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College Football Preview: Which Teams Are on Upset Alert After SEC, Pac-12 Teams Shocked?

College Football Preview: Which Teams Are on Upset Alert After SEC, Pac-12 Teams Shocked?

No “SEC, SEC” chants could be heard as Temple scored a stunning road win on the new SEC Network. Rutgers carried the Big Ten banner for the first time, traveling to the Left Coast for a big upset against the Pac-12. The first college playoff season started in shocking fashion as Thursday night closed with conference ratings that looked backward; 1, American (former Big East) +47; 2, Big Ten +22; 3, Sun Belt -2; 4, Pac12 -3; 5, SEC -6; 6, ACC -7; 7, Mountain West -19.

Conference USA and the Mid-American start Friday, while the Big 12 is focused on Oklahoma State’s opener against defending National Champion Florida State Saturday. All 65 teams facing non-conference FBS opponents in this opening week are on the table below as early games will determine how strong the case will be at the end of the year for teams’ arguments for being included in the first ever four-team playoff.

The ratings table below builds on Massey Ratings to evaluate each conference’s rating each week based on the following factors:

1. DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY. The degree of difficulty for each game gives the point difference the AVERAGE FBS team would expect if they played the same opponent in the same venue. The average team would expect to lose by 8 points playing in Seattle against Washington State, so Rutgers kicked off with a +8 for degree of difficulty.

2. CONFERENCE RANK. Rutgers is 11 points worse than the average team in the Big Ten, so the Big Ten gets an extra +11 for the game since they are not represented by one of their stronger members. Add the two together and the Big Ten started the Rutgers game with a +19 (obviously Ohio State at Washington State would have given the Big Ten a much better chance in the game since Ohio State is 11 points better than the average Big Ten team so would have had to start with a -11 instead of +11). 

3. FINAL MARGIN. The first two numbers are added to the actual result, so the Big Ten would get an above-average rating if Rutgers had just stayed with 19 of Washington State. But when Paul James broke through for the go-ahead touchdown to finish with 173 yards rushing in a 41-38 upset, Rutgers actually added another +3 for the margin of victory to give the Big Ten a +22 for the game. The only higher score was the +47 for the American after Temple’s PJ Walker (pictured) threw for over 200 yards to give the Owls their first win over an SEC team since 1938 by a 37-7 margin.

4. MEDIAN of ALL CONFERENCE GAMES. The Big Ten is favored in five games this week, and has two slight underdogs in Wisconsin (vs. LSU) and Penn State (vs. Central Florida). The SEC had already scored a more typical +27 earlier in the day for Mississippi’s lopsided win over Boise State, which would have given the SEC a slight edge over the Big Ten, but Temple’s win over Vanderbilt gave the SEC a horrendous -39 for the loss to a team that went 2-10 last year – giving the conference a two-game average of -6. 

5. % CHANCE OF WINS/EXPECTED RECORD FOR WEEK. In addition to the GAME SCORE, the table adds the percent chance of a win in each game to determine the conferences anticipated record for the week. The SEC was expected to go 6-2 or a little better as their percent chance of winning added up to 6.19 for the eight games. However, Vandy had a 91% chance of winning and Mississippi had a 70% chance to give them an estimated 1.61 wins for those two games – so Vandy’s loss could make 6-2 rough with Georgia, LSU and Tennessee all having roughly 50-50 games. The ACC was expected to go 4-2 this week, but that included the 69% chance that Wake Forest had. By the same token the Sun Belt was only expected to go 1-4, but with ULM’s upset favored Troy could get them a second win as the favorite vs. UAB.

Here are the ratings and the remaining games for teams against non-conference FBS schools this weekend.

Team Conference chance Opponent Conf Difficulty ConfRnk Res Rate
Connecticut Amer 17% BYU Ind 5 5   10
Houston Amer 74% UT San Antonio CUSA -8 -7   -15
SMU Amer 6% Baylor Big 12 22 0   22
Temple Amer 9% Vanderbilt SEC 13 4 30 47
UCF Amer 56% Penn St Big 10 5 -12   -7
  almost 2-3 1.62           6
Boston College ACC 94% Massachusetts MAC -23 5   -18
Clemson ACC 48% Georgia SEC 19 -11   7
Florida St ACC 69% Oklahoma St Big 12 20 -23   -3
NC State ACC 76% Ga Southern SB -18 13   -5
Virginia ACC 6% UCLA Pac 12 18 13   31
Wake Forest ACC 69% ULM SB -7 7 -7 -7
  almost 4-2 3.62           1
Michigan Big 10 98% Appalachian St SB -24 -3   -27
Nebraska Big 10 85% FL Atlantic CUSA -9 -3   -12
Northwestern Big 10 77% California Pac 12 -9 1   -7
Ohio St Big 10 81% Navy Ind 2 -11   -9
Penn St Big 10 44% UCF Amer 7 0   8
Purdue Big 10 84% W Michigan MAC -26 16   -10
Rutgers Big 10 19% Washington St Pac 12 8 11 3 22
Wisconsin Big 10 41% LSU SEC 20 -10   9
  at least 5-3 5.29           -4
Baylor Big 12 94% SMU Amer -7 -8   -16
Oklahoma Big 12 99% Louisiana Tech CUSA -20 -9   -29
Oklahoma St Big 12 31% Florida St ACC 28 -10   19
Texas Big 12 86% North Texas CUSA -4 -2   -6
West Virginia Big 12 7% Alabama SEC 25 9   34
  at least 3-2 3.17           0
FL Atlantic CUSA 15% Nebraska Big 10 11 -6   5
Louisiana Tech CUSA 1% Oklahoma Big 12 22 5   28
Marshall CUSA 94% Miami OH MAC -26 -11   -37
North Texas CUSA 14% Texas Big 12 15 -11   4
Rice CUSA 9% Notre Dame Ind 16 -8   8
Southern Miss CUSA 99% Mississippi St SEC 12 12   25
UAB CUSA 66% Troy SB -13 8   -5
UT San Antonio CUSA 26% Houston Amer 5 -6   -1
UTEP CUSA 69% New Mexico MWC -13 9   -4
W Kentucky CUSA 33% Bowling Green MAC 0 -6   -6
  at least 4-6 4.26           2
Bowling Green MAC 67% W Kentucky CUSA -3 -16   -19
Massachusetts MAC 6% Boston College ACC -2 13   11
Miami OH MAC 6% Marshall CUSA -4 16   12
W Michigan MAC 16% Purdue Big 10 -8 11   3
  almost 1-3 0.95           2
Boise St MWC 30% Mississippi SEC 13 -11 -22 -19
Colorado St MWC 44% Colorado Pac 12 -1 -3   -4
Fresno St MWC 14% USC Pac 12 19 -8   11
Hawaii MWC 5% Washington Pac 12 15 6   21
New Mexico MWC 69% UTEP CUSA -24 10   -14
UNLV MWC 6% Arizona Pac 12 17 1   18
Utah St MWC 44% Tennessee SEC 9 -12   -3
  at least 2-5 2.12           2
Arizona Pac 12 94% UNLV MWC -10 -1   -11
California Pac 12 23% Northwestern Big 10 7 19   26
Colorado Pac 12 56% Colorado St MWC -3 14   11
UCLA Pac 12 94% Virginia ACC -4 -7   -11
USC Pac 12 86% Fresno St MWC -1 -3   -4
Washington Pac 12 5% Hawaii MWC -9 -4   -14
Washington St Pac 12 19% Rutgers Big 10 -6 5 -3 -4
  almost 4-3 3.77           -1
Alabama SEC 93% West Virginia Big 12 1 -11   -10
Florida SEC 99% Idaho SB -29 5   -25
Georgia SEC 52% Clemson ACC 14 -2   12
LSU SEC 59% Wisconsin Big 10 16 -6   10
Mississippi SEC 70% Boise St MWC 5 0 22 27
Mississippi St SEC 99% Southern Miss CUSA -27 4   -23
Tennessee SEC 56% Utah St MWC 3 7   11
Vanderbilt SEC 91% Temple Amer -12 3 -30 -39
  at least 6-2 6.19           -1
Appalachian St SB 2% Michigan Big 10 11 6   17
Ga Southern SB 24% NC State ACC -4 0   -4
Idaho SB 1% Florida SEC 12 11   23
Troy SB 66% UAB CUSA -17 -6   -22
ULM SB 31% Wake Forest ACC -4 -5 7 -2
  at least 1-4 1.24           2

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