Sunday Aug 30, 2009

It's Football Season! Schmidt Computer Rankings Have a New Home

The calendar says it is almost September, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler.  It must be football season!  And with football season comes me spending my weekends trying to get my computer ratings going again.

This year, rather than muddling up this blog with the occasional entry on my computer's ratings, I've created a computer ratings blog that I'll do my best to diligently keep updated each week.  I've already posted last years season ending college ratings and the NFL will be there soon.

Go take a look and let me know what you think! 

Sunday Feb 01, 2009

Congratulations Pittsburgh, winners of Super Bowl XLIII

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers for winning a very entertaining game in Super Bowl XLIII.  I have to say I was a bit bummed as I was pulling for Arizona, and save for the first-half ending interception return, perhaps they would have won, but it seemed Pittsburgh was doing just what they had to do so perhaps they still would have pulled it out.

I have to give my computer some props as it nearly picked the game perfectly (Pittsburgh by 5.2) getting the win and pick against the spread.  For the playoffs I was a terrific 9-2 against the spread but only 5-6 picking winners.  But the Vegas line was also 5-6 picking winners so I don't feel so bad there.

So now we turn our attention to basketball but also track and field!  We just had the Millrose Games this weekend (Lagat won #7 in the mile), Boston Indoor next weekend, and a variety of good college action so stay tuned.

Sunday Jan 04, 2009

NFL Playoff Predictions Week 1 Update

With week 1 of the playoffs complete, it is time to update my predictions.

 My computer went 3-1 against the spread and 2-2 picking winners.  Details are:

  • Atlanta/Arizona - Took Arizona and the points which was right but had Atlanta winning.
  • Indy/San Diego - Had San Diego winning outright and they did.
  • Baltimore/Miami - Had Baltimore covering the 2.5 and they did.
  • Philly/Minnesota - Had Minnesota winning outright and they didn't even cover.

For the upcoming games, current predictions are:

  • Carolina by 7.1 over Arizona
  • Tennessee by 1.4 over Baltimore (pick would be Baltimore on neutral field)
  • NY Giants by 3.4 over Philly
  • Pittsburgh by 6.3 over San Diego

The updated Superbowl predictions are:

Team Get to Win
0.336 0.184
New York Giants 0.377 0.179
Tennessee 0.320 0.171
Carolina 0.294 0.130
Baltimore 0.208 0.118
Philadelphia 0.192 0.092
San Diego 0.137 0.077
Arizona 0.137 0.049

Wednesday Dec 31, 2008

NFL Playoff Predictions Vegas Odds Comparison

I made my NFL playoff predictions a few days ago but just found this story on Vegas' odds so thought it would be interesting to compare the odds of winning the superbowl.

Here is a table listing the Vegas odds, what that translates into as a percentage, and my percentage for comparison.  Since the article above doesn't list all teams I went here to get a full list.

Team Vegas Odds Vegas % My %
New York Giants


Tennessee 7-1
San Diego

As of this writing, it is interesting to see that the Giants went from 2-1 in the ESPN story to 3-1 where the 3-1 is a lot closer to what my computer had them at.  Perhaps I'm not so far off :)  It is also interesting to see that as expected (Vegas has to take their cut) the Vegas percentage is higher than mine except for Tennessee and Pittsburgh.  And Minnesota is the same.  According to my computer those would be good bets to place on average.

Sunday Dec 28, 2008

NFL Playoff Predictions

With the end of the regular season, it is time for my computer to make some playoff predictions.

First, a look back.  For the season, my computer went 143-105-5 picking against the spread and 166-86-1 picking winners.  For comparison I had the Vegas Line going 159-82-1 picking winners.  So, I had a reasonably good year.  And as far as the right teams making the playoffs, the highest ranked team that didn't make it was New England at #9 and New Orleans at #12.  The lowest ranked team that made the playoffs was Arizona at #19.

Now, for the picks and predictions.  For wildcard weekend the picks are:

  • Baltimore by 2.8 over Miami - Even though they are on the road, the computer likes Baltimore better.
  • San Diego by 0.6 over Indianapolis - Two teams playing well, but San Diego being at home makes the difference over the higher ranked Indy.
  • Minnesota by 1.2 over Philadelphia - Again, home field gives Minnesota the nod over the higher ranked Philly.
  • Atlanta by 0.8 over Arizona - Home field not enough to make up the gap for Arizona.

This is the first year I recall all 4 road teams being ranked higher.  Interesting.


As far as full projections for the playoffs, here are the chances of each team making it to and winning the Super Bowl.

Team Get to Win
Tennessee 0.366 0.197
Pittsburgh 0.354 0.194
New York Giants 0.402 0.193
Carolina 0.301 0.136
Baltimore 0.087 0.048
Indianapolis 0.083 0.044
Philadelphia 0.082 0.038
San Diego 0.064 0.035
Minnesota 0.082 0.034
Atlanta 0.074 0.031
Miami 0.049 0.030
Arizona 0.059 0.021

These predictions to take into account that 8 teams have to play wildcard weekend as well as the ratings of each team and who they are playing.

It is no surprise then that the 4 teams with byes are at the top of the list.  Of the non-bye teams, my computer likes Baltimore the best actually moving them from #2 to #1 in the rankings this week.  Of course teams like Tennessee and the Giants had nothing to play for and played a bunch of backups so a small part of any drop they had may not be fully justified.

Should be a good playoffs!


Saturday Dec 06, 2008

BCS Update and New Ratings

My computers ratings are now posted and continue to have OU, Texas, and Florida #1 thru #3. Florida makes up a little ground but not enough to pass Texas.

And this is an indication of why the BCS computers will keep Florida behind Texas and create a gap that the polls will have to make up to make what the media is telling us will happen (OU vs Florida) actually do so. Jeff Sagarin's ratings are already out and Florida is #4 (!) behind Texas Tech, I've computed my best attempt at the Colley Matrix (he is kind enough to publish his algorithm) and Florida is #3 behind Texas, and I'm guessing Florida will be #3 in Anderson and Hester, #2 in Billingsley, #4 in Massey, and #4 in Wolfe. This will leave a gap of 0.04 that the pollsters must make up.

My computer did well predicting games going 12-8 against the spread overall and 2-1 in best picks. Ironically, my computer picked the Florida over Alabama "upset" but since Vegas felt even stronger about it (10 points) than my computer (6 points) it missed that game with the 11 point margin of victory. But I'll take having Alabama more or less properly ranked all season and going 8-3 picking them against the spread over picking one game right.

Stay tuned for bowl picks coming soon

Alabama was a fraud, and the top-2 in the BCS will be?

I wrote several blog entries last week first predicting OU would move to #2 in the BCS and then asking if the BCS should drop the polls where I also listed some of my computer's predictions for this weekend.

I'm pleased to say the computer picked the "upset" by Florida over Alabama as I wrote about a month ago saying Alabama was a fraud (and Alabama lost by more than I predicted so my computer having them #7 may have been high!) and now the question is who will be in the top-2 of the BCS come Sunday evening? The media would have us believe that OU vs Florida is a foregone conclusion, but I'm not so sure.

Coming into this week, Florida was #4 in the BCS trailing #3 Texas by 0.0372 which trailed #2 OU by 0.0128. In the polls, the 3 teams were virtually identical with OU totaling 1.825, Texas 1.827, and Florida 1.835, the deciding factor being the computers where OU was at 0.980, Texas 0.940, and Florida trailing at 0.820. With Florida beating Alabama, they will improve in the computer ratings but my guess is that they will still be #3 behind OU at 1.000, Texas at 0.940, and Florida at 0.900.

To make up the gap in the computers, Florida will have to be a combined total of at least 175 votes ahead of Texas in the polls. This is 142 votes more than the gap last week. For this to happen, voters will have to either a) in dropping Alabama, give many more of their #1 votes to Florida than to OU, or b) those that had Florida behind Texas last week will have to swap them.

Correction: Given Florida was already #2 in the Harris poll ahead of Texas but #4 behind Texas in the Coaches poll, I'm estimating they'll need to extend the lead in the Harris poll to 88 points and take a lead of 14 points in the Coaches poll to overcome the deficit in the computer ratings.

While one or some combination of both may happen, it will be because voters are manipulating the system to get the championship game they want. I fail to see the logic in why Florida should get more of Alabama's #1 votes than OU given OU's dominating win over Missouri, and if last week a voter had Texas ahead of Florida and the team Texas beat just walloped Missouri, why does Florida beating an overrated Alabama justify changing that?

Another way of looking at it is that we have 3 1-loss teams so lets look at which one has the best or worst loss. OU lost to Texas so that would seem to be the "best" loss which confirms them being #1. Texas' loss was to a 1-loss Texas Tech which would seem to be a better loss than Florida's loss to a 4-loss Ole Miss. By that logic USC should be being considered as their loss was to a 4-loss Oregon State.

So the voters will likely vote to make it happen because the media says it should happen, but watch closely to see how close it is and don't be surprised if honest voting ends up having OU and Texas in the BCS championship game.

Saturday Nov 08, 2008

Alabama is a Fraud

Ok, perhaps not a complete fraud, but certainly not (IMHO) a deserving #1 in the college football rankings. How could an undefeated team be a fraud you ask?

To start, lets look at their schedule. Of their 10 opponents, only 4 even have winning records. This results in an opponents percentage of only 0.518 even with the losses to Alabama factored out. Further, Alabama's out of conference schedule was Clemson (4-5), Tulane (2-7), Western Kentucky (2-8), and Arkansas State (4-5).

Compare this with the opponents winning percentages for the other undefeated teams and Alabama falls behind Texas Tech (0.602) and Utah (0.576) and only ahead of Boise State (0.468) and Ball State (0.387). At least Utah went out of conference against Oregon State (6-3) and Boise State against Oregon (7-3). Alabama's opponents winning percentage also falls behind 1-loss contenders Texas (0.693), Florida (0.610), Southern California (0.539), and Oklahoma (0.539). So they clearly haven't played the toughest schedule and if someone like Southern Cal is going to get dinged for a weak schedule it would seem that Alabama should too.

But a team shouldn't be penalized for having a poor schedule if they soundly defeat the poor teams and do play well in their games against better teams. And this is where Alabama falls down a bit. In a home game, they only beat a 2-7 Tulane team by 14, they eked out a 3 point win again at home against Kentucky, and eked out another 4 point win again at home against Mississippi. Their two significant wins are against Georgia by 11 and a weaker than normal LSU by 6. And Georgia got walloped by 39 and LSU by 30 against Florida, and LSU, at home, was able to beat a 3-6 Mississippi State by only 10 and Georgia was able to beat Kentucky by only 4. So, Alabama isn't soundly defeating some not so good teams and their only 2 significant wins were not that impressive.

Compare this again with their undefeated competition and you see Texas Tech soundly defeating all their poor opponents (closest win 16, others in 20's and above) and has beat a 1-loss Texas in a close game, walloped an 8-2 Oklahoma State by 36, and a 6-4 Kansas by 42. Similarly 1-loss Oklahoma, Texas, and Southern Cal, and Florida have clearly handled poor competition and aside from their 1 loss each, good competition as well.

Now of course, those 1-loss teams have, well, 1 loss, so doesn't Alabama staying unblemished trump these other failings? To a degree yes, but clearly there is a point where it doesn't (see Utah, Boise State, and Ball State) so why should Alabama be any different? I think it is clear that based on the data one can't justifiably put Alabama ahead of Texas Tech but using the same logic as is used for not putting Utah or Boise State ahead of Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, and Southern Cal one could argue Alabama shouldn't be ahead of them either.

For an objective look at who should be ranked where, see my computer ratings which have Texas Tech #1 but some surprises after that.

Now, thankfully time will tell, especially with Alabama having to face Florida in the SEC Championship, so either my skepticism will be proven right or Alabama will have the opportunity to show they deserve a BCS championship game berth. Of course, they have two more poor/average teams to reinforce my analysis above before that (3-6 Mississippi State and 5-5 Auburn).

Sunday Oct 05, 2008

College and NFL Football Thoughts and Rankings

I am a big sports fan, as has probably been apparent from some of my blog entries, and as such am into football. I've generally been a fan of the AFC, particularly the AFC West having grown up and lived most of my life on the west coast, and as you would expect am also a Pac-10 fan.

In addition to being a fan and watching a lot of games, my inner geek gets the better of me and I dust off my computer ratings each year and have done so yet again and you can see them here. I've actually been doing them fairly regularly since 1991 when I got started after Georgia Tech's disputed championship as I thought there should be a way to objectively determine who is #1. I used Jeff Sagarin's ratings as my inspiration but have worked to tune my system to both have ratings that pass the "smell test" but also ones that do well in predicting games against the spread.

Over the years, I added in doing ratings for the NFL too and have toyed with doing them for college basketball, but it is most entertaining to look at the college ratings as that is where there is no playoff and one can argue for hours on end who is #1.

The current college ratings have Oklahoma #1, Missouri #2, Penn State #3, and USC #4. Going into this weekend Dallas was #1 in the NFL despite their loss with Tennessee close behind at #2.

In addition to doing ratings and weekly predictions, my system is able to project final records. Interestingly there are six (!) teams projected to finish the college season undefeated and in the NFL Tennessee is projected to finish 14-2 ahead of a bevy of teams at 12-4. It is still early though so things can certainly change.

So, take a look and let me know what you think.

Sunday Jan 13, 2008

Odds for Conference Championships

My computer went 3-1 against the spread picking the underdogs in all 4 games and 3 of them coming through. The update odds for getting to and winning the superbowl are now:

New_England 0.718 0.481 Green_Bay 0.664 0.264 San_Diego 0.282 0.149 NY_Giants 0.336 0.105
New England is still not the odds on favorite to win the superbowl interestingly.

Friday Jan 11, 2008

Updated Superbowl Odds

Here are my computers updating predictions for getting to and winning the Superbowl.

New_England          0.537  0.363
Dallas               0.432  0.173
Indianapolis         0.245  0.138
Green_Bay            0.325  0.131
San_Diego            0.127  0.068
Jacksonville         0.091  0.050
Seattle              0.128  0.041
NY_Giants            0.115  0.037

Saturday Jan 05, 2008

Superbowl Odds

I know I'm a bit late with the predictions, but here are my computers predictions for the chance of the 12 teams to get to and win the Superbowl.

Before yesterday's games:

New England          0.567  0.382
Dallas               0.433  0.171
Indianapolis         0.255  0.143
Green Bay            0.341  0.135
San Diego            0.090  0.048
Washington           0.071  0.026
Jacksonville         0.046  0.025
Pittsburgh           0.033  0.020
NY Giants            0.058  0.018
Seattle              0.053  0.015
Tampa Bay            0.044  0.011
Tennessee            0.011  0.007

As expected, New England is clearly the favorite to both get to the Superbowl (56.7%) and win (38.2%), but it is interesting that they while they are the odds on favorite to get there, they aren't to win. If someone had an opportunity to bet the field against them straight up, that would be a good bet (according to my computer!).

And with the two games from yesterday factored in:

New_England          0.544  0.368
Dallas               0.453  0.179
Indianapolis         0.258  0.148
Green_Bay            0.324  0.129
Jacksonville         0.097  0.053
San_Diego            0.091  0.049
Seattle              0.133  0.042
NY_Giants            0.051  0.016
Tampa_Bay            0.039  0.010
Tennessee            0.011  0.007

Here it is interesting how the chances change. New England's chance of getting to the Superbowl go down, this because the weaker (according to my computer) Pittsburgh is now eliminated making the potential road more difficult. On the other hand, Dallas' chances go up because the stronger (according to my computer) Washington team has been eliminated.

Stay tuned, I'll try to update these chances as the playoffs go along.

Sunday Dec 02, 2007

BCS Nightmare

The whacky college football season just won't end. With a clear path to the BCS Championship game, West Virginia and Missouri both laid an egg.

Now, I probably shouldn't ding Missouri too much for their loss. They weren't favored, and OU had already beaten them once, but beating a team a second time is often quite difficult (see BC and Virginia Tech) and OU did it convincingly. Nevertheless, Missouri had their fate in their hands and let it slip away.

Now admittedly, West Virginia was without Pat White much of the game, but still couldn't manage more than one one touchdown, and that something of a gift on a ticky tack call, against a 4-7 Pitt team.

So, who should be in the championship game? It depends on how you define who should be there.
  • The two best teams - If you want the two teams playing the best, this year it very well may be Georgia and Southern Cal. Or if you insist the team must win its conference championship then replace Georgia with Oklahoma. Each had unfortunate losses earlier in the season, and USC's losses were with an injured QB and then without him while he recovered. Pete Carroll has taken responsibility for the Stanford loss for not replacing Booty. And OU's second loss was without their QB who had suffered a concussion. So if you want the best teams you should be lenient for a loss when they didn't have all their bullets.
  • The two best records - I think everyone would admit this is a slippery slope as one must play a reasonably difficult schedule, otherwise we must include Hawaii in this conversation. But ruling them out, you then have Ohio State and Kansas, but while not nearly as weak as Hawaii's schedule, neither team played a terribly difficult schedule. Ohio State's best win is arguably against Michigan but Michigan is a 3 loss team that lost to Appalachian State and got spanked by Oregon State. Kansas' schedule was so weak that they didn't have a win over a team with a winning record other than Central Michigan (8-5) and Texas A&M (7-5).
  • Whomever is at the top of the rankings - Given this, if you lose, you move down and teams simply move up to fill the slots. This would result in Ohio State and Georgia. But folks will then complain that Georgia didn't even win its division let alone its conference. But if Ohio State can benefit by not playing, why not Georgia? Of course, this approach is flawed as it assumes teams are rated correctly to start and should just move up. But if they were rated correctly then the top teams wouldn't have lost!
In the end, we are going to be stuck with Ohio State simply because the voters won't have the guts to do anything else other than move them up to #1 given the points gap there was last week. And the second team will likely be LSU which will be a travesty as they would be leaping 3 other teams, one that won their championship beating a higher ranked team (BC higher than Tennessee) by more points (14 vs 7). If the voters really believed LSU was better than Georgia and shouldn't allow Georgia to move up, they shouldn't have voted them ahead last week.

But we can hope the computer ratings keep the voters honest. For what its worth, I have a set of computer ratings I do (sorry, didn't get them on my web-site this year) and using my ratings that adhere to BCS rules (can't use margin of victory) would have a rematch of Virginia Tech and LSU, these teams having a small margin over #3 Missouri that had been #1.

I have ratings that do include margin of victory (I believe it must be accounted for, but can't reward running up the score) and those have Ohio State (despite my personal belief they don't deserve it) and Florida! But Florida has an ever so small gap over Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Southern Cal so you could take any one of those as the #2.

What this season begs for is a playoff though. There really is no way of crowning a national champion in a single game this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see a split championship this year as you could easily have differing #2s in the polls with the computers deciding who it is, and then with this season, who knows would would win leaving more questions to be answered. And the AP gets to vote and crown theirs completely separate from the BCS anyway.

On a positive note, it does have everyone talking about College Football ...




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