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.


…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.


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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


2 thoughts on “Projected Top Non-Conference and Conference Games of All of 2016

  1. Pingback: Projected Top Games of All of 2016 – Version 1.5 | Above the Press Box

  2. Pingback: Projected Best Games to Watch 2016 Edition – Version 2.0 | Above the Press Box

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