A Statistical Analyst's FBS College Football Predictions: September 2, 2010

Chris VafinisContributor IIISeptember 2, 2010

Let me start by introducing myself: I am a statistician by profession, as well as a computer programmer and football analyst.  Two years ago, I began researching game theory and how to predict college football games.  For the 2008 and 2009 season, I created an algorithm based on similar games model to predict the winner of each FBS vs. FBS game as well as prediction against the spread.

My similar games model takes six years of data to rank each of the 120 FBS football teams.  A team is ranked based on how they fare against how they should fare.  For example, based on a team's rank and whether they are home or away will determine what they should win or lose by. 

Therefore, a team who wins but not by as much as they should or by allowing too many points can actually lose rank even though they won.  The same is true for a team that loses but does not lose by much or does not allow many points. 

Unfortunately, though, is my predictor does not take into account player suspensions or injuries.

So based on this ranking, I look at the most current two to three years of games and find the closest matching 15 games.  Then, I predict the outcome of the current game from these 15 games' outcomes.  I base my factors of matching on in or out of conference matchup, the rank of the home team vs the rank of the away team, neutral site game or not.

For 2009 I finished at 75% correct for win-loss prediction and a little over 52% for against the spread.  I am using this same algorithm to predict the games for 2010.  I am only able to predict the games for the current day since a future game might depend on the game today since I am using similar games model.

For Thursday. we have seven games to predict.  Let's get started:

1) Marshall at Ohio St (7:30 PM EST) Spead Ohio St -28.5

    Ohio St - 26   Marshall - 0   Ohio St does not cover the spread

2) Minnesota at Middle Tennessee St (7:30 PM EST) Spread Minn -3

    Middle TN St - 39   Minnesota - 20    Minnesota does not cover the spread (kinda concerned on this since star QB is suspended for Middle TN St

3) Southern Mississippi at South Carolina (7:30 PM EST) Spread South Carolina -14

    South Carolina - 22    Southern Miss - 0  South Carolina does cover the spread

4) Florida Atlantic at UAB (8:00 PM EST) Spread UAB -15

    UAB - 26    Florida Atlantic - 18    UAB does not cover the spread

5) Northern Illinois at Iowa State (8:00 PM EST) Spread Iowa St -3.5

    Iowa St - 18    Northern Illinois - 7    Iowa St does cover the spread

6) Pittsburgh at Utah (8:30 PM EST) Spread Utah -3

    Pittsburgh - 26    Utah - 11    Utah does not cover the spread

7) Southern Cal at Hawaii (11:00 PM EST) Spread USC -21

    Southern Cal - 23    Hawaii - 7    Souther Cal does not cover the spread

Come back tomorrow for Friday's picks and see how these picks fared.