By: Edward Egros

final

It May Seem Like Mayhem, But...

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Though a few schools decided to start the college football season one week early, the heavyweights, the blue chippers, the ones who are constantly atop any set of rankings you can find and are in contention for that trophy…begin this weekend.

As before, we can use parts of our
college football prediction model to determine who is likeliest to have the most talent and the most favorable schedule, including who has the toughest games at home and if the toughest games are on days with ample rest and preparation.

Using all of this information, my prediction for who will make this year's College Football Playoff are:

Alabama
Ohio State
USC
Florida State

Virtually every year, there is a surprise team sparingly chosen that charges from
outside the Top 10 to the Final Four. This year, I am picking two. First, while many say Washington will represent the West coast, I like USC because of more highly ranked sophomore and junior classes (per 247 Sports) and Washington begins the season in Auburn (a Top 10 team in many metrics including ours), while USC's toughest non-conference opponent is at Texas (not as strong as Auburn), and the Huskies are likelier to lose than the Trojans while USC still earns solid strength of schedule numbers. The Trojans also boast one of the better receiving corps which should help a true freshman quarterback in JT Daniels feel comfortable.

The other outsider is Florida State, edging a perennial contender in Clemson. Again, the Seminoles have more highly ranked second-year and third-year classes and Clemson plays at Florida State. Last season, the Seminoles were ranked third in the AP Preseason. You can make the argument: had they not lost starting
quarterback Deondre Francois for the season with an injured patella tendon in his left knee, they would have been in contention. The running game also carried that offense, and with Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick providing depth in the backfield, this offense should not be overlooked.

This playoff is entering its fifth season. Even though USC and Florida State are outside of the AP Top 10, the Seminoles have been in the playoff before, and the Trojans are the defending Pac-12 champions. It may seem like mayhem, but it's not.

World Cup Finale

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Just like with statistics themselves, analyzing the results of any model can be manipulated and spun to fit a narrative. On the one hand, our World Cup model was not perfect when it came to picking the result of every match correctly. Again, our ground rules were to correctly predict if the designated "home team" would win, lose or draw in the group stage and win or lose in the knockout stage. Here are our results:

Group Stage: 27/48 (21 results were one of the two other outcomes than predicted)
Round of 16: 5/8
Quarterfinals: 2/4
Semifinals: 1/2

On the other hand, most of the misclassifications were often marked as having poor odds. For instance, for the Semifinal between England and Croatia, our model gave England a 53% chance to win. The odds were small enough to suggest extra time would be a decent possibility, and in fact
that was the outcome. Also, no other models I was actively monitoring forecasted the more unbelievable results, such as Russia knocking off Spain. In general, we are pleased with our results.

On that note, here are our predictions for the final weekend of the World Cup:

Final: France defeats Croatia (78%)

3rd Place: England defeats Belgium (65%)