The Pi-Rate Ratings

December 19, 2014

2014-15 Computer Simulated College Football Playoffs—Final Four

The semifinal round of the 2014-15 College Football Computer Simulated Playoffs has been run through the simulation program, and we now know who will play for the Simper Bowl title. If you have not read our entry from December 8 explaining how and why we perform this computer simulation, read here:

In the first round, seeds 5-12 faced off on the higher seeds’ home fields, while seeds 1-4 received byes. In that opening round, #5 Baylor defeated #12 Kansas State 38-24; #6 Florida St. edged #11 Auburn 30-28; #7 Ole Miss beat #10 Georgia 31-28 in 2 ot; and #8 Mississippi St. trounced #9 Michigan St. 45-17.

In the quarterfinal round, #1 Alabama knocked off #8 Mississippi St. 30-17; #7 Ole Miss upset #2 Oregon 24-22; #3 TCU dismissed #6 Florida St. 42-24; and #5 Baylor won at #4 Ohio St. 40-38/
The format for the Final Four is identical to the actual FBS Playoffs. In today’s simulation, we have #7 Ole Miss facing #3 TCU in the Rose Bowl, followed by #1 Alabama and #5 Baylor facing off in the Sugar Bowl.

Without further adieu, here are the results of those games.
Rose Bowl
#3 TCU 27 #7 Ole Miss 10

First Downs: TC 19 OM 13
Rushing: TC 37-149 OM 32-89
Passing: TC 197 OM 239
Passes: TC 19-33-0 OM 21-39-4
Play-Yds: TC 70-346 OM 71-328
After 1st Qtr: TC 0 OM 0
Half: TC 7 OM 7
After 3rd Qtr: TC 20 OM 7

Sugar Bowl
#5 Baylor 26 #1 Alabama 24

First Downs BA 20 AL 19
Rushing: BA 26-79 AL 35-243
Passing: BA 419 AL 238
Passes: BA 35-53-1 AL 19-34-3
Play-Yds: BA 79-498 AL 69-481
After 1st Qtr: AL 10 BA 3
Half: AL 17 BA 16
After 3rd Qtr: BA 19 AL 17

And lo and behold, look who will be facing off in Simper Bowl VIII? It’s the two Big 12 teams that were not invited to the real inaugural playoffs. The simulator says that TCU and Baylor are the two best teams. As Former Texas Governor Rick Perry might say, “Oops!”

Return to this site on Tuesday, December 23 for the results of the simulation for the National Championship between Baylor and TCU.

December 8, 2014

2014-15 Computer Simulated Playoffs

Filed under: 2014 Simulated NCAA Playoffs — Tags: , , , — piratings @ 9:31 am

The Road To Simper Bowl VIII

With the dawning of the inaugural NCAA College Football Playoff, the PiRates figured the Simper Bowl would cease to exist now that the title would be more fair. However, the football gods gave us the utmost controversy this year, as six teams definitely deserved spots in the playoffs.

Imagine if the NFL chose not to include the NFC East champion (Philadelphia or Dallas), while taking Detroit due to a big week 17 win over Green Bay? The NFL is the king of all sports because there is consistency. Maybe too many teams qualify for the playoffs, but the qualification for making the playoffs is clear and plain to see. If you win your division, you are one of the top four seeds, and if you have one of the next two best records in your conference (with rules to break ties), you are one of the final two seeds.

Baylor and TCU are like 12-4 teams in the NFL that finished tied for first in a division and then were not allowed in the playoffs. One of these teams might even receive a first round bye and have home field advantage if this were the NFL.

The PiRate Ratings have a website at, where fans can contact us. We usually receive inquiries about the processes we use in constructing our ratings, why our home field advantage is different for every game played, as well as questions about why our format is Green and Gold (members of the family are “owners” of the Green Bay Packers).

We were surprised this week when 14 of you sent us inquiries asking if we would bring back our computer simulation of the college playoffs like in past years. We usually receive 14 contacts from you in one month, so when 14 asked in a three-day period, we knew we had to bring the simulation back.

We saw this travesty being a real possibility just last season, when if the four-team playoff had been in effect, there would have been many teams feeling jilted from their exclusion from the Final Four. In 2013, Florida State, Auburn, and Alabama were definitely the top three teams, but number four was even more cluttered with Baylor, Michigan St., Stanford, Ohio St., Missouri, South Carolina, and Oregon all having legitimate claims to that fourth slot. That meant 10 teams were deserving of making the playoffs. Additionally, Louisville, still a member of the AAC, was in the Top 16 and thus also deserving of a playoff spot, making 11 teams total that deserved a chance to play for the title. This is why we believe the playoffs need to be 12 teams.

So, welcome to the Road to Simper Bowl VIII. In case you are new to this, we started this 12-team simulation in 2007. It has always been our belief that every conference champion of a major conference should automatically qualify for an NCAA Playoff berth. Since there are now five major conferences, that means five teams should receive automatic bids. This hints at an eight-team playoff, but for two reasons, we do not like the idea of having an eight-team playoff. First, in many years, there are teams just outside the top eight that are worthy of making the playoffs. We love history. In 1976, Texas A&M did not finish the regular season among the Top Eight. Yet, our ratings showed the Aggies to be the number one team in the nation by December, even though their record was 9-2. Our ratings showed the Aggies were four points better than actual champion Pittsburgh and more than a touchdown better than the Georgia team Pittsburgh faced in the Sugar Bowl.

The second reason we do not like an eight-team format is we believe the highest-rated teams deserve some reward in the form of a first-round bye (like the NFL).

This is why we have stuck with our 12-team format. While in some years, the ninth best team has an argument that they belong in an eight-team playoff, rarely ever has the number 13 team had any realistic grounds to complain about being left out of a 12-team playoff. This is the equivalent of the first four out of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Yes, a 19-14 team from the Big Ten may be better than the champion of 15 other mid and low-majors, but they only have themselves to blame for going 19-14. This team is not a contender for the Final Four.

Here is our format for our 12-team simulated playoffs. We have adjusted it a little bit from past seasons.

1. This is a 12-team tournament, using home fields for the first two rounds to get from 12 to 8 to 4, and then using the current bowls to play the Final Four and Championship.

2. The champions of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 receive automatic bids, but not any preference toward receiving byes.

3. The champions of the AAC, CUSA, MAC, MWC, and Sunbelt receive automatic bids if any finish in the top 16 of the Power Rankings, which replaces the BCS. Thus, theoretically, all five of these conferences could field a team in the same season.
What do we use for “Power Rankings?” The PiRate Ratings are part of the Massey Comparison Rankings, a group of the most accurate computer rankings in the nation. For this purpose, we will use the Massey Comparison Rankings as our equivalent of basketball’s RPI. We’d prefer some tiebreaker system to mechanically determine the playoff teams, but for now, that is not possible.

4. We then select the two to seven highest PR-ranked teams (to fill the bracket to make 12 total) not automatically selected and give them berths in the tournament.

5. We seed the teams by Power Ranking from 1-12. The top 4 teams receive a first round bye as a reward for being one of the top four, while seeds 5-12 face off in the first round.
This year, none of the champions of the AAC, CUSA, MAC, Mountain West, or Sunbelt finished in the Top 16. Boise State just missed, coming in at 19. Thus, with five automatic bids, we must invite the next seven highest-rated teams to fill out our 12-team bracket.

Here are the Dandy Dozen teams, seeded for 2014-15.

1. Alabama 12-1
2. Oregon 12-1
3. TCU 11-1
4. Ohio St. 12-1
5. Baylor 11-1
6. Florida St. 13-0
7. Ole Miss 9-3
8. Mississippi St. 10-2
9. Michigan St. 10-2
10. Georgia 9-3
11. Auburn 8-4
12. Kansas St. 9-3

And here is the bracket for this year’s tournament.

Opening Round
Game 1: #12 Kansas State at #5 Baylor
Game 2: #11 Auburn at #6 Florida St.
Game 3: #10 Georgia at #7 Ole Miss
Game 4: #9 Michigan St. at #8 Mississippi St.

Quarterfinal Round
Game 5: Game 4 Winner (Michigan St./Mississippi St.) at #1 Alabama.
Game 6: Game 3 Winner (Georgia/Ole Miss) at #2 Oregon
Game 7: Game 2 Winner (Auburn/Florida St.) at #3 T C U
Game 8: Game 1 Winner (Kansas St./Baylor) at #4 Ohio St.

Sugar Bowl: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner
Rose Bowl: Game 6 Winner vs. Game 7 Winner

Arlington, TX: Sugar Bowl Winner vs. Rose Bowl Winner

For this computer simulation, games were simulated on a simulator located on a major university campus.
Process: We use a simulation program at a major university computer lab. We will simulate each game just one time, because if we run 100 or 1000 simulations, there will be no chances for upsets, and the top seeds will win every game. By simulating each game just one time, we produce the same chance that each team has to win, be it expected or an upset. If one team has a 75% chance of winning, then the underdog has less than 1% chance of winning if the game is simulated 100 times, but it has a 25% chance of winning if the game is simulated just once.

Home Field advantage is factored into all games, even those played at neutral sites. Alabama never plays a neutral site game, as the Crimson Nation shows up in mass numbers even 2,000 miles away from home.

The simulator uses statistical data much in the same way as popular sports games such as “Strat-O-Matic” and “Paydirt” use to make player and team cards and then simulates a game based on these statistics. Plays are called by artificial intelligence, using tendencies the actual teams use. Generically, these plays are:

Running Plays
1. Power inside
2. Quick inside
3. Power off-tackle
4. Tackle trap
5. Power wide
6. Quick wide
7. Misdirection
8. Draw

Passing Plays
9. Screen
10. Short Play-Action
11. Medium Play-Action
12. Long Play-Action
13. Short Flood
14. Medium Flood
15. Middle Routes
16. Sideline Routes
17. Deep Zone Route
18. Long Bomb

Specialty Plays
19. QB Sneak
20. Trick Play
21. Goalline Fade
22. QB Kneel Down

All forms of special teams are included in this simulation program, and the program generates full stats.


Round One Games will be published on Friday, December 12
Round Two Games will be published in Tuesday, December 16
The Semifinal Round will be published on Friday, December 19
The Championship Round will be published on Tuesday, December 23

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