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Penn State Nittany Lions

Predictive metrics site still believes Penn State is very good (#5), but quite unlucky

I’ve become Mister Metrics for a day. Not really even for a day, just for an hour or so. Which, considering that 5-hour-plus abomination baseball product I sat through much of last night, is a concession to gratuitous trendiness.

Anyway, just to talk you Penn State fans off the cliff, my favorite of the noteworthy predictive metrics sites,, still has Penn State ranked as the #5 team in the nation, even after the losses to Ohio State and Michigan State. The Nittany Lions not only rank ahead of unbeaten Notre Dame (#10) and Central Florida (#17), but also ahead of all 1-loss teams except Michigan (#4).

If you’re not familiar with predictive metrics, it’s a pursuit that doesn’t simply rate what a team has done but attempts to extrapolate the results into future activity in the season. TeamRankings has the top 10 this way (with projected W-L in parentheses crunched out to one decimal place):

1. Alabama (11.7-0.3)

2. Clemson (11.5-0.5)

3. Ohio State (11.0-1.0)

4. Michigan (9.6-2.4)

5. Penn State (8.9-3.1)

6. Oklahoma (9.9-2.1)

7. Georgia (10.1-1.9)

8. Louisiana State (9.2-2.8)

9. Mississippi State (7.7-4.3)

10. Notre Dame (10.9-1.1)

Yes, it believes Penn State is still most likely headed for 9-3 with Ohio State and Michigan also losing once more along the way.

As you can see, TeamRankings is very enamored with the Southeastern Conference. So much so that it believes Joe Moorhead’s Mississippi State Bulldogs to be the 9th-best team in the nation even though they’re only the 4th-best in the SEC and will most probably end up 8-4.

A couple of other things jump out at you:

This metric believes #1 Alabama is way better than everyone in the nation with a point rating of 33.4 in its system and that Clemson is way better than everyone else at 26.2. That the next five teams are clustered closely together from #3 Ohio State (23.7) to #7 Georgia (22.3) and that there’s another steep drop-off to the next group beginning with #8 LSU (17.4).

Oh yeah, there’s another stat you’ll enjoy: TeamRankings, like many such analytics sites, has a “luck factor.” It believes Penn State (#120) is the 11thunluckiest team of all 130 in FBS football, though not as unlucky as Purdue (#124) or Nebraska (#127).

James Franklin, Jeff Brohm and especially Scott Frost would probably agree.


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