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Stats Corner: Ranking the Week 0 Performances

How the win probabilities changed after week 0 results

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 26 Hawaii at Vanderbilt Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Let me reiterate, I think preseason polls are pointless. Actually, they are not pointless, they have a point and that point is to boost Power 5 schools to higher rankings before the season begins and makes it more difficult for Group of 5 teams to move up the rankings. See previous Stats Corner articles for my issues on preseason polls on football, with #6 Texas A&M, #14 Michigan State, and #15 Miami not making bowl games, and basketball with #1 North Carolina not making the tournament. So, allow me rephrase my opening statement, I think preseason polls which try to strictly predict how good teams are, are pointless as there is little actual data to work with. I will include myself in that assessment, I did a Power ranking based last week based on the probability of teams making the Mountain West Conference Title game. It was based on future betting data. This week on Stats Corner, we have actual data from three MWC teams who played week 0, and we will look at how the data changed the probability for the three teams. All three teams out preformed their expectations, but here is a look in reverse order, of whom over preformed the most.

San Diego State

Week 0 result: Beat Ohio 20-13, covered the -2.5 points.

Week 0 Week 1 Change

Idaho State 94.8% 95.40% 0.6%

UCLA 27.3% 25.30% -2.0%

Oregon State 10.8% 14.00% 3.2%

Boise State 40.6% 41.20% 0.6%

Air Force 40.2% 43.70% 3.5%

Hawaii 50.1% 48.50% -1.6%

Nevada 71.0% 72.20% 1.2%

Utah State 69.3% 72.80% 3.5%

Colorado State 58.1% 60.90% 2.8%

San Jose State 48.9% 47.10% -1.8%

Fresno State 50.2% 53.00% 2.8%

The only MWC team to win, actual had the “worse” weekend of the three. The Aztecs did cover the points, meaning they were expected to win, 65.5% chance, and to win by 2.5 points and they won by 7. The probability of the Aztecs winning 8 of their games went up. The probability of winning the conference went from 9.3% to 10.4% and the chance of going undefeated in conference went from .57% to .70%. The probability of winning 6 games went from 64.9% to 69.7%. So overall, not a bad weekend for San Diego State. Two of the games where their probability dropped are against Hawaii and San Jose State who both played with weekend, implying that while they both lost, they over preformed at a higher rate against expectations, reinforcing my opening statement.

San Jose State

Week 0 result: Lost to USC 56-28, covered the +31.5 points.

Week 0 Week 1 Change

Oregon State 13.5% 17.80% 4.3%

Cal Poly 90.2% 92.10% 1.9%

Toledo 28.8% 31.30% 2.5%

Air Force 50.7% 54.90% 4.2%

Boise State 24.0% 29.30% 5.3%

New Mexico 55.9% 68.10% 12.2%

Utah State 62.9% 69.70% 6.8%

Hawaii 55.8% 45.90% -9.9%

Fresno State 46.5% 52.40% 5.9%

San Diego State 51.1% 52.90% 1.8%

UNLV 46.5% 58.50% 12.0%

Only down 21-14 at halftime, the Spartans made a good contest against the Trojans, inset ancient Sparta versus Troy joke here. San Jose State was not expected to win, only 3.6% chance, but they were expected to lose by 31.5 points and “only lost by 28. Their probability increased for 10 of their remaining 11 games, see below for that last game. They also became favorites against Fresno State and UNLV. Last week, they had a 5.4% chance of winning the conference and .26% chance of going undefeated in conference. Now they have 9.8% and .57% respectability. The chance of them winning 6 games when from 43.1% to 60.1%. The Aztecs only had 2-3% increases in their probabilities, while the Spartans had 5-6% and a couple 12s. While this was not a win, it undoubtably showed the Spartans could be better than expected.


Week 0 result: Lost to Vanderbilt 35-28, covered +17

Week 0 Week 1 Change

Stanford 39.1% 44.70% 5.6%

UAlbany 87.0% 88.40% 1.4%

Oregon 3.6% 4.40% 0.8%

New Mexico State 77.6% 80.60% 3.0%

UNLV 33.9% 43.80% 9.9%

San Diego State 49.9% 51.50% 1.6%

New Mexico 46.0% 54.10% 8.1%

San Jose State 44.2% 54.10% 9.9%

Nevada 38.2% 44.30% 6.1%

Air Force 50.6% 54.60% 4.0%

Wyoming 23.1% 28.20% 5.1%

Colorado State 68.2% 71.20% 3.0%

Only an 18.2% chance of winning and expected to lose by 17 points on the other side of the country? The Rainbow Warriors may not have gotten a win, but they made it close. As a result, they saw their chances increase the most of the three teams. They improved the probability of winning every single game this season. The reason they outperformed their expectations compared to the other MWC teams is San Diego State had a decrease in probability against Hawaii -1.6% and San Jose State -1.8%, while San Jose State had a decrease of -9.9% against Hawaii. I am not saying that the Rainbow Warriors are better than the Aztecs, but they out performed their expectations more than the others. The Warriors are now slightly favored in three additional games: San Diego State, New Mexico, and San Jose State. They went from 3.3% of winning the conference and .10% of going undefeated to 6.7% and .32%. The probability of winning 6 games went from 59.3% to 71.5%.