Chances Bama, Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame Finish Undefeated: Tiny

Published on: October 30, 2012 | Written by: Clay Travis

I love the work that really talented probabilities guys do with football. (Honestly, I love the work that all probability guys do. That's why I'm currently reading Nate Silver's, The Signal and the Noise, which is fascinating. As a general rule we consistently underrate the likelihood of upsets in college football. Especially with our predictions. 

That's why a guy using probabilities in sports is so fascinating. After all, any sixty minute game is just a small representation of what could have happened in a game. Big upsets are just outliers.  

The guy I love the best of all when it comes to computing sports probabilities is Paul Bessire at Prediction Machine. Paul's method is to input his data to a computer and run his simulations 50,000 times. His outcomes reflect the odds of what will happen in any given game. He then sells betting advice when his formulas show the greatest differential with the existing line.

He's been really successful with his predictions against the spread.

Now that there are four undefeated teams left in major college football -- Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon -- I wondered what the odds were that all four teams would finish undefeated. So I asked Paul to run the probabilities for me.

And if you're a data geek like me, you're going to love what his results showed.

The result that's the most surprising: It's 15 times as likely that all four of these top teams will lose as it is that all four of these teams will win out.

Wow.

There is just 1.22% chance that Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame all finish undefeated and there is a 15.75% chance that all four teams lose.

But that's just one of the fascinating details that Paul spins out of this year's college football data.

You need to be reading his stuff on a regular basis, and if you're paying for picks, there's no one that's better in the country.

Here's Paul's piece for Outkick the Coverage:

"There are currently six undefeated teams in FBS – Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Louisville and Ohio State. Before we get into hypothetical BCS title matchups, let’s review the remaining schedules for each undefeated team to look at the realistic chances that the teams finish the season without a loss. While Louisville would not realistically make the BCS championship unless the next most likely participant has two losses and Ohio State is ineligible for postseason play, we will at least address the chances that those teams finish undefeated.

The six undefeated teams have 25 remaining games combined (assuming both Alabama and Oregon make their conference championship games). In all 25 of those games, the current undefeated team is favored in our projections. However, both Ohio State @ Wisconsin (November 17) and Louisville @ Rutgers (November 29) are essentially 50/50. Among the top four teams (in our rankings and the BCS standings), the closest remaining game is Notre Dame @ USC, which the Fighting Irish win 65.7% of the time.

Here are the chances that each current undefeated FBS team wins all of its remaining regular season (and conference championship) games:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Games Remaining: 5 (with conference championship, though one of those games is against FCS Western Carolina)

Undefeated Chances: 54.7%

Closest Remaining Game: at LSU (November 2)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Games Remaining: 4

Undefeated Chances 39.8%

Closest Remaining Game: at USC (November 24)

Ohio State Buckeyes

Games Remaining: 3

Undefeated Chances: 28.8%

Closest Remaining Game: at Wisconsin (November 17)

Kansas State Wildcats

Games Remaining: 4

Undefeated Chances: 27.7%

Closest Remaining Game: at TCU (November 10)

Oregon Ducks

Games Remaining: 5 (including conference championship game)

Undefeated Chances: 20.2%

Closest Remaining Game: at USC (November 2 – at Oregon State is close)

Louisville Cardinals

Games Remaining: 4

Undefeated Chances: 16.6%

Closest Remaining Game: at Rutgers (November 29)

A few notes on the undefeated odds above:

Chances there are still six undefeated FBS teams on December 2 (after conference title games): 0.06% (or 1-in-1718)

Chances Alabama, Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon are undefeated on December 2: 1.22% (or 1-in-82)

Chances Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon are undefeated on December 2: 2.23% (or 1-in-45)

Chances Oregon is undefeated and Kansas State and Notre Dame are not on December 2: 8.79% (or 1-in-11)

Chances Notre Dame is undefeated and Kansas State and Oregon are not on December 2: 22.96% (or 1-in-4)

Chances Kansas State is undefeated and Oregon and Notre Dame are not on December 2: 13.31% (or 1-in-8)

Chances that Louisville is the only undefeated FBS (BCS eligible) team on December 2: 2.62% (or 1-in-38)

Chances that Alabama is the only undefeated FBS (BCS eligible) team on December 2: 15.83% (or 1-in-6)

Chances that both Alabama and Oregon lose in their respective conference championship games: 4.28% (or 1-in-23)

Chances that no FBS team is undefeated on December 2: 9.35% (or 1-in-11)

Chances that Alabama, Oregon, Notre Dame and Kansas State all have at least one loss on December 2: 15.75% (or 1-in-6)

 

Hypothetical BCS Championship Games:

While it is difficult (impossible) to project exactly what the computers (who do not have to disclose their formulas) or pollsters (who have historically proven an inability to act rational) are going to say at the end of the season, we use Todd Furhman’s possibilities and speculative lines here to present our projected results from 50,000 simulations of potential BCS Championship Games:

Alabama vs. Oregon

Todd Furhman Line: Alabama -5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Alabama 33 – Oregon 24

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Alabama wins 67%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Alabama -5

Alabama vs. Notre Dame

Todd Furhman Line: Alabama -13

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Alabama 27 – Notre Dame 17

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Alabama wins 69.5%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Notre Dame + 13

Alabama vs. Kansas State

Todd Furhman Line: Alabama -10.5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Alabama 31 – Kansas State 23

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Alabama wins 62.7%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Kansas State +10.5

Alabama vs. Florida State

Todd Furhman Line: Alabama -9

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Alabama 29 – Florida State 17

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Alabama wins 71.5%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Alabama -9

Oregon vs. Kansas State

Todd Furhman Line: Oregon -5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Kansas State 37 – Oregon 34

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Kansas State wins 54.2%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Kansas State +5

Oregon vs. Notre Dame

Todd Furhman Line: Oregon -9

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Oregon 31 – Notre Dame 28

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Oregon wins 55.4%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Notre Dame +9

Oregon vs. Florida State

Todd Furhman Line: Oregon -3

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Oregon 37 – Florida State 24

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Oregon wins 77.3%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Oregon -3

Oregon vs. Florida

Todd Furhman Line: Oregon -4.5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Oregon 30 – Florida 22

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Oregon wins 63.7%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Oregon -4.5

Oregon vs. Georgia

Todd Furhman Line: Oregon -8.5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Oregon 37 – Georgia 30

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Oregon wins 59.3%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Georgia +8.5

Oregon vs. LSU

Todd Furhman Line: Oregon -5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Oregon 28 – LSU 23

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Oregon wins 58.9%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: PUSH

Kansas State vs. Notre Dame

Todd Furhman Line: Kansas State -2.5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Kansas State 31 – Notre Dame 27

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Kansas State wins 55.5%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Kansas State -2.5

Kansas State vs. Florida State

Todd Furhman Line: Florida State -2.5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Kansas State 35 – Florida State 21

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Kansas State wins 73.0%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Kansas State +2.5 (big)

Kansas State vs. Florida

Todd Furhman Line: Florida -1

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Kansas State 30 – Florida 21

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Kansas State wins 67.3%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Kansas State +1 (big)

Kansas State vs. Georgia

Todd Furhman Line: Kansas State -3

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Kansas State 35 – Georgia 28

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Kansas State wins 60.6%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Kansas State -3

Kansas State vs. LSU

Todd Furhman Line: LSU -1

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Kansas State 28 – LSU 20

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Kansas State wins 64.4%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Kansas State +1

Notre Dame vs. Florida State

Todd Furhman Line: Florida State -4.5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Notre Dame 24 – Florida State 23

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Notre Dame wins 53.4%

Hypothetical ATS Pick:Notre Dame +4.5

Notre Dame vs. Florida

Todd Furhman Line: Florida -4

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Notre Dame 24 – Florida 20

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Notre Dame wins 59.7%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Notre Dame +4

Notre Dame vs. Georgia

Todd Furhman Line: Georgia -1

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Notre Dame 30 – Georgia 25

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Notre Dame wins 58.6%

Hypothetical ATS Pick: Notre Dame +1

Notre Dame vs. LSU

Todd Furhman Line: LSU -3.5

PredictionMachine.com Projected Score: Notre Dame 21 – LSU 19

PredictionMachine.com Projected Win Percentage: Notre Dame wins 55.3%

Hypothetical ATS Pick:Notre Dame +3.5

Alabama:

And, finally, the poll question on the Dan Patrick Show today was whether Alabama would win the BCS national championship or the “field.” The results were essentially 50/50 from voters. Alabama is the prohibitive favorite over any other individual team right now (at least two, if not 2.5 times more likely than anyone else). But, based on these odds and projections, I would put the Crimson Tide’s chances at around 35-40% (37.4% if I have to put an exact figure on it, but there is so much uncertainty with the BCS process that adds error to that confidence).

Also, a prohbitive favorite in any game against an FBS opponent, Alabama would be a 21 point favorite over Ohio State (36-15 average score) if the two could play.

Again, you need to be reading what Paul Bessire at the Prediction Machine is putting out. He'll make you a lot of money over the long range.