College Football

How well I predicted the college football season – conference standings

Update: I have updated this to include the true calculations since I was wildly off the first time.  And I call myself a former math teacher…updates are in italics.

I am an avid reader of the Phil Steele College Football magazine every year.  In my honest opinion, no one does a more thorough look into the upcoming college football season than Phil Steele.  The guy eats, drinks, breathes, sleeps, and shits college football.

In his magazine he refers to being the best magazine for predictions over the past two decades.  The way this is tabulated is through a site called  It is a treasure trove of information on college football and one of the charts he does is how the various preseason magazines do on predicting conference standings and puts the results up against each other.  Overall, Phil Steele has the best predictions over the past two decades and has won the season title a few times as well.  This year is no exception.  Phil Steele barely beat the website Cap Heresy for the preseason prediction title.

I figured I would see how well I did based on the calculations from that site as well.  My guess is I would finish dead last but I wanted to know for sure how shitty my prognostications were.  How this works is as follows:

  • Take my conference standings and rank the teams from first to worst.  In the case of a tie, an average of the rankings would be given to both teams.  For example, if team A and team B were predicted to be tied for 3rd, then they would get the average of the 3rd and 4th rankings, 3.5.
  • Then look at the actual conference standings from this season.  However, if there are two teams tied for, say, 2nd place, they will receive the numbers 2 and 3.  The number closest to the prediction will be used in calculations.
  • Find the difference for every team.
  • Add up the numbers and that’s the total score.

For your information to start, Phil Steele won with a 119, beating Cap Heresy’s 120.  The worst score was 155 by College Football Matrix.  The average was in the 130s somewhere (I didn’t feel like finding that number).  As for my score, I did the calculations and came out with a….

166.  Actually, it was a 142.

Holy shit not terrible but not that great.  142?  I probably could have picked at random and got a better score than that.  Where did I go wrong?  Here are a few reasons:

  • Picking Auburn dead last in the SEC West killed me.  The difference was 5 points (they finished in a tie for first in the SEC West) and I had a 9 for the division, worse than any other magazine.  Originally I had calculated 11 but the right calculation is 9, still pretty shitty.
  • Did pretty good with the Big Ten Leaders with a 5…until I found out that tied me for last.  Same with the Big Ten Legends and my 13 (also tied for last; actually one point from last after re-calculation).
  • Big 12…14 (actually 12…but not good).  Picking Baylor tied for 6th hurt.  I see a pattern here.
  • It seems most of the conferences I didn’t do well, but nothing worse than the Conference USA West.  I scored a 19.  Basically that says I could have put the teams in a hat and had a 90% chance of picking a better set of rankings.

Ok I am done with this.  In summary, I sucked.  Hopefully I do a bit better this coming year (or I calculated it wrong and I actually didn’t do too badly).  I will look at some other predictions I made in a future post and then start looking at the next season…months ahead of time.

Update: After re-calculating, I don’t feel so bad.  So I will go ahead with conference predictions next season and hope to improve my standing (although I am still sure I will never beat Phil Steele).


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