Friday, July 8, 2011

Do We REALLY Believe Our Predictions?

Each and every member of Cougar Nation has an opinion about how BYU's football team will do in 2011. We're all excited about Jake Heaps' development, what Ross Apo will bring to the table, and the depth of the defensive front seven.

Some fans are optimistic about the Cougars, saying 11-1 or even 12-0 are likely possibilities. Others feel like about 8-4 is a good result for the first season of independence. we really believe those outcomes are the most likely ones?

To find out, we wanted to simulate the 2011 BYU football season 500 times, based on what BYU fans thought the likelihood of the Cougars coming away with a win in each of their games.

Yesterday, we went to Twitter to find out what some Cougar fans were thinking about the BYU football team's chances for 2011. We asked people to send us what they think BYU's odds - in a percentage form - of winning each game.

Granted, less than 24 hours is not a great amount of time to gather an enormous amount of opinions on Twitter - unless I was Charlie Sheen or David Archuleta - but we were able to gather 11 different Cougar fan voices, including three contributors to Cougaracity.

Here are the averages of what we got from everyone. "Fans" are those who gave us odds and don't write for Cougaracity. "Blog" are from the blog contributors. "Everyone" is a combination of the two.

Opponent Fans Blog Everyone
AT Ole Miss 70% 68% 69%
AT Texas 53% 49% 52%
Utah 68% 80% 71%
UCF 69% 76% 71%
Utah St. 90% 96% 92%
San Jose St 93% 96% 94%
AT Oregon St 64% 64% 64%
Idaho State 95% 96% 95%
Vs. TCU 50% 56% 52%
Idaho 91% 93% 92%
NM St 93% 96% 94%
AT Hawaii 70% 75% 71%

Then we put each set of odds through a simulation for 500 seasons to give us a solid sample size, and below are the results with the percentage of likelihood for each outcome:

Record Fans Blog Everyone
12-0 = 2.4% 2.4% 2.8%
11-1 = 12.2% 17.0% 13.8%
10-2 = 25.8% 27.6% 24.6%
9-3 = 28.2% 27.6% 30.4%
8-4 = 20.4% 16.4% 17.4%
7-5 = 8.2% 7.2% 7.2%
6-6 = 2.6% 1.2% 3.0%
5-7 = 0.2% 0.6% 0.8%

Judging by the likelihood of each outcome, unless you're thinking 10-2 or 9-3 for 2011, chances are you may not actually believe your prediction. Sure, it still is possible - unless you're thinking 4-8 or worse - but based on the odds that you provided, it's not likely.

Here are some other things we found to be pretty interesting:

1. 12-0: As much as I hope and pray for an undefeated season, based on the odds from everyone, it's more likely BYU will 6-6 or worse. The odds for 11-1 aren't bad, but 9-3 and 10-2 seem to be the winners for the most likely scenario.

2. Going Bowling: According to the results of these odds, there's a 99.2% chance of BYU going to a bowl. I know none of us really saw not going to a bowl, but it's good to see anyway.

3. Reason To Be Optimistic: After going through what we did in 2010, I don't think any of us have a right to be disappointed with at least a 9-3 regular season record, and that seems like a good possibility with 71.6% of the simulated seasons going that way.

4. Rank of Opponents:
It's always interesting to know which games fans deem to be the most difficult ones. Fans believed this to be the order from difficult to easy:

1) TCU - Not surprising considering our recent history against them and how they did last year, but they lost some player and won't be 2010 TCU. Nevertheless, they'll still be good.

2) Texas - Texas has a great program and out of the teams that struggled last year, you have to think they are likely the ones that can get back quickly.

3) Oregon State - THIS surprised me. They had an awful year and lose Quizz Rodgers and others. We'll see.

4) Ole Miss - This is about where I'd have them. Not very good last year and not a lot of evidence would lead one to believe they have improved that much. Nevertheless, it's an SEC team.

5) UCF - Surprising. Yes, they had a great season, but they lost a lot of experience from last season. I don't expect them to be bad, but to expect them to be what they were is asking a lot.

6) TIE - Utah AND Hawaii - What is Utah doing down here?! Utah is a good team. I think we'll win, but do we really think so little of the Utes?! We've put UCF and Oregon State ahead of them, and we've tied them with Hawaii?! OK. Games at Hawaii are crazy, but I question that.

8) Utah State - One of the games I am most looking forward to. This was the turning point last year, and after watching the USU fans storm the field after beating a 1-4 BYU team, I am ready to watch BYU fans storm the field after DEMOLISHING USU. Utah State beat us last year, but we're still OK with Cougar fans thinking VERY little of them.

9) Idaho - Sure.

10) San Jose State - Yes.

11) New Mexico State - OK.

12) Idaho State - Only surprised they weren't lower on this list.

Thanks to @zbloxham, @JakeHatchKSL, @kugrlover, @bigbman24, @ksav07, @puttforbogey, @TPFOP, and @uncle_shep for participating. Click on them to follow on Twitter.

Also, thanks to Cougaracity contributors @smg1981, @d_anderson11, and @wisc_coug for their help as well.

***If you want to list your own odds in the comments section, we will provide you with the the likelihood of the outcomes.

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