BYU Football: (Un)Scientific Prediction On BYU’s 2014 Season


On this week’s Cougar Center Podcast, Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix on Twitter) of College Football Matrix gave his predictions on BYU football’s upcoming season. I actually really like the way that Bartoo’s matrix works. He takes a number of different fields of data (recruiting and coaching for example) and he inputs those numbers into his matrix. I’m not completely sure how he has his formula set up, but in the end he gets numbers and is able to predict winners of games and the season record for each team in the country. For the most part, he’s pretty accurate.

Bartoo broke down BYU’s team and BYU’s upcoming schedule. According to his matrix, there are a couple of games where the schedule plays against BYU and he predicts losses because they are on the road. Listening to him break down his 7-5 prediction with Mitch and Bean was enjoyable. He was fair, he was honest and he didn’t come across as a guy that was looking to bash BYU. It was very clear that he has his numbers and he trusts those numbers.

Nov 30, 2013; Reno, NV, USA; BYU Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill runs for a touchdown in the late into second half of their NCAA football game with Nevada Wolf Pack at MacKay Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen/USA TODAY Sports. BYU won 28-23.

Because I’m a nerd and I have too much time on my hands, I decided that I would try to replicate Bartoo’s matrix using my own data and my own formula to predict BYU’s upcoming season. I took data from previous recruiting classes, offensive and defensive output from last year, returning starters, coach ranks andhome/away games and combined all of that information into one “composite team score.” As I initially started this adventure, I was determined to come up with a formula that would put BYU at 12-0 this season and prove Mr. Dave Bartoo wrong, but I really couldn’t. The numbers speak for themselves.

Before taking any of the home/away factors into consideration, I took a look at the composite team rankings. BYU ended up with a ranking of 82.34. (I’m not sure what the cap is, but Alabama finished at 110 and some change.) To put some perspective on that number, UConn is the worst team that BYU will face with a ranking of 47.86. (They’ve had some really poor recruiting classes, a new coach and a poor showing all of last year.) I would say BYU is on the high side of average, but still right in the middle.

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My formula came up with slightly different results, however, but if you listen to Bartoo break down his prediction Cougar Center, I think that are results are closer than you’d think. My formula (which admittedly is very un-scientific and doesn’t have anywhere near the track record that Bartoo’s has) puts BYU at 9-3 this season with losses to Texas, Houston and UCF. Even though I’m predicting two more wins than Bartoo is predicting, the numbers that I came up with have the games against Boise State and Virginia as almost toss up games. If a ball bounces the wrong way, or a tipped pass ends up as an interception, BYU could lose games to both Boise State and Virginia and finish at 7-5 according to my formula as well.

My formula is very basic, but I’m curious to follow the season and see how true these numbers hold up. It’s not sophisticated enough to give me score predictions, but here is the breakdown of how my formula predicts BYU’s schedule.

at Connecticut (47.86): 2+ touchdown win

Sep 21, 2013; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars running back Jamaal Williams (21) runs against the Utah Utes at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

at Texas (92.73): 2+ touchdown loss

vs. Houston (85.09): 1 touchdown loss

vs. Virginia (76.65): Win, but a toss-up game

vs. Utah State (72.38): 2 touchdown win

at UCF (86.51): 10 point loss

vs. Nevada (63.61): 2+ touchdown win

at Boise State (79.77): Win, but a toss-up game

at Middle Tennessee (63.61): 2+ touchdown win

vs. UNLV (72.89): 2+ touchdown win

vs. Savannah State (I may be a nerd but not nerdy enough to calculate FCS schools): Huge win

at California (71.50): 10 point win

Do I really think BYU finishes 7-5? No. But after looking at the data, it’s hard to really argue that it’s out of the question. There is a lot of talent on teams like Cal and Virginia. They’re not great teams, but they still manage to get good players and could still present troubles for BYU. Houston, UCF and Boise State aren’t world-beaters either, but they still have a lot of returning talent and could be really good teams. BYU walked all over Texas last year, but they’re still Texas and that will be a huge test for BYU.

Do you agree or disagree with the formula or with Dave Bartoo?