Projected Top Non-Conference and Conference Games of All of 2016 – Version 1.5

Using the updated ESPN FPI projections, here are the revised top non-conference and conference games of 2016. Change in a game’s rank in parenthesis. Team rankings are a composite ranking from the two rating services I used to create this list (Bill Connelly’s S&P+ and ESPN’s FPI).

TOP 15 NON-CONFERENCE GAMES OF 2016

Four-Star Games 

1. #2 Florida St. vs. #6 Ole Miss (+2)
Monday, September 5, ESPN

2. #14 Notre Dame at #8 USC (-1)
Saturday, November 26

3. #11 UCLA at #20 Texas A&M (+1)
Saturday, September 3

4. #18 Stanford at #14 Notre Dame (-2)
Saturday, October 15

5. #3 Alabama vs. #8 USC (–)
Saturday, September 3

6. #14 Ohio St. at #3 Oklahoma (+1)
Saturday, September 17

7. #33 Penn St. at #27 Pitt (-1)
Saturday, September 10

8. #18 Florida at #2 Florida St. (N/A)
Saturday, November 26

Three-Star Games 

9. #11 Georgia vs. #25 North Carolina (-1)
Saturday, September 3

10. #28 Michigan St. at #14 Notre Dame (+2)
Saturday, September 17, NBC

11. #27 Pitt at #16 Oklahoma St. (-1)
Saturday, November 26

12.#23 Oregon at #26 Nebraska (-3)
Saturday, September 17

13. #28 Arkansas at #30 TCU (-2)
Saturday, September 10

14. #39 BYU vs. #30 West Virginia (-1)
Saturday, September 24

15. #14 Notre Dame at #29 Texas (N/A)
Sunday, September 4

 

TOP CONFERENCE MATCH-UPS OF 2016

ACC

1.  #3 Clemson at #2 Florida St. (–)
Saturday, October 29

2. #27 Pitt at #25 North Carolina (+2)
Saturday, September 24

3. #27 Pitt at #30 Miami (-1) 
Saturday, November 5

4. #2 Florida St. at #16 Louisville (+1)
Saturday, September 17

5. #25 North Carolina at #30 Miami (-2)
Saturday, October 15

6. #30 Miami at #37 Virginia Tech (+1) 
Thursday, October 20, ESPN

7. #37 Virginia Tech at #27 Pitt (-1) 
Thursday, October 27, ESPN

8. #30 Miami at #40 NC State (–) 
Saturday, November 19

9. #16 Louisville at #3 Clemson (–)
Saturday, October 1

10. #25 North Carolina at #2 Florida St. (N/A) 
Saturday, October 1

BIG TEN

1. Michigan at Ohio St. (–)
Saturday, November 26

2. Ohio St. at Michigan St. (+1) 
Saturday, November 19

3. Michigan St. at Penn St. (-1) 
Saturday, November 26

4. Nebraska at Ohio St. (+5)  
Saturday, November 5

5. Iowa at Penn St. (+1) 
Saturday, November 5

6. Nebraska at Wisconsin (-2) 
Saturday, October 29

7. Wisconsin at Michigan St. (-2) 
Saturday, September 24

8. Nebraska at Iowa (+2) 
Friday, November 25

9. Wisconsin at Iowa (-2) 
Saturday, October 22

10. Michigan at Michigan St. (-2) 
Saturday, October 29

BIG 12

1. #16 Oklahoma St. at #13 Baylor 
Saturday, September 24

2. #13 Baylor at #3 Oklahoma 
Saturday, November 12

3. #30 West Virginia at #29 Texas 
Saturday, November 12

4. #30 TCU at #30 West Virginia (+1) 
Saturday, October 22

5. #30 TCU at #29 Texas (-1) 
Friday, November 25

6. #16 Oklahoma St. at #3 Oklahoma (+1) 
Saturday, December 3

7. #16 Oklahoma St. at #30 TCU (+3) 
Saturday, November 19

8. #29 Texas at #16 Oklahoma St. (+1) 
Saturday, October 1

9. #30 West Virginia at #16 Oklahoma St. (-3) 
Saturday, October 29

10. #13 Baylor at #29 Texas (N/A) 
Saturday, October 29

PAC-12

1. #8 USC at #10 Washington (–) 
Saturday, November 12

2. #8 USC at #11 UCLA (+2) 
Friday, November 19

3. #18 Stanford at #11 UCLA (-1) 
Saturday, September 24

4. #18 Stanford at #10 Washington (-1) 
Friday, September 30

5. #8 USC at #18 Stanford (–) 
Saturday, September 17

6. #18 Stanford at #23 Oregon (+1) 
Saturday, November 12

7. #23 Oregon at #8 USC (-1) 
Saturday, November 5

8. #10 Washington at #23 Oregon (–) 
Saturday, October 8

9. #48 Arizona at #42 Washington St. (–) 
Saturday, November 5

10. #48 Arizona at #38 Utah (N/A) 
Saturday, October 8

SEC

1. #3 Alabama at #1 LSU (–) 
Saturday, November 5

2. #6 Ole Miss at #1 LSU (+4) 
Saturday, October 22

3. #3 Alabama at #6 Ole Miss (+2) 
Saturday, September 17

4. #6 Tennessee at #11 Georgia (-2) 
Saturday, October 1

5. #11 Georgia at #6 Ole Miss (-2) 
Saturday, September 24

6. #3 Alabama at #6 Tennessee (-2) 
Saturday, October 15

7. #18 Florida vs. #11 Georgia (–) 
Saturday, October 29

8. #20 Texas A&M at #21 Auburn (+1) 
Saturday, September 17

9. #18 Florida at #22 Arkansas (-1) 
Saturday, November 5

10. #18 Florida at #6 Tennessee (N/A) 
Saturday, September 24

AMERICAN

1. #44 Houston at #64 Cincinnati (–)
Thursday, September 15, ESPN

2. #43 South Florida at #61 Temple (–)
Friday, October 21, ESPN

3. #43 South Florida at #64 Cincinnati (–)
Saturday, October 1

4. #44 Houston at #73 Navy (–) 
Saturday, October 8, CBSSN

5. #73 Navy at #43 South Florida (–) 
Friday, October 28, ESPN2

CONFERENCE USA

1. #54 Western Kentucky at #75 Marshall (–)
Saturday, November 26

2. #75 Marshall at #85 Southern Miss (–)
Saturday, October 29

3. #89 Middle Tennessee at #75 Marshall (+1)
Saturday, November 12

4. #91 Louisiana Tech at #85 Southern Miss (-1)
Friday, November 25

5. #91 Louisiana Tech at #89 Middle Tennessee (–)
Saturday, September 24

MAC

1.  #74 Bowling Green at #71 Toledo (–)
Saturday, October 15

2. #71 Toledo at #61 Western Michigan (–) 
Friday, November 25

3. #78 Northern Illinois at #61 Western Michigan (–)
Saturday, October 8

4. #79 Central Michigan at #78 Northern Illinois (–)
Saturday, October 15

5. #78 Northern Illinois vs. #71 Toledo (–)
Wednesday, November 9

MOUNTAIN WEST

1. #35 Boise St. at #75 Air Force 
Friday, November 25

2. #79 Utah St. at #35 Boise St. 
Saturday, October 1

3. #87 San José St. at #35 Boise St. 
Friday, November 4, ESPN2

4. #75 Air Force at #79 Utah St. (+1)
Saturday, September 24

5. #57 San Diego St. at #79 Utah St. (-1)
Friday, October 28

SUN BELT

1. #63 Appalachian St. at #69 Georgia Southern (–) 
Thursday, October 27, ESPNU

2. #69 Georgia Southern at #91 Arkansas St. (–)
Wednesday, October 5, ESPN2

3. #91 Arkansas St. at #99 Troy (–)
Thursday, November 17, ESPNU

4. #99 Troy at #69 Georgia Southern (N/A)
Saturday, December 3

5. #106 Georgia St. at #99 Troy (-1)
Saturday, October 15

 

 

Projected Top Games of All of 2016 – Version 1.5

UPDATE 2: I butchered up the rankings really badly the first time. There was an error in my spreadsheet. Rankings have been fixed (and make more sense now!). More than one team could have the same ranking due to ties in the composite ranking.

UPDATE: I added the composite rankings for each team. Remember, the projected game quality is not based on rankings. It’s based on the percentile of the sums and differences of each rating systems values. Those are then averaged to get an overall game rating. For example, #6 at #2 is rated higher than #4 at #1 because, while both games’ have a high percentile sum, the S&P+ ratings have a greater difference between the two teams (4.6 compared to only 2.4 for Bama/LSU). So they both end up being five-star games, but the edge goes to the Bama/LSU game for being a better projected matchup.

ESPN recently updated it’s FPI projections, so I updated the top games as well.

Here is the first version of the 2016’s top games.

Here’s an explanation of the numbers I’m using to rank the games.

The change in the game’s rank is in parenthesis.

TOP 25 GAMES OF 2016

Five-Star Games 

Two new five-star games have been added.

1. #3 Alabama at #1 LSU (–)
Saturday, November 5

2. #3 Clemson at #2 Florida St. (–)
Saturday, October 29

3. #6 Ole Miss at #1 LSU (+10)
Saturday, October 22

4. #3 Alabama at #6 Ole Miss (+8)
Saturday, September 17

5. #6 Tennessee at #11 Georgia (-2)
Saturday, October 1

Four-Star Games 

There were also two new additions to the four-star game list, Stanford/Oregon and Ohio St./Oklahoma.

6. #11 Georgia at #6 Ole Miss (-2)
Saturday, September 24

7. #8 USC at #10 Washington (-2)
Saturday, November 12

8. #8 USC at #11 UCLA (+7)
Saturday, November 19

9. #9 Michigan at #14 Ohio St. (-2)
Saturday, November 26

10. #3 Alabama at #6 Tennessee (+1)
Saturday, October 15

11. #2 Florida St. vs. #6 Ole Miss (in Orlando) (+3)
Monday, September 5, 5 PM, ESPN

12. #14 Notre Dame at #8 USC (-6)
Saturday, November 26

13. #18 Florida vs. #11 Georgia (in Jacksonville) (+5) 
Saturday, October 29, 12:30 PM, CBS

14. #18 Stanford at #11 UCLA (-6)
Saturday, September 24

15. #11 UCLA at #20 Texas A&M (+4)
Saturday, September 3

16. #18 Stanford at #10 Washington (-6)
Saturday, September 30

17. #16 Oklahoma St. at #13 Baylor (–)
Saturday, September 24

18. #8 USC at #18 Stanford (-2)
Saturday, September 17

19. #18 Stanford at #14 Notre Dame (-10)
Saturday, October 15, NBC

20. #20 Texas A&M at #21 Auburn (+1)
Saturday, September 17

21. #18 Stanford at #23 Oregon (N/A)
Saturday, November 12

22. #18 Florida at #22 Arkansas (-2)
Saturday, November 5

23. #3 Alabama vs. #8 USC (in Arlington, TX) (–)
Saturday, September 3

24. #13 Baylor at #3 Oklahoma (–)
Saturday, November 12

25. #14 Ohio St. at #3 Oklahoma (N/A)
Saturday, September 17

 

TOP 20 GROUP OF FIVE GAMES OF 2016

Three-Star Games 

Vandy/WKU was upgraded to a three-star game.

1. #39 BYU at #30 West Virginia
Saturday, September 24

2. #42 Washington St. at #35 Boise St.
Saturday, September 10

3. #39 BYU at #38 Utah
Saturday, September 10

4. #45 Cal at #57 San Diego St.
Saturday, September 10, 7:30 PM, CBSSN

5. #61 Western Michigan at #47 Northwestern
Saturday, September 3

6. #23 Mississippi St. at #39 BYU
Friday, October 14, 6 PM

7. #39 BYU at #28 Michigan St.
Saturday, October 8

8. #39 BYU at #35 Boise St.
Thursday, October 20, 7:15 PM, ESPN

9. #43 South Florida at #51 Syracuse
Saturday, September 17

10. #44 Houston at #64 Cincinnati
Thursday, September 15, ESPN

11. #48 Arizona vs. #39 BYU (in Glendale, AZ)
Saturday, September 3

12. #43 South Florida at #61 Temple
Friday, October 21, ESPN

13. #58 Vanderbilt at #54 Western Kentucky
Saturday, September 24, 12:30 PM

14. #43 South Florida at #64 Cincinnati
Saturday, October 1

15. #11 UCLA at #39 BYU
Saturday, September 17

16. #74 Bowling Green at #71 Toledo
Saturday, October 15

Two-Star Games 

Toledo/WMU was added to the list at #20.

17. #39 BYU at #64 Cincinnati
Saturday, November 5

18. #16 Louisville at #44 Houston
Thursday, November 17, ESPN

19. #63 Appalachian St. at #69 Georgia Southern
Thursday, October 27, 4:30 PM, ESPNU

20. #71 Toledo at #61 Western Michigan
Friday, November 25

Big 12 Expansion – Let History, Geography, and Mathematics Be Your Guide

Since the Big 12 is talking about expanding, I’ve taken a look at the teams who historically, geographically, and mathematically would be good fits in the conference.

TL;DR – Add Houston and SMU. If you want 14 teams, add Memphis and Tulsa too.

Here’s who they shouldn’t add: any team closer to the Atlantic Ocean than to the Mississippi River (Gulf of Mexico excluded), any team that’s closer to the Pacific Ocean than the Mississippi River, or anyone from Ohio.

HISTORY

The Big 12 is basically a combination of the old Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which later split to eventually become the Big 8 and Missouri Valley Conference, and the Southwest Conference.

Missouri Valley (1907-1927)
Kansas
Missouri
Nebraska
Iowa St.
Kansas St.
Oklahoma
Oklahoma St.

The predecessor to the Big 8 began with Kansas, Mizzou, and Nebraska in 1907. Iowa St. joined the following year and Kansas St. in 1913. The Oklahoma schools joined later in the 1920s.

When the MVIAA broke apart, Oklahoma St. stayed in what became the MVC. Joining them later were two schools that still currently have D-IA football:

Missouri Valley Conference (1935-1956)
Oklahoma St.
Tulsa
Houston

Southwest (1915-1996)
Arkansas
Baylor
Rice
Texas
Texas A&M
SMU
TCU

Texas Tech was a member of the Border Conference and West Virginia should be in a conference with Marshall.

So our first tier of candidates are the teams with historical ties the current Big 12 teams.

  1. Missouri – recently left for the SEC, isn’t coming back
  2. Nebraska – recently left for the Big Ten, isn’t coming back
  3. Arkansas – Has been a member of the SEC for almost a quarter century, isn’t coming back.
  4. Rice – current member of C-USA, potential candidate
  5. Texas A&M – recently left for the SEC, isn’t coming back
  6. SMU – current member of American conference, potential candidate
  7. Colorado was an addition to the original seven schools to create the Big 8 – recently left for the Pac-12, isn’t coming back.
  8. Tulsa – current member of American conference, potential candidate
  9. Houston – current member of American conference, potential candidate

GEOGRAPHY

The second tier of candidates will be those who geographically “make sense.” Excluding West Virginia and Texas Tech as geographical outliers, the biggest traveler is Iowa St., who travels a little over 600 miles on average to play other Big 12 schools. Using that number as a guide, the following schools reside in cities approximately 600 miles away or less than at least three current Big 12 members (excluding TTU and WVU). Excluded from the list are those that have already been taken out of consideration above and members of other Power 5 conferences. They are ranked by the number of Big 12 members that are 600 miles away or less.

Within 600 Miles of Eight Schools
Tulsa

Seven Schools
North Texas and SMU (all but Iowa St.)
Arkansas St. (all but Texas)

Six Schools
Memphis (all but Texas and Iowa St.)

Five Schools
Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, Houston, Rice, UTSA, and Texas St. (all but North schools)

Four Schools
Air Force (OU, OK St., K-State, and KU)

Three Schools
Northern Illinois (North schools)
Tulane (UT, BU, and TCU)

MATHEMATICS

Next, I’d assume the Big 12 would want to add as high-quality of a team as possible. Here are the records of the remaining candidates (in no particular order) over the last five years along with their S&P+ five-year average and the three-year trend of their S&P+ numbers.

School 5-Yr. Record S&P+ 5-Yr. Rk. 3-Yr. Trend
Rice 34-30 (.531) #99 (-7.2) down (m = -9.1)
SMU 23-39 (.371) #95 (-5.9) down (-3.4)
Tulsa 30-34 (.469) #76 (-2.0) stable (-1.85)
North Texas 23-38 (.377) #105 (-9.8) down (-15.5)
Houston 47-20 (.701) #50 (2.8) stable (0.3)
Texas St. 20-28 (.417) #114 (-11.6) stable (0.25)
UTSA 22-26 (.458) #109 (-10.2) down (-8.75)
Arkansas St. 44-21 (.677) #68 (0.2) stable (0.6)
Memphis 28-34 (.452) #88 (-5.0) up (4.4)
Louisiana Tech 39-25 (.609) #65 (0.4) up (14.5)
Louisiana-Monroe 24-38 (.387) #110 (-10.3) down (-4.45)
Louisiana-Lafayette 40-24 (.625) #94 (-5.8) down (-3)
Northern Illinois 54-16 (.771) #56 (1.5) stable (0.1)
Tulane 17-45 (.274) #118 (-12.6) down (-9.0)
Air Force 33-32 (.508) #92 (-5.2) up (10.45)

Finally, much like the Big 10 added Rutgers and Maryland for basically no other reason than the markets in which they play, I’d include size of the metro area and attendance as a factor in the decision.

School Metro Pop. Avg. 2015 Attendance
Rice Houston, TX (6.3 million) 19,300
SMU Dallas, TX (7.1 million) 21,000
Tulsa Tulsa, OK (1 million) 19,600
North Texas Dallas, TX (7.1 million) 13,600
Houston Houston, TX (6.3 million) 34,000
Texas St. Austin, TX (1.7 million) 18,200
UTSA San Antonio, TX (2.1 million) 23,000
Arkansas St. Jonesboro-Paragould, AR (0.17 million) 23,000
Memphis Memphis, TN (1.3 million) 39,300
Louisiana Tech Ruston, LA (0.06 million) 21,000
Lousisiana-Monroe Monroe, LA (0.17 million) 13,200
Lousisiana-Lafayatte Lafayette, LA (0.48 million) 21,600
Northern Illinois DeKalb, IL (0.11 million) 13,900
Tulane New Orleans, LA (1.2 million) 22,900
Air Force Colorado Springs, CO (0.69 million) 26,000

Big 12 average attendance: 56,800

After all that, I ranked and gave all of the above information a percent value. I weighted the historical information at 10%, geography at 15% and team quality/market* at 75%. Here are the results.

Team History Geography Math Weighted Total
Houston 50% 40% 84% 74%
SMU 100% 80% 43% 54%
Memphis 0% 60% 51% 47%
Tulsa 50% 100% 35% 46%
Louisiana Tech 0% 40% 50% 43%
Rice 100% 40% 36% 43%
Arkansas St. 0% 80% 41% 43%
Air Force 0% 20% 45% 37%
North Texas 0% 80% 24% 30%
UL-Lafayette 0% 40% 31% 29%
Northern Illinois 0% 0% 37% 28%
Texas St. 0% 40% 29% 27%
UTSA 0% 40% 28% 27%
ULM 0% 40% 14% 17%
Tulane 0% 0% 18% 13%

*Since the Big 12 already has a share of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I halved UNT’s and SMU’s population numbers. Also, since Houston finished first, I halved Rice’s population number since they would be a second addition to the Houston area.

There you have it. If the Big 12 expands by two teams, those spots should go to Houston and SMU. Both are fits historically and geographically. The addition of the Houston area would have to be a good thing in the eyes of the Big 12. Houston is an up-an-coming program who has done well nationally despite being in a Group of Five conference. SMU would bring in the eastern half of DFW and, hopefully, being part of the Big 12 would improve recruiting and a cross-town rivalry could develop with TCU.

If the Big 12 were to expand to 14 teams (a proposition I am in support of since they play nine conference games), they should also add Memphis and Tulsa. Both fit well geographically and while Memphis doesn’t have any direct historical ties to the Big 12, they were members of the MVC with Tulsa for a short time. Memphis and Tulsa are both relatively large markets and would give the Big 12 a corner of the South. Memphis is another team on the rise and would likely be an upper-half team in the expanded Big 12.

Here’s what my 12- and 14-team conference divisions would look like.

12-Teams 14-Teams
North
Iowa St. Iowa St.
K-State K-State
Kansas Kansas
West Virginia West Virginia
Oklahoma St. Oklahoma St.
Oklahoma Oklahoma
Tulsa
South
TCU TCU
SMU SMU
Baylor Baylor
Texas Tech Texas Tech
Texas Texas
Houston Houston
Memphis

What would have been a likely conference championship game in 2015 with these divisions? TCU vs. Oklahoma. I think I’d have been OK with that.

Projected Top Non-Conference and Conference Games of All of 2016

Yesterday, I posted a list of the projected top 25 games of the entire 2016 season. I also included a list of the top 20 games featuring a Group of Five team.

Today, I’m going to break down the projected top games by conference and non-conference match-ups. In other words, the top projected games from each conference as well as the top projected games featuring opponents from different conferences. There will obviously be some overlap with the top 25 games from yesterday.

This is not a list of the games I THINK are going to be the best. It’s created comparing the overall quality of the two teams as well as the difference in quality between the teams. For example, a game pitting the #2 team against the #12 team is going to have a lower score than a game with #7 vs. #8 because of the gap between the teams.

The quality of the teams is derived from the advanced stats projected ratings from Bill Connelly and ESPN.

How S&P+ (Connelly’s system) is created:

To come up with preliminary projections, I create projected S&P+ ratings based on each factor — recruiting impact, returning production*, and recent history — and then blend them together. The projection based on returning production gets the heaviest weight, followed by recruiting, then recent history, which only carries a little bit of weight.

And ESPN’s FPI:

…there are four components to the preseason rating: prior performance, returning starters, recruiting rankings and coaching tenure.

–Prior performance is built off the expected points added framework. The most recent year’s performance is by far the most important piece of information powering preseason FPI, but three more years are added to measure consistency and account for outliers in performance. The most recent year counts almost twice as much as the three years before it.

–Returning starters on offense and defense, with special consideration given to starting or transfer quarterbacks with starting experience, is the second piece of information powering preseason FPI. Because starters interact with other inputs, it’s not as simple as saying an extra returning starter is worth one point. Nonetheless, a starting quarterback is worth about 3.3 points per game to a team returning an average offense (all else equal), and a transfer quarterback is given half the weight of a starter. For more on the addition of transfers, click here.

–FPI uses four recruiting services — ESPN, Rivals, Scouts and Phil Steele — to measure the talent on a team’s roster and add an additional piece of information about which teams are on the rise. The addition of recruiting has been a controversial piece of FPI, but it’s worth noting that it is a very minor component that helps with prediction accuracy. If recruiting were very significant to the ratings, Baylor and TCU would not have ranked second and third, respectively, in 2015’s preseason FPI.

–Coaching tenure is primarily a way to capture the addition of a new head coach. With all else equal, a team’s predictive offensive, defensive and special teams ratings will regress slightly to the mean with the addition of a new coach.

Take it or leave it.

TOP 15 NON-CONFERENCE GAMES OF 2016

Four-Star Games 

1. Notre Dame at USC
Saturday, November 26

2. Stanford at Notre Dame
Saturday, October 15

3. Florida St. vs. Ole Miss (in Orlando)
Monday, September 5, ESPN

4. UCLA at Texas A&M
Saturday, September 3

5. Alabama vs. USC (in Arlington, TX)
Saturday, September 3

6. Penn St. at Pitt
Saturday, September 10

7. Ohio St. at Oklahoma
Saturday, September 17

Three-Star Games 

8. Georgia at North Carolina
Saturday, September 3

9. Oregon at Nebraska
Saturday, September 17

10. Pitt at Oklahoma St.
Saturday, November 26

11. Arkansas at TCU
Saturday, September 10

12. Michigan St. at Notre Dame
Saturday, September 17, NBC

13. BYU at West Virginia
Saturday, September 24

14. Washington St. at Boise St.
Saturday, September 10

15. Texas Tech at Arizona St.
Saturday, September 10

 

TOP CONFERENCE MATCH-UPS OF 2016

ACC

1. Clemson at Florida St.
Saturday, October 29

2. Pitt at Miami
Saturday, November 5

3. North Carolina at Miami
Saturday, October 15

4. Pitt at North Carolina
Saturday, September 24

5. Florida St. at Louisville
Saturday, September 17

6. Virginia Tech at Pitt 
Thursday, October 27, ESPN

7. Miami at Virginia Tech 
Thursday, October 20, ESPN

8. Miami at NC State 
Saturday, November 19

9. Louisville at Clemson
Saturday, October 1

10. Virginia Tech at North Carolina 
Saturday, October 8

BIG TEN

1. Michigan at Ohio St.
Saturday, November 26

2. Michigan St. at Penn St. 
Saturday, November 26

3. Ohio St. at Michigan St. 
Saturday, November 19

4. Nebraska at Wisconsin 
Saturday, October 29

5. Wisconsin at Michigan St. 
Saturday, September 24

6. Iowa at Penn St. 
Saturday, November 5

7. Wisconsin at Iowa 
Saturday, October 22

8. Michigan at Michigan St. 
Saturday, October 29

9. Nebraska at Ohio St.  
Saturday, November 5

10. Nebraska at Iowa 
Friday, November 25

BIG 12

1. Oklahoma St. at Baylor 
Saturday, September 24

2. Baylor at Oklahoma 
Saturday, November 12

3. West Virginia at Texas 
Saturday, November 12

4. TCU at Texas 
Friday, November 25

5. TCU at West Virginia 
Saturday, October 22

6. West Virginia at Oklahoma St.
Saturday, October 29

7. Oklahoma St. at Oklahoma 
Saturday, December 3

8. Baylor at West Virginia
Saturday, December 3

9. Texas at Oklahoma St. 
Saturday, October 1

10. Oklahoma St. at TCU 
Saturday, November 19

PAC-12

1. USC at Washington 
Saturday, November 12

2. Stanford at UCLA 
Saturday, September 24

3. Stanford at Washington 
Friday, September 30

4. USC at UCLA 
Friday, November 19

5. USC at Stanford 
Saturday, September 17

6. Oregon at USC 
Saturday, November 5

7. Stanford at Oregon 
Saturday, November 12

8. Washington at Oregon 
Saturday, October 8

9. Arizona at Washington St. 
Saturday, November 5

10. Oregon at Utah 
Saturday, November 19

SEC

1. Alabama at LSU 
Saturday, November 5

2. Tennessee at Georgia 
Saturday, October 1

3. Georgia at Ole Miss 
Saturday, September 24

4. Alabama at Tennessee 
Saturday, October 15

5. Alabama at Ole Miss 
Saturday, September 17

6. Ole Miss at LSU 
Saturday, October 22

7. Florida vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville) 
Saturday, October 29

8. Florida at Arkansas 
Saturday, November 5

9. Texas A&M at Auburn 
Saturday, September 17

10. Texas A&M at Mississippi St. 
Saturday, November 5

AMERICAN

1. Houston at Cincinnati
Thursday, September 15, ESPN

2. South Florida at Temple
Friday, October 21, ESPN

3. South Florida at Cincinnati
Saturday, October 1

4. Houston at Navy 
Saturday, October 8, CBSSN

5. Navy at South Florida 
Friday, October 28, ESPN2

CONFERENCE USA

1. Western Kentucky at Marshall
Saturday, November 26

2. Marshall at Southern Miss
Saturday, October 29

3. Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss
Friday, November 25

4. Middle Tennessee at Marshall
Saturday, November 12

5. Louisiana Tech at Middle Tennessee
Saturday, September 24

MAC

1. Bowling Green at Toledo
Saturday, October 15

2. Toledo at Western Michigan 
Friday, November 25

3. Northern Illinois at Western Michigan
Saturday, October 8

4. Central Michigan at Northern Illinois
Saturday, October 15

5. Northern Illinois vs. Toledo (in Chicago)
Wednesday, November 9

MOUNTAIN WEST

1. Boise St. at Air Force 
Friday, November 25

2. Utah St. at Boise St. 
Saturday, October 1

3. San José St. at Boise St. 
Friday, November 4, ESPN2

4. San Diego St. at Utah St.
Friday, October 28

5. Air Force at Utah St.
Saturday, September 24

SUN BELT

1. Appalachian St. at Georgia Southern 
Thursday, October 27, ESPNU

2. Georgia Southern at Arkansas St.
Wednesday, October 5, ESPN2

3. Arkansas St. at Troy
Thursday, November 17, ESPNU

4. Georgia St. at Troy
Saturday, October 15

5. Arkansas St. at Louisiana (Lafayette)
Saturday, November 26

 

Plan Accordingly: Projected Top Games of All of 2016

After taking a look at week 1, I thought I might as well take a look at the whole season.

If someone you know is planning a wedding this fall, please feel free to pass this along to them so that, despite their un-American decision to wed in the fall, they can make the best possible choice as they pick a date.

Today’s post is the top games overall broken down by Power 5 or Group of 5 games. Later this week I’ll post the best projected games by conference, non-conference, week, and month, along with some Overtime, Toilet and Blowout Bowls.

I’m using the projected ratings from Bill Connelly’s and ESPN’s advanced stats ranking systems to rank the games.

Games are ranked using a super-scientific system comparing the overall quality of the two teams and the closeness of the match-up.

Most times and TV are still TBD.

TOP 25 GAMES OF 2016

There seems to be a theme running through this list (SEC).

Five-Star Games 

1. Alabama at LSU
Saturday, November 5

2. Clemson at Florida St.
Saturday, October 29

3. Tennessee at Georgia
Saturday, October 1

Four-Star Games 

4. Georgia at Ole Miss
Saturday, September 24

5. USC at Washington
Saturday, November 12

6. Notre Dame at USC
Saturday, November 26

7. Michigan at Ohio St.
Saturday, November 26

8. Stanford at UCLA
Saturday, September 24

9. Stanford at Notre Dame
Saturday, October 15, NBC

10. Stanford at Washington
Saturday, September 30

11. Alabama at Tennessee
Saturday, October 15

12. Alabama at Ole Miss
Saturday, September 17

13. Ole Miss at LSU
Saturday, October 22

14. Florida St. vs. Ole Miss (in Orlando)
Monday, September 5, 5 PM, ESPN

15. USC at UCLA
Saturday, November 19

16. USC at Stanford
Saturday, September 17

17. Oklahoma St. at Baylor
Saturday, September 24

18. Florida vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville)
Saturday, October 29, 12:30 PM, CBS

19. UCLA at Texas A&M
Saturday, September 3

20. Florida at Arkansas
Saturday, November 5

21. Texas A&M at Auburn
Saturday, September 17

22. Texas A&M at Mississippi St.
Saturday, November 5

23. Alabama vs. USC (in Arlington, TX)
Saturday, September 3

24. Baylor at Oklahoma
Saturday, November 12

25. Florida at Tennessee
Saturday, September 24

 

TOP 20 GROUP OF FIVE GAMES OF 2016

If you don’t want to consider BYU a G5 team, then you can title this section “Top 12 Group of Five Games of 2016.”

Three-Star Games 

1. BYU at West Virginia
Saturday, September 24

2. Washington St. at Boise St.
Saturday, September 10

3. Western Michigan at Northwestern
Saturday, September 3

4. Mississippi St. at BYU
Friday, October 14, 6 PM

5. BYU at Michigan St.
Saturday, October 8

6. BYU at Boise St.
Thursday, October 20, 7:15 PM, ESPN

7. BYU at Utah
Saturday, September 10

8. South Florida at Syracuse
Saturday, September 17

9. Cal at San Diego St.
Saturday, September 10, 7:30 PM, CBSSN

10. Houston at Cincinnati
Thursday, September 15, ESPN

11. UCLA at BYU
Saturday, September 17

12. Arizona vs. BYU (in Glendale, AZ)
Saturday, September 3

13. South Florida at Temple
Friday, October 21, ESPN

14. South Florida at Cincinnati
Saturday, October 1

15. Bowling Green at Toledo
Saturday, October 15

Two-Star Games 

16. BYU at Cincinnati
Saturday, November 5

17. Louisville at Houston
Thursday, November 17, ESPN

18. Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky
Saturday, September 24, 12:30 PM

19. Appalachian St. at Georgia Southern
Thursday, October 27, 4:30 PM, ESPNU

20. Western Kentucky at Marshall
Saturday, November 26

 

Plan Accordingly: Projected Top Games – Week 1

Using the projected ratings from Bill Connelly and ESPN advanced stats ranking systems, here’s a preview of Week 1. Start your 124-day countdown.

Games are ranked like recruits: 5 stars, 4 stars, and 3 stars. Just like in recruiting, 2-star and 1-star games won’t be given much attention.

Games are ranked using a super-scientific system comparing the overall quality of the two teams and the closeness of the match-up.

Most times and TV are still TBD. Picks in CAPS.

GAME OF THE WEEK

FLORIDA ST. vs. Ole Miss (in Orlando)
Monday, September 5, 5:00 PM, ESPN

FOUR-STAR GAMES 

UCLA at Texas A&M
Saturday, September 3

ALABAMA vs. USC (in Arlington, TX)
Saturday, September 3

THREE-STAR GAMES

GEORGIA vs. North Carolina (in Atlanta)
Saturday, September 3

Western Michigan vs. NORTHWESTERN
Saturday, September 3

Boston College vs. GEORGIA TECH (in Dublin, Ireland)
Saturday, September 3, 4:30 AM, ESPN2

NOTRE DAME at Texas
Sunday, September 4, 5:00 PM, ESPN

CLEMSON at Auburn
Saturday, September 3

Missouri at WEST VIRGINIA
Saturday, September 3

Arizona vs. BYU (in Glendale, AZ)
Saturday, September 3