I have a friend who used to sly-grin chicks into going out to lobster dinner with him. Then he would stick them with the tab. I told him that was no way to pay for his new SAAB, but some people just don’t listen. I wish they would because some of us here in the predictor community are feeling as jilted as those chicks right now.
Our prediction Index told us that this would be the second year in a row that Clemson would win the national championship with an upset.
It worked last year.
This year, we’re holding the tab.
Clemson fell all over itself in a 42-25 loss that defied the majority of trends in our system and now we feel like we’re left with a big bill in trying to explain a big difference.
I suspect we’re not the only ones. I mean, how many others predicted that Trevor Lawrence would fall apart, have more turnovers than touchdowns, sail 14 passes over receivers’ heads, and look completely unprepared for Monday Night Football?
And, I don’t suppose there were many who said Clemson’s defense would give up nearly four times as many points as it had averaged all season.
LSU and Joe Burrow were as spectacular as we all expected and, of course, well-deserving of the FBS title.
Even so, while LSU rules the rankings, Dabo Swinney and his genial approach have made Clemson a popular program with fans all over America.
That tells us that even if you’re classified as number two, you can still be number one. Like pencils. Number Twos are number one.
In addition to LSU and Clemson finishing at the top, three of the top five teams in America are from the SEC—LSU, Georgia and Alabama. If that makes that conference seem a bit gaudy and pretentious, don’t worry. All three are losing their starting quarterbacks.
You can see our rankings for other top 25 teams here.
Our system finished the regular season with 77% accuracy in predicting games. That is nearly identical to our prior three seasons. Our bowl results were 29-11 which amounts to 73% and is much higher than any season since 2015.
In the PAC-12 . . .
Oregon (12-2) finished the season ranked sixth in our ratings. The Ducks played a worthy schedule and posted outstanding defensive metrics. Those were offset by offensive trends were not befitting a top ten team.
Utah (11-3) finished 15th. The Utes posted acutely positive trends through most of the season but saw those reverse in important games late in the season. It’s enough to wonder if the biggest games cause Utah coaches to over-hype players into a too-tight mentality.
Here is a list of our rankings for the PAC-12. Movement in the national rankings from the beginning of the season to the end is shown in brackets [ ] for each team. (Examples: Oregon started the season ranked 10th and finished 6th. We show “[up 4]”. Utah started 16th and finished 15th so we show “[up 1]”))
- Oregon (12-2) [up 4]
- Utah (11-3) [up 1]
- USC (8-5) [unchanged]
- Washington (7-5) [down 17]
- Arizona State (8-5) [down 4]
- California (8-5) [up 16]
- Washington State (6-7) [down 34]
- Stanford (4-8) [down 58]
- Oregon State (5-7) [up 17]
- Colorado (5-7) [down 6]
- UCLA (4-8) [down 27]
- Arizona (4-8) [down 32]