2019 Beta_Rank Projections: Who has Upside?
I enjoy this every year because its part of how I try to explain models and math to people; they are an excellent place to start and then you add in things that you know that the model does not.
The projection model is essentially a more complex version of this simple equation
projection = recruiting + returning production + prior performance + error
So if you had crazy injuries last season at an important position (TCU, Texas Tech, Arizona) or you hired a new coordinator that you expect to make a big difference in game planning and playcalling (Oklahoma) or you just have heard from your buddy who knows a waterboy that your entire special teams unit is now special then you should bring that info on board. This article is my version of that. I am trying to figure out who might outperform the projection model in Beta_Rank this season (NOT IN W-L RECORD).
I also am running a modified projection model that includes a school specific development and coaching effect and I will include that for the teams I pick out.
7. Mississippi State
8. Penn State
9. Ohio State
10. Texas A&M
13. Notre Dame
16. Florida State
Upside: #11 Oklahoma (#6 in Modified Model)
The Sooners lose a ton on offense and have a brand new starting QB, but they are bringing in the best available QB on the transfer market and still have Lincoln Riley calling plays. They add underrated DC Alex Grinch and rank #13 in returning production on defense. I like this Sooners team to be in the playoff hunt.
Other candidates : LSU, Wisconsin
Downside: #15 Texas (#20 in Modified Model)
Texas would be a lot more back for me if they were bringing more production back and had less of their projection built off stellar recruiting. The Horns struggled last season when they didn't win the turnover battle and I think they could sink a little bit this season. It may keep things lively for Tom Herman, but if Ehlinger comes back for his senior year that might be the season for the Horns.
Other candidates : Penn State, Oregon
25. Miami (Florida)
26. South Carolina
28. Iowa State
31. Oklahoma State
36. Washington State
40. West Virginia
Upside: #31 Oklahoma State (#16 in Modified Model)
The modified model rates Mike Gundy and staff pretty highly and I tend to agree. Most of their losses are on the offensive side of the ball and that is where they normally shine. I think the offense is fine and will be good, but they return enough on defense that you could see some improvement there which could bump them.
Other candidates : Pittsburgh, Washington,
Downside: #25 Miami (#23 in Modified Model)
Miami was such a mess last season on offense and it's not like they return much to build off. They and the Trojans (both in the top 16 in recruiting) are just too talented to be this bad in the model's eyes, but it's going to be hard for them to make a big leap with so little coming back on defense too.
Other candidates: West Virginia, USC, Nebraska
43. Michigan State
44. Arizona State
45. Kansas State
53. North Carolina
54. Appalachian State
55. Boise State
56. Virginia Tech
58. North Carolina State
59. Texas Tech
Upside: #52 Memphis (#26 in Modified Model)
You could easily pick TCU, Arizona, and Texas Tech here, maybe even Michigan State if you are feeling wild, but this is also where the workhorse projection model usually puts the best Group of 5 teams and Memphis is a team to watch out for. The Tigers kept Mike Norvell, who seems to be holding out for a big job, and the rank #7 in returning production. This Tigers team is dangerous and that end of season game against Cincinnati might be the Group of 5 game to watch this season.
Other candidates : TCU, Texas Tech, Arizona, UCF, Kansas State
Downside: #47 Maryland (#70 in Modified Model)
It's not that I don't think Mike Locksley can redeem himself after his abysmal and scandal plagued tenure as head coach at New Mexico, largely forgotten after his time at Alabama, but I don't think this Maryland team has a ton going for it in year one. They don't have much returning production and they haven't recruited well. Locksley is an excellent recruiter with ties to the greater DC area and put together some great offense at Bama. He could get rolling in College Park, but probably not this year.
Other candidates: Kentucky, Mississippi, UCLA
62. Wake Forest
65. Florida International
67. Southern Mississippi
68. Georgia Tech
69. Florida Atlantic
70. Boston College
72. Utah State
77. North Texas
78. La. Tech
79. Arkansas State
82. San Diego State
83. Northern Illinois
85. South Florida
86. Georgia Southern
88. Miami (Ohio)
89. Fresno State
Upside: #76 Ohio (#57 in Modified Model)
The Modified Model is designed to pickup things that the regular model misses and the service academies and schools like Ohio are good examples. Ohio doesn't return a ton of production and hasn't recruited exceptionally well, but that likely won't matter as much as it would elsewhere. Frank Solich has a solid identity established with the Bobcats and they should be pretty good in 2019.
Other candidates : Army, BYU, Houston, UAB
Downside: #84 Rutgers (#103 in Modified Model)
It's hard to find good downside candidates down here, but the Scarlet Knights just haven't been well coached and they don't have any other measurables going for them. If the season heads very south in W-L then the team could mail it in and they could be even worse than predicted in the model.
Other candidates: Illinois, Fresno State, Utah State
91. Western Michigan
93. Air Force
94. Middle Tennessee State
98. Texas State
99. Louisiana Lafayette
100. Louisiana Monroe
101. Western Kentucky
104. Eastern Michigan
109. East Carolina
110. Colorado State
111. Bowling Green
114. Oregon State
117. Georgia State
118. Kent State
119. Coastal Carolina
120. New Mexico State
121. Ball State
123. San Jose State
125. Old Dominion
126. South Alabama
127. New Mexico
128. Central Michigan
Upside: #108 Liberty (#92 in Modified Model)
The future home of Art Briles and Dave Bliss has a lot of returning production and a new head coach who is pretty good at the XO's part of the game. The Flames could make some waves in Freeze's first year if things mesh.
Other candidates : Wyoming, Air Force, Navy
Downside: #103 UNLV (#113 in Modified Model)
The Modified Model really doesn't think much of Tony Sanchez's effect coaching and development effect. It's almost like hiring a high school coach was not the smoothest move by the Rebels.
Other candidates: Can you really get much worse?