Your American college football forecast: Part 2

Gordon P Smith Roar Guru

By Gordon P Smith, Gordon P Smith is a Roar Guru

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    In Part 1, we looked at the expected final records for every one of the 68 teams in the Power Five conferences, So today, let’s look at the other 62 teams.

    Of course, there are actually only 65 such teams. Three of the four independents (BYU, U-Mass, and Army-West Point) are not considered “Power Five” teams (Notre Dame is) – but I happen to keep them all together in my record keeping.

    As with yesterday, we went through every scheduled game and used the ELO-Following Football handicap system to predict the likely outcome.

    That doesn’t mean there won’t be upsets – you can virtually guarantee that any predictions will be at least slightly wrong. Each team is listed with its predicted conference record and then its overall record.

    As a refresher, we had BYU at 10-3, Army-West Point at 7-5, and U-Mass at 1-11.

    American Athletic Conference

    AAC East Division

    Team Conference (Overall) win-loss record
    South Florida (8-0) 12-0
    Temple (6-2) 9-3 (7-1) 9-3
    Central Florida (5-3) 7-5
    East Carolina (3-5) 3-9
    Cincinnati (2-6) 4-8
    Connecticut (0-8) 1-11

    AAC West Division

    Team Conference (Overall) win-loss record
    Tulsa (7-1) 9-3
    Houston (5-3) 8-4
    Memphis (5-3) 7-5
    Navy (4-4) 7-5
    SMU (2-6) 5-7
    Tulane (1-7) 4-8

    AAC title game: USF defeat Tulsa by 8 points.

    Conference USA

    C-USA East Division

    Team Conference (Overall) win-loss record
    Western Kentucky (8-0) 11-1
    Middle Tennessee (7-1) 8-4
    Marshall (5-3) 7-5
    Old Dominion (5-3) 7-5
    Charlotte (2-6) 4-8
    Florida Atlantic (2-6) 3-9
    Florida International (1-7) 2-10

    C-USA West Division

    Team Conference (Overall) win-loss record
    Louisiana Tech (7-1)* 9-3
    UT-San Antonio (7-1) 9-3
    Southern Miss (5-3) 7-5
    Rice (3-5) 3-9
    North Texas (2-6) 4-8
    UT-El Paso (2-6) 2-10
    Alabama-Birmingham (0-8) 1-11

    Louisiana Tech defeat UTSA week 13

    C-USA title game: Western Kentucky defeat Louisiana Tech by 2 points.
    (LaTech and MTSU will only lose in conference to WKU; WKU’s only loss will be to Vanderbilt.)

    Mid-American Conference

    MAC East Division

    Team Conference (Overall) win-loss record
    Ohio (6-2) 9-3
    Miami-OH (5-3) 7-5
    Akron (4-4) 5-7
    Buffalo (2-6) 4-8
    Kent State (2-6) 3-9
    Bowling Green (1-7) 1-11

    Team Conference (Overall) win-loss record
    Toledo (8-0) 11-1
    Western Michigan (7-1) 9-3
    Northern Illinois (5-3) 6-6
    Eastern Michigan (4-4) 4-8
    Central Michigan (3-5) 4-8
    Ball State (2-6) 4-8

    MAC title game: Toledo defeat Ohio by 7 points.

    Mountain West Conference

    MW Mountain Division

    Team Conference (Overall) win-loss record
    Boise State (7-1) 9-3
    Colorado State (6-2) 8-4
    Wyoming (6-2) 8-4
    Air Force (4-4) 6-6
    New Mexico (4-4) 6-6
    Utah State (2-6) 3-9

    MW West Division

    Team Conference (Overall) win-loss record
    San Diego State (8-0) 10-2
    Nevada (4-4) 5-7
    Hawaii (3-5) 5-7
    San Jose State (2-6) 2-11
    UNLV (1-7) 2-10
    Fresno State (1-7) 2-10

    Mountain West title game Boise State defeat San Diego State by 2 points.

    Sun Belt Conference

    Team Conference (Overall) win-loss record
    Appalachian State (8-0) 11-1
    Arkansas State (8-0) 9-3
    Troy (7-1) 9-3
    Idaho (5-3) 8-4
    UL- Monroe (5-3) 5-7
    Georgia Southern (4-4) 6-6
    UL-Lafayette (4-4) 5-7
    South Alabama (4-4) 5-7
    Coastal Carolina (2-6) 5-7
    Georgia State (2-6) 3-9
    Texas State (1-7) 2-10
    New Mexico State (0-8) 1-11

    The Sun Belt title game is non-existent. Not only do App State and Ark State never meet in the regular season (for several years in a row now), but there’s no title game to decide the champion on the field, either.

    Arkansas State and Appalachian State will be co-champions, again. It could be worse – before Week 14, Troy University was 7-0 along with the two others – Arkansas State plays Troy on December 2nd, to eliminate one of the unbeaten sides. Were they to play on a neutral field, the ELO-Following Football computer has Appalachian State as a 4-point favourite.

    If Idaho is good enough to place fourth in the Sun Belt (5-3 in conference, eight wins and bowl eligibility in their forecast). It’s tragic that the conference will be kicking them out because of the distance issues the teams face travelling to Las Cruces, New Mexico or Moscow, Idaho.

    Being a Boise State fan myself, it’s hard to see them losing three games. Being edged out by Washington State, BYU, and San Diego State – all road games. If the Broncos get the Aztecs at home for the final, they’ll win the rematch.

    Coastal Carolina’s first season in the big leagues is projected to produce five wins, better than most new teams manage.

    So many conferences have one division that’s far stronger than the other – the MW Mountain, the MAC West, the SEC West, and so forth. On the other hand, C-USA and the AAC end up fairly well balanced this season, although both have had issues in the past. Moral of the story – don’t place teams based on strength, because that’ll change regularly.

    South Florida is forecast by virtually every prognosticator to be the Group of Five rep in the New Year’s Six Bowls, the games where the big money is found, but edging their way into the College Football playoff is absurd.

    Finally, here are some interesting games and far-too-early predictions for “Group of Five” teams this season:

    Week Zero – August 26 South Florida looked terrible for the first quarter at San Jose State, before pulling out a 42-22 victory.

    Week 1 – September 2 Lots of interesting games challenging Power Five teams. Troy goes to Boise (loses), Colorado St v. Colorado (Buffaloes win), Houston over UTSA (in San Antonio – if Houston can get out of town with the hurricane), Temple losing close to Notre Dame, and Western Michigan (last year’s 13-0 darling) having no chance at USC.

    Week 2 – September 9 Western Kentucky should win at Illinois, San Diego State should lose a tight one with Arizona State, Louisiana Tech and Marshall should stay close at Mississippi State and North Carolina State, respectively; and New Mexico will win the battle of the Land of Enchantment against New Mexico State.

    Week 3 – September 16 The big game of the C-USA season: WKU over Louisiana Tech in a shootout AT Western Kentucky (the key). Ohio gets a Power Five win over Kansas (it counts!), but San Diego State will fall short at Stanford, UL-Lafayette loses to Texas, Central Michigan gets a shot at Syracuse but misses in the end, South Florida defeats Illinois, and Northern Illinois comes close at Nebraska.

    Week 4 – September 23 Lafayette wins the battle of Louisiana against UL-Monroe, and Appalachian State defeats Wake Forest on the road. South Florida defeats Temple to take a lead in the division it will never relinquish, and Boise State takes care of Virginia with ease.

    There are also, of course, another handful of games where a team like Kent State travels to a powerhouse like Louisville to get hammered by forty points or more and collect a million dollar paycheck. In some cases, it keeps the program afloat for another year. In others, it continues to demoralize the players and the program.

    Week 5 – September 30 Temple defeats Houston, and Tulsa defeats Navy. (The changing of the guard in the AAC continues). Miami of Ohio gets to play in front of “Touchdown Jesus” and lose to Notre Dame.

    Week 6 – October 7 Navy defeats Air Force in the first of the three-game round robin for the Commander-In-Chief’s trophy. (Both teams will beat Army, so Navy will win the trophy this season). Boise State loses a close one at BYU.

    Week 7 – October 14 Boise loses their second in a row, at San Diego State. Louisiana-Monroe wins its third straight in-conference to become a threat, while Troy, Appalachian State and Arkansas State all remain undefeated above them. Old Dominion wins a key game at Marshall. Tulsa beats Houston and Memphis defeats Navy, while UCF beats ECU in the AAC.

    Week 8 – October 21 Houston holds serve at home against Memphis on a Thursday night game. Boise gets its revenge on Wyoming. In Michigan, Western beats Eastern. Louisiana Tech wins at home versus Southern Mississippi. Western Kentucky wins a tough game at Old Dominion, and UL-Lafayette loses at Arkansas State.

    Week 9 – October 28 Marshall beats FIU, Colorado State defeats Air Force, Wyoming upends New Mexico, and Troy beats Georgia Southern to stay undefeated in the Sun Belt. The mid-week games begin this week, and from Thursday, Oct 26th through Tuesday, Nov 21st, there will be a football game on American television every night, college or pro. Heaven or hell, depending on your bent.

    Week 10 – November 4 South Florida beats Houston and Temple defeats Navy in a rematch of last year’s title game. Ohio seals its division by winning against Miami-Ohio, and Western Michigan conquers Central Michigan to win the imaginary “Directional Michigan” trophy. Air Force flies past Army, and Wyoming defeats Colorado State, clearing the path for a Boise State division title down the road.

    Week 11 – November 11 WKU smashes Marshall to go 6-0 in conference; Boise State beats Colorado State in the Rams’ beautiful new stadium which just opened during Week Zero. Appalachian State wins a key game at home versus Georgia Southern.

    Week 12 -November 18 USF beats Tulsa in a preview of the AAC title game in two weeks; it’s Tulsa’s only loss in conference this year. Navy loses to Notre Dame again. Boston College defeats U-Conn in the home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, which should be a spectacle. Air Force loses in Boise, and Nevada loses in San Diego. Western Michigan defeats Northern Illinois on a Wednesday, as we’re deep into the month of solid football.

    Week 13 – November 25 South Florida beats Central Florida and caps its perfect regular season, the only one in the Group of Five. (It still has to win the title game, however, because the rules say that the team invited into the New Year’s games must be a conference champ).

    Nevada defeats UNLV to win the state’s battle, Toledo conquers defending champion Western Michigan to take the MAC East, and Louisiana Tech hands UT-San Antonio its only conference loss to knock it out of title contention.

    Week 14 – Dec 2 Besides being title week (and our ELO-FF projections are listed above for those), the Sun Belt has a week of games here – the key one being Arkansas State hosting and defeating Troy, keeping the Sun Belt from a three-way tie. (Two is bad enough).

    App State hosts UL-Lafayette, who should give them a good game before succumbing. Idaho will win its final regular season game as a Sun Belt member and as an FBS member, rejoining the lower-division FCS Big Sky Conference in all sports next fall.

    New Mexico State will be staying in the Group of Five as an independent next year, but loses its 11th game of the year at South Alabama in its Sun Belt swan song.

    Week 15 – Dec 9 Only one game on the schedule. Army/Navy. And I hope that never changes. This game’s history alone deserves its place on the calendar. (Navy will start a new winning streak.)

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