night, when in Washington’s win over Utah in Salt Lake City, the Huskies looked more like their 1959 and 1960 teams that went 10-1.  UW gained just 330 yards and gave up 261 to the Utes.

Arizona State did nothing on the ground against San Diego State, and if the Sun Devils don’t correct this Saturday night, they will get pasted in Seattle.  The ASU passing game cannot pass for 300 yards against the Huskies’ secondary, so if UW can limit ASU’s running game, this could be another one of those 1960-style defensive victories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 10, 2018

PiRate Ratings–College Football Week 3

This Week’s PiRate Rating Spreads

Thursday, September 13
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Wake Forest Boston College -6.6 -5.7 -9.3

 

Friday September 14
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Memphis Georgia St. 29.4 28.6 29.4

 

Saturday September 15
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Tennessee UTEP 31.7 28.9 31.8
Indiana Ball St. 16.8 13.2 16.6
Maryland Temple 15.9 14.3 14.8
Florida Int’l. Massachusetts -2.0 0.7 -2.7
Toledo Miami (Fla.) -17.1 -13.1 -16.6
Army Hawaii 20.9 19.0 22.6
Penn St. Kent St. 42.6 38.1 43.4
North Carolina Central Florida -9.3 -10.2 -10.2
Charlotte Old Dominion -4.0 -6.0 -3.9
Syracuse Florida St. 0.5 -0.4 -0.3
Iowa St. Oklahoma -9.6 -10.3 -10.9
Nebraska Troy 13.5 10.4 9.3
Kansas Rutgers 3.3 3.1 3.2
Virginia Tech East Carolina 33.5 33.8 34.3
Pittsburgh Georgia Tech -6.6 -5.9 -7.0
Notre Dame Vanderbilt 22.1 17.4 20.3
Virginia Ohio U 9.9 8.8 7.1
Michigan SMU 35.4 35.3 37.8
Appalachian St. Southern Miss. 14.8 13.1 15.6
Oklahoma St. Boise St. 0.4 -1.0 -0.5
Wisconsin BYU 25.2 21.6 24.3
North Carolina St. West Virginia 4.6 4.9 4.8
Minnesota Miami (O) 20.5 17.7 19.3
Auburn LSU 13.4 11.8 15.3
Illinois South Florida -1.7 -5.1 -3.8
Northern Illinois Central Michigan 15.6 13.4 15.4
Clemson Georgia Southern 48.6 44.0 48.9
New Mexico St. New Mexico -8.7 -8.0 -8.3
UAB Tulane -5.5 -3.2 -4.9
Baylor Duke -9.8 -9.6 -9.8
Florida Colorado St. 28.6 25.0 28.6
Texas Tech Houston 3.6 0.6 1.0
Kansas St. UTSA 29.8 23.4 28.0
Arkansas North Texas 12.0 6.3 9.5
Oregon San Jose St. 41.4 40.7 43.9
Buffalo Eastern Michigan 5.3 6.4 5.9
Nevada Oregon St. 6.5 9.3 8.2
Ole Miss Alabama -23.4 -21.5 -24.4
Tulsa Arkansas St. 7.6 4.6 6.5
South Alabama Texas St. 13.7 12.6 15.4
Georgia Middle Tennessee 45.6 39.6 46.0
South Carolina Marshall 20.5 16.5 18.7
Purdue Missouri -7.4 -7.5 -10.0
Northwestern Akron 25.6 21.8 25.4
Mississippi St. Louisiana 46.8 41.6 46.4
Texas A&M UL-Monroe 28.8 27.9 28.3
Louisville Western Kentucky 23.3 19.7 21.5
Texas USC -0.4 -0.2 -0.8
TCU Ohio St. -11.5 -9.4 -13.1
Utah Washington -12.5 -11.6 -14.1
UCLA Fresno St. -6.2 -4.8 -8.3
San Diego St. Arizona St. -7.1 -5.0 -5.3

 

FBS vs. FCS
Home Visitor PiRate
Utah St. Tennessee Tech 38.6
Kentucky Murray St. 36.1
Connecticut Rhode Island 10.2
Stanford UC-Davis 36.9
Navy Lehigh 29.8
Wyoming Wofford 17.5
Bowling Green Eastern Kentucky 13.5
Colorado New Hampshire 30.3
California Idaho St. 32.1
Liberty Norfolk St. 18.5
Florida Atlantic Bethune-Cookman 38.5
Coastal Carolina Campbell 17.7
Cincinnati Alabama A&M 36.0
Western Michigan Delaware St. 39.7
Iowa Northern Iowa 32.2
Washington St. Eastern Wash. 23.7
UNLV Prairie-View 21.2
Arizona Southern Utah 24.3

 

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 133.8 131.7 135.7 133.7
2 Georgia 131.9 127.6 133.3 130.9
3 Clemson 130.8 127.7 131.5 130.0
4 Ohio St. 128.7 125.9 129.3 128.0
5 Washington 126.7 124.2 129.1 126.6
6 Auburn 123.2 121.8 125.8 123.6
7 Mississippi St. 123.8 120.8 124.4 123.0
8 Michigan 123.1 122.0 124.0 123.0
9 Oklahoma 122.6 121.3 123.2 122.4
10 Michigan St. 122.3 120.0 122.0 121.5
11 Penn St. 121.2 118.0 121.5 120.2
12 Wisconsin 121.2 118.3 120.9 120.1
13 Stanford 120.5 118.1 121.0 119.9
14 Notre Dame 120.7 116.9 119.1 118.9
15 Boston College 118.2 115.2 118.5 117.3
16 Miami 117.3 115.3 116.9 116.5
17 Boise St. 116.4 115.8 117.2 116.5
18 Virginia Tech 116.2 115.7 116.1 116.0
19 Missouri 115.2 113.7 116.8 115.2
20 Oregon 114.5 114.6 115.2 114.8
21 Duke 115.2 112.7 114.7 114.2
22 T C U 114.2 113.6 113.2 113.6
23 Iowa 114.2 111.8 113.6 113.2
24 Oklahoma St. 113.8 111.8 113.7 113.1
25 L S U 112.8 112.9 113.5 113.1
26 N. Carolina St. 113.3 112.7 112.9 113.0
27 Central Florida 112.7 112.5 112.8 112.7
28 Texas A&M 113.0 111.7 113.2 112.6
29 Northwestern 112.9 110.8 112.9 112.2
30 S. Carolina 112.0 110.8 111.4 111.4
31 U S C 112.1 110.3 111.5 111.3
32 West Virginia 111.7 110.9 111.1 111.2
33 Utah 111.2 109.5 112.0 110.9
34 Georgia Tech 110.6 109.6 110.2 110.2
35 Florida 110.2 108.0 110.3 109.5
36 Iowa State 110.0 108.0 109.3 109.1
37 California 109.7 106.9 109.3 108.6
38 Florida St. 109.0 108.3 108.6 108.6
39 Kentucky 108.7 107.5 108.4 108.2
40 Washington St. 108.8 107.9 107.7 108.1
41 Arizona St. 108.8 107.3 108.1 108.1
42 Texas 108.7 107.1 107.7 107.8
43 Ole Miss 107.5 107.2 108.3 107.6
44 Fresno St. 107.9 106.3 107.4 107.2
45 Wake Forest 108.7 106.5 106.2 107.1
46 Minnesota 106.6 105.8 106.3 106.2
47 Syracuse 106.5 104.9 105.3 105.6
48 Memphis 104.2 106.3 105.3 105.3
49 Maryland 105.9 104.4 105.1 105.1
50 Kansas St. 106.0 104.3 105.0 105.1
51 Purdue 104.8 103.1 103.7 103.9
52 Houston 103.1 104.3 103.8 103.7
53 Utah St. 102.5 104.0 104.1 103.5
54 Arkansas 104.9 102.0 103.2 103.4
55 Louisville 102.9 102.7 102.3 102.6
56 Texas Tech 103.7 101.8 101.9 102.5
57 Colorado 101.1 102.7 102.4 102.1
58 Vanderbilt 101.5 102.5 101.8 102.0
59 Baylor 102.4 100.2 101.9 101.5
60 Virginia 101.5 101.8 99.9 101.1
61 Pittsburgh 101.0 100.7 100.2 100.7
62 Arizona 101.0 99.3 100.9 100.4
63 N. Carolina 100.4 99.3 99.6 99.8
64 BYU 99.0 99.8 99.6 99.4
65 Florida Atlantic 99.0 99.5 99.7 99.4
66 South Florida 98.0 101.0 98.9 99.3
67 San Diego St. 98.7 99.3 99.9 99.3
68 Nebraska 100.1 98.4 97.5 98.6
69 Toledo 97.2 99.3 97.3 97.9
70 U C L A 98.8 98.5 96.2 97.8
71 Indiana 98.0 97.1 97.5 97.5
72 Wyoming 97.4 97.3 97.2 97.3
73 N. Texas 95.9 98.8 96.7 97.1
74 Tennessee 97.2 97.5 96.5 97.1
75 Army 96.3 96.7 96.5 96.5
76 Buffalo 95.3 97.6 96.5 96.5
77 Navy 95.5 98.3 95.2 96.4
78 Northern Illinois 96.1 96.7 96.1 96.3
79 Marshall 94.4 97.3 95.6 95.8
80 Tulane 95.6 95.7 95.2 95.5
81 Ohio U 94.6 96.0 95.9 95.5
82 Appalachian St. 94.2 95.7 95.5 95.1
83 Kansas 96.1 95.0 94.1 95.1
84 Rutgers 95.8 94.9 93.9 94.9
85 Louisiana Tech 93.4 95.9 94.6 94.6
86 Eastern Michigan 92.4 93.7 93.1 93.1
87 Air Force 93.0 93.1 92.5 92.9
88 Illinois 93.3 92.9 92.1 92.8
89 Tulsa 93.0 91.6 93.6 92.7
90 Temple 92.5 92.6 92.8 92.6
91 Cincinnati 92.0 93.6 92.0 92.5
92 Nevada 91.3 91.4 91.3 91.3
93 Akron 90.3 91.9 90.5 90.9
94 Western Michigan 89.9 91.5 90.7 90.7
95 Troy 89.5 91.0 91.1 90.5
96 U N L V 89.5 91.1 90.0 90.2
97 Middle Tennessee 89.3 91.0 90.2 90.2
98 Miami (O) 89.1 91.1 90.0 90.1
99 SMU 90.7 89.7 89.2 89.9
100 Massachusetts 88.2 90.0 89.6 89.3
101 Arkansas St. 87.9 89.5 89.6 89.0
102 U A B 87.6 90.0 87.8 88.5
103 UL-Monroe 87.1 86.7 87.9 87.3
104 New Mexico 86.4 88.1 86.3 86.9
105 Oregon St. 87.8 85.2 86.1 86.4
106 Georgia Southern 85.3 86.7 85.6 85.9
107 East Carolina 85.7 84.9 84.8 85.1
108 Colo. State 84.6 85.9 84.7 85.1
109 Florida Int’l. 83.2 87.7 83.8 84.9
110 Central Michigan 83.5 86.3 83.7 84.5
111 Ball St. 83.2 85.9 82.9 84.0
112 Bowling Green 83.7 83.7 83.9 83.8
113 Southern Miss. 82.3 85.5 82.8 83.6
114 W. Kentucky 81.6 85.0 82.7 83.1
115 Old Dominion 81.0 85.2 81.0 82.4
116 South Alabama 81.3 83.4 82.3 82.3
117 Kent St. 81.6 82.9 81.0 81.8
118 U T S A 79.2 83.9 80.0 81.1
119 Louisiana 79.5 81.7 80.5 80.6
120 Liberty 81.0 79.3 81.2 80.5
121 Hawaii 79.9 82.2 78.4 80.2
122 Coastal Carolina 78.5 81.5 79.1 79.7
123 Georgia St. 77.9 80.7 78.9 79.2
124 Connecticut 78.5 78.7 77.2 78.1
125 N. Mexico St. 75.7 78.1 76.0 76.6
126 San Jose St. 76.1 76.9 74.3 75.8
127 Charlotte 74.5 76.8 74.6 75.3
128 Texas State 70.7 73.8 69.9 71.5
129 Rice 70.4 73.4 69.1 71.0
130 U T E P 68.5 71.6 67.8 69.3

 

PiRate Ratings By Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average AAC Overall
Central Florida 112.7 112.5 112.8 112.7 1-0 2-0
South Florida 98.0 101.0 98.9 99.3 0-0 2-0
Temple 92.5 92.6 92.8 92.6 0-0 0-2
Cincinnati 92.0 93.6 92.0 92.5 0-0 2-0
East Carolina 85.7 84.9 84.8 85.1 0-0 1-1
Connecticut 78.5 78.7 77.2 78.1 0-1 0-2
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average AAC Overall
Memphis 104.2 106.3 105.3 105.3 0-1 1-1
Houston 103.1 104.3 103.8 103.7 0-0 2-0
Navy 95.5 98.3 95.2 96.4 1-0 1-1
Tulane 95.6 95.7 95.2 95.5 0-0 1-1
Tulsa 93.0 91.6 93.6 92.7 0-0 1-1
SMU 90.7 89.7 89.2 89.9 0-0 0-2
AAC Averages 95.1 95.7 95.1 95.3
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average ACC Overall
Clemson 130.8 127.7 131.5 130.0 0-0 2-0
Boston College 118.2 115.2 118.5 117.3 0-0 2-0
N. Carolina St. 113.3 112.7 112.9 113.0 0-0 2-0
Florida St. 109.0 108.3 108.6 108.6 0-1 1-1
Wake Forest 108.7 106.5 106.2 107.1 0-0 2-0
Syracuse 106.5 104.9 105.3 105.6 0-0 2-0
Louisville 102.9 102.7 102.3 102.6 0-0 1-1
Coastal Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average ACC Overall
Miami 117.3 115.3 116.9 116.5 0-0 1-1
Virginia Tech 116.2 115.7 116.1 116.0 1-0 2-0
Duke 115.2 112.7 114.7 114.2 0-0 2-0
Georgia Tech 110.6 109.6 110.2 110.2 0-0 1-1
Virginia 101.5 101.8 99.9 101.1 0-0 1-1
Pittsburgh 101.0 100.7 100.2 100.7 0-0 1-1
N. Carolina 100.4 99.3 99.6 99.8 0-0 0-2
ACC Averages 110.8 109.5 110.2 110.2
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average B12 Overall
Oklahoma 122.6 121.3 123.2 122.4 0-0 2-0
T C U 114.2 113.6 113.2 113.6 0-0 2-0
Oklahoma St. 113.8 111.8 113.7 113.1 0-0 2-0
West Virginia 111.7 110.9 111.1 111.2 0-0 2-0
Iowa State 110.0 108.0 109.3 109.1 0-0 0-1
Texas 108.7 107.1 107.7 107.8 0-0 1-1
Kansas St. 106.0 104.3 105.0 105.1 0-0 1-1
Texas Tech 103.7 101.8 101.9 102.5 0-0 1-1
Baylor 102.4 100.2 101.9 101.5 0-0 2-0
Kansas 96.1 95.0 94.1 95.1 0-0 1-1
Big 12 Averages 108.9 107.4 108.1 108.1
Big Ten Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average BTen Overall
Ohio St. 128.7 125.9 129.3 128.0 1-0 2-0
Michigan 123.1 122.0 124.0 123.0 0-0 1-1
Michigan St. 122.3 120.0 122.0 121.5 0-0 1-1
Penn St. 121.2 118.0 121.5 120.2 0-0 2-0
Maryland 105.9 104.4 105.1 105.1 0-0 2-0
Indiana 98.0 97.1 97.5 97.5 0-0 2-0
Rutgers 95.8 94.9 93.9 94.9 0-1 1-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average BTen Overall
Wisconsin 121.2 118.3 120.9 120.1 0-0 2-0
Iowa 114.2 111.8 113.6 113.2 0-0 2-0
Northwestern 112.9 110.8 112.9 112.2 1-0 1-1
Minnesota 106.6 105.8 106.3 106.2 0-0 2-0
Purdue 104.8 103.1 103.7 103.9 0-1 0-2
Nebraska 100.1 98.4 97.5 98.6 0-0 0-1
Illinois 93.3 92.9 92.1 92.8 0-0 2-0
Big Ten Averages 110.6 108.8 110.0 109.8
Conference USA
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average CUSA Overall
Florida Atlantic 99.0 99.5 99.7 99.4 0-0 1-1
Marshall 94.4 97.3 95.6 95.8 0-0 2-0
Middle Tennessee 89.3 91.0 90.2 90.2 0-0 1-1
Florida Int’l. 83.2 87.7 83.8 84.9 1-0 1-1
W. Kentucky 81.6 85.0 82.7 83.1 0-0 0-2
Old Dominion 81.0 85.2 81.0 82.4 0-1 0-2
Charlotte 74.5 76.8 74.6 75.3 0-0 1-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average CUSA Overall
N. Texas 95.9 98.8 96.7 97.1 0-0 2-0
Louisiana Tech 93.4 95.9 94.6 94.6 0-0 2-0
U A B 87.6 90.0 87.8 88.5 0-0 1-1
Southern Miss. 82.3 85.5 82.8 83.6 0-0 1-1
U T S A 79.2 83.9 80.0 81.1 0-0 0-2
Rice 70.4 73.4 69.1 71.0 0-0 1-2
U T E P 68.5 71.6 67.8 69.3 0-0 0-2
CUSA Averages 84.3 87.3 84.8 85.4
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average Conf. Overall
Notre Dame 120.7 116.9 119.1 118.9 x 2-0
BYU 99.0 99.8 99.6 99.4 x 1-1
Army 96.3 96.7 96.5 96.5 x 1-1
Massachusetts 88.2 90.0 89.6 89.3 x 1-2
Liberty 81.0 79.3 81.2 80.5 x 1-1
N. Mexico St. 75.7 78.1 76.0 76.6 x 0-3
Ind. Averages 93.5 93.5 93.7 93.5
Mid-American Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MAC Overall
Buffalo 95.3 97.6 96.5 96.5 0-0 2-0
Ohio U 94.6 96.0 95.9 95.5 0-0 1-0
Akron 90.3 91.9 90.5 90.9 0-0 1-0
Miami (O) 89.1 91.1 90.0 90.1 0-0 0-2
Bowling Green 83.7 83.7 83.9 83.8 0-0 0-2
Kent St. 81.6 82.9 81.0 81.8 0-0 1-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MAC Overall
Toledo 97.2 99.3 97.3 97.9 0-0 1-0
Northern Illinois 96.1 96.7 96.1 96.3 0-0 0-2
Eastern Michigan 92.4 93.7 93.1 93.1 0-0 2-0
Western Michigan 89.9 91.5 90.7 90.7 0-0 0-2
Central Michigan 83.5 86.3 83.7 84.5 0-0 0-2
Ball St. 83.2 85.9 82.9 84.0 0-0 1-1
MAC Averages 89.8 91.4 90.1 90.4
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MWC Overall
Boise St. 116.4 115.8 117.2 116.5 0-0 2-0
Utah St. 102.5 104.0 104.1 103.5 0-0 1-1
Wyoming 97.4 97.3 97.2 97.3 0-0 1-2
Air Force 93.0 93.1 92.5 92.9 0-0 1-1
New Mexico 86.4 88.1 86.3 86.9 0-0 1-1
Colo. State 84.6 85.9 84.7 85.1 0-1 1-2
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MWC Overall
Fresno St. 107.9 106.3 107.4 107.2 0-0 1-1
San Diego St. 98.7 99.3 99.9 99.3 0-0 1-1
Nevada 91.3 91.4 91.3 91.3 0-0 1-1
U N L V 89.5 91.1 90.0 90.2 0-0 1-1
Hawaii 79.9 82.2 78.4 80.2 1-0 3-0
San Jose St. 76.1 76.9 74.3 75.8 0-0 0-2
MWC Averages 93.6 94.3 93.6 93.8
Pac-12 Conference
North Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average P12 Overall
Washington 126.7 124.2 129.1 126.6 0-0 1-1
Stanford 120.5 118.1 121.0 119.9 1-0 2-0
Oregon 114.5 114.6 115.2 114.8 0-0 2-0
California 109.7 106.9 109.3 108.6 0-0 2-0
Washington St. 108.8 107.9 107.7 108.1 0-0 2-0
Oregon St. 87.8 85.2 86.1 86.4 0-0 1-1
South Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average P12 Overall
U S C 112.1 110.3 111.5 111.3 0-1 1-1
Utah 111.2 109.5 112.0 110.9 0-0 2-0
Arizona St. 108.8 107.3 108.1 108.1 0-0 2-0
Colorado 101.1 102.7 102.4 102.1 0-0 2-0
Arizona 101.0 99.3 100.9 100.4 0-0 0-2
U C L A 98.8 98.5 96.2 97.8 0-0 0-2
Pac-12 Averages 108.4 107.0 108.3 107.9
Southeastern Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SEC Overall
Georgia 131.9 127.6 133.3 130.9 1-0 2-0
Missouri 115.2 113.7 116.8 115.2 0-0 2-0
S. Carolina 112.0 110.8 111.4 111.4 0-1 1-1
Florida 110.2 108.0 110.3 109.5 0-1 1-1
Kentucky 108.7 107.5 108.4 108.2 1-0 2-0
Vanderbilt 101.5 102.5 101.8 102.0 0-0 2-0
Tennessee 97.2 97.5 96.5 97.1 0-0 1-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SEC Overall
Alabama 133.8 131.7 135.7 133.7 0-0 2-0
Auburn 123.2 121.8 125.8 123.6 0-0 2-0
Mississippi St. 123.8 120.8 124.4 123.0 0-0 2-0
L S U 112.8 112.9 113.5 113.1 0-0 2-0
Texas A&M 113.0 111.7 113.2 112.6 0-0 1-1
Ole Miss 107.5 107.2 108.3 107.6 0-0 2-0
Arkansas 104.9 102.0 103.2 103.4 0-0 1-1
SEC Averages 114.0 112.5 114.5 113.7
Sunbelt Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SBC Overall
Appalachian St. 94.2 95.7 95.5 95.1 0-0 1-1
Troy 89.5 91.0 91.1 90.5 0-0 1-1
Georgia Southern 85.3 86.7 85.6 85.9 0-0 2-0
Coastal Carolina 78.5 81.5 79.1 79.7 0-0 1-1
Georgia St. 77.9 80.7 78.9 79.2 0-0 1-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SBC Overall
Arkansas St. 87.9 89.5 89.6 89.0 0-0 1-1
UL-Monroe 87.1 86.7 87.9 87.3 0-0 2-0
South Alabama 81.3 83.4 82.3 82.3 0-0 0-2
Louisiana 79.5 81.7 80.5 80.6 0-0 1-0
Texas State 70.7 73.8 69.9 71.5 0-0 1-1
Sun Belt Averages 83.2 85.1 84.0 84.1

 

Conference Ratings

# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 114.0 112.5 114.5 113.7
2 ACC 110.8 109.5 110.2 110.2
3 BTEN 110.6 108.8 110.0 109.8
4 B12 108.9 107.4 108.1 108.1
5 P-12 108.4 107.0 108.3 107.9
6 AAC 95.1 95.7 95.1 95.3
7 MWC 93.6 94.3 93.6 93.8
8 IND 93.5 93.5 93.7 93.5
9 MAC 89.8 91.4 90.1 90.4
10 CUSA 84.3 87.3 84.8 85.4
11 SUN 83.2 85.1 84.0 84.1

This Week’s Playoff and Bowl Projections

Bowl Conferences Team 1 Team 2
New Mexico MWC CUSA Utah St. Southern Miss.
Cure AAC SBC Central Florida Appalachian St.
Las Vegas MWC Pac-12 Fresno St. Colorado
Camellia MAC SBC Buffalo Troy
New Orleans CUSA SBC Louisiana Tech UL-Monroe
Boca Raton MAC CUSA Toledo Marshall
Frisco AAC MAC Tulsa Western Michigan
Gasparilla AAC CUSA South Florida Florida Atlantic
Bahamas AAC CUSA Houston North Texas
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Eastern Michigan UNLV
Birmingham AAC SEC Memphis [Virginia]
Armed Forces AAC Big 12 Navy [California]
Dollar General MAC SBC Ohio U Louisiana
Hawaii CUSA MWC Florida Int’l. Hawaii
Heart of Dallas Big Ten CUSA [BYU] Middle Tennessee
Quick Lane ACC Big Ten Louisville Indiana
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 [Army] Arizona St.
Independence ACC SEC Georgia Tech [UAB]
Pinstripe ACC Big Ten Duke Maryland
Texas Big 12 SEC [Utah] Texas A&M
Music City ACC/Big Ten SEC North Carolina St. Missouri
Camping World ACC Big 12 Notre Dame Iowa St.
Arizona MWC SBC San Diego St. Arkansas St.
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 Oklahoma St. Washington
Belk ACC SEC Boston College South Carolina
Peach At-large At-large West Virginia Virginia Tech
Military AAC ACC Cincinnati Syracuse
Sun ACC Pac-12 Miami (Fla.) Washington St.
San Francisco Big Ten Pac-12 Iowa Oregon
Liberty Big 12 SEC [Georgia Southern] Kentucky
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Michigan USC
Gator ACC/Big Ten SEC Wisconsin Florida
Outback Big Ten SEC Minnesota LSU
Fiesta At-large At-large Boise St. TCU
Citrus ACC/Big Ten SEC Michigan St. Mississippi St.
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Penn St. Stanford
Sugar Big 12 SEC Oklahoma Auburn
FBS PLAYOFFS
Cotton FBS PLAYOFF Alabama Ohio St.
Orange FBS PLAYOFF Clemson Georgia
Championship  Semifinal Winners Alabama Georgia
Teams in [Brackets] are at-large selections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 4, 2018

PiRate Ratings–College Football Week 2

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 133.5 131.2 135.4 133.4
2 Clemson 131.9 128.6 132.8 131.1
3 Georgia 131.1 126.5 132.6 130.0
4 Washington 126.9 124.4 129.3 126.8
5 Ohio St. 126.2 123.5 126.8 125.5
6 Michigan St. 124.7 122.4 124.8 124.0
7 Notre Dame 125.7 121.9 124.1 123.9
8 Auburn 123.2 121.8 125.8 123.6
9 Oklahoma 122.5 121.1 123.1 122.2
10 Mississippi St. 122.8 119.5 123.0 121.8
11 Michigan 121.6 120.2 122.3 121.3
12 Wisconsin 121.7 118.6 121.7 120.7
13 Stanford 120.1 117.5 120.7 119.4
14 Boston College 118.1 115.1 118.4 117.2
15 Miami 117.1 115.1 116.7 116.3
16 Virginia Tech 116.1 115.6 116.0 115.9
17 Penn St. 116.7 113.5 117.0 115.7
18 Oregon 114.5 114.6 115.2 114.8
19 Missouri 114.6 112.9 116.2 114.5
20 Northwestern 114.8 112.8 115.2 114.3
21 Boise St. 113.3 112.8 114.3 113.5
22 N. Carolina St. 113.6 112.8 113.4 113.3
23 L S U 112.8 112.9 113.5 113.1
24 Central Florida 113.0 112.8 113.1 113.0
25 Florida 113.4 111.1 113.8 112.7
26 Iowa 113.7 111.2 112.9 112.6
27 T C U 112.9 112.2 111.7 112.2
28 Oklahoma St. 113.2 110.8 112.7 112.2
29 Duke 113.3 110.7 112.4 112.2
30 Georgia Tech 112.5 111.2 112.1 112.0
31 S. Carolina 112.3 111.4 111.6 111.8
32 U S C 112.3 110.7 111.6 111.5
33 Utah 111.5 109.5 112.4 111.2
34 West Virginia 111.6 110.8 111.0 111.1
35 Texas A&M 111.2 110.1 111.2 110.8
36 Iowa State 110.5 108.6 110.0 109.7
37 Florida St. 109.7 109.0 109.3 109.3
38 Texas 109.8 108.3 108.9 109.0
39 California 110.0 107.2 109.6 108.9
40 Ole Miss 107.8 107.5 108.6 107.9
41 Washington St. 108.6 107.7 107.5 107.9
42 Fresno St. 108.5 106.9 108.2 107.9
43 Arkansas 109.4 106.5 107.7 107.9
44 Wake Forest 108.7 106.5 106.2 107.1
45 Purdue 107.9 106.1 106.8 106.9
46 Memphis 105.2 107.3 106.7 106.4
47 Kansas St. 106.8 105.4 106.2 106.1
48 Arizona St. 106.7 105.2 105.6 105.8
49 Minnesota 106.0 105.2 105.5 105.6
50 Kentucky 106.0 104.9 105.4 105.4
51 Arizona 106.1 104.1 106.0 105.4
52 Syracuse 106.3 104.7 105.1 105.4
53 Pittsburgh 105.5 105.2 104.7 105.2
54 N. Carolina 105.3 104.3 104.7 104.8
55 Maryland 104.6 102.8 103.4 103.6
56 Louisville 103.6 103.4 103.0 103.3
57 Texas Tech 103.2 101.3 101.4 102.0
58 Baylor 102.7 100.4 102.1 101.7
59 Colorado 100.6 102.3 102.0 101.6
60 Virginia 101.9 102.4 100.3 101.5
61 Utah St. 100.3 101.5 101.9 101.2
62 Houston 99.1 100.6 99.8 99.8
63 Florida Atlantic 99.3 99.9 100.3 99.8
64 Vanderbilt 99.1 100.1 99.2 99.5
65 San Diego St. 98.9 99.5 100.1 99.5
66 BYU 99.0 99.8 99.6 99.4
67 Nebraska 100.3 98.5 97.6 98.8
68 U C L A 98.9 98.7 96.3 97.9
69 Wyoming 98.0 98.1 97.8 97.9
70 Toledo 97.0 99.1 97.1 97.7
71 South Florida 95.8 99.1 96.7 97.2
72 Rutgers 98.1 97.1 96.2 97.1
73 Indiana 97.6 96.5 97.1 97.1
74 N. Texas 95.8 98.7 96.6 97.0
75 Tennessee 96.9 97.2 96.2 96.8
76 Marshall 94.7 97.6 95.9 96.1
77 Northern Illinois 95.8 96.7 95.7 96.1
78 Army 95.6 96.1 95.5 95.8
79 Buffalo 94.5 96.9 95.6 95.7
80 Tulane 95.5 95.6 95.1 95.4
81 Ohio U 94.4 95.8 95.7 95.3
82 Navy 94.5 97.3 93.8 95.2
83 Louisiana Tech 93.3 95.8 94.5 94.5
84 Nevada 93.7 93.8 93.9 93.8
85 Temple 93.3 93.3 93.7 93.4
86 U A B 91.8 94.3 92.2 92.8
87 Air Force 92.7 92.7 91.9 92.4
88 Western Michigan 91.4 93.3 92.4 92.4
89 Illinois 92.9 92.5 91.7 92.4
90 Miami (O) 91.1 93.4 92.5 92.3
91 Appalachian St. 91.5 92.8 92.8 92.3
92 Kansas 93.5 91.9 91.2 92.2
93 Massachusetts 90.5 92.5 92.3 91.8
94 Tulsa 91.9 90.4 92.4 91.6
95 SMU 92.0 91.1 90.7 91.3
96 Akron 90.3 91.9 90.5 90.9
97 Eastern Michigan 89.6 91.0 90.3 90.3
98 Troy 89.2 90.7 90.8 90.2
99 Middle Tennessee 89.1 90.8 90.0 90.0
100 U N L V 89.3 90.8 89.8 90.0
101 Cincinnati 89.7 91.0 89.2 89.9
102 Arkansas St. 88.0 89.8 89.7 89.2
103 UL-Monroe 87.1 86.5 87.9 87.2
104 Central Michigan 85.6 88.9 86.1 86.9
105 New Mexico 85.9 87.8 85.5 86.4
106 Oregon St. 87.4 84.8 85.7 86.0
107 Bowling Green 85.0 85.3 85.6 85.3
108 Florida Int’l. 82.2 86.6 82.8 83.9
109 W. Kentucky 82.3 85.7 83.4 83.8
110 Southern Miss. 82.3 85.7 82.8 83.6
111 Old Dominion 82.0 86.3 82.0 83.5
112 South Alabama 81.9 84.4 83.3 83.2
113 Georgia Southern 82.7 83.9 82.6 83.1
114 East Carolina 82.3 81.4 81.2 81.6
115 Connecticut 81.9 82.0 80.4 81.4
116 Liberty 81.7 79.9 82.2 81.3
117 Colo. State 80.6 81.9 80.7 81.1
118 Kent St. 80.8 82.1 80.2 81.0
119 U T S A 78.9 83.7 79.8 80.8
120 Louisiana 79.3 81.5 80.3 80.4
121 Hawaii 79.8 82.0 78.3 80.0
122 N. Mexico St. 78.9 81.6 79.2 79.9
123 Ball St. 78.2 80.9 77.9 79.0
124 Georgia St. 77.6 80.6 78.4 78.9
125 Charlotte 76.7 79.2 76.8 77.6
126 San Jose St. 76.3 77.1 74.5 76.0
127 Coastal Carolina 73.8 76.7 74.2 74.9
128 Texas State 70.7 73.8 69.9 71.5
129 Rice 70.5 73.6 69.2 71.1
130 U T E P 68.7 71.9 68.0 69.5

PiRate Ratings By Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average AAC Overall
Central Florida 113.0 112.8 113.1 113.0 1-0 1-0
South Florida 95.8 99.1 96.7 97.2 0-0 1-0
Temple 93.3 93.3 93.7 93.4 0-0 0-1
Cincinnati 89.7 91.0 89.2 89.9 0-0 1-0
East Carolina 82.3 81.4 81.2 81.6 0-0 0-1
Connecticut 81.9 82.0 80.4 81.4 0-1 0-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average AAC Overall
Memphis 105.2 107.3 106.7 106.4 0-0 1-0
Houston 99.1 100.6 99.8 99.8 0-0 1-0
Tulane 95.5 95.6 95.1 95.4 0-0 0-1
Navy 94.5 97.3 93.8 95.2 0-0 0-1
Tulsa 91.9 90.4 92.4 91.6 0-0 1-0
SMU 92.0 91.1 90.7 91.3 0-0 0-1
AAC Averages 94.5 95.1 94.4 94.7
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average ACC Overall
Clemson 131.9 128.6 132.8 131.1 0-0 1-0
Boston College 118.1 115.1 118.4 117.2 0-0 1-0
N. Carolina St. 113.6 112.8 113.4 113.3 0-0 1-0
Florida St. 109.7 109.0 109.3 109.3 0-1 0-1
Wake Forest 108.7 106.5 106.2 107.1 0-0 1-0
Syracuse 106.3 104.7 105.1 105.4 0-0 1-0
Louisville 103.6 103.4 103.0 103.3 0-0 0-1
Coastal Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average ACC Overall
Miami 117.1 115.1 116.7 116.3 0-0 0-1
Virginia Tech 116.1 115.6 116.0 115.9 1-0 1-0
Duke 113.3 110.7 112.4 112.2 0-0 1-0
Georgia Tech 112.5 111.2 112.1 112.0 0-0 1-0
Pittsburgh 105.5 105.2 104.7 105.2 0-0 1-0
N. Carolina 105.3 104.3 104.7 104.8 0-0 0-1
Virginia 101.9 102.4 100.3 101.5 0-0 1-0
ACC Averages 111.7 110.3 111.1 111.0
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average B12 Overall
Oklahoma 122.5 121.1 123.1 122.2 0-0 1-0
T C U 112.9 112.2 111.7 112.2 0-0 1-0
Oklahoma St. 113.2 110.8 112.7 112.2 0-0 1-0
West Virginia 111.6 110.8 111.0 111.1 0-0 1-0
Iowa State 110.5 108.6 110.0 109.7 0-0 0-0
Texas 109.8 108.3 108.9 109.0 0-0 0-1
Kansas St. 106.8 105.4 106.2 106.1 0-0 1-0
Texas Tech 103.2 101.3 101.4 102.0 0-0 0-1
Baylor 102.7 100.4 102.1 101.7 0-0 1-0
Kansas 93.5 91.9 91.2 92.2 0-0 0-1
Big 12 Averages 108.7 107.1 107.8 107.9
Big Ten Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average BTen Overall
Ohio St. 126.2 123.5 126.8 125.5 0-0 1-0
Michigan St. 124.7 122.4 124.8 124.0 0-0 1-0
Michigan 121.6 120.2 122.3 121.3 0-0 0-1
Penn St. 116.7 113.5 117.0 115.7 0-0 1-0
Maryland 104.6 102.8 103.4 103.6 0-0 1-0
Rutgers 98.1 97.1 96.2 97.1 0-0 1-0
Indiana 97.6 96.5 97.1 97.1 0-0 1-0
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average BTen Overall
Wisconsin 121.7 118.6 121.7 120.7 0-0 1-0
Northwestern 114.8 112.8 115.2 114.3 1-0 1-0
Iowa 113.7 111.2 112.9 112.6 0-0 1-0
Purdue 107.9 106.1 106.8 106.9 0-1 0-1
Minnesota 106.0 105.2 105.5 105.6 0-0 1-0
Nebraska 100.3 98.5 97.6 98.8 0-0 0-0
Illinois 92.9 92.5 91.7 92.4 0-0 1-0
Big Ten Averages 110.5 108.6 109.9 109.7
Conference USA
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average CUSA Overall
Florida Atlantic 99.3 99.9 100.3 99.8 0-0 0-1
Marshall 94.7 97.6 95.9 96.1 0-0 1-0
Middle Tennessee 89.1 90.8 90.0 90.0 0-0 0-1
Florida Int’l. 82.2 86.6 82.8 83.9 0-0 0-1
W. Kentucky 82.3 85.7 83.4 83.8 0-0 0-1
Old Dominion 82.0 86.3 82.0 83.5 0-0 0-1
Charlotte 76.7 79.2 76.8 77.6 0-0 1-0
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average CUSA Overall
N. Texas 95.8 98.7 96.6 97.0 0-0 1-0
Louisiana Tech 93.3 95.8 94.5 94.5 0-0 1-0
U A B 91.8 94.3 92.2 92.8 0-0 1-0
Southern Miss. 82.3 85.7 82.8 83.6 0-0 1-0
U T S A 78.9 83.7 79.8 80.8 0-0 0-1
Rice 70.5 73.6 69.2 71.1 0-0 1-1
U T E P 68.7 71.9 68.0 69.5 0-0 0-1
CUSA Averages 84.8 87.8 85.3 86.0
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average Conf. Overall
Notre Dame 125.7 121.9 124.1 123.9 x 1-0
BYU 99.0 99.8 99.6 99.4 x 1-0
Army 95.6 96.1 95.5 95.8 x 0-1
Massachusetts 90.5 92.5 92.3 91.8 x 1-1
Liberty 81.7 79.9 82.2 81.3 x 1-0
N. Mexico St. 78.9 81.6 79.2 79.9 x 0-2
Indep.  Averages 95.2 95.3 95.5 95.3
Mid-American Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MAC Overall
Buffalo 94.5 96.9 95.6 95.7 0-0 1-0
Ohio U 94.4 95.8 95.7 95.3 0-0 1-0
Miami (O) 91.1 93.4 92.5 92.3 0-0 0-1
Akron 90.3 91.9 90.5 90.9 0-0 0-0
Bowling Green 85.0 85.3 85.6 85.3 0-0 0-1
Kent St. 80.8 82.1 80.2 81.0 0-0 0-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MAC Overall
Toledo 97.0 99.1 97.1 97.7 0-0 1-0
Northern Illinois 95.8 96.7 95.7 96.1 0-0 0-1
Western Michigan 91.4 93.3 92.4 92.4 0-0 0-1
Eastern Michigan 89.6 91.0 90.3 90.3 0-0 1-0
Central Michigan 85.6 88.9 86.1 86.9 0-0 0-1
Ball St. 78.2 80.9 77.9 79.0 0-0 1-0
MAC Averages 89.5 91.3 90.0 90.2
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MWC Overall
Boise St. 113.3 112.8 114.3 113.5 0-0 1-0
Utah St. 100.3 101.5 101.9 101.2 0-0 0-1
Wyoming 98.0 98.1 97.8 97.9 0-0 1-1
Air Force 92.7 92.7 91.9 92.4 0-0 1-0
New Mexico 85.9 87.8 85.5 86.4 0-0 1-0
Colo. State 80.6 81.9 80.7 81.1 0-1 0-2
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MWC Overall
Fresno St. 108.5 106.9 108.2 107.9 0-0 1-0
San Diego St. 98.9 99.5 100.1 99.5 0-0 0-1
Nevada 93.7 93.8 93.9 93.8 0-0 1-0
U N L V 89.3 90.8 89.8 90.0 0-0 0-1
Hawaii 79.8 82.0 78.3 80.0 1-0 2-0
San Jose St. 76.3 77.1 74.5 76.0 0-0 0-1
MWC Averages 93.1 93.7 93.1 93.3
Pac-12 Conference
North Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average P12 Overall
Washington 126.9 124.4 129.3 126.8 0-0 0-1
Stanford 120.1 117.5 120.7 119.4 0-0 1-0
Oregon 114.5 114.6 115.2 114.8 0-0 1-0
California 110.0 107.2 109.6 108.9 0-0 1-0
Washington St. 108.6 107.7 107.5 107.9 0-0 1-0
Oregon St. 87.4 84.8 85.7 86.0 0-0 0-1
South Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average P12 Overall
U S C 112.3 110.7 111.6 111.5 0-0 1-0
Utah 111.5 109.5 112.4 111.2 0-0 1-0
Arizona St. 106.7 105.2 105.6 105.8 0-0 1-0
Arizona 106.1 104.1 106.0 105.4 0-0 0-1
Colorado 100.6 102.3 102.0 101.6 0-0 1-0
U C L A 98.9 98.7 96.3 97.9 0-0 0-1
Pac-12 Averages 108.6 107.2 108.5 108.1
Southeastern Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SEC Overall
Georgia 131.1 126.5 132.6 130.0 0-0 1-0
Missouri 114.6 112.9 116.2 114.5 0-0 1-0
Florida 113.4 111.1 113.8 112.7 0-0 1-0
S. Carolina 112.3 111.4 111.6 111.8 0-0 1-0
Kentucky 106.0 104.9 105.4 105.4 0-0 1-0
Vanderbilt 99.1 100.1 99.2 99.5 0-0 1-0
Tennessee 96.9 97.2 96.2 96.8 0-0 0-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SEC Overall
Alabama 133.5 131.2 135.4 133.4 0-0 1-0
Auburn 123.2 121.8 125.8 123.6 0-0 1-0
Mississippi St. 122.8 119.5 123.0 121.8 0-0 1-0
L S U 112.8 112.9 113.5 113.1 0-0 1-0
Texas A&M 111.2 110.1 111.2 110.8 0-0 1-0
Ole Miss 107.8 107.5 108.6 107.9 0-0 1-0
Arkansas 109.4 106.5 107.7 107.9 0-0 1-0
SEC Averages 113.9 112.4 114.3 113.5
Sunbelt Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SBC Overall
Appalachian St. 91.5 92.8 92.8 92.3 0-0 0-1
Troy 89.2 90.7 90.8 90.2 0-0 0-1
Georgia Southern 82.7 83.9 82.6 83.1 0-0 1-0
Georgia St. 77.6 80.6 78.4 78.9 0-0 1-0
Coastal Carolina 73.8 76.7 74.2 74.9 0-0 0-1
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SBC Overall
Arkansas St. 88.0 89.8 89.7 89.2 0-0 1-0
UL-Monroe 87.1 86.5 87.9 87.2 0-0 1-0
South Alabama 81.9 84.4 83.3 83.2 0-0 0-1
Louisiana 79.3 81.5 80.3 80.4 0-0 1-0
Texas State 70.7 73.8 69.9 71.5 0-0 0-1
Sun Belt Averages 82.2 84.1 83.0 83.1

Conference Ratings

PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 113.9 112.4 114.3 113.5
2 ACC 111.7 110.3 111.1 111.0
3 BTEN 110.5 108.6 109.9 109.7
4 P-12 108.6 107.2 108.5 108.1
5 B12 108.7 107.1 107.8 107.9
6 IND 95.2 95.3 95.5 95.3
7 AAC 94.5 95.1 94.4 94.7
8 MWC 93.1 93.7 93.1 93.3
9 MAC 89.5 91.3 90.0 90.2
10 CUSA 84.8 87.8 85.3 86.0
11 SBC 82.2 84.1 83.0 83.1

This Week’s PiRate Ratings’ Spreads

Friday September 7
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
SMU TCU -19.4 -19.5 -19.5
Saturday September 8
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Army Liberty 16.4 18.7 15.8
Coastal Carolina UAB -15.5 -15.1 -15.6
South Florida Georgia Tech -13.7 -9.1 -12.4
Michigan Western Michigan 32.7 29.3 32.3
Charlotte Appalachian St. -12.7 -11.6 -13.9
Purdue Eastern Michigan 21.3 18.2 19.5
Wisconsin New Mexico 38.8 33.8 39.2
Florida Atlantic Air Force 9.6 10.2 11.4
Old Dominion Florida Int’l. 2.3 2.3 1.7
Northwestern Duke 4.6 5.0 5.8
Kansas St. Mississippi St. -13.1 -11.1 -13.8
Houston Arizona -3.9 -0.5 -3.2
Vanderbilt Nevada 8.4 9.3 8.3
North Carolina St. Georgia St. 39.1 35.2 38.0
Oklahoma UCLA 26.6 25.4 29.8
Utah St. New Mexico St. 24.4 22.9 25.7
Central Michigan Kansas -4.9 0.0 -2.1
UNLV UTEP 23.6 22.0 24.9
Navy Memphis -7.7 -7.0 -9.9
East Carolina North Carolina -21.0 -20.9 -21.5
Ohio St. Rutgers 31.0 29.4 33.6
Temple Buffalo 0.8 -1.6 0.1
South Carolina Georgia -15.8 -12.1 -18.0
UTSA Baylor -21.3 -14.2 -19.8
Alabama Arkansas St. 48.6 44.4 48.6
Nebraska Colorado 2.6 -0.8 -1.4
Southern Miss. UL-Monroe -2.3 1.7 -2.6
Notre Dame Ball St. 50.4 44.0 49.2
Iowa Iowa St. 4.8 4.1 4.3
Bowling Green Maryland -17.1 -15.0 -15.2
Georgia Southern Massachusetts -4.8 -5.6 -6.7
Texas A&M Clemson -17.8 -15.5 -18.6
Missouri Wyoming 19.6 17.8 21.4
Indiana Virginia -1.3 -2.9 -0.2
Florida Kentucky 10.4 9.2 11.4
Northern Illinois Utah -12.8 -9.8 -13.7
Minnesota Fresno St. 0.5 1.3 0.3
Colorado St. Arkansas -25.8 -21.6 -24.0
Miami (O) Cincinnati 2.9 3.9 4.8
Texas Tulsa 20.9 20.9 19.4
Oklahoma St. South Alabama 34.3 29.4 32.3
Pittsburgh Penn St. -8.7 -5.7 -9.7
Stanford USC 10.8 9.7 12.2
BYU California -8.0 -4.4 -7.0
Boise St. Connecticut 34.4 33.8 36.9
Arizona St. Michigan St. -15.1 -14.3 -16.2
Washington St. San Jose St. 35.3 33.6 36.0
Hawaii Rice 13.3 12.4 13.1

This Week’s Bowl and Playoff Projections

Bowl Conferences Team 1 Team 2
New Mexico MWC CUSA Wyoming Louisiana Tech
Cure AAC SBC Navy Appalachian St.
Las Vegas MWC Pac-12 Fresno St. Arizona St.
Camellia MAC SBC Northern Illinois Georgia Southern
New Orleans CUSA SBC Western Kentucky Louisiana-Lafayette
Boca Raton MAC CUSA Ohio U Florida Int’l.
Frisco AAC MAC Cincinnati Buffalo
Gasparilla AAC CUSA Memphis Marshall
Bahamas AAC CUSA Central Florida North Texas
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Toledo Utah St.
Birmingham AAC SEC [UAB] [UL-Monroe]
Armed Forces AAC Big 12 Houston [BYU]
Dollar General MAC SBC Western Michigan Troy
Hawaii CUSA MWC Florida Atlantic Hawaii
Heart of Dallas Big Ten CUSA [California] Southern Miss.
Quick Lane ACC Big Ten Virginia [Army]
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 [Air Force] Colorado
Independence ACC SEC Miami (Fla.) [Middle Tennessee]
Pinstripe ACC Big Ten North Carolina St. Minnesota
Texas Big 12 SEC Iowa St. Texas A&M
Music City ACC/Big Ten SEC Louisville Arkansas
Camping World ACC Big 12 Boston College West Virginia
Arizona MWC SBC San Diego St. Arkansas St.
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 Oklahoma St. Oregon
Belk ACC SEC Virginia Tech South Carolina
Peach At-large At-large TCU Boise St.
Military AAC ACC South Florida Duke
Sun ACC Pac-12 Georgia Tech Utah
San Francisco Big Ten Pac-12 Iowa Washington St.
Liberty Big 12 SEC Kansas St. Missouri
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Michigan Stanford
Gator ACC/Big Ten SEC Northwestern LSU
Outback Big Ten SEC Penn St. Auburn
Fiesta At-large At-large USC Ohio St.
Citrus ACC/Big Ten SEC Wisconsin Mississippi St.
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Michigan St. Washington
Sugar Big 12 SEC Oklahoma Florida
FBS PLAYOFFS
Cotton FBS PLAYOFF Alabama Notre Dame
Orange FBS PLAYOFF Clemson Georgia
National Championship Game Semifinal Winners Alabama Clemson
Teams in [Brackets] are at-large selections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 27, 2018

PiRate Ratings–College Football Week 1

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:55 am

Since only a handful of games were played in Week 0, and the ratings barely moved, we will dispense with posting a new set of ratings this week and feature just our spreads for Week 1 and combine our Selections against the Spread For Week 1, as there are no NFL games this weekend.

This Week’s PiRate Rating Spreads

Thursday, August 30
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Connecticut Central Florida -24.2 -23.5 -25.4
Purdue Northwestern -4.0 -3.2 -5.8
Minnesota New Mexico St. 27.5 23.4 26.3
Tulane Wake Forest -12.8 -10.4 -10.7
Friday, August 31
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Michigan St. Utah St. 33.9 29.8 33.1
Western Michigan Syracuse -12.2 -7.8 -9.2
Wisconsin Western Kentucky 45.7 37.6 45.2
Colorado (n) Colorado St. 13.7 13.5 14.5
Stanford San Diego St. 24.6 21.0 24.2
Duke Army 20.2 16.5 19.4
Saturday, September 1
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Oklahoma Florida Atlantic 20.5 17.7 19.6
Rice Houston -26.2 -24.5 -29.0
Ohio St. Oregon St. 36.1 35.8 38.2
Penn St. Appalachian St. 36.8 31.6 35.9
Nebraska Akron 12.9 9.6 10.0
Boston College Massachusetts 27.5 21.3 25.2
Illinois Kent St. 16.2 14.5 15.8
Rutgers Texas St. 30.5 25.7 28.7
Florida Int’l. Indiana -13.3 -7.0 -12.2
Iowa Northern Illinois 20.0 15.1 18.4
Maryland (n) Texas -18.4 -19.2 -19.8
Troy Boise St. -14.9 -12.1 -13.7
South Alabama Louisiana Tech -9.8 -10.1 -10.0
Miami (O) Marshall -0.3 -0.7 0.9
North Texas SMU -0.6 3.9 1.1
Vanderbilt Middle Tennessee 6.9 5.6 4.6
Arizona BYU 17.0 13.6 16.7
Arizona St. UTSA 28.2 20.6 25.2
USC UNLV 26.4 22.9 25.1
UCLA Cincinnati 18.4 16.7 16.5
Auburn (n) Washington -4.6 -2.3 -4.8
Kentucky Central Michigan 24.5 19.2 23.6
Texas Tech (n) Ole Miss 0.7 -1.0 -1.9
South Carolina Coastal Carolina 42.2 37.8 41.1
West Virginia (n) Tennessee 11.2 9.2 10.7
California North Carolina 9.5 7.6 10.1
Wyoming Washington St. -4.5 -2.8 -2.5
Oregon Bowling Green 32.3 32.2 32.3
Liberty Old Dominion -9.8 -14.9 -12.3
Notre Dame Michigan 6.9 3.9 4.0
Alabama (n) Louisville 28.4 25.5 30.7
Hawaii Navy -17.6 -18.6 -19.4
Sunday, September 2
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
LSU (n) Miami (Fla.) -10.2 -7.9 -9.4
Monday, September 3
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Florida St. Virginia Tech 0.2 0.1 0.2

(n) means neutral site game, but some teams may receive a little advantage for playing close to home.

FBS vs. FCS Games–PiRate Rating Spread Only

FBS vs. FCS
Home Visitor PiRate
Ball St. Central Conn. 5.1
Georgia St. Kennesaw St. 3.6
Oklahoma St. Missouri St. 40.9
San Jose St. UC-Davis -0.9
Texas A&M Northwestern St. 40.6
UAB Savannah St. 28.8
Utah Weber St. 22.0
Eastern Michigan Monmouth 20.0
Air Force Stony Brook 13.7
Arkansas Eastern Illinois 29.8
Arkansas St. SE Missouri 24.9
Baylor Abilene Christian 31.3
Buffalo Delaware St. 38.6
Charlotte Fordham 10.8
Clemson Furman 43.7
East Carolina N.C. A&T 9.9
Florida Chas. Southern 32.5
Fresno St. Idaho 21.0
Georgia Austin Peay 47.8
Georgia Southern S. Carolina St. 22.3
Georgia Tech Alcorn St. 39.9
Iowa St. South Dakota St. 16.5
Kansas Nicholls St. 10.6
Kansas St. South Dakota 25.2
La.-Monroe SE Louisiana 10.1
Louisiana Grambling 10.2
Memphis Mercer 32.9
Mississippi St. S F Austin 44.3
Missouri UT-Martin 29.3
N. Carolina St. James Madison 17.2
Nevada Portland St. 21.0
New Mexico Incarnate Word 27.8
Ohio U Howard 34.7
Pittsburgh Albany 30.1
South Florida Elon 28.7
Southern Miss. Jackson St. 35.4
TCU Southern 47.6
Temple Villanova 18.8
Toledo VMI 42.4
Tulsa Central Arkansas 10.0
UTEP Northern Arizona -6.0
Virginia Richmond 15.6

PiRate Ratings Picks Versus The Spread

This year, we are going to stick our necks out and go with straight spread and totals wagering in our imaginary picks with an imaginary bank account.

Remember: We never lose money on these picks, because they are strictly for fun.  We suggest you use these selections the same way.

Unless otherwise stated, all of our pretend picks will be for $100 imaginary.

Date 8/27-9/3 $100 per pick
Favorite Underdog Spread Pick
Purdue Northwestern 2 1/2 Northwestern
Michigan St. Utah St. 23 Michigan St.
Penn St. Appalachian St. 23 1/2 Penn St.
Nebraska Akron 24 1/2 Akron
Iowa Northern Illinois 10 Iowa
Texas Maryland 13 Texas
California North Carolina 7 California

 

 

 

August 21, 2018

PiRate Ratings–College Football Week 0

It’s here!  After a long hot, humid Summer that still wears on, the college football season has a dress rehearsal weekend where you are invited to see a couple of FBS games on Saturday, plus a couple more FBS vs. FCS games.

We still have no word from the two coaches in limbo.  As of this writing, neither Urban Meyer nor D.J. Durkin know their fate for the 2018 season and beyond.  Because of these two coaches being in limbo, so are the PiRate Ratings for Week 1.

We are calling this Week 0, and we are keeping the preseason ratings about where they were when we previewed each of the 10 conferences and the independents.  The six FBS teams in action this weekend have had their ratings tweaked minimally due to some injuries and suspensions, but this has amounted to tenths of a point for each team.

Without further adieu, the PiRates are ready to officially debut with the ratings.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

August 25, 2018
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
New Mexico St. Wyoming -13.9 -10.8 -13.7
Colorado St. Hawaii 14.7 14.2 17.4
FBS vs. FCS
Home Visitor PiRate
Massachusetts Duquesne 17.4
Rice Prairie View 13.7

This Week’s PiRate Ratings 

Note: We will not offer retrodictive rankings this season–it is too time-consuming to use this algorithm.

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 132.0 129.3 133.8 131.7
2 Clemson 131.7 128.4 132.6 130.9
3 Georgia 130.9 126.3 132.4 129.8
4 Washington 128.1 125.0 130.7 127.9
5 Michigan St. 127.7 125.1 128.1 127.0
6 Ohio St. 125.1 122.3 125.6 124.3
7 Notre Dame 125.6 121.5 123.7 123.6
8 Auburn 122.0 121.2 124.4 122.5
9 Wisconsin 123.1 119.2 123.4 121.9
10 Michigan 121.7 120.6 122.7 121.6
11 Mississippi St. 122.5 119.2 122.7 121.5
12 Penn St. 121.2 117.7 121.6 120.2
13 Stanford 120.3 117.5 121.0 119.6
14 Miami 120.3 118.2 120.0 119.5
15 Oklahoma 119.5 117.7 119.8 119.0
16 Boston College 117.3 113.7 117.2 116.1
17 Oregon 114.4 114.5 115.1 114.7
18 Missouri 114.4 112.7 116.0 114.3
19 Northwestern 114.8 112.6 115.4 114.3
20 Virginia Tech 114.3 113.7 114.0 114.0
21 N. Carolina St. 113.8 113.0 113.6 113.5
22 Texas 113.2 111.9 112.8 112.6
23 S. Carolina 112.9 111.7 112.2 112.3
24 Florida 112.9 110.6 113.3 112.2
25 Oklahoma St. 113.2 110.8 112.7 112.2
26 Duke 113.3 110.4 112.4 112.1
27 T C U 112.7 112.0 111.5 112.0
28 Iowa 113.2 110.0 112.0 111.7
29 Georgia Tech 112.2 110.9 111.8 111.7
30 U S C 112.5 110.7 111.8 111.7
31 Florida St. 111.5 110.9 111.3 111.2
32 Utah 111.0 109.0 111.9 110.7
33 Central Florida 110.8 110.4 110.7 110.6
34 L S U 110.1 110.3 110.7 110.4
35 Texas A&M 110.7 109.6 110.7 110.3
36 Boise St. 110.2 109.3 110.9 110.1
37 Iowa State 110.7 108.8 110.2 109.9
38 California 110.3 107.5 110.1 109.3
39 West Virginia 110.0 108.8 109.1 109.3
40 Arizona 109.9 107.6 110.0 109.1
41 Wake Forest 109.8 107.5 107.3 108.2
42 Arkansas 109.3 106.4 107.6 107.8
43 Purdue 107.9 106.3 106.6 106.9
44 Kansas St. 107.4 106.0 106.8 106.7
45 Fresno St. 107.0 105.4 106.7 106.4
46 Kentucky 106.8 105.3 106.3 106.1
47 Washington St. 107.0 105.8 105.4 106.1
48 Ole Miss 105.3 105.1 106.1 105.5
49 Memphis 104.2 106.3 105.7 105.4
50 Pittsburgh 105.5 105.2 104.7 105.2
51 Louisville 105.1 105.3 104.6 105.0
52 Syracuse 106.2 104.2 104.6 105.0
53 Texas Tech 106.0 104.0 104.2 104.7
54 N. Carolina 105.3 104.3 104.5 104.7
55 Arizona St. 105.4 103.3 103.8 104.2
56 Minnesota 104.7 103.6 104.0 104.1
57 Florida Atlantic 102.0 103.0 103.3 102.8
58 Baylor 102.9 100.6 102.3 101.9
59 U C L A 102.5 102.2 100.0 101.5
60 Virginia 101.5 102.0 99.9 101.1
61 Maryland 102.2 100.2 100.5 101.0
62 Houston 99.9 101.4 101.0 100.8
63 Colorado 98.9 100.4 100.1 99.8
64 Navy 98.7 101.7 98.5 99.7
65 San Diego St. 98.7 99.5 99.8 99.3
66 Nebraska 100.5 98.7 97.8 99.0
67 Tennessee 98.8 99.5 98.4 98.9
68 Wyoming 98.5 98.6 98.8 98.6
69 Utah St. 96.8 98.3 98.1 97.7
70 South Florida 96.0 99.3 96.9 97.4
71 Rutgers 98.4 97.0 96.2 97.2
72 Indiana 97.8 96.3 97.3 97.1
73 Toledo 96.3 98.4 96.4 97.0
74 Northern Illinois 96.3 97.9 96.6 96.9
75 Vanderbilt 96.8 97.5 96.2 96.9
76 BYU 95.9 97.0 96.3 96.4
77 Ohio U 95.1 96.5 96.4 96.0
78 Temple 95.8 95.8 96.2 95.9
79 Army 95.6 96.4 95.5 95.9
80 Marshall 94.3 97.1 95.0 95.5
81 Buffalo 94.3 96.7 95.4 95.5
82 Louisiana Tech 93.8 96.4 95.2 95.1
83 Tulane 94.4 94.6 94.0 94.3
84 SMU 95.1 93.8 94.0 94.3
85 N. Texas 93.0 96.3 93.6 94.3
86 Illinois 94.0 93.5 92.9 93.5
87 Troy 91.8 93.7 93.7 93.1
88 Miami (O) 91.5 93.9 93.4 92.9
89 Western Michigan 91.5 93.8 92.9 92.8
90 Middle Tennessee 91.4 93.4 93.0 92.6
91 Kansas 93.9 92.3 91.6 92.6
92 Nevada 92.4 92.5 92.6 92.5
93 U A B 91.1 93.6 91.5 92.1
94 Tulsa 91.8 90.3 92.3 91.5
95 Air Force 91.7 91.7 90.9 91.4
96 Massachusetts 89.8 92.4 92.0 91.4
97 Akron 90.5 92.1 90.7 91.1
98 U N L V 89.1 90.8 89.6 89.8
99 Eastern Michigan 89.1 90.5 89.8 89.8
100 Old Dominion 87.5 91.3 89.0 89.3
101 Arkansas St. 88.0 89.8 89.7 89.2
102 Appalachian St. 87.5 89.1 88.7 88.4
103 UL-Monroe 87.3 86.7 88.1 87.4
104 Cincinnati 87.1 88.5 86.5 87.3
105 Oregon St. 88.5 86.0 86.9 87.1
106 Colo. State 85.6 87.1 86.1 86.3
107 New Mexico 85.7 87.6 85.3 86.2
108 Central Michigan 84.8 88.5 85.2 86.2
109 Bowling Green 85.1 85.4 85.7 85.4
110 Florida Int’l. 82.0 86.8 82.6 83.8
111 Connecticut 84.1 84.4 82.8 83.8
112 N. Mexico St. 82.0 85.3 82.5 83.3
113 Southern Miss. 81.6 85.0 82.1 82.9
114 Georgia Southern 82.5 83.7 82.4 82.9
115 South Alabama 81.4 83.8 82.6 82.6
116 U T S A 80.2 85.6 81.6 82.5
117 East Carolina 83.1 82.2 82.0 82.4
118 W. Kentucky 80.4 84.6 81.2 82.1
119 Kent St. 80.2 81.6 79.5 80.4
120 Louisiana 78.9 81.1 79.9 80.0
121 Georgia St. 77.6 80.6 78.4 78.9
122 Ball St. 77.7 80.4 77.4 78.5
123 Charlotte 76.2 78.7 76.3 77.1
124 San Jose St. 76.6 77.4 74.8 76.3
125 Liberty 75.2 73.9 74.2 74.5
126 Coastal Carolina 73.2 76.4 73.6 74.4
127 Hawaii 74.4 76.4 72.2 74.3
128 Rice 71.4 74.5 69.7 71.9
129 Texas State 70.4 73.9 69.9 71.4
130 U T E P 69.3 72.5 68.6 70.1

PiRate Ratings By Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average AAC Overall
Central Florida 110.8 110.4 110.7 110.6 0-0 0-0
South Florida 96.0 99.3 96.9 97.4 0-0 0-0
Temple 95.8 95.8 96.2 95.9 0-0 0-0
Cincinnati 87.1 88.5 86.5 87.3 0-0 0-0
Connecticut 84.1 84.4 82.8 83.8 0-0 0-0
East Carolina 83.1 82.2 82.0 82.4 0-0 0-0
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average AAC Overall
Memphis 104.2 106.3 105.7 105.4 0-0 0-0
Houston 99.9 101.4 101.0 100.8 0-0 0-0
Navy 98.7 101.7 98.5 99.7 0-0 0-0
Tulane 94.4 94.6 94.0 94.3 0-0 0-0
SMU 95.1 93.8 94.0 94.3 0-0 0-0
Tulsa 91.8 90.3 92.3 91.5 0-0 0-0
AAC Averages 95.1 95.7 95.1 95.3
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average ACC Overall
Clemson 131.7 128.4 132.6 130.9 0-0 0-0
Boston College 117.3 113.7 117.2 116.1 0-0 0-0
N. Carolina St. 113.8 113.0 113.6 113.5 0-0 0-0
Florida St. 111.5 110.9 111.3 111.2 0-0 0-0
Wake Forest 109.8 107.5 107.3 108.2 0-0 0-0
Louisville 105.1 105.3 104.6 105.0 0-0 0-0
Syracuse 106.2 104.2 104.6 105.0 0-0 0-0
Coastal Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average ACC Overall
Miami 120.3 118.2 120.0 119.5 0-0 0-0
Virginia Tech 114.3 113.7 114.0 114.0 0-0 0-0
Duke 113.3 110.4 112.4 112.1 0-0 0-0
Georgia Tech 112.2 110.9 111.8 111.7 0-0 0-0
Pittsburgh 105.5 105.2 104.7 105.2 0-0 0-0
N. Carolina 105.3 104.3 104.5 104.7 0-0 0-0
Virginia 101.5 102.0 99.9 101.1 0-0 0-0
ACC Averages 112.0 110.6 111.3 111.3
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average B12 Overall
Oklahoma 119.5 117.7 119.8 119.0 0-0 0-0
Texas 113.2 111.9 112.8 112.6 0-0 0-0
Oklahoma St. 113.2 110.8 112.7 112.2 0-0 0-0
T C U 112.7 112.0 111.5 112.0 0-0 0-0
Iowa State 110.7 108.8 110.2 109.9 0-0 0-0
West Virginia 110.0 108.8 109.1 109.3 0-0 0-0
Kansas St. 107.4 106.0 106.8 106.7 0-0 0-0
Texas Tech 106.0 104.0 104.2 104.7 0-0 0-0
Baylor 102.9 100.6 102.3 101.9 0-0 0-0
Kansas 93.9 92.3 91.6 92.6 0-0 0-0
Big 12 Averages 108.9 107.3 108.1 108.1
Big Ten Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average BTen Overall
Michigan St. 127.7 125.1 128.1 127.0 0-0 0-0
Ohio St. 125.1 122.3 125.6 124.3 0-0 0-0
Michigan 121.7 120.6 122.7 121.6 0-0 0-0
Penn St. 121.2 117.7 121.6 120.2 0-0 0-0
Maryland 102.2 100.2 100.5 101.0 0-0 0-0
Rutgers 98.4 97.0 96.2 97.2 0-0 0-0
Indiana 97.8 96.3 97.3 97.1 0-0 0-0
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average BTen Overall
Wisconsin 123.1 119.2 123.4 121.9 0-0 0-0
Northwestern 114.8 112.6 115.4 114.3 0-0 0-0
Iowa 113.2 110.0 112.0 111.7 0-0 0-0
Purdue 107.9 106.3 106.6 106.9 0-0 0-0
Minnesota 104.7 103.6 104.0 104.1 0-0 0-0
Nebraska 100.5 98.7 97.8 99.0 0-0 0-0
Illinois 94.0 93.5 92.9 93.5 0-0 0-0
Big Ten Averages 110.9 108.8 110.3 110.0
Conference USA
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average CUSA Overall
Florida Atlantic 102.0 103.0 103.3 102.8 0-0 0-0
Marshall 94.3 97.1 95.0 95.5 0-0 0-0
Middle Tennessee 91.4 93.4 93.0 92.6 0-0 0-0
Old Dominion 87.5 91.3 89.0 89.3 0-0 0-0
Florida Int’l. 82.0 86.8 82.6 83.8 0-0 0-0
W. Kentucky 80.4 84.6 81.2 82.1 0-0 0-0
Charlotte 76.2 78.7 76.3 77.1 0-0 0-0
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average CUSA Overall
Louisiana Tech 93.8 96.4 95.2 95.1 0-0 0-0
N. Texas 93.0 96.3 93.6 94.3 0-0 0-0
U A B 91.1 93.6 91.5 92.1 0-0 0-0
Southern Miss. 81.6 85.0 82.1 82.9 0-0 0-0
U T S A 80.2 85.6 81.6 82.5 0-0 0-0
Rice 71.4 74.5 69.7 71.9 0-0 0-0
U T E P 69.3 72.5 68.6 70.1 0-0 0-0
CUSA Averages 85.3 88.5 85.9 86.6
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average Overall
Notre Dame 125.6 121.5 123.7 123.6 0-0
BYU 95.9 97.0 96.3 96.4 0-0
Army 95.6 96.4 95.5 95.9 0-0
Massachusetts 89.8 92.4 92.0 91.4 0-0
N. Mexico St. 82.0 85.3 82.5 83.3 0-0
Liberty 75.2 73.9 74.2 74.5 0-0
Indep. Averages 94.0 94.4 94.0 94.2
Mid-American Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MAC Overall
Ohio U 95.1 96.5 96.4 96.0 0-0 0-0
Buffalo 94.3 96.7 95.4 95.5 0-0 0-0
Miami (O) 91.5 93.9 93.4 92.9 0-0 0-0
Akron 90.5 92.1 90.7 91.1 0-0 0-0
Bowling Green 85.1 85.4 85.7 85.4 0-0 0-0
Kent St. 80.2 81.6 79.5 80.4 0-0 0-0
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MAC Overall
Toledo 96.3 98.4 96.4 97.0 0-0 0-0
Northern Illinois 96.3 97.9 96.6 96.9 0-0 0-0
Western Michigan 91.5 93.8 92.9 92.8 0-0 0-0
Eastern Michigan 89.1 90.5 89.8 89.8 0-0 0-0
Central Michigan 84.8 88.5 85.2 86.2 0-0 0-0
Ball St. 77.7 80.4 77.4 78.5 0-0 0-0
MAC Averages 89.4 91.3 90.0 90.2
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MWC Overall
Boise St. 110.2 109.3 110.9 110.1 0-0 0-0
Wyoming 98.5 98.6 98.8 98.6 0-0 0-0
Utah St. 96.8 98.3 98.1 97.7 0-0 0-0
Air Force 91.7 91.7 90.9 91.4 0-0 0-0
Colo. State 85.6 87.1 86.1 86.3 0-0 0-0
New Mexico 85.7 87.6 85.3 86.2 0-0 0-0
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average MWC Overall
Fresno St. 107.0 105.4 106.7 106.4 0-0 0-0
San Diego St. 98.7 99.5 99.8 99.3 0-0 0-0
Nevada 92.4 92.5 92.6 92.5 0-0 0-0
U N L V 89.1 90.8 89.6 89.8 0-0 0-0
San Jose St. 76.6 77.4 74.8 76.3 0-0 0-0
Hawaii 74.4 76.4 72.2 74.3 0-0 0-0
MWC Averages 92.2 92.9 92.2 92.4
Pac-12 Conference
North Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average P12 Overall
Washington 128.1 125.0 130.7 127.9 0-0 0-0
Stanford 120.3 117.5 121.0 119.6 0-0 0-0
Oregon 114.4 114.5 115.1 114.7 0-0 0-0
California 110.3 107.5 110.1 109.3 0-0 0-0
Washington St. 107.0 105.8 105.4 106.1 0-0 0-0
Oregon St. 88.5 86.0 86.9 87.1 0-0 0-0
South Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average P12 Overall
U S C 112.5 110.7 111.8 111.7 0-0 0-0
Utah 111.0 109.0 111.9 110.7 0-0 0-0
Arizona 109.9 107.6 110.0 109.1 0-0 0-0
Arizona St. 105.4 103.3 103.8 104.2 0-0 0-0
U C L A 102.5 102.2 100.0 101.5 0-0 0-0
Colorado 98.9 100.4 100.1 99.8 0-0 0-0
Pac-12 Averages 109.1 107.4 108.9 108.5
Southeastern Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SEC Overall
Georgia 130.9 126.3 132.4 129.8 0-0 0-0
Missouri 114.4 112.7 116.0 114.3 0-0 0-0
S. Carolina 112.9 111.7 112.2 112.3 0-0 0-0
Florida 112.9 110.6 113.3 112.2 0-0 0-0
Kentucky 106.8 105.3 106.3 106.1 0-0 0-0
Tennessee 98.8 99.5 98.4 98.9 0-0 0-0
Vanderbilt 96.8 97.5 96.2 96.9 0-0 0-0
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SEC Overall
Alabama 132.0 129.3 133.8 131.7 0-0 0-0
Auburn 122.0 121.2 124.4 122.5 0-0 0-0
Mississippi St. 122.5 119.2 122.7 121.5 0-0 0-0
L S U 110.1 110.3 110.7 110.4 0-0 0-0
Texas A&M 110.7 109.6 110.7 110.3 0-0 0-0
Arkansas 109.3 106.4 107.6 107.8 0-0 0-0
Ole Miss 105.3 105.1 106.1 105.5 0-0 0-0
SEC Averages 113.2 111.8 113.6 112.9
Sunbelt Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SBC Overall
Troy 91.8 93.7 93.7 93.1 0-0 0-0
Appalachian St. 87.5 89.1 88.7 88.4 0-0 0-0
Georgia Southern 82.5 83.7 82.4 82.9 0-0 0-0
Georgia St. 77.6 80.6 78.4 78.9 0-0 0-0
Coastal Carolina 73.2 76.4 73.6 74.4 0-0 0-0
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average SBC Overall
Arkansas St. 88.0 89.8 89.7 89.2 0-0 0-0
UL-Monroe 87.3 86.7 88.1 87.4 0-0 0-0
South Alabama 81.4 83.8 82.6 82.6 0-0 0-0
Louisiana 78.9 81.1 79.9 80.0 0-0 0-0
Texas State 70.4 73.9 69.9 71.4 0-0 0-0
Sun Belt Averages 81.9 83.9 82.7 82.8
PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 113.2 111.8 113.6 112.9
2 ACC 112.0 110.6 111.3 111.3
3 BTEN 110.9 108.8 110.3 110.0
4 P-12 109.1 107.4 108.9 108.5
5 B12 108.9 107.3 108.1 108.1
6 AAC 95.1 95.7 95.1 95.3
7 IND 94.0 94.4 94.0 94.2
8 MWC 92.2 92.9 92.2 92.4
9 MAC 89.4 91.3 90.0 90.2
10 CUSA 85.3 88.5 85.9 86.6
11 SBC 81.9 83.9 82.7 82.8

This Week’s Bowl Projections

Bowl Conferences Team 1 Team 2
New Mexico MWC CUSA Nevada Southern Miss.
Cure CUSA SBC Navy Georgia Southern
Las Vegas MWC Pac-12 Fresno St. Arizona
Camellia MAC SBC Buffalo Appalachian St.
New Orleans CUSA SBC UAB UL-Monroe
Boca Raton MAC CUSA Toledo Marshall
Frisco AAC MAC Tulane Western Michigan
Gasparilla AAC CUSA USF North Texas
Bahamas AAC CUSA UCF Florida Atlantic
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Northern Illinois Utah St.
Birmingham AAC SEC Memphis [Army]
Armed Forces AAC Big 12 Houston [UCLA]
Doll. General MAC SBC Ohio Troy
Hawaii CUSA MWC Louisiana Tech Wyoming
Ht. of Dallas Big Ten CUSA [BYU] Middle Tennessee
Quick Lane ACC Big Ten Louisville Minnesota
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 Iowa St. Washington St.
Independence ACC SEC Duke LSU
Pinstripe ACC Big Ten Georgia Tech Purdue
Texas Big 12 SEC TCU Mississippi St.
Music City ACC/B10 SEC Virginia Tech Tennessee
Camp. World ACC Big 12 Boston College West Virginia
Arizona MWC SBC San Diego St. Arkansas St.
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 Oklahoma St. USC
Belk ACC SEC North Carolina St. South Carolina
Peach At-large At-large Miami (Fl) Texas
Military AAC ACC Temple Wake Forest
Sun ACC Pac-12 Florida St. California
San Francisco Big Ten Pac-12 Iowa Oregon
Liberty Big 12 SEC Kansas St. Texas A&M
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Michigan Utah
Gator ACC/B10 SEC Northwestern Florida
Outback Big Ten SEC Penn St. Missouri
Fiesta At-large At-large Ohio St. Boise St.
Citrus ACC/B10 SEC Wisconsin Auburn
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Michigan St. Stanford
Sugar Big 12 SEC Oklahoma Georgia
FBS PLAYOFFS
Cotton FBS FBS Alabama Washington
Orange FBS FBS Clemson Notre Dame
Nat’l Champ. Orange Cotton Clemson Alabama
Teams in [Brackets] are at-large selections

This Week’s Selections–This will normally run on Thursdays and include both NCAA and NFL selections.  Since there are only 2 possible games this week, we will not make any selections.  We will not limit ourselves to just Money Line Parlays this season.  We will go with whatever we feel least indecisive about publicly listing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 19, 2018

2018 Southeastern Conference Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 2:38 pm

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.
Our Power 5 Conference preseason ratings and won-loss predictions were figured before knowing the outcome of recent suspensions to Coaches Urban Meyer and D.J. Durkin at Ohio State and Maryland. Because our ratings set 100.0 as average, and the mean of all 130 teams must be 100.0, taking points away from Ohio State and Maryland require redistributing points to the other 128 teams. Expect these ratings to change prior to August 25.

 
There is an old saying that the three toughest conferences in football are the NFC, the AFC, and the SEC. The Southeastern Conference is the big dog of college football. It is followed by zealots who treat it like a religion. The fans know more about an incoming freshman than most businesses know about new employees. Some fans basically take off from work on Wednesday to take their RVs on the road for a Saturday game. Tailgating in the SEC could be a regular TV program on the Food Network. SEC Football is one of the most successful industries in the world!

 

 

In an effort to show you a little more about how the PiRate Ratings are made, we are going to reveal one of the pre-season rating scores we apply to each team. We will show you the scores of each unit on the 14 teams. These include, the Offensive Line, Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Defensive Line, Linebackers, Defensive Backs, and Special Teams. This does not make up the entire rating. This is just one look at each team, but it is the one you don’t need to understand any advanced analytics to fully understand and appreciate.

 
Each unit is graded on a scale of 60-100 at the FBS level. The grades are 95% mechanical and could be performed by anybody that has the key to how the mechanical grading is made. The other 5% is a minor adjustment based on the players’ original recruiting rankings, which sometimes can predict a player to improve by more than another.
These scores look like school grades, but in this system, the difference between 70 and 90 is much less than the difference in test grades in schools. The difference in a 90 offensive line and a 70 offensive line can be as little as 3-4 points of PiRate Rating.

 
We take these grades and assign a weighting to the units. Obviously the quarterback is much more important than the long snapper. We add or subtract points based on depth, coaching changes, and other intangibles to come up with one part of the three PiRate Ratings. Each PiRate Rating has 5 to 7 different systems that measure talent and coaching of the 130 teams, which is why it takes basically 130 days to rate 130 teams. We start as soon as a team wraps up Spring Practice and sends out their Spring Media Guide. Last year’s final rating is the starting point, and all the preseason work presents a plus or minus adjustment to the PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings.

 
Remember that these rankings include starters and reserves, and these are not Pro football draft ratings; an option quarterback might be rated ahead of a potential 1st round NFL selection, because we are only concerned with how the players affect the college game. Starters count for about 80% and reserves about 20% for each unit, unless the position has co-starters or the starting QB has yet to be named; there is a different algorithm for these instances. Also, these ratings do not include injuries incurred in August practices, so the sad news about Alabama losing outstanding outside linebacker Terrell Lewis is included in their score, but the recent loss of Christopher Allen is not. His injury will be reflected in Alabama’s opening rating against Louisville a week from Tuesday.

 
About the units: Tight ends are included in both the receivers and offensive line. Running backs are included as part of the receivers. When there is a true blocking fullback, he is part of the offensive line rating and contributes almost nothing to the running back score. If he is used as a receiver like an H-Back, then he is treated the same way as a tight end.

 
The style of defense factors minimally in the ratings for each unit. A 3-4 linebacker unit will be more important than a 4-2-5, so the linebackers will be given more weight in the algorithm at the end of the ratings’ process.

 

EAST

Florida
Quarterback: 80
Receivers: 83
Offensive Line: 82
Running Backs: 91
Defensive Line: 94
Linebackers: 88
Defensive Backs: 93
Special Teams: 86

Outlook: The recovery period for the Gators will be brief. This team quit on the previous staff after narrow losses to LSU and Texas A&M. The defense is better than it played last year, and Mullen brought Todd Grantham with him from Mississippi State, where the Bulldogs were much better defensively than their talent level predicted.
The schedule is almost a dream. Three cupcakes in non-conference play, home games with Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, and South Carolina, and road games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt make nine wins possible and eight wins probable. The Gators aren’t ready to challenge Georgia for the East Division championship, but they figure to compete for number two in Mullen’s first year back at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The Captain Says: 5-3 in the conference and 8-4 overall

Georgia
Quarterback: 89
Receivers: 91
Offensive Line: 96
Running Backs: 97
Defensive Line: 93
Linebackers: 91
Defensive Backs: 94
Special Teams: 95

Outlook: Normally, a team that lost as much as Georgia lost on defense would be expected to fall back by at least two wins if not more. Also, when a team that lost first and second round-drafted running backs, the offense lost might decline enough to cost the team another win. That is far from the case with Georgia. With potential future All-American Jake Fromm returning at quarterback after an incredible freshman year that saw him finish a close second in passing efficiency, Fromm should top 3,000 yards passing behind a top-notch offensive line. The defense returns more than enough talent to keep holding opponents to around 17 points per game, and the schedule gives the Bulldogs a chance to run the table to the SEC Championship Game.

The Captain Says: 7-1 in the SEC and 11-1 overall and berth in SEC Championship Game

Kentucky
Quarterback: 77
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 82
Running Backs: 92
Defensive Line: 78
Linebackers: 90
Defensive Backs: 90
Special Teams: 84

Outlook: Mark Stoops has slowly increased the talent level in Lexington to the point where the Wildcats are just a little behind the teams competing for second place. Close losses to Florida and Ole Miss kept Kentucky from playing in the Outback or Gator Bowl last year. Depth concerns will hurt this team, just like it did last year, when the Wildcats ran out of gas following a 5-1 start.

The Captain Says: 2-6 in the SEC and 5-7 overall

Missouri
Quarterback: 94
Receivers: 89
Offensive Line: 94
Running Backs: 92
Defensive Line: 85
Linebackers: 86
Defensive Backs: 77
Special Teams: 93

Outlook: Missouri will go as far as the passing game takes them. Drew Lock had a 202.9 passer efficiency ratings in the 7 wins, all against teams with losing records or an FCS member. His efficiency rating fell to 124.9 in the six losses, all to teams that played in bowls. The Tigers might win a game or two with their special teams.

The Captain Says: 3-5 in the SEC and 7-5 overall

South Carolina
Quarterback: 85
Receivers: 94
Offensive Line: 84
Running Backs: 84
Defensive Line: 86
Linebackers: 88
Defensive Backs: 88
Special Teams: 93

Outlook: Will Muschamp has this team in contention for second place in the East, but the Gamecocks do not have a strong enough offensive or defensive line to compete with the Georgia’s and Alabama’s in this conference. South Carolina rarely dominates the stat box.

They were outgained by 258 yards in a season-opening win over North Carolina State, by 64 yards the following week in a win over Missouri, and by 54 yards in a win over Vanderbilt. Expect a better yardage output this year, but the Gamecocks are not likely to be +11 in turnovers, so the final outcome should be about the same.

The Captain Says: 5-3 in the SEC and 8-4 overall

Tennessee
Quarterback: 81
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 76
Running Backs: 79
Defensive Line: 80
Linebackers: 86
Defensive Backs: 83
Special Teams: 89

Outlook: Tennessee last competed for the SEC Championship in 2007. Derek Dooley and Butch Jones failed to make this program great again, and now the job is in the hands of Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt is a tough disciplinarian with the ability to teach kindergarten, a rare combination. He’s also a top-notch recruiter, so it is only a matter of time before the talent level moves upward. 2018 will be a tough introduction to the head coaching world.

The Vols have decent talent on the defensive side of the ball, not enough to make noise in the SEC, but enough to win a couple times in the league and to lose games by fewer points. It’s up to the offense to move the ball and keep the defense off the field, and we don’t think the offense is up to the task.

The Captain says: 3-5 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Vanderbilt
Quarterback: 83
Receivers: 80
Offensive Line: 81
Running Backs: 74
Defensive Line: 76
Linebackers: 75
Defensive Backs: 81
Special Teams: 82

Outlook: Derek Mason’s defensive Midas Touch turned from gold to balsa wood last year. Coming off a bowl season, the Commodores were expected to compete for another in 2017. A 3-0 start looked like Vanderbilt might have been on its way to its third 8-win regular season of the decade. Three tough games with Alabama, Florida, and Georgia left the team battered and bruised, and the Commodore ship took on too much water. That great defense gave up 505 yards and 46 points per game in the seven conference losses.

The Commodores lost seven starters off that defense, and the 2018 edition could be a little weaker. The offense could not run the ball in SEC play, averaging just 79 yards per game in the seven losses.

The Captain Says: 1-7 in the SEC and 4-8 overall
WEST

Alabama
Quarterback: 96
Receivers: 86
Offensive Line: 96
Running Backs: 99
Defensive Line: 96
Linebackers: 95
Defensive Backs: 93
Special Teams: 89

Outlook: For anybody else in the league, maybe including Georgia, when a team lost as much talent as the Tide, they would be picked to drop from the national championship to maybe 9-3. When a team plugs new All-Americans into the lineup to replace those that just left, the only thing that changes are the names in the program.

Make no mistake about it: Alabama could be vulnerable against an excellent mobile quarterback that can evade the pass rush and find an open receiver (isn’t everybody vulnerable in this case). The Johnny Manziel, Deshaun Watson, and Chad Kelly type beat other Alabama defenses, so this could be the case in 2018. Who on the schedule has this type of quarterback with an offensive line that can protect him, and with receivers that can get open and pick up big yards? Well, they aren’t officially on the schedule, as least not until game number 15–Clemson.

The Captain says: 8-0 in the SEC and 12-0 overall and berth in SEC Championship Game
Arkansas
Quarterback: 78
Receivers: 81
Offensive Line: 82
Running Backs: 87
Defensive Line: 79
Linebackers: 83
Defensive Backs: 79
Special Teams: 91

Outlook: The Bret Bielema era is over in Fayetteville, and grocers and restaurant owners are in mourning. Chad Morris brings his spread offense where the Razorbacks have been a pro-style power team in recent years. The talent level on both sides of the ball has fallen below the top teams in the league, and Arkansas is about on par with Kentucky in the other division. The two quarterbacks competing for the starting nod, Ty Storey and Cole Kelley, are both pro-style quarterbacks not necessarily equipped to run the Morris offense. The defense lacks a lot of quality talent, but new coordinator John Chavis will get more out of this unit than last year’s showing.

The Captain says: 2-6 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Auburn
Quarterback: 92
Receivers: 90
Offensive Line: 83
Running Backs: 87
Defensive Line: 94
Linebackers: 91
Defensive Backs: 92
Special Teams: 87

Outlook: Auburn has the talent to win the SEC Championship, but the schedule will prevent the Tigers from doing so. The Tigers must play the two division favorites plus dark horse Mississippi State on the road, and we wouldn’t pick the Cam Newton Auburn team to win all three games.
This could be the year where Auburn passes the ball for more than 250 yards per game. Jarrett Stidham has a stable full of race horse receivers and an offensive line that may be better at pass blocking than run blocking. The defense is still quite strong, so Auburn will compete in every game; it’s just that they will lose some close ones away from Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Captain says: 6-2 in the SEC and 9-3 overall

LSU
Quarterback: 78
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 85
Running Backs: 80
Defensive Line: 90
Linebackers: 92
Defensive Backs: 94
Special Teams: 87

Outlook: On paper, this might look like a team that is in danger of falling down to the bottom of the division. But, the Tigers still have a lot of talent, especially on defense, where it would not surprise us if LSU gives up less than 300 yards per game this year.

The offense looked to be a large negative with so much talent lost, but a little bird told us that recent Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow is wowing the coaches in Baton Rouge. Since his arrival post Spring ball, two of the three quarterbacks expected to contend for a starting spot have transferred. Burrow had a 153.1 passer rating in very limited action with the Buckeyes. He has an accurate arm and plays with poise, but he has minimal game experience and dumped the ball to his backs even when he had open receivers downfield.

The Captain says: 3-5 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Mississippi
Quarterback: 81
Receivers: 96
Offensive Line: 88
Running Backs: 80
Defensive Line: 84
Linebackers: 79
Defensive Backs: 94
Special Teams: 89

Outlook: Matt Luke should have been given a special award for keeping the Ole Miss team together and bringing normalcy back to the program. Old-timers like us see a lot of John Vaught in his ability to lead a team and play an open style of offense. Ole Miss is still on probation with a bowl-ban, and it will likely cost this team a bowl game for the second consecutive season, because the Rebels can pass the ball and defend the pass well enough to win half of their games.

Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu was quite effective when he finally took over as the starter. In the final five games, his 167.3 passer rating was the best in the league over the time period, and he averaged 321 yards per game in that stretch. Of course, it is a lot easier to have great passing stats when your receiving corps is more talented than three or four NFL teams. A.J. Brown might be a leading Heisman Trophy contender if he played for Notre Dame, Oklahoma, or USC.

The Captain says: 2-6 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Mississippi St.
Quarterback: 91
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 92
Running Backs: 90
Defensive Line: 93
Linebackers: 82
Defensive Backs: 90
Special Teams: 81

Outlook: Joe Moorhead comes to Starkville at the perfect time. He inherits all the pieces he needs to run a potent offense and play aggressive, smart defense. Except for the Alabama game, the Bulldogs can compete in the other 11. If Moorhead and defensive coordinator Bob Shoop can get improved play from the linebackers, and a couple of serviceable receivers can come forth to help take the heat off the running game, State could make a run at an 11-win season.

All this comes with a major caveat. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald must be 100% healthy and able to do the same thing this year that he did prior to the injury last year. If he stays healthy for 12 games, then State should have two, 1000-yard rushers.

The Captain says: 5-3 in the SEC and 9-3 overall

Texas A&M
Quarterback: 84
Receivers: 83
Offensive Line: 84
Running Backs: 86
Defensive Line: 88
Linebackers: 91
Defensive Backs: 85
Special Teams: 93

Outlook: Jimbo Fisher figures to make a lot of changes in year one compared to how Kevin Sumlin ran the team. The offense will go from a spread passing game to a pro-style with more power running. Fisher is a great mentor of quarterbacks, but as of this writing, the starter for 2018 has not been decided. NIck Starkel is the better passer, while Kellen Mond adds a running aspect that Starkel does not have.

The Aggies are solid at all positions but not spectacular at any. They have experience at linebacker with Tyrel Dodson and Otaro Alaka back after combining for 182 tackles with 22 for loss and 11 sacks.

The Captain says: 4-4 in the SEC and 7-5 overall

Here is how the SEC Media voted in the preseason poll

SEC
East 1st Place Points
Georgia 271 1977
South Carolina 8 1535
Florida 4 1441
Missouri 0 1057
Kentucky 1 874
Tennessee 1 704
Vanderbilt 0 392
West 1st Place Points
Alabama 263 1971
Auburn 19 1664
Mississippi St. 2 1239
Texas A&M 0 1091
LSU 0 1025
Ole Miss 0 578
Arkansas 0 412

The PiRate Ratings differ minimally

Southeastern Conference
East Division
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Georgia 0-0 0-0 130.9 126.3 132.4 129.8
Missouri 0-0 0-0 114.4 112.7 116.0 114.3
S. Carolina 0-0 0-0 112.9 111.7 112.2 112.3
Florida 0-0 0-0 112.9 110.6 113.3 112.2
Kentucky 0-0 0-0 106.8 105.3 106.3 106.1
Tennessee 0-0 0-0 98.8 99.5 98.4 98.9
Vanderbilt 0-0 0-0 96.8 97.5 96.2 96.9
West Division
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 0-0 0-0 132.0 129.3 133.8 131.7
Auburn 0-0 0-0 122.0 121.2 124.4 122.5
Mississippi St. 0-0 0-0 122.5 119.2 122.7 121.5
L S U 0-0 0-0 110.1 110.3 110.7 110.4
Texas A&M 0-0 0-0 110.7 109.6 110.7 110.3
Arkansas 0-0 0-0 109.3 106.4 107.6 107.8
Ole Miss 0-0 0-0 105.3 105.1 106.1 105.5
SEC Averages 113.2 111.8 113.6 112.9

New Coaches
Dan Mullen isn’t a new coach to the league, but he is a new head coach at Florida. Mullen has a storied history with his new team. He tutored Tim Tebow during the Urban Meyer years when Florida won two national championships. He left Mississippi State stocked with incredible talent, and his recruiting efforts in Gainesville will quickly bring the Gators back to prominence.
Jeremy Pruitt has an incredible resume as a defensive genius, and he takes over a Tennessee team that did not play a lot of defense in recent years. Pruitt has produced top defenses at Georgia, Florida State, and Alabama, and he comes to Knoxville with multiple championship rings. His recruiting strengths in the Deep South should give the Volunteers a decent chance of returning to glory, but not for a few years.

Arkansas welcomes Chad Morris to Fayetteville after he turned the SMU program back into a bowl team. Morris brings his up-tempo,spread offense to the SEC West, where it has worked just fine at Auburn. The style is a complete contrast to former coach Bret Bielema’s power offense. Morris previously was offensive coordinator at Clemson and helped develop Deshaun Watson into a star.
Joe Moorhead takes over for Mullen at Mississippi State. Moorhead most recently was offensive coordinator for Penn State, where his offenses took off the last two years. He was the head coach of the Fordham Rams from 2012 to 2015, taking the Rams to three consecutive FCS Playoffs.

Jimbo Fisher takes over at Texas A&M after a brilliant career at Florida State, first as a coach-in-waiting under Bobby Bowden, and then as a national championship-winning head coach. His previous SEC experience included six years as quarterback coach under Tommy Tuberville at Auburn.

Predicted Won-Loss Records
Note: These predicted won-loss records are strictly mechanical based on the initial PiRate Ratings. No upsets are factored in these predictions. Additionally, our PiRate Ratings are only useful for the next week of games and cannot really be used to forecast past that point. Part of our weekly adjustment to our ratings includes a factor where depth issues or non-issues have been pre-set. In other words, a team without talented second stringers may lose ratings points as the season progresses even if they win games by the predicted margin, whereas a team with exceptional depth (like Alabama) will improve during the season and see its rating rise even if they win games by a little less than the predicted margin. Ohio State and Maryland could see their ratings change by large amounts depending on the outcome of the two coaching investigations.  The predicted won-loss records in the team capsules are more realistic.

SEC
Team Conference Overall
East
Georgia 8-0 12-1
Florida 6-2 9-3
South Carolina 6-2 9-3
Missouri 4-4 8-4
Kentucky 2-6 5-7
Vanderbilt 1-7 4-8
Tennessee 0-8 3-9
West
Alabama 8-0 13-0 *
Mississippi St. 7-1 11-1
Auburn 5-3 8-4
Texas A&M 4-4 7-5
Arkansas 3-5 7-5
Ole Miss 1-7 5-7
LSU 1-7 4-8

Bowl Tie-ins
1. Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA
2. Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL
3. Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL
3. Texas Bowl in Houston, TX
3. Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL
3. Belk Bowl in Charlotte, NC
3. Liberty Bowl in Memphis, TN
3. Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN
9. Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA
9. Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, AL

Coming Tuesday–The PiRate Ratings return to the in-season format. Our first ratings for the pre-week one schedule debut for the 2018 season. A couple of early games begin the college football season on Saturday, August 25.

August 18, 2018

2018 Atlantic Coast Conference Preview

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.
Our Power 5 Conference preseason ratings and won-loss predictions were figured before knowing the outcome of recent suspensions to Coaches Urban Meyer and D.J. Durkin at Ohio State and Maryland. Because our ratings set 100.0 as average, and the mean of all 130 teams must be 100.0, taking points away from Ohio State and Maryland require redistributing points to the other 128 teams. Expect these ratings to change prior to August 25.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has gotten tougher in recent years, and even though one team has dominated the league, they have been upset in conference play both of the last two years. Last year, Clemson lost at last place Syracuse. Coastal Division winner Miami fell at Pittsburgh, and the Panthers failed to get bowl eligible.
What does this mean? The ACC has quality teams from top to bottom, and on any given Saturday, a highly-ranked team might be very disappointed at the end of the day.
Clemson
Running Game: The Tigers are in excellent shape with the return of their top three runners from last year. Quarterback Kelly Bryant may see fewer snaps this year, because Coach Dabo Swinner signed the nation’s top passer, but Bryant is a game-changer with his wheel. Backs Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne have similar running styles. They can blast through small holes and head into the clear. All three had a 100-yard game last year. CU should rush for about 200 yards per game and average about five yards per attempt.

Passing Game: Here is where things get interesting. True freshman Trevor Lawrence is not a dual-threat like Bryant, but he comes to Clemson with an NFL quarterback’s arm. Lawrence has a quick release and quite a zip on his passes. At 6-6, he still has just enough quickness to avoid the pass rush and fire off-balance to an open receiver. He needs to work on his accuracy a little and realize that he cannot make all the passes in college that he made against inferior high school defenses, but he comes to Clemson with the potential of a Peyton Manning or John Elway.  The receivers are not as strong as a year ago, but the Tigers still have loads of talent here. Hunter Renfroe is an excellent possession receiver. Tee Higgins can go deep and can turn a short pass into a long gain. Tight end Milan RIchard is an excellent target. Clemson should top 225 passing yards per game and top 30 points per game.
Defensive Line: Quite simply, Clemson’s defensive line is the best in college football, and all four starters return. When quarterbacks have little time to set up in the pocket or make a zone read decision, offenses fail, and CU’s defensive line makes them fail a lot. This unit is so strong that the second string might be the third best in other leagues. We compare this defensive line with the 1992 Alabama defensive line, in other words, one of the best ever assembled. It may even be better than a couple of NFL teams. Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, and Austin Bryant would all start if they were in the NFL this year.
Linebackers: This is the weakest part of the defense, if you can call a top 10 unit weak. Leading tackler Kendall Joseph will be a first team all-ACC player. Middle linebacker Tre Lamar is a headhunter.

Secondary: This unit is the best in the league and a top 5 secondary overall. Safety Tanner Muse and cornerback Trayvon Mullen are the returning starters. A.J. Terrell and Mark Fields have significant experience at corner, but there could be some depth issues if this unit suffers a lot of injuries like it did last year.

Special Teams: Clemson won’t win games with their special teams, but they probably won’t lose any this way either. The loss of Ray-Ray McCloud will hurt the return game.

Outlook: They have been upset against teams they had no business losing to the last two years, but if they lose a regular season game this year, it will be ridiculous. There is so much talent throughout the roster, and the nation’s best defense could easily hold opponents under 10 points a game. This team should be 13-0 and Playoff bound yet again, where it would not surprise us if they play a familiar foe for the National Championship.
Boston College
Running Game: How good is sophomore running back A.J. Dillon? How about potentially being the next Jim Brown? Dillon is the best running back in college football, even if he must take a backseat in the headlines to Bryce Love and Jonathan Taylor. Dillon convinced us how incredible he is when he destroyed Louisville last year. On one 75-yard run, there was no hole when he took the hand-off; the Cardinal defense had multiple defenders wrapping him up, and he shed them to momentarily break free. Then, at about three yards, he basically threw another defender to the ground in a self-pancake block. In the clear, he showed his incredible speed and ran away from the defensive backs for a touchdown, one of four on the day. Dillon will force defenses to bring eight and even nine into the box. The great news is that the entire starting offensive line returns.

Passing Game: Anthony Brown is a better runner than passer, but he will get excellent protection and should make some big plays on play-action passing when defenses have to think about stopping Dillon first. B-C has always been a sort of Tight End U, and they have an excellent tandem in Tommy Sweeney and Chris Garrison (51-664/5 combined)

Defensive Line: The Eagles were too generous against the run last year, giving up 4.8 yards per rush. Notre Dame ran for 515 yards on this unit. End Zach Allen is the star of this unit, and enemy blockers will have to double team him to keep him away from the quarterback. Allen projects as a 1st round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Linebackers: This could be an improved unit if it stays healthy. John Lamot showed promise as a freshman. Conor Strachan is healthy again after missing last year. In 2016, he made 80 tackles with 11 for loss.

Secondary: The secondary played admirably well last year and should be quite strong again this year. Free safety Lukas Denis is a bandit and picked off 7 passes, while strong safety Will Harris stops running plays before they can get too far.

Special Teams: Michael Walker is an effective returner, but kicking game is nothing special.

Outlook: Boston College should go 4-0 outside of the ACC, and with Dillon running behind a strong offensive line, Coach Steve Addazio should be able to keep his defense off the field enough to keep them fresh and hide his depth issues on this side of the ball. B-C could be a dark horse challenger for second in the Atlantic Division, and the Eagles should return to a bowl this year, and most likely win a game or two more than last year.

N. Carolina St.
Running Game: Unless true freshman Ricky Person takes over early and dominates like his press clippings predict, the Wolf Pack running game is likely to retreat from recent seasons. Expected starter Reggie Gallaspy has yet to get through a season healthy. Person already has missed practice time with injuries. NC St. may not average 125 rushing yards per game this year.

Passing Game: Ryan Finley needs to live up to his hype. NFL scouts believe he is a late 1st round draft pick, but Finley had a terrible stretch late in the year when his completion percentage fell under 60%, and he threw more interceptions than touchdown passes, while averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt. He recovered to look like a Heisman Trophy contender in the Sun Bowl, when he torched Arizona State. Finley benefits by having one of the nation’s top receivers on the roster. Kelvin Harmon caught 69 passes for 1,017 yards last year and could top 80 and 1,200 this year. Stephen Louis gives Finley an excellent number two receiver. The offensive line is better at pass blocking than run blocking, and there is experience and depth here.
Defensive Line: While not exceptionally talented and somewhat inexperienced, this is the best unit on this side of the ball. The Wolf Pack were much better at stopping the run than the pass last year, but the players responsible for stuffing runners at the line are no longer here. Tackle Eundraus Bryant and end Darian Roseboro give NC St. a couple of above-average linemen.

Linebackers: This unit is a big concern. After losing its leading tackler, there isn’t much talent or depth remaining. Germaine Pratt is the best of the two-deep, but he is not one of the top 10 linebackers in the league.

Secondary: Expect a little better play from the defensive backfield this year, but if an adequate pass rush doesn’t form, the statistics could be little changed from last year, when the Pack surrendered 253 passing yards per game. There has been an upgrade in talent here, with former Tennessee safety Stephen Griffin eligible this year.

Special Teams: Punter A.J. Cole is very good. The Wolf Pack need a kicker to emerge with consistency, and freshman Christopher Dunn may become the new regular. The return game was excellent last year, but they lose their key man.

Outlook: Make no mistake about this–Coach Dave Doeren has slowly built up this program to where it was during the Dick Sheridan years. Even with a rebuilding defense, the offense can carry this team to a top 25 ranking. Except for the game at Clemson, State can beat any other team on their schedule, and we expect the Wolf Pack to at least match last year’s nine-win total.

Florida St.
Running Game: Are two very good running backs as good as one superior running back? It depends. If the one superior back goes out injured, the team is toast. If one of the two really good teammates goes out injured, at least you still have one remaining. Florida State’s top two backs are very good, but neither will remind anybody of Dillon. Cam Akers topped 1,000 yards last year, but he did a lot of his damage against weaker teams. He did explode for 121 yards against Miami, so there is promise that he will be more consistent this year. Jacques Patrick missed a couple game due to injury but still managed to add 748 rushing yards. The Seminoles’ offensive line is also very good but not a great unit.
Passing Game: Florida State will take their quarterback competition down to the wire before naming a starter for the Virginia Tech game on Labor Day. After enjoying a successful freshman campaign in which he threw for 3,350 yards and 20 TDs, Deondre Francois was touted as a phenom last year on the eve of the opener against Alabama. Francois didn’t last through the opener, ending his season with a knee injury. He will need some new game experience to remove the rust, and he will most likely be number two on the depth chart. James Blackman isn’t as mobile as Francois, and he has issues sometimes with finesse passes, but he has the best arm on the roster. Blackman looked like the leader of this team when he torched Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl with 4 TD passes. Bailey Hockman is a pure dropback passer with a strong and accurate arm but with no game experience. Whoever wins the starting job, he will have some talented receivers catching his passes. Nyqwan Murray can catch the ball in a crowd and knows how to turn upfield and gain extra yards once he catches the ball. There are depth issues here.

Defensive Line: The Seminoles have half of an excellent front four. Tackle Demarcus Christmas and end Brian Burns can compete for All-ACC honors. If tackle Marvin Wilson can play the way his pedigree predicted, FSU could improve their run defense and give up less than 125 yards per game. The pass rush is adequate but not exceptional.

Linebackers: This is a rebuilding project. The Seminoles lost all three starters, including two NFL picks. The leading returnee had just 12 tackles. The development of the new starters will determine if FSU can slow down the great backs in this league and prevent short passing games from picking them apart.

Secondary: The Seminoles should be okay at cornerback with two fine starters and a decent backup, but there could be issues at safety.

Special Teams: This unit should be better than average, but the Seminoles are not likely to pick up any extra wins by relying on it to be decisive.

Outlook: Coach Willie Taggart’s hurry-up spread offense may take some time for his players to adjust to after playing a power, pro style under Jimbo FIsher. The Seminoles will start slow but pick up momentum as the season continues. Their bowl streak should continue, but the bowl is likely to be earlier in December than they like.

Wake Forest
Running Game: The ground game under Coach Dave Clawson has improved for three consecutive years after being dead last in the nation in 2014. Matt Colburn approached 1,000 yard territory last year, as he averaged 5.4 yards per rush. With the loss of dual-threat quarterback John Wolford, expect Colburn to run the ball a few more times per game. His second half was better than the first, so it would not be surprising if he rushed for 1,200 or more yards in 2018. With all five offensive line starters back, the Demon Deacons could top 200 rushing yards per game if new quarterback Kendall Hinton can pick up where Wolford left off.

Passing Game: This is where Wake Forest will really miss Wolford. Hinton will most likely fail to match his 3,192 passing yards and incredible 29 touchdown passes. Wake Forest shattered its all time scoring and total offense high marks last year, averaging more than 35 points and 465 yards per game. They need to come close to matching that this year, because they will have to outscore opponents once again.

Defensive Line: Not much has changed in Winston-Salem on this side of the ball, as Wake Forest is mediocre in its front seven. They had one star in Duke Ejiofor, who now plays for the Houston Texans. The pass rush will be weak, and backs like Dillon and Akers will be smiling when they line up against this defense.

Linebackers: This unit is weaker than the defensive line. One starter returns in middle linebacker Demetrius Kemp. Most of his tackles were made after successful plays by the opponent.

Secondary: This is the strongest unit on the team, but it is still not stellar, just average. Three starters return. Corners Amari Henderson and Essang Bassey and strong safety Cameron Glenn teamed for 7 interceptions and 33 passes defended.

Special Teams: Dom Maggio is one of the top punters in the ACC, but Wake Forest lost All-conference kicker Mike Weaver. Greg Dortch is a fine but not outstanding return man.

Outlook: Coach Clawson has another good offense that will have to win games by scoring a lot of points. The Deacons will do that six or seven times, but they will take a small step backwards this year.

Louisville
Running Game: Lamar Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three years as Louisville’s quarterback. His running ability will be harder to make up for than his passing ability. Jawon Pass is not close to Jackson as a runner. Louisville will not rush for 245 yards this year. Top back Dae Williams rushed for just 235 yards last year, but he is capable of topping 1,000 yards. Still, UL will most likely rush for less than 200 yards per game this year, even with an experienced offensive line returning.

Passing Game: Pass can hum that pigskin. He has a strong arm, and he’s more likely to be like past Bobby Petrino quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He might top 300 passing yards per game, and with Jaylen Smith, Seth Dawkins, and Dez Fitzpatrick returning to catch those passes, the Cardinal offense will still thrive. The terrific trio averaged almost 16 yards per catch and scored 20 TDs on their 147 receptions.

Defensive Line: Uh-oh! Louisville’s defensive line was not outstanding last year, but it was experienced. Nary a starter returns this year. There is one star returning in former designated pass rusher end Jon Greenard, who tallied 7 sacks in 2017.

Linebackers: It’s a similar issue at linebacker, as the Cardinals must replace two of three starters. The lone returnee, Dorian Etheridge, finished second on the team in tackles, but he did not create big plays. True freshman Robert Hicks may hit the field immediately this year.

Secondary: We failed to mention that 9 of 11 starters on this side of the ball finished their college careers last year. That leaves just one starter left in this unit. Russ Yeast was a part-time starter, and he produced no big statistics.

Special Teams: The Cardinals have exceptional kicking but nothing special in their return game. Kicker Blanton Creque is accurate up to 50 yards, while punter Mason King is one of the best in the league.
Outlook: With Jackson and a more experienced defense, Louisville could only manage an 8-5 season. Frequently, teams outscored the Cardinals. Expect the Cardinals to take a step backwards. A 6-6 regular season with a minor bowl would be a successful season for this young roster.

Syracuse
Running Game: Dino Babers’ teams are known for their wide-open passing attacks, but Syracuse had several excellent games on the ground last year. Miami’s game plan was to force the Orangemen to run the ball, as they played a lot of safe zone coverages. SU ran the ball well enough to keep the game close. The key players return this year, including Dontae Strickland. Quarterback Eric Dungey actually led the team in rushing, and his return means he could team with Strickland to combine for about 1,200 yards. The offensive line improved somewhat in year two of the Babers era, and it should be as good or even better this season.
Passing Game: Dungey passed for 2,495 yards with 14 touchdowns last year, but for the third consecutive season, he missed games due to injury. Even if he stays healthy this year, he will have a hard time matching his per game average from 2017, because SU lost Steve Ishamel and Ervin Phillips and their 194 catches. Syracuse will spread their receptions out among four or five wideouts this year.

Defensive Line: Three starters return to the trenches led by end Alton Robinson, who led the Orangemen with 5 sacks. Tackle Chris Slayton is strong against the run.

Linebackers: This is the weakest unit on the entire team. SU will have to rely on juco transfers this year, as graduation took their number one, two, and four tacklers.

Secondary: The Orangemen have three experienced defensive backs returning, but this is another liability. Syracuse gave up 7.8 yards per pass attempt, and only 4 interceptions (3 from the secondary).

Special Teams: Sean Riley is decent as a return specialist, and Sterling Hofricher is a capable punter, but the Orangemen need a new placekicker. Hofricher might have to take over and handle both jobs.

Outlook: If Syracuse didn’t have to play Notre Dame this year, we might be inclined to pick this team to sneak into bowl eligibility with six wins. With the Irish added, the schedule is a bit too difficult to expect Syracuse to get past 5 wins.

Miami
Running Game: When you look at the sum of the parts, Miami didn’t have the look of 10-3 team. The Hurricane running game was nothing special, finishing 10th in the ACC, but on closer look, Mark Richt’s team finished third in average yards per rush behind Louisville with Jackson and Georgia Tech with their option offense. With quarterback Malik Rosier and top back Travis Homer returning, behind an offensive line that should be on par with 2017, look for the running game to be as good or better than last year.

Passing Game: Rosier’s 2017 season might have inspired Charles Dickins to write A Tail of Two Passers in One Body. It was the best of times for the signal caller during the first ten games, and the worst of times in the final three. Rosier is more of a gunslinger than a West Coast Offense prototype. He’s near the top in the nation at throwing the deep ball, but he can be impatient with everything else. In the first ten games, his efficiency rating was 141.7, and he averaged better than 8 yards per attempt. In the last three games, his efficiency rating fell to 92.0 with a 44.9% completion rate and five interceptions. Rosier lost his top targets from last year, but he has some athletic replacements that can run deep routes and get enough separation for the Hurricanes to get some quick scores again.

Defensive Line: Enemy quarterbacks will not look forward to playing the Hurricanes with their strong pass rush. Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin will get their share of sacks and hurries, and their quick rush might help UM carry on that great Turnover Chain tradition. Miami could be a little more generous against the run this year.

Linebackers: This is by far the best trio in the league and one of the five best in the nation. This trio will be back for the third year, and you can expect Zach McCloud, Shaq Quarterman, and Michael Pinckney to top 200 total tackles if they stay healthy. 22 1/2 of this groups tackles last year were for lost yardage.

Secondary: Three starters return to a unit that liked to wear that chain following interceptions. Jaquan Johnson and Michael Jackson both intercepted four passes in 2017, and Johnson forced three fumbles as well. Rarely can a defense finish first in its conference in turnover margin in consecutive seasons, but this unit could pull off that feat this year if the offense does its part.

Special Teams: The Hurricanes are not strong here, and this could actually cost them a close game. Punter Zach Feagles averaged just 38.6 yards per punt, and he could be the strongest link in this unit. True freshman kicker Bubba Baxa can kick the ball a mile, but he has to become more consistent with kicking it straight.

Outlook: The Hurricanes are the team to beat in the Coastal Division for the second consecutive season. Unfortunately, they still have a ways to go before they can challenge Clemson for the ACC Championship. Another 10-win season is probable, only this time the losses won’t all come at the end.

Virginia Tech
Running Game: Coach Justin Fuente shared the wealth in his running game last year, basically because no back emerged as the go to guy. Deshawn McClease, Jalen Holston and Steven Peoples will share most of the carries again this year. The Hokies failed to average four yards per rush last year, and it brought down the scoring average. The offensive line may be slightly improved this year for the running attack.

Passing Game: Josh Jackson played like a talented freshman last year as the young starter. He put up some rather good numbers with 2,991 passing yards and 20 touchdowns, but down the stretch, his passing efficiency fell to 106.7 in the final 5 games. With Cam Phillips off to the Buffalo Bills, Sean Savoy and Eric Kumah become the top targets.

Defensive Line: This is where the Hokies will shine. Three starters plus the top reserve return to the trenches. Bud Foster is still around coaching the defense, and Virginia Tech will always be tough to run against. Tackle Ricky Walker made 41 tackles, with 12.5 for loss. He’s nearly impossible to run on, and he can get after the quarterback from the inside.

Linebackers: Other than running back, this is the one potential problem area. Mook Reynolds is the only returning starter, and he recorded nine tackles for loss last year. There isn’t much depth here.

Secondary: This is one of the best defensive backfields in the ACC, but it is less experienced than it was last year. Reggie Floyd is the top star here. The strong safety intercepted three passes last year, including a pick six against North Carolina.

Special Teams: For years, Virginia Tech was noted for its excellent special teams. 2017 was no different, but the stars that made this unit so good have left Blacksburg. Punter Oscar Bradburn returns, but the rest of this unit is somewhat untested.

Outlook: The Hokies will be a good but not great team in 2018. The defense lost a bit too much to repeat its performance of last year, and the offense is not ready to simply outscore the better teams. More of the projected tossup games are on the road, so we expect an 8 or 9 win season this year.

Duke
Running Game: Half of Duke’s excellent tandem of 2017 returns this year. Brittain Brown rushed for 701 yards at a 5.4 average per rush. He’s got good hands and can catch the ball out of the backfield. The offensive line has less experience entering the season, but the line was not a strong point last year and could actually be a little better this year.

Passing Game: Daniel Jones is a better runner than a passer to this point in his career. His TD/INT ratio was 14/11, and he averaged less than 6 yards per pass attempt. He was better as a freshman in 2016, and he finished the season playing his best ball, so prospects are good that 2018 could see a jump forward. All of his key targets from last year return, including T.J. Rahming, who led with 65 receptions and 795 yards. Expect David Cutcliffe to get a lot more out of this phase of the game this year; Duke could average 250 passing yards per game.

Defensive Line: Duke concentrates its pass defense on keeping maximum personnel in coverage, and their pass rush is not all that terrific. The line is not a strong point, and even thought three of four starters return, it isn’t one that will scare opposing ACC backs.

Linebackers: Here is where the Blue Devils make their plays. The linebacker duo return to try to improve on 25 tackles for loss. Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris could start for most Power 5 teams.

Secondary: Two players with extensive starting experience return to the 5-man secondary, including cornerback Mark Gilbert. Gilbert intercepted six passes a year ago and broke up 15 more.

Special Teams: Duke must audition for a new kicker and punter. There is experience in the return game, but the talent is average here.

Outlook: A 7-6 season that included a bowl win over Northern Illinois was about what was expected last year. This year, the Blue Devils should maintain the status quo or improve ever so slightly on last year’s success.

Georgia Tech
Running Game: It’s the option attack, so the running game is always going to be some variation of good. When they averaged 307 yards per game to lead the ACC last year and finish fifth overall in the FBS, it almost was like a minor disappointment. Any time the option attack returns an experienced quarterback, it almost always improves over the previous year, and TaQuon Marshall returns after rushing for 1,146 yards and 17 touchdowns. Marshall has the ability to free-lance a little more than the average option quarterback. Once in the clear, he accelerates like a top-rated running back. Georgia Tech returns both starting A Backs and their starting B Back. B Back KirVonte Benson (old-fashioned fullback position) is a powerful runner, who gives Tech two returning 1,000 yard rushers. He’s powerful with a low center of gravity, and it isn’t uncommon for him to push the defense an extra five yards after multiple defenders make contact.

Passing Game: It’s the option attack, so the passing game is always going to be a decoy until the quarterback lulls the defense into thinking he will never pass. Marshall is a runner first, second, and third. He has just enough passing talent to run play-action and throw the bomb. Even when it is not completed, it warns the safeties to remember that the next one could be completed. The offensive line is built for run blocking, so Tech cannot get too fancy with their passing game. Still, there is room for improvement. While 8.6% of his passes resulted in touchdowns, 4.3% of his passes resulted in interceptions.

Defensive Line: This is a work in progress. Coach Paul Johnson brought in Nate Woody as his new defensive coordinator, and Woody brings the 3-4 defense to Atlanta. Tech was a 4-2-5 team last year, and the front line will have some rough adjustments, as it becomes more of a protector for the linebackers.

Linebackers: Although not a juggernaut, the quartet of linebackers makes this the best unit on this side of the ball. Outside backer Victor Alexander should thrive in this new set, and Brant Mitchell should add about 30 more tackles to his stat sheet than he did last year.

Secondary: This could be trouble. The problem with option teams is they seldom have a scout team quarterback and receivers that can help their pass defense practice in real game-like situations. Add to this that just one starter returns from the five that started last year, and Tech could give up 230 to 250 passing yards per game.

Special Teams: Pressley Harvin is one of the nation’s top punters, and he’s just a sophomore. Tech hopes Shawn Davis can improve from a so-so year, as the Yellow Jackets made just 7 field goals. The return game is average at best.

Outlook: After suffering a 5-6 season with a game wiped out due to a hurricane, Georgia Tech should recover and become bowl eligible once again. With a few breaks, they could even challenge for the division title.

Pittsburgh
Running Game: The offense grounded to a halt last year, as Pitt could only muster 148 rushing yards per game and had consistent star running back like James Conner. Darrin Hall could be that missing ingredient this year after flashing signs of greatness in 2017. Against Duke, he broke two long touchdown runs and scored three total on the way to a 254-yard day. Hall will run behind a stronger offensive line this year, even though there will be some new faces starting.

Passing Game: Three quarterbacks took turns starting last year, and the third one in that group returns as the starter at the beginning of 2018. Kenny Pickett went 1-1 as the starter at the close of the season, performing quite well and earning the starting nod in 2018. He engineered the victory over Miami when the Hurricanes were 10-0 and ranked number two in the nation. The problem is that none of last year’s starting receivers are back. Rafael Araujo-Lopes was a regular who just so happened to come of the bench, so it is like having one starter back.

Defensive Line: A deceptively good defense last year, Pitt should be more obvious about their goodness this season. The Panthers were strong against the run, and they should be so again this year. End Dewayne Hendrix leads a talented and deep front four, as Pitt substituted and played a lot of players up front last year.

Linebackers: All three starters return, making this the strength of the team. Leading tackler Oluwaseun Idowu recorded 94 tackles with 11 1/2 for loss and 5 sacks. Second leading tackler Saleem Brightwell had 73 tackles.

Secondary: The defensive backfield makes a lot of changes this year as three starters depart. Coach Pat Narduzzi has some highly-prized recruits to come in and help out against the pass.

Special Teams: Any time Pitt gets to the opponents’ 40 yard line, they are in field goal range for Alex Kessman. His leg is among the strongest in the nation in college or the NFL, but his accuracy has not caught up to his strength. Replacing All-ACC punter Ryan Winslow won’t be easy. Replacing star returner Quadree Henderson won’t be possible.

Outlook: Pittsburgh faces the strongest non-conference schedule this year, and it could prevent the Panthers from returning to the plus side of .500. The Panthers have road games with Central Florida and Notre Dame plus a home game with Penn State, and they could be 1-3 out of the ACC. It would take a 5-3 conference mark to become bowl eligible, and that is asking a bit too much for this roster.

N. Carolina
Note: 13 players face 1 to 4 game suspensions for selling their school issued tennis shoes. The opening week PiRate Rating will reflect the change in personnel for the Cal game.

Running Game: Both running backs that shared most of the load last year (Jordan Brown & Michael Carter) return, but they will be running behind a rebuilt offensive line that must replace three full-time starters plus a fourth player that started most of the games. It may be hard to top the 145 rushing yards per game from last year.

Passing Game: Chazz Surratt lost his spot as starter last year due to injury. This year, a 4-game suspension gives the job to last year’s replacement Nathan Elliott. Elliott started the last four games and had mixed results. Elliott has one star target in the receiving corps. Anthony Ratliff-Williams had just 35 catches last year, but he gives Elliott a big receiver to leap over defenders to make circus catches, while supplying speed to break long gains from short and medium length passes.

Defensive Line: The Tar Heels couldn’t stop opposing offenses last year, giving up 31.3 points and 436 yards per game. While there are experienced players returning to the trenches, this group could not stop the run. Expect a little improvement as most of the two-deep is back.

Linebackers: Like the defensive line, there is room for improvement, but unlike the line, there isn’t much experience returning past leading tackler Cole Holcomb.

Secondary: There is some talent and experience in the backfield. K.J. Sails led the Heels with 13 passed defended. Myles Dorn had 71 tackles and two interceptions.

Special Teams: This has been a strong point during the Larry Fedora era. Kick returner Anthony Ratliff-Williams returned 2 of his 34 kick returns for touchdowns. He will handle punt returns this year as well. Hunter Lent took over as Punter in the middle of the season last year and performed brilliantly with a 44.9 average.

Outlook: This could be a win or else year for Fedora, and with all the suspensions early in the season against a tough September schedule, the Tar Heels could be doomed early and struggle to stay out of the basement for a second consecutive season.

Virginia
Running Game: Bronco Mendenhall shocked the league by guiding Virginia to bowl eligibility coming off a 2-11 first season in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers certainly didn’t win six games with their running game. UVA averaged just 93.5 rushing yards per game and 3.1 yards per rush. Nearly 70% of the team’s rushing yardage came from one player, and Jordan Ellis returns as that player. He may struggle to do much better this year behind a raw offensive line, which might be the weakest in the league.

Passing Game: Kurt Benkert’s arm got Virginia to the Military Bowl last year, but Benkert graduated. Stepping in to replace him is junior college transfer Bryce Perkins. Perkins is a dual-threat quarterback, something Mendenhall has not had at Virginia. Perkins has speed like a top running back, but he is no slouch as a passer. H-Back Olamide Zaccheaus caught a team-leading 85 passes a year ago, while tight end Evan Butts added 32 catches.

Defensive Line: The Cavaliers yielded just under 200 rushing yards per game last year, but with both ends missing from last year’s 3-4 front, and with some missing pieces in the next line of defense, that number will most likely zoom over 200 this year. Don’t expect much pass rush from this group either.

Linebackers: Things are a lot better in this unit, but the Cavaliers are still missing two fine starters from last year. Jordan Mack and Chris Peace are talented all around, stopping runs for little gain and getting into the backfield when they blitz. Still, this unit loses All-Conference and leading tackler Micah Kiser (143 tackles/5 sacks/2 fumble recoveries).

Secondary: They didn’t get much credit, but the secondary was one of the top four or five in the ACC last year. Three starters return. Bryce Hall, Brenton Nelson, and Juan Thornhill combined for 9 interceptions and 26 passes defended. There’s depth here, so this will be the strength of the defense.

Special Teams: This unit will help Virginia win a close game at some point in the season. Kick returner Joe Reed averaged 30 yards per return and took back 2 for touchdowns. Punter Lester Coleman averaged close to 44 yards per punt. A better year is expected out of kicker A.J. Mejia.

Outlook: Nobody expected this team to make a bowl game last year, and the media is not giving any love to the team this year. This team has the talent to challenge for bowl eligibility, and if Perkins can move the offense like he did in junior college in Arizona, the Cavaliers could surprise again with another 6-6 regular season. If Perkins does not shine, then 4-8 is more likely.

Here is how the ACC Media voted in the preseason poll

ACC
Atlantic 1st Place Points
1. Clemson 145 1,031
2. Florida St. 1 789
3. North Carolina St. 2 712
4. Boston College 0 545
5. Louisville 0 422
6. Wake Forest 0 412
7. Syracuse 0 232
Coastal 1st Place Points
1. Miami (Fla.) 122 998
2. Virginia Tech 16 838
3. Georgia Tech 8 654
4. Duke 1 607
5. Pittsburgh 0 420
6. North Carolina 1 370
7. Virginia 0 257

 

The PiRate Ratings differ somewhat

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division
Team ACC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 0-0 0-0 131.7 128.4 132.6 130.9
Boston College 0-0 0-0 117.3 113.7 117.2 116.1
N. Carolina St. 0-0 0-0 113.8 113.0 113.6 113.5
Florida St. 0-0 0-0 111.5 110.9 111.3 111.2
Wake Forest 0-0 0-0 109.8 107.5 107.3 108.2
Louisville 0-0 0-0 105.1 105.3 104.6 105.0
Syracuse 0-0 0-0 106.2 104.2 104.6 105.0
Coastal Division
Team ACC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami 0-0 0-0 120.3 118.2 120.0 119.5
Virginia Tech 0-0 0-0 114.3 113.7 114.0 114.0
Duke 0-0 0-0 113.3 110.4 112.4 112.1
Georgia Tech 0-0 0-0 112.2 110.9 111.8 111.7
Pittsburgh 0-0 0-0 105.5 105.2 104.7 105.2
N. Carolina 0-0 0-0 105.3 104.3 104.5 104.7
Virginia 0-0 0-0 101.5 102.0 99.9 101.1
ACC Averages 112.0 110.6 111.3 111.3

New Coaches
Willie Taggart’s stay in the Pacific Northwest lasted just one year. The former South Florida coach left Oregon to return to the Sunshine State and takes over the reins from Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. Taggart comes from the Jim Harbaugh coaching tree, or should we say just the Harbaugh coaching tree. He actually played and then coached under papa Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky, before he became a Stanford assistant under son Jim. In his short stints at Western Kentucky, South Florida, and Oregon, he has improved the won-loss record every year but one, in which he equaled that one.

Predicted Won-Loss Records
Note: These predicted won-loss records are strictly mechanical based on the initial PiRate Ratings. No upsets are factored in these predictions. Additionally, our PiRate Ratings are only useful for the next week of games and cannot really be used to forecast past that point. Part of our weekly adjustment to our ratings includes a factor where depth issues or non-issues have been pre-set. In other words, a team without talented second stringers may lose ratings points as the season progresses even if they win games by the predicted margin, whereas a team with exceptional depth (like Alabama) will improve during the season and see its rating rise even if they win games by a little less than the predicted margin. Ohio State and Maryland could see their ratings change by large amounts depending on the outcome of the two coaching investigations.

ACC
Team Conference Overall
Atlantic
Clemson 8-0 13-0*
North Carolina St. 7-1 11-1
Boston College 4-4 8-4
Florida St. 4-4 7-5
Wake Forest 3-5 6-6
Syracuse 2-6 5-7
Louisville 1-7 4-8
Coastal
Miami 8-0 12-1
Duke 6-2 9-3
Virginia Tech 5-3 8-4
Georgia Tech 5-3 8-4
North Carolina 2-6 4-8
Pittsburgh 2-6 3-9
Virginia 0-8 4-8
*Clemson to win ACC Champ. Game

Bowl Tie-ins
1. Camping World Bowl in Orlando, FL
2. Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL ***
3. Belk Bowl in Charlotte, NC
3. Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN or Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL
3. Pinstripe Bowl in New York, NY
3. Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX
7. Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA
7. Military Bowl in Annapolis, MD
7. Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, MI
The ACC has secondary agreements with the Birmingham and St. Petersburg Bowls.
*** Citrus (if top possible team is higher-ranked than SEC or Big Ten team)

Coming Tomorrow–The Southeastern Conference

August 17, 2018

2018 Big Ten Conference Preview

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.
Our Power 5 Conference preseason ratings and won-loss predictions were figured before knowing the outcome of recent suspensions to Coaches Urban Meyer and D.J. Durkin at Ohio State and Maryland. Because our ratings set 100.0 as average, and the mean of all 130 teams must be 100.0, taking points away from Ohio State and Maryland require redistributing points to the other 128 teams. Expect these ratings to change prior to August 25.

Even before Ohio State had to put Meyer on paid leave, our summer PiRate Ratings had another team rated a little bit ahead of the Buckeyes. Michigan State won 10 games last year with wins over Michigan and Penn State. The Spartans were not as bad as they looked in the blowout loss in Columbus, and with practically the entire team returning plus the additions of some excellent talent that redshirted or saw minimal action, the Spartans begin the season ranked slightly higher than OSU.
Coach Mark Dantonio’s offense was not up to par last year, as Sparty averaged just 25 points and less than 350 yards per game. Things will be different this year, as returns 10 starters and a majority of the 2nd 11. Quarterback Brian Lewerke is not Khalil Tate, but the junior signal caller is primed to improve greatly on his passing numbers and equal or top his running numbers. Lewerke is known for breaking long runs in an unconventional manner. While he can break free on zone read plays, he has been known to make a simple quarterback sneak a long-gainer, and he can scramble as well as any contemporary.
Running back L.J. Scott can do a lot of damage between the tackles and then exploding outside once he gets through the line. He is powerful and has speed, and he excels at every part of the game, as a power runner with quick bursts to stretch the play wide; as a pass receiver (Ohio State got burned by a screen pass play to him); and as an incredible pass-protecting blocker).
The trio of Felton Davis, Cody White, and Darrell Stewart won’t confuse fans for the receivers at Oklahoma, but these guys are more than capable of making a defense that is expecting run pay dearly. Davis gives Lewerke the jump ball receiver in the end zone with his size and leaping ability.
An experience line with talent throughout should allow MSU to increase its offensive production to more than 30 points and 400 yards per game this year. Combine that with a highly-rated defense, and the Spartans can contend for a Playoff bid.
The strength of the defense is in the secondary, where free safety David Dowell intercepted 5 passes, knocked away 4 more, and recovered 2 fumbles. Cornerback Josiah Scott is a potential All Big Ten player as well.

Michigan State is solid at linebacker with Joe Bachie and Andrew Dowell returning, the team’s top two 2017 tacklers. Bachie intercepted three passes. If the Spartans are to reach the pinnacle, their pass rush will have to make a jump forward. End Kenny Willekes is capable of dumping the quarterback two or three times a game, but somebody else will need to step forward to prevent him from being double-teamed.

Michigan State might win an extra game with its special teams. Kicker Matt Coghlin was a perfect 38-38 on PATs and 15 of 19 on field goals. Punter Jake Hartbarger averaged 42 yards per punt with just 12 of his 69 punts returned for a measley 2.3 yards per return.

Ohio State has had to replace a head coach just prior to the start of a season in the recent past. In 2011, coming off a 12-1 season, Jim Tressel was dismissed, with Luke Fickell taking over as the interim. Ohio State fell to 6-7 and 3-5 in the Big Ten with the best talent in the conference not jelling. Urban Meyer became coach the next season and ran the table.

No matter who wears the headsets on the sideline on September 1st when the Buckeyes welcome a rebuilding Oregon State team to the Giant Horseshoe, Ohio State will look like Ohio State. The 2011 team commenced its season with a 42-0 win over Akron. It will be September 15, before the coaching issue might matter, when Ohio State plays TCU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Ohio State rarely must rebuild when they lose highly-talented players every year, and this year is no different. Quarterback J.T. Barrett passed for 35 touchdowns and ran for a dozen more in his final year in Columbus. Normally, replacing a star talent like Barrett would lead to a major drop in offensive production, but not at this football factory. Ohio State’s probable third string quarterback until the number two guy transferred was a former high school phenom who out-dueled Josh Rosen, never lost a game in his high school career, and has been compared to Doug Flutie. Tate Martell will have to wait his turn, while Dwayne Haskins runs the offense. Haskins has the better arm and can force defenses to keep an extra man in the passing zones, while Martell is the scrambler type, the type that wouldn’t lose a game of tag, but with the need to work on his passing mechanics a little more.
The Buckeyes are loaded at running back with the return of J. K. Dobbins (1,403 yards 7.2 avg) and Mike Weber (626 yards 6.2 avg 10 TDs). Weber is a little more powerful, but Dobbins is the better pass-catching threat.

As good as the running back unit is, the receiver unit is better, again not as good as Oklahoma, but as good as any other Big Ten foe. Parris Campbell is the current Percy Harvin for this offense. The speedy hybrid receiver is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, be it on the speed sweep or via the pass (or as a kick returner). When you can catch a pass at the line of scrimmage and take it all the way, defenses must tell their safeties to retreat, and that opens the middle for bigger receivers as well as gives running backs more room to break free.

The Buckeye offensive line is the best in the East Division and second best in the league. Their version of Michael Jordan is a tall and strong guard who opens holes inside and stops enemy pass rushers. Tackle Isaiah Prince makes the left side of the Ohio State line mighty tough. The line should allow the Buckeyes to top 40 points and 500 yards again this year, unless there is a mini-train wreck with Meyer being dismissed.

Ohio State begins the season just behind Michigan State because their defense lost a lot of talented players, including the top three tacklers, two of 2017’s top pass rushing trio, and players responsible for 2/3 of the interceptions. One position that will be strong is at end, where Nick Bosa returns following a year where he finished third in the league with 16 tackles for loss and tied for first with 9 sacks. Robert Landers assumes the vacant end position.

Tuf Borland anchors the second line of defense, but this is one area of concern in 2018. Ohio State is thin at linebacker, and it wouldn’t surprise us if they eventually transition to more of a 4-2-5 team if they can uncover enough quality in their backfield. Ohio State has some re-tooling to do in the back line of defense, where cornerback Damon Arnette and safety Jordan Fuller need some help.

If Meyer is not able to coach this team, Ohio State will be at least a touchdown to 10 points weaker in 2018. Still, the Buckeyes would be a contender for the East Division crown, but not the top or even second choice to do so.

This is a pivotal year for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. The former NFC Champion coach with the 49ers has not worked the same magic at his alma mater that he was able to do at Stanford. This year gives him his best chance, and if the Wolverines don’t look as powerful as they did during the Bo Schembechler days, the fans in Ann Arbor may demand change.
The Maize and Blue have the talent to compete and even contend for a playoff bid this year, and if Harbaugh can get his new quarterback to play like he did against Auburn and Texas A&M while leading the Ole Miss offense, the pieces are in place for the Champions of the West to make a run at the championship of the Big Ten East.
Shea Patterson took his redshirt off late in the 2016 season at Ole Miss and looked like the next Archie Manning with his exceptional running ability and passing arm. Seven games into his sophomore season, Patterson’s season ended with a knee injury against LSU. Still, in just 6 1/2 games with the Rebels, his 2,259 passing yards and 17 touchdowns topped the entire Michigan offense in 13 games by more than 300 yards!

Michigan still has issues in the offensive line, where three starters return but only guard Ben Bredeson being all-conference quality. Patterson may be on the run too many times this year if the blocking cannot improve, and the ground game may stall like it did last year against teams like Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and South Carolina, the five teams that beat them.

If the line blocks just a tad bit better than average, the Michigan ground game will succeed. Patterson can take some of the defensive keying off Karan Higdon and Chris Evans, which should help the two running backs top their combined rushing for 1,679 yards and 17 touchdowns. Give Higdon a little room, and he can explode for 7-10 yards quickly. Evans is better equipped to earn the tough yards when they are needed.
Michigan has a young but somewhat experienced group of receivers. Last year’s starters did not shine, and this year’s replacements could easily make UM fans forget the 2017 starters. The best receivers may be tight ends Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry, and Michigan could succeed with the double tight end alignment this year. Patterson went to his tight ends in Oxford last year for some nice gains and conversions.

Make no mistake about it; Michigan’s bread and butter is their defense, and as good as the Wolverines were at stopping enemy offenses last year, 2018 could be very special. UM finished tops in the nation in passing yards allowed and third in total yards. Their secondary is even better this year, and we believe the Wolverines can lower last year’s points allowed per game from 18.8 to 15, especially if the offense sustains more drives.
In 19 years out of 20, a secondary this talented would be the tops in the land. This is that 20th year, when Washington has one of the best secondaries of all time. Michigan ranks just behind with the top two cornerbacks in the league. Lavert Hill and David Long may not put up the jazziest of numbers, but quarterbacks tend to throw the ball elsewhere. Think of it like issuing an intentional walk to a 50-homer guy in baseball.

The middle trio of this defense features two All Big Ten players in Khaleke Hudson and Devin Bush. Both are complete players that can stop the run, dump the quarterback, and defend against the pass. Bush might contend for the Butkus Award this year.

The defensive line is the weakest unit on this team, but it is still a big asset that is almost as strong as their rivals’ to the South’s d-line. End Rashan Gary should make first team all-conference if he stays healthy. Opposite side end Chase Vinovich could have been playing for pay this year, but he chose to return to Ann Arbor, and with another great year, his draft stock should go up.

Michigan begins the season playing what could be a playoff qualifier. The Wolverines travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame in the top game of the opening week of football. The winner of that game should carry the momentum forward to a 7-0 start through mid-October. Michigan has some tough games in the second half, having to face Sparty in East Lansing and Ohio State at the Giant Horseshoe plus host Wisconsin and Penn State. This team has the talent to go 11-1 or 10-2, but with just a little less production, UM could find itself back at 5-4 in the league, which would be dangerous for Harbaugh’s chances to return in 2019.

Penn State coach James Franklin worked his magic at Vanderbilt, doing the unthinkable by winning nine games in back-to-back seasons, both years finishing in the top 25, and by beating Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee in the same season. So, it should come as no surprise that he would do wonders in Happy Valley, as the Nittany Lions just enjoyed their first back-to-back 11-win seasons since Joe Paterno was still walking the sidelines.

Coming off a Big Ten championship in 2016, the Nittany Lions may have been a little better last year, even though they came up a game short in the East Division standings. The two losses were by a combined four points, so the Nittany Lions were oh so close from running the table and making it to the Playoffs.

We expect Penn State to take a slight backward turn this year, because their defense is almost entirely new this year. Only one two starters return on this side of the ball, and none of them played in the secondary last year. Amani Oruwariye actually made the All Big Ten Second team last year as a key reserve, so the defensive backfield is not in as bad a shape as it appears to be.

Linebacker U must have talent in the middle of their defense, and this year is no different. Koa Farmer, a converted safety and Cameron Brown give the defense a pair of talented stoppers.

The front four has talent as well, led by end Shareef Miller. In a league with multiple star defensive ends, Miller takes a back seat to nobody. He led Penn State with 11 1/2 tackles for loss and 5 1/2 sacks.

The Penn State defense will not be as stingy as last year, when they finished 6th nationally in scoring defense, but the decline will not be severe. Expect Penn State to give up about 21 to 23 points per game this year.

The offense returns its star quarterback, but it loses its heart, as superstar running back Saquon Barkley has taken his 1,271 rushing yards, 632 receiving yards, the nation’s best kick returning, and his 23 total touchdowns to the New York Giants. Miles Sanders might rush for 1,000 yards replacing Barkley, but he won’t be the all-purpose player that comes around to a school about as often as Halley’s Comet.

Trace McSorley needs to have an incredible finish to his career to move up the ranks in a very heavily talented field of draft-eligible quarterbacks. He’d probably be an undrafted free agent if this were next May. He’s a tad undersized and lacks the arm strength to contend with players like Patterson at Michigan, but for Penn State’s offense, he is more than adequate, bordering on stardom.

McSorley will need wideout Juwan Johnson to have a breakout year, as he is the only one of three 50+ catch receivers left on the roster. Johnson provides a big target and has a nice combination of speed and agility to go with excellent hands. If DeAndre Thompkins can be the 1A receiver and play like he did as a secondary talent last year, then the Penn State passing game should be in good shape.

The best news on this side of the ball is that the offensive line might be the most improved of any in the league. Five players with significant starting experience plus three others that will earn extensive playing time should give McSorley the time he needs to locate open receivers and open some holes for the running game.

Maryland is a team with a lot of dissension at the present time. Coach Durkin has the support of his players, and if he is fired, we expect the this program to be affected more than Ohio State’s losing Meyer would be. This team was on the cusp of contending for bowl eligibility, but it would not surprise us if the Terrapins fell to the bottom of the division and even go 0-9 if the players don’t rally around interim head coach Matt Canada, who just arrived from LSU.

The Terp offense will move on the ground more than through the air this year after being exactly equal in 2017 with 162 yards rushing and 162 yards passing per game. The running back tandem of Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison should team up for about 1,800 yards with the improved blocking expected from an experience offensive line that welcomes back the top five players from last year.

Maryland leads the nation in only one quarterback statistic, and unfortunately, that is number of quarterbacks used. The recent history has been quite negative as to the incredible number of QBs in need of disability insurance. Last year was more of the same in College Park, as the first two were done for the year in Mid-September. To complicate matters further, Maryland will switch from a shotgun alignment to an under-center alignment this year. Redshirt Freshman Kasim Hill and sophomore Tyrell Pigrome have very limited experience, but one of the two will start against Texas on September 1.

Maryland basically threw the ball to two players last year, and one returns in 2018. Taivon Jacobs turned 47 catches into 553 yards and 5 TDs last year. Jacobs will not be able to make up for the receptions and yards lost when D. J. Moore became a first round pick in the NFL Draft.

Maryland needs to re-tool a little on the defensive side, but there are some athletes here that can shine. The Terps use the 3-3-5 defense, and the secondary will be the strongest unit on the team. Safety Darnell Savage intercepted three passes last year and returned one for a touchdown. He led UM with 8 passed defended. Nickel back Antoine Brooks finished second on the team with 77 tackles last year, and he proved to be an excellent run defender, finishing with a team-leading 9 1/2 tackles for loss.

Outside linebacker Isaiah Davis is the lone returning starter at linebacker. The Terps need Buck linebacker Jesse Aniebonam to emerge as a force coming back from injury after starring there in 2016, when he made 9 QB sacks.

With Durkin as coach, we were prepared to give Maryland a 50-50 shot at bowl eligibility this year and a 90% chance of getting five wins. If Durkin is dismissed, this team could fall to 2-10, and there will be a long coaching search trying to find somebody to right the ship.

Rutgers found a way to win four games last year with an offense that averaged just 18 points and 263 yards per game. The Scarlet Knights scored just 71 points in their eight losses. Coach Chris Ash is a defensive specialist, having been the defensive coordinator at Ohio State and Arkansas before coming to RU. Quietly, he doubled the win total between his first and second year, and he returns more experience this year than either of his first two seasons in New Brunswick.

The offense should experience some improvement this year, but don’t expect too much. Quarterback Giovanni Rescigno shared the job last year with less than stellar results, so there is only one way to go from 47% completions and 5.2 yards per pass attempt. Tight end Jerome Washington returns after leading RU with just 28 receptions and 282 yards. Former Boston College running back Jonathan Hillman and talented sophomore Raheem Blackshear will get the brunt of the rushing attempts. Blackshear has the ability to break a long gain via the run or the pass, but his diminutive size will limit the amount of touches he can get and stay healthy. The offensive line is anything but an asset, as the Scarlet Knights frequently allowed pass rushers to get into the backfield quickly.

The RU defense will most likely carry the team on its shoulders again this season. This unit limited Purdue to 12 points, but it is not one of the league’s premier stop troops. Eight starters return from 2017, so Rutgers’ numbers on this side of the ball could improve a little after finishing 11th against the run and 10th against the pass.

Linebackers Deonte Roberts and Trevor Morris finished one-two in tackles last year, and they could both top 100 tackles this year. There are multiple players with experience returning to the secondary, but none appear to be ready to challenge for all conference honors. The pass rush was close to nonexistent last year, and the top pass rusher used up his eligibility.

Indiana was on the verge of turning the program around into an annual bowl-contender until they decided it was time for Kevin Wilson to go. Wilson ended up at Ohio State as an assistant, while Tom Allen took over in Bloomington. After a 5-7 finish last year, it could be difficult to contend fro a 6-win season and bowl bid this season.

The defense gave Indiana a chance to compete in several games last year, and this year, a major rebuilding task will send the defensive averages up by about 7-10 points per game. The offense will not be that much better if any better at all, so the Hoosiers may have to fight to stay out of the basement if Maryland doesn’t implode.

The old saying goes that if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. What does it say when you have three? Allen was not all that pleased with the depth chart here, and late in Spring, he signed former Arizona Wildcat starter Brandon Dawkins to join the competition between Sophomore Peyton Ramsey and true freshman Michael Penix. Dawkins performed admirably under center in Tucson, but he was not going to see a lot of time with Khalil Tate on the roster. He is an excellent dual-threat player and should eventually become the starter.

The Hoosiers have a decent but not flashy running back duo that should help IU top the 130 rushing yards per game from last season. Morgan Ellison and Cole Gest should both get 7-12 attempts per game.

Two of the three starters returning on defense play in the secondary. Cornerback Andre Brown is not one of the top 10 at his position in the Big Ten. Jonathan Crawford is a decent but not exceptional strong safety. The Hoosiers have numerous inexperienced players with promising talent, but this secondary is vulnerable.

At least the secondary has some experience. The front seven is void of experienced starters. There are a couple of players in the trenches that look like Big Ten athletes. Tackle Jacob Robinson should make some big plays from the inside, but IU is weak everywhere else up front.

They were oh so close last year, but came up a bit short. Wisconsin ran the table in the regular season beating Northwestern by two games, while no other team in the West Division finished above .500 in league play. The Badgers are still the favorite to repeat as division champions, but they won’t be as good this year as they were in 2017. The Badger offense will need to be the best defense this year, because UW lost a considerable amount of talent on the other side of the ball from the league’s top defense.

The Badgers are noted for having excellent offensive linemen, tight ends, and powerful running backs. Expect more of the same in 2018, as the nation’s best offensive line is loaded with talent and experience. There is such incredible depth here that some of the backups could start for other Top 25 teams! Three of the players could make All-American! Tackle Michael Deiter could be the first tackle picked in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he is the second best on the team, and he is actually better utilized at guard. Dave Edwards is a beast. He is strong, quick, and agile, having been an option quarterback in high school.

Wisconsin lost a fine tight end in Troy Fumagalli (46 catches 547 yards), but when they still have two fine players nominated to the John Mackey Award Watch List. Zander Neuville and Kyle Penniston can block like guards but can sneak into the secondary and turn a short pass into a nice gain.

Fumagalli was the leading pass receiver, but the three two wideout receivers are back this year. Quintez Cephus, A.J. Taylor, and Danny Davis combined for just 87 pass receptions, but the trio averaged 16 yards per reception with 16 touchdowns.

Alex Hornibrook returns as the starting quarterback, and if he moves forward as much this season as he did last season, he could challenge McSorley and Lewerke for first team all-conference honors. His top job though will be handing the ball off to Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 1,977 yards as a freshman.

If the Badgers stumble this year, it will be because their defense allows opponents to score points faster than the offense can respond. After giving up less than 14 points per game, less than 100 rushing yards, and just 262 total yards per game. The Badgers are still strong at linebacker with last year’s top two tacklers returning. T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly combined for 169 tackles with 22 for lost yardage; they picked up 5 passes, with Edwards taking one to the house.

Nose Tackle Olive Sagapolu can stop the two A-gaps without doing much of anything. At 346 pounds, he is tough to move out of the way and can force running attacks to direct plays to the next gap over. The Badgers are totally inexperienced at the end positions, and this will be a concern at the start of the season.

In the defensive backfield, safety D’Cota Dixon is the lone returning starter, and while he is excellent against the run, he is not a pass defense star.

Wisconsin will have time to get their new defensive players some playing time against three beatable opponents. The September 22nd game at Iowa could go a long way in determining the West Division champion.

Northwestern returns enough talent on both sides of the ball to give Wisconsin and Iowa fierce competition for the West Division flag. The University spent $260 million building the finest indoor facility in the nation, right on Lake Michigan, and the Wildcats are going to ramp up recruiting and possibly become the football equivalent of Duke Basketball, where the finest combination of athletic and academic successes end up in Evanston. This is down the road; for now, Coach Pat Fitzgerald tries to improve on a 10-3 season that included a narrow win over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.

Clayton Thorson may not be an all-conference selection, but the senior quarterback has a good shot to hear his name announced in the 2019 NFL Draft. Thorson’s 2017 season was a bit off the 2016 season, but with his size and strength, NFL teams will have an interest in him. He has a a pair of experienced wide receivers returning, and Ben Skowronek and Flynn Nagel were the leading receivers last year.

Thorson relied on a lot of passes to his backs, and he will miss Justin Jackson’s 44 receptions and 1,311 rushing yards. Jeremy Larkin actually had better averages than Jackson in limited touches, as he has breakaway speed when he gets a little open space. The offensive line should be strong on the right side, but the left side could pose problems against some tough defensive stars.

Defensively, the Wildcats are stronger in the front seven and lacking in experience in their back line. Linebackers Paddy Fisher and Nate Hall combined to make 192 tackles with 26 for loss. Hall blitzed and sacked the QB five times. Up front, Samdup Miller and Joe Gaziano teamed for 14 1/2 sacks and 21 1/2 total tackles for loss. The secondary has just one returning starter. Montre Hartage intercepted a couple of passes, but this unit is lacking in stars.
Usually, Big Ten teams begin the season with a winnable game against a Group of 5 opponent. This year, Northwestern begins the season on the road in a pivotal conference game against Purdue. Then, in November, when Big Ten teams rarely play out of conference, the Wildcats host Notre Dame. The schedule is not favorable for a run at a division flag.

On the other hand, Iowa has a very favorable schedule to make a run at the division flag, even if like Wisconsin, they have a lot of replacing to do on the defensive side. Coach Kirk Ferentz enters his 20th season in Iowa City, and as a gift, the Hawkeyes are the only team in the Big Ten that does not play Ohio State, Michigan, or Michigan State.

On the offensive side, they Hawkeyes are led by their best player, quarterback Nate Stanley. Stanley came from out of almost nowhere to take over at QB last year and surprised the nation with 26 touchdown passes and 2.432 passing yards. Included in those stats were 5 TD pass games against Iowa State and Ohio State.

Like many teams in this league, Iowa uses a lot of two tight end sets, and the Hawkeyes return both starters this year. Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson teamed up to grab 54 passes good for 814 yards and 14 touchdowns. They will team up with top wideout Nick Easley to make Iowa’s passing game strong. The running game may be a work in progress with last year’s two top backs no longer around. Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin saw limited action in 2017 and looked capable of becoming contributors this year, but the Iowa running game may be down a little this year.

The defensive liability that will hurt the Hawkeyes this year is the middle of the defense. All of last year’s top linebackers are gone, and there isn’t much experience returning. Iowa will be vulnerable early against the short passing game and play-action passes until the new linebackers get enough reps to understand how to play at full speed. This is not the case up front, where the defensive line should be rather strong this year. Ends Anthony Nelson and Parker Hesse should get to the enemy quarterback a fair amount of times and stop running backs on stretch plays often enough to encourage offenses to try something else.

The secondary may have four new starters this year, even though there is returning starting experience. The Hawkeyes will miss star defensive back Joshua Jackson and his eight interceptions.

Who saw this coming last year? Purdue was picked to maybe contend for fifth place in the division and hopefully win four or five games. Under new coach Jeff Brohm, the Boilermakers looked more like the Drew Brees team that played at Ross-Ade Stadium 20 years ago than recent Purdue squads. Purdue Missouri, Minnesota, and Iowa in the regular season, and then secured a winning season by topping Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl.
It is more of the same for the Boilermakers offensively this year, but like most of the division, they must rebuild on the other side of the ball. The offense improved only marginally in scoring average in Brohm’s first season in West Lafayette, but the defense shaved 18 points off the scoring average allowed.

A tight race for the starting quarterback job is still too close to call. Last year, Elijah Sindelar got a majority of the snaps, but he did so only because David Blough was out for the year with an injury. Sindelar played the last few weeks on a torn ACL, but both should be ready to begin the year. It could easily continue to be undecided into the season, as both could play.

The Boilermakers need true freshman Rondale Moore to live up to his credentials as soon as possible, because there isn’t a go-to guy on the roster. Most of the returning receivers are capable second and third options, but only if there is a play-making first option.

The running game should be slightly improved, even though last year’s starter has graduated. Markell Jones and Tario Fuller will carry the ball behind an experienced line featuring Rimington Award contender Kirk Barron at center.

Purdue’s run defense was one of the better groups in the nation last year, but most of the stars that made it so powerful won’t be on the sidelines this year. One of those who will be back is middle linebacker Markus Bailey, who finished second on the team in tackles and first in sacks. He played on the strongside last year, but he will return to the middle in 2018.

The front four has questions, especially at end, while there are concerns at the cornerback spots as well. Safeties Jacob Thieneman and Navon Mosley return as starters, but they were more of supporting role players than stars.

Purdue has two strong non-conference opponents on their schedule in Missouri and Boston College, and most of the winnable conference games are on the road this year. If Brohm can take the Boilermakers back to a bowl this year, it may be an even better coaching job than last year. It also may get him a lot of offers to coach at more successful programs.

Minnesota used to be as big a power in college football as Ohio State is today. That was nearly 60 years ago, but this school still has the resources to return to greatness. Second year coach P. J. Fleck knows how to recruit and coach, as he made Western Michigan a New Year’s Bowl participant. Fleck is a motivational coach in the mold of James Franklin, but don’t underestimate his ability to get the most out of the talent on hand. The Golden Gophers fell one victory short of qualifying for a bowl last year, but with a majority of his starters returning on both sides of the ball, Fleck should play game number 13 in December.

Minnesota couldn’t move the ball or score points well enough to find that elusive sixth win. Narrow losses to Maryland, Michigan State, and Iowa could have been wins with just a little more offense. Quarterback play was a major liability in 2017, so the fact that Minnesota will have a new signal caller in 2018 is not a bad thing. It was thought that either redshirt freshman Tanner Morhan or juco transfer Vic Viramontes will be under center when the Gophers take on New Mexico State in week one. However, in recent days it appears that true freshman walk-on Zack Annexstad might be the starter.

Annexstad is not your typical walk-on. He turned down scholarship offers at multiple FBS schools to pay to attend his father’s alma mater. He has the stronger arm and has the skills to lead this team to at least seven more points per game than last year.
UM is set at running back, where Rodney Smith narrowly missed topping 1,000 yards and could easily match or top his fine sophomore campaign, where he rushed for 1,158 yards. It’s at receiver where the Gophers are not yet quite up to standards of the top teams in the league. Tyler Johnson is a fine receiver, capable of turning a short pass into a long gain, but he cannot do it all himself. Freshmen and untested sophomores will man the other positions. The Gophers plan to create shade for the fans in the stadium, and they signed two of the largest offensive linemen in the game. Tackle Daniel Faalele tips the scale at 400 pounds on a 6 foot 9 inch frame. Curtis Dunlap is only 6-5 and 370. Both should add depth to an improving offensive line this year.

Unlike most of their division brethren, Minnesota has experience returning throughout the defensive side of the field. In fact, they have a star in each unit. End Carter Coughlin led the team with 6 1/2 sacks. Linebacker Thomas Barber led the team and finished third in the league with 115 tackles, including 10 1/2 for loss. Safety Antoine Winfield looked like an all-conference player when he was healthy in the four games he played.

Minnesota gave up 22.8 points per game and 347 yards per game, which in the Big 12 would have been outstanding. It’s just average in the Big Ten, and the Gophers have a chance to improve those numbers to 20 points and 330 yards given up. A non-conference schedule that should give them three wins means, they only have to go 3-6 to get back to a bowl. That’s a strong possibility.

There is a generation of college football fans that do not know that Nebraska was once what Alabama is today. The Cornhuskers last won the national championship 21 years ago and last looked like the best team ever 23 years ago. The Cornhuskers are a far cry from even respectability, but new coach Scott Frost should stir up excitement at his alma mater. Too bad he doesn’t have eligibility left, because Nebraska could use him under center. Two freshmen are competing for the starting quarterback job, Tristan Gebbia and Adrian Martinez. For the time being, both may play in the early games in hopes that one will emerge as the clear choice.

Whoever is in at quarterback, he will have a fine pair of receivers to aim his throws to. Stanley Morgan, Jr. and J.D. Spielman teamed for 116 receptions and 1,1816 yards. Morgan’s father was a star with the New England Patriots and likely headed to the NFL in another year.
In past years, it was not unusual for Nebraska to rush for 400 to 500 yards with 1st team All-American backs. Things have changed in Lincoln, as the Cornhuskers finished 13th in the league in rushing with just 107.5 yards per game last year. No back topped 500 yards rushing for the season, and leading returnee Tre Bryant fell short of 300 yards. A combination of having Frost’s hurry up spread offense and a better blocking wall should help Nebraska increase their rushing average by 30-50 yards per game this year.
The defense formerly and famously known as the Blackshirts in the dynasty years of this program looked more like the black and blue in recent years. Nebraska gave up 36.4 points and 436.2 yards per game last year, including 42 points to Oregon 56 to Ohio State, and a final three swoon that saw Minnesota, Penn State, and Iowa all top 50 points. Expect these numbers to shrink in 2018. We would not be shocked if NU shaved 10 or more points and 50 or more yards off those poor averages.

The front seven will lead the way in 2018. Nebraska switches to a 3-4 after being an even-front team last year. The move to defensive end from outside linebacker should help Ben Stille team up with Carlos Davis and Freedom Akinmoladun top the 7 sacks the trio produced last year. Linebacker Dedrick Young is the leading returning tackle, and he’ll team with juco transfer Will Honas to give the Cornhuskers a better second line of defense. Expect more aggressive play in the secondary this year, as defensive coordinator Erik Chinander prefers a defense that concentrates on forcing turnovers.
There is a path to six wins for Frost in his first year at Memorial Stadium, but it isn’t going to be easy. After an opening game at home with Akron, the next three games are a bit tricky.
Illinois finished last in offense and 12th in defense in the Big Ten last year, and Coach Lovie Smith realized that desperate measures were needed. After Arizona fired Rich Rodriguez, Smith hired his offensive coordinator, Rod Smith to try to jump start the Illini offense. Quarterback Cam Thomas flashed just enough talent in a relief appearance against Purdue last year to give Illinois fans hope that he can move the team with consistency. The cupboard isn’t bare in the receiving corps, as Mike Dudek, Ricky Smalling, and tight end Louis Dorsey all saw extended playing time in 2017 and combined to catch 77 passes. Mike Epstein led the team with 346 rushing yards, even though he wasn’t the starter. He should top 500 this year. The entire offensive line returns, so expect Illinois to do much better than the paltry 15.4 points and 280 yards per game this year.

Defensively, Illinois gave up 31.5 points and 418 yards per game last year and won only two games, against Ball State and Western Kentucky. In Big Ten play, they went 0-9 and only really challenged in one game. There really is no reason to believe those numbers will improve this year. The defensive line and secondary is the weakest in the Big Ten, and the linebacker trio is only marginally better.

This could be the end of the line for Smith as coach of the Illini. With a 5-19 record in two years, another double-digit loss season might not be acceptable.

Here is how the Big Ten Conference Media voted in the preseason poll, which was taken before Meyer and Durkin were put on leave.

Big Ten
East 1st Place Points
1. Ohio St. 23.5 191.5
2. Michigan St. 2 142
3. Penn St. 1 141.5
4. Michigan 1.5 140.5
5. Maryland 0 75.5
6. Indiana 0 60
7. Rutgers 0 33
West 1st Place Points
1. Wisconsin 28 196
2. Iowa 0 155
3. Northwestern 0 138
4. Nebraska 0 104
5. Purdue 0 98.5
6. Minnesota 0 64.5
7. Illinois 0 28

The PiRate Ratings differ somewhat, and as we have mentioned, we expect considerable movement in these ratings, especially in the East Division if Meyer and/or Durkin are dismissed. LATE NOTE: It was announced Friday afternoon that the Meyer investigation would conclude on Sunday.

Big Ten Conference
East Division
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Michigan St. 0-0 0-0 127.7 125.1 128.1 127.0
Ohio St. 0-0 0-0 125.1 122.3 125.6 124.3
Michigan 0-0 0-0 121.7 120.6 122.7 121.6
Penn St. 0-0 0-0 121.2 117.7 121.6 120.2
Maryland 0-0 0-0 102.2 100.2 100.5 101.0
Rutgers 0-0 0-0 98.4 97.0 96.2 97.2
Indiana 0-0 0-0 97.8 96.3 97.3 97.1
West Division
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 0-0 0-0 123.1 119.2 123.4 121.9
Northwestern 0-0 0-0 114.8 112.6 115.4 114.3
Iowa 0-0 0-0 113.2 110.0 112.0 111.7
Purdue 0-0 0-0 107.9 106.3 106.6 106.9
Minnesota 0-0 0-0 104.7 103.6 104.0 104.1
Nebraska 0-0 0-0 100.5 98.7 97.8 99.0
Illinois 0-0 0-0 94.0 93.5 92.9 93.5
Big Ten Averages 110.9 108.8 110.3 110.0

 

New Coaches
Not counting the two interim head coaches, Scott Frost is the lone new head coach in the league this year. Frost left undefeated Central Florida to return to his alma mater Nebraska. He turned UCF from an 0-12 team to a 14-0 team in just two years. If he can get Nebraska to a bowl in year one and then compete for 9 wins in 2019, he will have some property named after him in Lincoln.

Predicted Won-Loss Records
Note: These predicted won-loss records are strictly mechanical based on the initial PiRate Ratings. No upsets are factored in these predictions. Additionally, our PiRate Ratings are only useful for the next week of games and cannot really be used to forecast past that point. Part of our weekly adjustment to our ratings includes a factor where depth issues or non-issues have been pre-set. In other words, a team without talented second stringers may lose ratings points as the season progresses even if they win games by the predicted margin, whereas a team with exceptional depth (like Alabama) will improve during the season and see its rating rise even if they win games by a little less than the predicted margin. Ohio State and Maryland could see their ratings change by large amounts depending on the outcome of the two coaching investigations.

Team Conference Overall
East
Michigan St. 9-0 13-0*
Ohio St. 8-1 11-1
Michigan 7-2 10-2
Penn St. 6-3 9-3
Maryland 3-6 5-7
Rutgers 2-7 5-7
Indiana 0-9 2-10
West
Wisconsin 7-2 10-3
Iowa 7-2 10-2
Northwestern 5-4 7-5
Minnesota 5-4 8-4
Purdue 3-6 4-8
Nebraska 1-8 4-8
Illinois 0-9 2-10
* Michigan State to win Big Ten Champ. Game

Bowl Tie-ins
1. Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA
2. Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL
3. Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL
4. Holiday Bowl in San Diego, CA
5. Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL or Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN
6. Pinstripe Bowl in New York, NY
7. San Francisco Bowl in San Francisco, CA
8. Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, MI
9. Armed Forces Bowl in Forth Worth, TX
10. Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas, TX

Coming Tomorrow–The Atlantic Coast Conference

2018 Pac-12 Preview

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.
Our Power 5 Conference preseason ratings and won-loss predictions were figured before knowing the outcome of recent suspensions to Coaches Urban Meyer and D.J. Durkin at Ohio State and Maryland. Because our ratings set 100.0 as average, and the mean of all 130 teams must be 100.0, taking points away from Ohio State and Maryland require redistributing points to the other 128 teams. Expect these ratings to change prior to August 25.

The Washington Huskies are loaded with top talent at several positions, but they are inexperienced at a key position. On offense, Coach Chris Petersen welcomes back the league’s best passer in Jake Browning. Browning’s junior season was not as exceptional as his fabulous sophomore season, and he returns to move his draft stock up with a comeback year, if you can call a 19 TD/5 Int. 152.1 efficiency rating one to come back from.
Running back Myles Gaskin crossed the goalline 24 times last year, 21 of those while rushing for some of his 1,380 yards. Backup Salvon Ahmed provides a speedier second option to the more powerful Gaskin, and UW should rush for 200 yards per game this year behind one of the top offensive lines in the nation. Left tackle Trey Adams could be a first round draft pick next Spring. Right tackle Kaleb McGary should contend for first team All Pac-12.
It’s the receiver position that will determine if the Huskies will average better than 40 points per game or just 28-35 points per game this year. Dante Pettis may have been a little eccentric, but he was the best receiver at Husky Stadium the last two seasons.

Petersen is hoping that freshman phenom Marquis Spiker can step in immediately and be the go-to guy. Spiker has size and speed with soft hands, and he will get better and better every day going up in practice against the best college secondary in the nation and best in the Pac-12 since USC featured Ronnie Lott and Dennis Smith four decades ago. If Chico McClatcher can return to form following an early 2017 injury, and Aaron Fuller and Ty Jones continue to show progress, this unit will be anything but a liability.

Now for the defense. Last year, UW gave up 16.1 points per game in a conference known for its wide open offenses. The Huskies easily led the Pac-12 in total defense, surrendering just 298 yards per game. With the offense being as strong as it is, if the defense were to be almost as good as last year, the Huskies could run the table in the regular season. The defense will be different this year, but to the disgust of the rest of the league, it will be better, maybe considerably better.

As mentioned before, UW has the nation’s top defensive backfield. All five starters from the 3-3-5 alignment return after 15 interceptions and 47 broken up passes. Four different cornerbacks could contend for all-league honors, if you count the nickel position as a third cornerback. Best of the group is Byron Murphy, who in just six games last year, intercepted three passes and recorded seven broken up passes. Murphy is more than an exceptional pass defender; he’s also an outstanding run stuffer and zone blitzer.

This secondary is multi-dimensional, and there is a leading contender for first team All-American at safety. Taylor Rapp is the best free safety not in the NFL. Rapp is like having Willie Mays in center field. He plays like there are two of him in the game, one to stop running plays for short gains or losses and to drop quarterbacks when on a blitz, and one to keep enemy receivers from getting any farther if they catch the ball.

The Huskies are not a one-trick pony on defense. It takes a strong pass rush to make the secondary shine, and UW has an incredible front six, making it the best pass rush in the Pac-12. Additionally, the Huskies led the league in rushing defense and finished fourth nationally. Nose tackle Greg Gaines does what a nose tackle is supposed to do. He takes up two gaps in the middle and stops most everything that comes his way. Unlike most NTs, he can get out of the block and rush the passer better than the average behemoth. Inside linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven is undersized, but he led Washington in tackles last year and could repeat this year and approach 100 total tackles.

Washington will get a chance to show whether they belong in the 2018-19 Playoffs when they begin the season against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Classic in Atlanta. After long delays, the automated retractable roof is now working at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and Husky fans should do a rain dance that day in hopes that the roof will be closed. A hot and humid Saturday afternoon could give Auburn a 7-12 point advantage, and the Huskies need to win this game to make up for the fact that their strength of schedule will hurt them in the playoff discussion.

Washington will not just waltz to the Pac-12 North Division title. They will face some stiff competition from Stanford and Oregon, and California might be waiting in ambush.

Stanford returns enough talent from 2017 to be a serious contender for the division and overall conference championship. The offense is in the capable hands of quarterback K.J. Costello and the more than capable feet of running back Bryce Love. Costello is an excellent game-manager, and part of that stellar management is pivoting and handing the ball off to Love. The All-American back rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns last year, averaging better than eight yards per attempt. He is the number one contender for the Heisman Trophy this year, but he will have to top 2,000 yards again to get it. It’s possible if he stays healthy.

The Cardinal return their top two receivers from 2017. Trenton Irwin and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside teamed up to catch 91 passes and score 11 touchdowns. Usually, Stanford has a fine stable of tight ends, and they have two fine ones returning in Colby Parkinson and Kaden Smith. Neither is afraid to run across the middle of the field and haul in an important pass with a rib-crushing safety aiming for a maiming.

The offensive line returns four starters plus some key backups that could wind up starting, so the offense should once again be consistent if not flashy. Stanford should top 200 rushing yards and approach 200 passing yards while scoring 30-35 points per game.
Defensively, the Cardinal do not have Washington’s talent, but the unit does a good job of bending and not breaking. The strongest unit is at linebacker, where Bobby Okereke made 88 tackles, including 8 1/2 for loss. Stanford also has one of the two best kicking games in the league. Placekicker Jet Toner was perfect on PATs and went 21 of 26 on field goal attempts with nine coming from beyond 40 yards. Punter Jake Bailey averaged 45.4 yards per punt with a net of 41.0. As a kickoff specialist, 70% of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.

Oregon lost big to Washington, Washington State, and Stanford last year, so the Ducks are not yet back to where they were under Chip Kelly and the beginning of the Mark Helfrich era. The Ducks have a chance to take a leap forward with a lot of talented and experienced players returning, but at the start of 2018, they are behind their two divisional rivals and having to fight off a challenge from the Golden Bears to their south. An inconsistent offense should be a tad more consistent this year, while the somewhat porous defense should improve with the return of defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt bringing his aggressive style back to Eugene.

Quarterback Justin Herbert didn’t officially qualify due to not meeting the minimum number of pass attempts, but had he qualified, he would have led the Pac-12 in passing efficiency last year. Herbert averaged 9.6 yards per pass attempt with a 15/5 TD/Int ratio. His running ability is not on par with Marcus Mariota, but he’s the next best thing to hit Autzen Stadium since the former Heisman Trophy winner matriculated to the NFL.

Tony Brooks-James tries to replace Royce Freeman after Freeman rushed for 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. Brooks-James has six career 100-yard rushing games, including two in the Pac-12 last year. A competent but not spectacular offensive line should allow Brooks-James to top 1,000 rushing yards if he stays healthy.

The one questionable unit on the attack side is the receiving corps. Dillon Mitchell is the closest thing to a star in this unit, and he led the Ducks with 42 receptions and 517 yards. Tight end Jacon Breeland is the go to receiver in the red zone. He led the Ducks with 5 TD receptions in 2017.

The defense should put up better numbers in 2018 than it did in 2017, when the Ducks surrendered 29 points and 369 yards per game. Up front, tackle Jordan Scott and end Jalen Jelks are excellent run-stuffers. Jelks can also introduce an enemy quarterback to the turf, as he led Oregon with 7 sacks. He can also drop off in pass coverage and defend the short flat and hook zones.

Linebacker Troy Dye is the top star on the stop side. Dye recorded 107 tackles with 14 for loss, but he may be more remembered for scooping up a Boise State Statue of Liberty Play fumble in the Las Vegas Bowl and returning it for a touchdown.

The Duck defensive backfield is a question mark, but safety Ugo Amadi returns after intercepting four passes last year. Oregon gave up 241 passing yards per game, and the pass rush must be better this year for this less experienced secondary to bring that number down.

Oregon’s non-conference schedule is quite weak, but it isn’t going to matter, because the Ducks are not going to be a playoff contender. The easy 3-0 start will allow the Ducks to enter conference play with confidence and momentum, and when Stanford invades Autzen Stadium in week four, Oregon should be primed for an upset bid. Oregon also hosts Washington, but road games with California, Washington State, Arizona, and Utah could be challenging.

California just missed bowl eligibility last year, with close losses to Stanford and UCLA at the end putting an end to a season that began on a bright note with a 3-0 start that included victories over North Carolina and Ole Miss. This year, the Bears could start 3-0 again, but with the experience returning to Berkeley, the students might be hugging them rather than the trees around the stadium. Cal is a dark horse contender in the North this year, and second year coach Justin Wilcox’s troops should return to a bowl game.

The Bear offense is poised to take a considerable leap forward with the return of 10 starters and many key backups. Quarterback Ross Bowers may not remind any Cal fans of Aaron Rodgers, but he has improved enough as a rising junior to have fought off a competition with former South Carolina starter Brandon McIlwain. Bowers has two very talented and experienced receivers; Vic Wharton and Kanawai Noa teamed up for 123 receptions and 1,659 yards last year. True freshman Nikko Remigio will get an opportunity to show off his afterburners and could find his way into the mix this year.

Defensively is where we expect Cal to make the most improvement. The Bears were almost like a skeleton defense giving token pressure against quarterbacks last year, but most of the pass defenders are back with more experience and improved skills. Last year’s numbers were actually an improvement over 2016, when they chopped two touchdowns off their averages. We’re not talking Washington’s defense, but Cal could trim three points and 30 yards off their 2017 numbers this year and pick up the extra wins they need to play again in December.

Some of our subscribers when they first joined the PiRate Ratings, believed that our name derived from our support of Mike Leach, the Pirate. If you notice, we are “PiRate Ratings” and not “Pirate Ratings,” as we used to actually be the “Pi-Rate Ratings” in a prior medium. It has nothing to do with Leach or East Carolina for that matter. When you think of Coach Leach, you think of a wide open passing attack and a lot of interesting midweek press conferences. It took him a couple years, but he has made Washington State football exciting and somewhat successful again.

This year, the Cougars will take a step backward and be hard-pressed to finish above .500 overall. WSU must rebuild on the attack side, as they must replace Quarterback Luke Falk (3,593 passing yards and 30 touchdowns), three key receivers, the top running back, and three offensive line starters. Fret not for the Cougars; they will move the ball and score points like always, but they won’t be as consistent as they have been the last two seasons.

Replacing the school’s all-time leading passer is the top priority, and Washington State will most likely turn to graduate transfer Gardner Minshew to run the offense. At East Carolina, a school that runs the same offense, Minshew completed 57% of his passes for 2,140 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. In November, Minshew got a chance to hum the ball all over the field, as in those four games, he averaged 34 completions and 372 passing yards.

There are still some fine receivers on the roster, including running back James Williams, who led the team with 71 catches and Tay Martin, the game-breaker who turned six of his 31 catches into scores as a freshman in 2017.

The running attack officially averaged just 68 yards per game and 2.9 yards per rush. However, these stats are misleading. Take out the quarterback sacks. These are not running plays. They are passing plays that failed. The rest of the running plays showed WSU averaged 4.6 yards per real running attempt. Thus, the loss of Jamal Morrow, and his 522 yard rushing and 506 yards receiving will be felt more than expected.

If WSU is to make their third consecutive bowl appearance, the defense will have to step up and continue to come up with outstanding performances. Last year, the stop troops held Oregon to 10 points, Stanford to 21, and Utah to 25. Overall, the Cougars gave up 25.8 points and 323 yards per game. Most of the back eight players return, but the defensive front needs remodeling. Strong safety Jalen Thompson led the team in tackles and in interceptions, and he could vie for first team All Pac-12 honors this year.

Washington State may have some issues in their kicking game. A steady kicker has yet to be uncovered, and the punting game will not be as strong as last year either.

Oregon State has a long way to go to become a contender again in the Pac-12 North. The Beavers went 1-11 last year with the lone win coming over Portland State; they trailed in that game with just over a minute remaining and were out-gained by 126 yards.

The Beavers welcome back native son Jonathan Smith as head coach (see new coaches section), and Smith hopes to install a lot of the Washington philosophy, where he served as offensive coordinator. Oregon State’s offense finished last in the league in scoring and total yards, so it is a long road to respectability. Smith will move away from the spread to the pro-style offense, and it will take two or three years to get enough players recruited to that offense to have a chance at contending in the division. Quarterback Jake Luton is coming back from a spine fracture, and it could take some time to get his timing back while trying to learn a new offense. The Beavers may actually regress from their 21 points and 334 yard averages of last year.

Oregon State gave up a league worst 43 points per game last year, with only two other teams nationally performing worse. At least the defense was balanced; the Beavers gave up 236 yards per game rushing and 237 yards per game passing. Many of the few Pac-12 caliber players graduated. The two best returning players are safeties Jalen Moore and David Morris, but it is never a great thing when your two safeties finish with the most tackles every week.

The South Division should be an interesting race, and because no team is considerably better than the others, it would not be surprising if the division champion had a 6-3 conference record. The PiRate Ratings work differently than most every other system, because in the preseason, we actually factor into each team’s ratings a unique adjustment constant based on the quality of their depth and other intangibles like having to adjust to something new. We bring this up, because the team with the fifth best preseason PiRate Rating could be the team with the best PiRate Rating in late November due to the learning curve and forward improvement expected. Read on, and you will see what we mean.

USC begins the season ranked at the top of this division’s PiRate Ratings. The Trojans won a lot of close games with arguably the best quarterback in the nation last year in Sam Darnold. It is a strong possibility that the starting quarterback when USC takes the field against UNLV will be someone that in his last real game, passed for 233 yards playing for Mater Dei High School against De Lasalle in the CIF State Championship Game. J.T. Daniels may be the next great quarterback in USC history, but as a true freshman, he will be quite a drop off from the next Joe Namath in New York Jets’ history. Expect the Trojans to take some lumps against strong defensive teams, but expect Daniels to make some eye-popping plays with his arm and legs, because USC’s offense is strongest in its offensive line.

Defensively, the Trojans should be about on par with last year if not a little better, when they gave up 26 points and 396 yards per game. The Trojans are one of a handful of teams that use the new 2-4-5 defense, a variation of the popular 4-2-5 but with more agile outside linebackers playing on the edges. USC can excel with this package, because they have a stable full of talented linebackers. Cameron Smith finished second in the league with 112 total tackles, 11 of which went for lost yardage. Fellow inside linebacker John Houston added 84 tackles and broke up four passes.

The key to whether the pass defense will thrive is the pass rush, and the Trojans have to replace their two sackmeisters from last year. Rasheem Green was a third round pick of the Seahawks, and Uchenna Nwosu was a second round pick of the Chargers. All hopes rest on another great year from end Christian Rector, who made 7 1/2 sacks as a part-time starter.

The back line of defense returns four of five starters from last year plus the top reserve, and the Trojans should have their share of interceptions and deflected passes like last year. Cornerback Iman Marshall had 10 passes broken up, and his opposite side partner Jalen Jones had four interceptions and seven passes broken up. Safety Marvell Tell intercepted three passes to go along with 85 tackles.

USC’s schedule presents numerous roadblocks, especially in the first month when Daniels will be trying to gain experience and confidence. Back-to-back road games against Stanford and Texas will be tough. The Trojans begin the season as the light favorite to win the South, but by October, they could be an also-ran if the offense doesn’t gel.

Utah was off to a 4-0 start last year when the wheels came off due to injuries and tougher opposition. At 4-4, a bowl bid was in serious jeopardy, but the Utes recovered to beat UCLA and Colorado to earn a trip to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, where they topped West Virginia to clinch a winning record. Coach Kyle Whittingham has a fabulous freshman quarterback too, but his isn’t expected to start like at USC. Tyler Huntley returns as the starter after showing some decent dual-threat skills. Huntley missed some games with injuries last year, so true freshman Jack Tuttle could see serious action during the season. Tuttle was offered scholarships by SEC powers Alabama and LSU, so it figures that he will eventually be a force in the Pac-12.

To run the spread option, your running back has to be strong and agile, as he will receive a lot of punishment. The Utes have a fine bruiser in Zak Moss, who finished 2017 with 1,173 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Moss is powerful with a low center of gravity, and he can quickly make a cut for an extra five yards.

The offensive line is good but not great, while the receiving corps has room for improvement. Utah’s offense is not excellent like others in this league, because they have questions at wideout and at tight end. Siaosi Mariner is the lone player with significant starting experience, and he caught just 20 passes a year ago. He made the most of those 20 catches, averaging close to 20 yards per reception.

The reason why Utah is not expected to win the division is a defense that must reload up front and in the secondary. A lot of quality talent returns to the defensive side of the ball, but maybe not enough to sustain the excellent results produced last year. Up front, Bradely Anae led the Utes with 7 QB sacks from his end position. He’s the lone starter returning to the line of the 4-2-5 defense. Linebacker Chase Hansen is the lone returning starting linebacker. He made 51 tackles last year and was all over the field. Cornerback Julian Blackmon led the Utes with four interceptions, and opponents will likely pass away from his side of the field more and more this year.

Utah may have the nation’s top kicking tandem. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky has one Ray Guy Award trophy from 2016 and is a leading contender to get a second. Kicker Matt Gay won the Lou Groza Award trophy as the top kicker in the nation. Gay was a perfect 40 of 40 on extra points and made an incredible 30 of 34 field goals. Gay didn’t put up those gaudy numbers kicking chip shot field goals. He made eight from 50 yards or more, including two 56-yarders.

Arizona has the best overall quarterback in the Pac-12 in Khalil Tate. If you remove quarterback sacks, the junior phenom topped 1,500 yards rushing and passing last year. He did this despite missing two full games and parts of another. Tate won’t be running Rich Rodriguez’s zone read offense this year, as Rich Rod is not there any more. New coach Kevin Sumlin’s offense is more of a passing offense, and Tate will most likely fail to rush for 1,000 yards but could approach 3,000 passing yards. It is a gamble to deviate from an offense that led the league with 41.3 points and 490 yards per game.
In Tate’s favor, Arizona returns almost all of their contributing receivers including all four starters, a part-time starter and three of the four top reserves. Arizona should top 250 passing yards per game. Co-starter J.J. Taylor returns at running back after leading the non-Tate runners with 847 yards and a 5.8 yard average. The offensive line needs some repairs, but there was depth here last year, and this unit should perform more than adequately.

The Wildcat defense was almost as inept at the offense was brilliant. The Wildcats finished dead last in pass defense, so returning the secondary and linebacker corps in full may or may not be a great thing. The four starting defensive backs made a dozen interceptions, and the starting linebacker trio teamed up for 16 1/2 sacks and 232 total tackles. The defensive line is the major question mark here. After giving up 185 rushing yards last year, UA could see those numbers worsen in 2018.

If the offensive personnel buy into Sumlin’s offense, Arizona can contend for the South Division title. If they struggle, the Wildcats could fall to as low as 5th place in the division.

Arizona State Athletics Director Ray Anderson is playing Russian Roulette knowing that the first two pulls of the trigger didn’t have the live bullet. Hiring Herm Edwards as head coach will certainly get the Sun Devils a lot of publicity. When USC hired Pete Carroll, he came to Troy with 11 years of college coaching experience. When Penn State hired Bill O’Brien from the New England Patriots, he came to Happy Valley with 14 years of college coaching experience. Edwards has just three years of college coaching experience that happened 30 years ago. He hasn’t coached at all in 10 years. This gamble has little precedence where a coach came out of a double-digit year retirement to take over a team in the level that he lacked experience coaching. We can only come up with legendary Hall of Famer Bud Wilkinson, who came out of retirement to coach the St. Louis Cardinals in the NFL 15 years after retiring as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners. Wilkinson went 9-20 in 1 1/2 seasons before losing his job.

Edwards uses the Tommy Lasorda method of motivation, and maybe his younger players will buy into what his NFL players often did not. There is some talent in the fold, especially on offense where the Sun Devils averaged 32 points and 431 yards per game. Quarterback Manny Wilkins is not one of the top five passers in the league, but he is rather consistent. Except for the Utah game, his stats were generally about the same week in and week out. He has never had the same offensive coordinator in consecutive years, and this year is no different. The receiving tandem of N’Keal Harry and Kyle Williams combined for 148 receptions and 1,905 receiving yards, but the depth is thin behind these two.

The Sun Devils are a bit thin in the backfield and must replace their top two backs, including 1,000-yard rusher Demario Richard and the big power runner, Kalen Ballage.
Edwards was a defensive star in the NFL, and he tends to coach in a style that helps his defense as much as possible. ASU’s defense will need all the help it can get this year with major losses up front in the trenches and at safety. The Sun Devils will switch to a 3-3-5 defense, and they will take their lumps learning this new system against the high octane offenses in the Pac-12. Cornerbacks Chase Lucas and Kobe Williams give ASU a pair of serviceable defenders to build around, but the talent level is not Pac-12 worthy at safety. Expect to see backup cornerback Jalen Harvey moving to safety to try to add a little more talent on the field.

At linebacker, Arizona State has little depth and even less experience. Koron Crump looked like a potential star last year until his season ended in after playing just three games. He was given an extra year of eligibility and should become the leader of the defense.

Edwards needs to win the locker room quickly this year, as the Sun Devils face a tough trio of opponents in September. After beginning with a semi-breather against UTSA, games against Michigan State, San Diego State, and Washington follow, the latter two being road games. If ASU can come out of this stretch at 2-2, they have a chance to sneak into a bowl at 6-6 or even 7-5. If they are 1-3, they could be headed in a downward spiral to 3-9.

Colorado is at a crossroads in the Mike MacIntyre tenure. The Buffaloes followed up a South Division title in 2016 with a slide back to 2-7 in league play last year. Facing a monumental rebuilding project on offense, things could get worse in Boulder before they get better. Football in the Pac-12 has never been what it was for CU when they were in the Big 12, Big 8, or even the old Skyline Conference. Colorado is not a great fit as the remote outpost to the east. The PiRate’s Captain used to attend games at Folsom Field and was on the CU sidelines the day the Buffaloes destroyed number one Nebraska 62-36 and start the beginning of the end of the Frank Solich era in Lincoln. The two former bitter rivals will finally play again this year when the Buffs visit Lincoln in September.

One of the few offensive holdover for CU is quarterback Steven Montez. When not rushed, Montez has loads of talent and natural ability, and he can pick a defense apart. When rushed and forced to think on the run, as Washington’s defense made him run all day, Montez seems to become the college version of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He must cut down on his mental lapses and throw the ball away or run and take a dive before contact for CU to move out of the basement in the Pac-12 South this year.

Running back Travon McMillian decided to become a one-year free agent after playing at Virginia Tech. McMillian rushed for over 1,000 yards as a freshman in Frank Beamer’s offense, but he did not flourish the last two years in the Justin Fuente offense in Blacksburg. McMillian could top 1,000 yards in Boulder, but he is a step down from last year’s star Phillip Lindsey.

The receiving corps is a mess after the loss of three high quality wideouts that all were signed as undrafted free agents by NFL teams. Jay MacIntyre and Juwann Winfree lead the returnees after catching 28 and 21 passes respectively. Winfree has the potential to be a star if another receiver can prevent him from being double-teamed.

The Buffalo defense took a step backward last year, giving up more than 28 points per game after surrendering only 21.7 the year before. They gave up 107 more total yards per game as well, as they could not stop dual threat quarterbacks and big running backs. The line and linebacking units are not up to par with the other South Division schools, and the secondary will break down if there is not a better than expected pass rush. Linebackers Rick Gamboa and Drew Lewis return after finishing one-two in tackles, but too many of those tackles were made five yards and more past the line of scrimmage. They need nose tackle Javier Edwards to have a breakout season and keep blockers away from the duo. Expect four or five true freshmen to see significant action on this side of the ball.

Most of the Buffs’ winnable games occur in the first half of the season, and a 4-2 start is a must if they are to have any chance of sneaking into a bowl. They will need to find two or three upset victims in the second half to play again in December, and we cannot see a legitimate path there.

Now, for the biggest unknown of the college football season. UCLA won the race with Florida to secure Chip Kelly as their new head coach (see the new coaches section below). Kelly creates instant excitement in Westwood, where the NFL’s Rams and Chargers look to both make a playoff run this year. Kelly may not have the same amount of quickness his Oregon teams had, but he will welcome some extra muscle with the Bruins in 2018.

In order to make the spread offense with the zone read work, you have to have a smart quarterback with deceptive running ability or outright sprinter’s speed. Two of the three contenders to replace Josh Rosen at quarterback have the dual-threat talent Kelly is looking for, but he also has an experienced starter from the Big Ten on board for a year, who happens to be more of a pure dropback passer. Wilton Speight started 16 times for Michigan in 2016 and 2017. His best games came in 2016, but he has played against the likes of Florida, Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State with decent results. The quarterback race may not be settled until the Bruins begin preparing for Cincinnati in late August. Whoever eventually wins the job should get better as the season progresses, because Kelly’s offense needs a good number of snaps to fully grasp how to make it dangerous. Kelly has mentioned that he doesn’t want a running back that cannot throw for his quarterback, so Speight might have a slight advantage over Devon Modster and true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson, but DTR has the potential to be another Marcus Mariota.

The Bruins will most likely use Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfumi interchangeably at the running back position. Jamabo will probably get the edge to start due to his ability to hit the wide holes of the read option quicker, but Olorunfumi might get more opportunities near the goalline with his straight ahead power.

Whoever wins the QB battle will have a huge target to find in the seams in tight ends Caleb Wilson and Devin Asiasi. Asiasi has some decent moves for a 287-pound monster. Enemy safeties will not like having to stop him mano a mano. Theo Howard is the top wideout on this team, and he could emerge as a 70-catch, 750-yard star if Speight wins the quarterback battle.

The offensive line may not have as many stars as some of the other contenders, but Kelly’s offense makes it easier to succeed with slightly better than average blocking. The Bruins may start off a bit slow as they get used to running the offense against live opponents, but by mid-October, they should be starting to look like a typical Kelly team, if there is such a thing. Kelly has been known to run the ball over 60 times in a game and pass the ball more than 60 times the next game, as he did at New Hampshire in back-to-back wins.

The Bruin defense figures to be improved over last year, and the amount of improvement will determine whether they can make a run to bowl eligibility. The farther back you go on this side, the more talented the units are. Defensive line will be a glaring weakness and the only reason why UCLA will not challenge for the division flag this year. How bad was the run defense last year? How about dead last in the entire FBS with an average yield of 287 yards per game! This was without playing a service academy or Georgia Tech that could have inflated the number. The Bruins gave up 457 yards on the ground in an 47-30 loss to Arizona; 405 rushing yards to Stanford in a 58-34 loss; and more than 300 yards in three other games.

The Bruins will transition to a 3-4 defense, and linebacker Jaelan Phillips should get a chance to live up to his press clippings coming out of high school. Phillips recorded 3 1/2 sacks and 7 total tackles for loss as a freshmen in limited action last year, and he could double those numbers this season. Nate Meadors anchors the back line after having 9 passes defended, including a pick 6 against Arizona State. Fellow cornerback Darnay Holmes led the Bruins as a freshman with 3 picks, one of which he took back all the way against Hawaii.

We want to make sure you understand this point. Our mechanical PiRate Ratings below will paint the worst possible picture on UCLA, and this does not actually reflect the expected improvement throughout the season as UCLA gets more and more familiar with the Kelly offense. We expect the Bruins to challenge for a bowl bid this year, and by November, nobody will want to face this team.
Here is how the Big 12 Conference Media voted in the preseason poll

Pac-12
North Division 1st Place Points
1. Washington 40 249
2. Stanford 1 198
3. Oregon 1 178
4. California 0 108
5. Washington St. 0 98
6. Oregon St. 0 45
South Division 1st Place Points
1. USC 22 225
2. Utah 14 209
3. Arizona 3 178
4. UCLA 2 116
5. Colorado 1 80
6. Arizona St. 0 72
Pac-12 Championship Game Winner
Washington 37
USC 2
Oregon 1
Stanford 1
UCLA 1

The PiRate Ratings differ somewhat, and as we have mentioned, we expect considerable movement in these ratings, especially in the wide-open South Division.

Pac-12 Conference
North Division
Team P12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Washington 0-0 0-0 128.1 125.0 130.7 127.9
Stanford 0-0 0-0 120.3 117.5 121.0 119.6
Oregon 0-0 0-0 114.4 114.5 115.1 114.7
California 0-0 0-0 110.3 107.5 110.1 109.3
Washington St. 0-0 0-0 107.0 105.8 105.4 106.1
Oregon St. 0-0 0-0 88.5 86.0 86.9 87.1
South Division
Team P12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
U S C 0-0 0-0 112.5 110.7 111.8 111.7
Utah 0-0 0-0 111.0 109.0 111.9 110.7
Arizona 0-0 0-0 109.9 107.6 110.0 109.1
Arizona St. 0-0 0-0 105.4 103.3 103.8 104.2
U C L A 0-0 0-0 102.5 102.2 100.0 101.5
Colorado 0-0 0-0 98.9 100.4 100.1 99.8
Pac-12 Averages 109.1 107.4 108.9 108.5

New Coaches
The Pac-12 tends to have a lot of coaching turnover, and this year is no different. The only difference this year, is that the coaching changes made more headlines than normal.

Oregon didn’t hold onto Willie Taggart very long. Taggart returned to the Sunshine State. Former Sunshine State coach Mario Cristobal, returns to the head coaching ranks after serving as an associate head coach at Alabama for four seasons ans offensive coordinator here last year. Known as an excellent recruiter, Cristobal should continue the winning tradition in Eugene.

Just up the road an hour, Oregon State hired Jonathan Smith to try to pull the Beavers out of the nosedive that has given them sole position in the basement. Smith was offensive coordinator at Washington the last four years, but more importantly, he is one of the all-time favorite Beavers. As quarterback at OSU, he guided the Beavers to their best ever season in 2000, when they went 11-1 with a win in the Fiesta Bowl.

All the controversy took place in the Grand Canyon State. Arizona fired Rich Rodriguez amid allegations of harassment by a former administrative staffer, but probably more because the Wildacts were not competing for the division title. The Wildcats turned to Kevin Sumlin, who Texas A&M has just fired for leading the Aggies to multi-year mediocre and unacceptable finishes (four consecutive 5-loss seasons).

Arizona State made the most controversial coaching hire this century. The Sun Devils let go of Todd Graham after he guided ASU to a second place finish in the South Division. Graham had one first place and three second place finishes in six years in Tempe, but that was not good enough to keep the job. So, who did the Sun Devils go out and hire to take them to new heights? Former NFL coach and ESPN commentator Herm Edwards. Edwards last coached in 2008, when he guided the Kansas City Chiefs to a 2-14 record following a 4-12 season in 2017. He has very limited college coaching experience, having served as the defensive backfield coach at San Jose State the first three years following his retirement as a player in the NFL. He does have the unique distinction of having a play named for him. The end of game play with the quarterback taking a knee out of the victory formation is called the Herm Edwards Play, due to the Miracle in the Meadowlands in 1978, where instead of falling on the ball, New York Giants QB Joe Pisarcik tried to hand off to Larry Csonka. The snap was bobbled, Pisarcik missed the hand-off and fumbled, and Edwards scooped it up and ran for a touchdown to win the game.

And, then there is the most talked-about coaching change. Chip Kelly returns to the college ranks after trying his hand in the NFL. He takes over at UCLA, after Jim Mora, Jr., like his father, couldn’t talk about playoffs. UCLA figures to have an adjustment period early, but as the season goes on, and the players get some game-time experience, expect the Bruins to improve by 10-13 points.

Predicted Won-Loss Records
Note: These predicted won-loss records are strictly mechanical based on the initial PiRate Ratings. No upsets are factored in these predictions. Additionally, our PiRate Ratings are only useful for the next week of games and cannot really be used to forecast past that point. Part of our weekly adjustment to our ratings includes a factor where depth issues or non-issues have been pre-set. In other words, a team without talented second stringers may lose ratings points as the season progresses even if they win games by the predicted margin, whereas a team with exceptional depth (like Alabama) will improve during the season and see its rating rise even if they win games by a little less than the predicted margin. What we’re saying is: don’t take these numbers with anything more than a grain of salt. In the case of UCLA, if they played any of the 12 games on their schedule next week, they might win just one as the predictions will show. But, if they were to play any of the 12 games on their schedule on November 24, they might win 10.

Pac-12 Conference
North
Team Conference Overall
Washington 9-0 13-0*
Stanford 8-1 10-2
Oregon 7-2 10-2
California 4-5 7-5
Washington St. 3-6 6-6
Oregon St. 0-9 1-11
South
Team Conference Overall
Utah 6-3 9-4
USC 6-3 7-5
Arizona 5-4 8-4
Arizona St. 3-6 5-7
Colorado 2-7 4-8
UCLA 0-9 1-11
* Washington picked to win Pac-12 Champ. Game

Bowl Tie-ins
1. Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA
2. Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, TX
3. Holiday Bowl in San Diego, CA
4. San Francisco Bowl in San Francisco, CA
5. Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX
6. Las Vegas Bowl in Las Vegas, NV
7. Cactus Bowl in Tucson, AZ

Coming Tomorrow–The Big Ten Conference

August 16, 2018

2018 Big 12 Conference Preview

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.
Our Power 5 Conference preseason ratings and won-loss predictions were figured before knowing the outcome of recent suspensions to Coaches Urban Meyer and D.J. Durkin at Ohio State and Maryland. Because our ratings set 100.0 as average, and the mean of all 130 teams must be 100.0, taking points away from Ohio State and Maryland require redistributing points to the other 128 teams. Expect these ratings to change prior to August 25.

Today, the PiRates begin to preview the Power 5 conferences. With five leagues and four playoff spots, one Power 5 conference is guaranteed to miss out every year. Last year, with two SEC teams making it, two Power 5 leagues did not make the cut. The Big 12 was one of the fortunate leagues as Oklahoma won the revived Big 12 Conference Championship Game and gave Georgia all it could handle in the National Semifinals before losing in overtime.
The Sooners still have quite a lot of talent remaining in Norman, but Coach Lincoln Riley faces a minor reloading project. Because Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Iowa State are solid this year, and because this league is the only one in which every team plays every other, we believe the champion could easily be 7-2 and miss out on the playoffs.

Oklahoma has stolen the title of Quarterback U. from BYU and Stanford in the last 20 seasons. From Josh Heupel to to Jason White to Paul Thompson to Sam Bradford to Landry Jones to Trevor Knight, the Sooners always had an A+ passing attack and sometimes complimentary running threat. However, Baker Mayfield was in an A++ class by himself. Mayfield averaged 11.5 yards per passing ATTEMPT when most NCAA teams do not average 11.5 yards per completion these days! He threw 43 touchdown passes versus just 6 interceptions. Oklahoma averaged 362 passing yards per game to go with 218 rushing yards per game and Riley’s first year offense scored 45 points per game.
Mayfield is now the new hope in Cleveland, and Oklahoma turns to another future pro as their new quarterback. Kyler Murray will be playing for pay soon, but it will not be in football. He signed with the Oakland Athletics for $4.66 million, and one has to wonder if every time Murray drops back to pass against blitzing monsters, he will subconsciously think about that contract and throw the ball a bit too soon to avoid an injury that would end his baseball career before it starts.
Oklahoma will still be the decided favorite to win the Big 12 thanks to the running game. Backs Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon teamed up to run the ball 309 times for 1,905 yards. They combined to catch 33 passes for 420 additional yards. They scored 25 total touchdowns, and the dynamic duo have another fine offensive line opening holes for them this year.
Murray will have a trio of top flight receivers catching his passes this year. Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb, and Mykel Jones all have the quickness to turn a 7 yard route into a 50 yard touchdown.

If Oklahoma falters this year, or should we say when, it will be because the opponent scored points easier than they could. The Sooner defense is vulnerable this year with a green secondary and a questionable pass rush following the loss of some incredible talent. Linebacker Kenneth Murray and cornerback Parnell Motley return, but the Sooners lost too much talent from a defense that gave up 27 points per game last year, and a couple opponents will top 40 points and most likely beat OU in 2018. The schedule doesn’t offer much help, as the Sooners always play Texas in Dallas and face West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State on the road. 10-2 looks like the ceiling for this team.

Tom Herman’s first season at Texas was somewhat positive and somewhat disappointing. The Longhorns did not immediately take to his spread offense, and the offense was not as strong last year as it was during Charlie Strong’s final season. The defense was strong and kept the burnt orange in many games. Narrow losses to USC, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech could easily flip to the win column this year, as UT is poised to be a serious contender in the conference race and stands a good chance of making the Big 12 Championship Game.

Sam Ehlinger appears to have a slight lead over Shane Buechele to be under center when the Longhorns kick off the season against Maryland. The Longhorn roster is short on talent at running back and receiver, and the offensive line is good but not outstanding, but there is room for improvements. Expect Texas to increase their offensive output by a little.

It’s the defense that will allow the ‘Horns to possibly contend for the Big 12 title. Ironically, Herman, the offensive guru lowered the point total given up by 10 points a game over prior defensive guru coach Strong. Texas gave up 21 points per game in 2017, which is about like giving up 15 points a game in other Power 5 conferences. As good as the defense was last year, this year’s edition will be better, maybe much better. The roster is packed with talented stars, especially in the trenches, where ends Charles Omenihu and Breckyn Hager are the best duo in the league. Anthony Wheeler anchors the second line of defense from his middle linebacker position. He’ll team with Gary Johnson and Malcolm Roach to form the best trio in the league. Arguably, Texas also has the best secondary in the league with potential All-American Kris Boyd returning at cornerback.

The schedule is as favorable for the Longhorns as it is unfavorable for Oklahoma, so we believe Texas has a grand chance at earning one of the two playoff spots.

West Virginia is the sexy choice this year to win the Big 12. The Mountaineers have the top quarterback in the league, when he remains healthy. Will Grier was 6-0 as the quarterback at Florida in 2015. He is 12-4 lifetime at Florida and West Virginia, but he has not complete either season in his short career. His season ended last year in the Texas game when he suffered a fractured finger. When healthy, Grier is a difference maker. He was fifth nationally in passer efficiency rating.

Grier has two elite receivers returning in Gary Jennings and David Sills. The duo teamed up for 157 receptions last year; Jennings is the possession receiver, and Sills is the touchdown machine. For any passing team to be consistently good, the pass blocking has to be outstanding, and the Mountaineers have that type of interior line, as good as the line at Oklahoma.

What will likely keep WVU in the 8-win area is a porous defense. The Mountaineers gave up 31.5 points per game and did so by allowing more than 200 yard rushing and 200 yard passing. It may be considered a good thing that most of that weak defense is no longer around, but the Mountaineers will actually take a step back this year with major concerns on the front line and in the secondary. There is talent in every unit, but not enough to be a force in the league. Linebacker David Long returns after making 15 1/2 tackles for loss last year. Defensive end Ezekiel Rose led the team with 5 sacks, while Dravon Askew-Henry mans the highly important spur safety (a hybrid safety-linebacker position that can make the defense a 3-4 or 3-3-5) spot.

West Virginia has two tough non-conference opponents to face prior to Big 12 play. They open with Tennessee in Charlotte, North Carolina, and two weeks later, they play at North Carolina State. The close the season with a home game against Oklahoma, which could have serious conference championship implications for one or both teams.
Oklahoma State’s string of three consecutive double-digit win seasons is in serious jeopardy in 2018. The Cowboys’ spectacular passing game will take a major hit this year. Mason Rudolph led the nation with more than 4,900 passing yards last year. That number in 13 games topped every NFL quarterback by almost 400 yards! Rudolph is now a backup to Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. New OSU quarterback Dru Brown has never taken a snap as the Cowboy quarterback, but he’s not a newcomer to FBS football. Brown started the past two years for Hawaii, and he will assume the controls of Coach

Mike Gundy’s offense and bring a new style to the team. Brown does not have Rudolph’s arm strength or quick release, but he can take off and run for a lot of yards in a scramble. OSU might even add a wrinkle or two where Brown fakes to top-flight running back Justice Hill and boots in the opposite direction. Defenses will have to concentrate extra defenders when Hill is a running threat. He burned defenses for 1,467 rushing yards and 15 TDs, while coming out of the backfield to catch 31 passes.
Losing two star receivers that caught 133 passes for 2,705 yards and 21 socres is going to make the passing numbers go down more than having Brown replace Rudolph. OSU still has talent in the receiving corps, but James Washington and Marcell Ateman are not easily replaced.

The Cowboy offensive line is rebuilding this year, and the holes and pass protection just won’t be there like they were the last three years. Oklahoma State averaged 45 points per game in 2017 and finished second in the nation with 569 total yards per game. The numbers could take a 10-point and 100-yard hit this year. The defense might be marginally improved over last season, but after giving up 29.4 points per game, improving to 28 per game may mean the win total will be reduced by two or three.

TCU has more offensive retooling to do than Oklahoma State, as they lost quarterback Kenny Hill, running back Kyle Hicks, their top three receivers, and three offensive linemen. The Horned Frogs feature defense first, and there is enough talent returning to continue the stellar play on this side of the ball in 2018, but not excellent enough to return to the Big 12 Championship Game. There is talent in all three units, led by end Ben Banogu. Last year, Banogu made 16 1/2 tackles behind the line including 8 1/2 sacks. He forced three fumbles in the process.

Stong-side linebacker Ty Summers can stop the run at the line for little or no gain, and he can cover the short passing zones with competence. Safety Niko Small leads a talented secondary that should continue to limit opponent passing by about 25-30 yards under their average.

TCU led all Big 12 teams in scoring defense, rushing defense, and passing defense. It will take a repeat of that feat to contend for second place in the league, and even if the Frogs repeat, the offense may be off just enough to come up a win short.

Iowa State was a major surprise in 2017, as the Cyclones topped Oklahoma in Norman and TCU in October on the way to an 8-5 season. Coach Matt Campbell, who had previously done wonders at Toledo, became a hot commodity in the big-time coaching market, and another 8-win season in Ames could see several rich offers coming his way. The Cyclones left something on the table last year, as narrow losses to Iowa in overtime, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State could have made 2018 a historic high in Ames.

The Cyclones actually return more starters than any of the other contenders in the league, but overall, they are still a few players short from becoming a serious contender. Quarterback Kyle Kempt was the major cog that turned the season around for ISU, as he torched Oklahoma’s defense for 343 passing yards and three touchdowns. His being granted a 6th year of eligibility means that ISU is an outside contender for the Big 12 Championship Game. Stubby back David Montgomery bulled his way to 1,146 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He won’t run the toss sweep down the sideline for a long touchdown, but he rarely goes down on first contact, and it frequently takes two defenders to bring him to the ground.

The receiving corps lost a stud in Allen Lazard, who is turning heads in Jacksonville as an undrafted free-agent that will most likely make the Jaguars’ roster. Hakeem Butler was a fine second option last year, and he should be the go-to guy this year, as the other receivers on the roster are possession receivers lacking the ability to turn a 7-yard pattern into a 50-yard gain.

Iowa State’s big jump happened because the defense no longer resembled 11 matadors against bulls with the letter “O” somewhere on their helmets. The Cyclones finished a close second to TCU in scoring defense last year. Enough talent returns this year to keep this unit strong. The front seven is second or third best in the league. As weak-side edge rusher JaQuan Bailey goes, so goes the ISU pass defense. Bailey has the ability to meet the quarterback about one second after the quarterback takes his fifth step in his drop. Defenses will have to double up on him, so it will be important for outside linebacker Willie Harvey to step up and improve on last year’s numbers.

Kansas State enters most seasons as an also-ran in the league, but the Wildcats always beat one or two teams they are not supposed to beat. KSU knocked off Oklahoma State in Stillwater and then knocked off Iowa State to earn a Cactus Bowl bid at the 11th hour last year. The Wildcats lost close games to Vanderbilt, Texas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, meaning they were not farm from being 12-1. Only TCU dominated them on the scoreboard. Expect more of the same in 2018, as Coach Bill Snyder guides his team to one or two upsets and earns yet another bowl bid.

Texas Tech has not been a factor in the Big 12 race since Mike Leach was fired. The Red Raiders tried the Tommy Tuberville way for a few years and fell back into the middle of the pack. Former TTU quarterback Kliff Kingsbury has taken the program down another couple notches, as the Raiders have struggled to get six wins during his tenure. If Kingsbury cannot right the ship this year and take his team up a notch or so, there probably will be a new man walking the sidelines at Jones Stadium next year. Prospects are not all that excellent for this TTU edition. The team has not been able to produce a running game that forces defensive coaches to have to stop it, so the passing game has to “struggle” to put up gawdy numbers. Too often, the defense stays on the field too long and tires, eventually succumbing to opposing offenses that punish tired defenses. The Red Raiders gave up 444 yards per game and 32+ points per game last year, and the schedule offers them no favors with out of conference games against Ole Miss and Houston. Additionally, the one toss-up game on the conference schedule, versus Kansas State, will be played in the Little Apple, making KSU a decided favorite.

Baylor has a long way to go to return to prominence. Matt Rhule turned the program around at Temple, but quite frankly, that was easier than having to win in the Lone Star State where 100 FBS teams recruit the state like they play their home games in Dallas. The Bears were plainly the ninth best team in the league, both offensively and defensively. They lost at home to Liberty, and had it not been for the worst FBS team also being a Big 12 team, BU could have gone 0-12 last year. There is a little talent in Waco this year, but it will take a gargantuan improvement for the Bears to improve from one to six wins. Having the easiest opening schedule of any Big 12 team could allow Baylor to enter October with two or three wins, but they may lose out the rest of the way.

Kansas is worse in the Big 12 than the Cleveland Browns are in the AFC North Division. The Jayhawks went 1-11 last year with the lone win coming against FCS member Southeast Missouri State, a team that went 3-8 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Coach David Beaty is now 3-33 in Lawrence through three years. He won’t see a fifth season if he is 4-44 after this season. The Jayhawks should be a better team this year, especially on defense, but then it is harder to be worse when you finish in last place in the league in offense and defense and lose to the next weakest team at home by more than four touchdowns!

Here is how the Big 12 Conference Media voted in the preseason poll

Big 12 1st Place Points
1. Oklahoma 46 509
2. West Virginia 2 432
3. TCU 1 390
4. Texas 1 370
5. Oklahoma St. 0 300
6. Kansas St. 2 283
7. Iowa St. 0 250
8. Texas Tech 0 149
9. Baylor 0 125
10. Kansas 0 52

The PiRate Ratings differ somewhat after the top.

Big 12 Conference
Team B12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 0-0 0-0 119.5 117.7 119.8 119.0
Texas 0-0 0-0 113.2 111.9 112.8 112.6
Oklahoma St. 0-0 0-0 113.2 110.8 112.7 112.2
T C U 0-0 0-0 112.7 112.0 111.5 112.0
Iowa State 0-0 0-0 110.7 108.8 110.2 109.9
West Virginia 0-0 0-0 110.0 108.8 109.1 109.3
Kansas St. 0-0 0-0 107.4 106.0 106.8 106.7
Texas Tech 0-0 0-0 106.0 104.0 104.2 104.7
Baylor 0-0 0-0 102.9 100.6 102.3 101.9
Kansas 0-0 0-0 93.9 92.3 91.6 92.6
Big 12 Averages 108.9 107.3 108.1 108.1

New Coaches
There are no new coaches in the Big 12 this year, but there are a couple on very hot seats, and 2019 might see some new faces.

David Beaty needs to show some kind of advancement at Kansas, or the Jayhawks will be in the market for a new coach, possibly one from the Dakotas and the FCS ranks.
Kliff Kingsbury needs to win at least seven regular season games and look competitive in the losses, or else Texas Tech may look to move in another direction, maybe hiring a power-style coach.

Dana Holgorsen cannot afford to see West Virginia disappoint this season with so much offensive firepower. Anything short of nine wins would be a disappointment, and there are some restless fans in Morgantown.

Matt Campbell can do no wrong in the eyes of the fans at Iowa State. However, another 8-win season would most likely see him receive job offers with contracts too rich for Iowa State to match or top. His name has already been bantered among heavy-hitters at Ohio State should Urban Meyer be dismissed.

Predicted Won-Loss Records
Note: These predicted won-loss records are strictly mechanical based on the initial PiRate Ratings. No upsets are factored in these predictions. Additionally, our PiRate Ratings are only useful for the next week of games and cannot really be used to forecast past that point. Part of our weekly adjustment to our ratings includes a factor where depth issues or non-issues have been pre-set. In other words, a team without talented second stringers may lose ratings points as the season progresses even if they win games by the predicted margin, whereas a team with exceptional depth (like Alabama) will improve during the season and see its rating rise even if they win games by a little less than the predicted margin. What we’re saying is: don’t take these numbers with anything more than a grain of salt.   

Team Conference Overall
Oklahoma 9-0 13-0*
Oklahoma St. 7-2 10-3
Texas 7-2 10-2
TCU 6-3 8-4
Iowa St. 5-4 7-5
West Virginia 5-4 7-5
Kansas St. 3-6 5-7
Baylor 2-7 4-8
Texas Tech 1-8 3-9
Kansas 0-9 2-10

 

Bowl Tie-ins
1. Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA
2. Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, TX
3. Camping World Bowl in Orlando, FL
4. Texas Bowl in Houston, TX
5. Liberty Bowl in Memphis, TN
6. Cactus Bowl in Tucson, AZ
7. Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, TX

Coming Tomorrow–The Pac-12 Conference

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