College Football Week 1 Picks and Predictions From WhatIfSports.com image

College Football Week 1 Picks and Predictions

Week 1 predictions for every D-I/FBS college football game

WhatIfSports.com
August 25, 2014

Each Monday, WhatIfSports.com's NCAA college football simulation engine will provide you with game predictions for every D-1 FBS game that upcoming week. The college football simulation engine generates detailed information for each game including each team's chances of winning (Win%) and the average points scored for both teams. Make sure to share the college football information you gained here with your friends by either checking out our NCAA football widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or clicking on the social networking share bar at the top and bottom of this article.

Check out our 2014 College Football Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy and for Upsets of the Week.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of college football simulations are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth charts and statistically based player rankings. Roster modifications are made in cases of injury or suspension and those players are removed from their team's game simulation for that week.

The first week of the college football season is often the most challenging for the WhatIfSports.com college football simulation prediction engine. We need stats to power the guts of the computers and all we have, in some cases, is a shell of what was the 2013 Wisconsin Badgers, 2013 LSU Tigers, 2013 Georgia Bulldogs, and 2013 Clemson Tigers.

The math we often use heading into Week 1 is basic addition and subtraction. Who left for the NFL or graduated? Who's new? Do they have a new coach? We concentrate on how many starters return on both sides of the ball as offensive and defensive tendencies seem to carry over more times than not.

All those depth charts upgrades and downgrades, statistical trends and minutiae power the advanced algorithms which calculate our college football simulation predictions.

With that known, we've doubled up our Whatifsports.com Game of the Week and are showcasing two game predictions to kick off the 2014 college football season.

Game of the Week I: Wisconsin vs. LSU (at Houston NRG Stadium)

The Badgers enter the 2014 season as one of the best Big Ten teams, but historically a bust once they leave the cozy confines of the conference. Wisconsin has lost six out of their last seven bowl games.

Joel Stave returns at quarterback, but he lost his starting gig to junior Tanner McEvoy. McEvoy started games at wide receiver and safety last season for the Badgers, but has yet to start at quarterback outside of spring practice and a few in-house scrimmages.

With the inexperience at quarterback, red-shirt junior running back Melvin Gordon should pick up right where he left off in 2013. Gordon averaged nearly eight yards per carry for over 1,600 yards with 12 rushing touchdowns. The Badgers have finished with a Top 15 rushing offense every season since 2008.

Only three defensive starters return in 2014 - two cornerbacks and a safety. So, the Badgers' defense that finished with the sixth-best scoring defense (16.3 PAPG) is about to embrace a rebuilding year.

LSU lost quarterback Zach Mettenberger (Titans), Jarvis Landry (Dolphins), Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants), and Jeremy Hill (Bengals) to the NFL.

As of press time - five days before the game - LSU had yet to name a starting quarterback. Sophomore Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are competing for the nod, but Les Miles loves these types of mind games. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise. As for how the staring QB decision will impact the simulation engine, it won't sway it. Jennings only threw 29 pass attempts last season, while Harris enjoys all the benefits of a freshman ranking within our engine (think average or slightly below).

Behind the Tigers' new starting quarterback is five-star recruit Leonard Fournette who is about to showcase the skills that made him the top recruit in the nation. According to his resume, he average over 180 rushing yards per game as a freshman at St. Augustine (LA). He finished with 62 rushing touchdowns for his career (plus 15 receiving).

We simulated the Badgers and Tigers 101 times and it's LSU coming away with the win 53 percent of the time by an average score of 23-22.

Game of the Week II: Clemson at Georgia

After losing Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and running back Roderick McDowell, the Tigers' defense should shine brightest early in the season for Dabo Swinney.

The defense is led by Vic Beasley, who recorded 13 sacks with 23 tackles last season. Six more starters also return to the 24th-ranked scoring defense in the land (22.2 PAPG). The Tigers ranked 16th against the pass and 53rd against the rush (155.6 RYAPG) last season. The struggles against the rush could be the opening Georgia needs to secure a Week 1 win - more on that in a second.

On offense, Clemson promoted senior Cole Stoudt to replace Boyd. He completed nearly 80 percent of his passes with five touchdowns in mop-up duty last season for the Tigers. Again, there are so many first-time starters around him, the learning curve could take some time to retool the offense in 2014.

Many pundits believe Georgia has the personnel to win the division. Hutson Mason replaces Aaron Murray behind center, but one of the nation's top running backs, Todd Gurley, returns for his junior season. Gurley missed three games last year, but still racked up over 1,400 total yards with 16 touchdowns and 6.0 yards per rush average. He's a stud and main cog in the offense. Gurley could carve up the Tigers' rush defense.

The Bulldogs defense isn't going to flip the script overnight and that means their 78th-ranked scoring defense of a year ago - 29.0 PAPG - will continue to allow the opposition to find the end zone.

We simulated the Tigers and Bulldogs 101 times and the computers like Georgia 57.9 percent of the time by an average score of 25-24.

College Football Week 1 Predictions
MatchupWin%Avg Score 
William & Mary Tribe 5.07Boxscore
@ Virginia Tech Hokies95.045 
Elon Phoenix 5.09Boxscore
@ Duke Blue Devils95.053 
Liberty Flames 5.08Boxscore
@ North Carolina Tar Heels95.048 
Villanova Wildcats 5.06Boxscore
@ Syracuse Orange95.042 
Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens 5.09Boxscore
@ Pittsburgh Panthers95.046 
Wofford Terriers 5.09Boxscore
@ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets95.044 
Georgia Southern Eagles34.719Boxscore
@ North Carolina State Wolfpack65.326 
Miami (FL) Hurricanes47.522Boxscore
@ Louisville Cardinals52.523 
UCLA Bruins75.727Boxscore
@ Virginia Cavaliers24.316 
Youngstown State Penguins 5.07Boxscore
@ Illinois Fighting Illini95.045 
Indiana State Sycamores 5.07Boxscore
@ Indiana Hoosiers95.050 
UNI Panthers 5.08Boxscore
@ Iowa Hawkeyes95.046 
Jacksonville State Gamecocks 5.08Boxscore
@ Michigan State Spartans95.048 
James Madison Dukes 5.08Boxscore
@ Maryland Terrapins95.044 
Eastern Illinois Panthers 5.09Boxscore
@ Minnesota Golden Gophers95.045 
Appalachian State Mountaineers13.915Boxscore
@ Michigan Wolverines86.128 
Florida Atlantic Owls25.717Boxscore
@ Nebraska Cornhuskers74.328 
California Golden Bears39.621Boxscore
@ Northwestern Wildcats60.425 
Western Michigan Broncos39.621Boxscore
@ Purdue Boilermakers60.424 
Colgate Raiders 5.06Boxscore
@ Ball State Cardinals95.046 
Duquesne Dukes 5.08Boxscore
@ Buffalo Bulls95.041 
New Hampshire Wildcats 5.07Boxscore
@ Toledo Rockets95.045 
Presbyterian Blue Hose 5.09Boxscore
@ Northern Illinois Huskies95.047 
Morgan State Bears 5.07Boxscore
@ Eastern Michigan Eagles95.038 
Howard Bison 5.07Boxscore
@ Akron Zips95.041 
Chattanooga Mocs 5.06Boxscore
@ Central Michigan Chippewas95.040 
Ohio Bobcats52.528Boxscore
@ Kent State Golden Flashes47.525 
Boston College Eagles79.727Boxscore
@ Massachusetts Minutemen20.316 
Marshall Thundering Herd94.134Boxscore
@ Miami (OH) RedHawks 5.916 
Portland State Vikings 5.09Boxscore
@ Oregon State Beavers95.049 
UC Davis Aggies 5.07Boxscore
@ Stanford Cardinal95.049 
Idaho State Bengals 5.09Boxscore
@ Utah Utes95.046 
Weber State Wildcats 5.08Boxscore
@ Arizona State Sun Devils95.048 
South Dakota Coyotes 5.08Boxscore
@ Oregon Ducks95.051 
UNLV Rebels28.720Boxscore
@ Arizona Wildcats71.328 
Rutgers Scarlet Knights32.721Boxscore
@ Washington State Cougars67.328 
Fresno State Bulldogs38.622Boxscore
@ USC Trojans61.426 
Colorado State Rams61.426Boxscore
vs. Colorado Buffaloes38.623 
South Dakota State Jackrabbits 5.08Boxscore
@ Missouri Tigers95.047 
UTM Skyhawks 5.09Boxscore
@ Kentucky Wildcats95.040 
Southern Miss Golden Eagles13.917Boxscore
@ Mississippi State Bulldogs86.128 
Idaho Vandals14.915Boxscore
@ Florida Gators85.130 
West Virginia Mountaineers18.816Boxscore
vs. Alabama Crimson Tide81.228 
Arkansas Razorbacks26.717Boxscore
@ Auburn Tigers73.327 
Temple Owls34.720Boxscore
@ Vanderbilt Commodores65.325 
Texas A&M Aggies38.125Boxscore
@ South Carolina Gamecocks61.927 
Clemson Tigers42.124Boxscore
@ Georgia Bulldogs57.925 
Wisconsin Badgers47.022Boxscore
vs. LSU Tigers53.023 
Utah State Aggies48.521Boxscore
@ Tennessee Volunteers51.522 
Boise State Broncos48.525Boxscore
vs. Ole Miss Rebels51.526 
Rice Owls25.219Boxscore
@ Notre Dame Fighting Irish74.828 
Ohio State Buckeyes70.327Boxscore
@ Navy Midshipmen29.721 
North Dakota State Bison 5.09Boxscore
@ Iowa State Cyclones95.046 
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 5.08Boxscore
@ Kansas State Wildcats95.049 
Samford Bulldogs 5.07Boxscore
@ TCU Horned Frogs95.044 
Central Arkansas Bears 5.06Boxscore
@ Texas Tech Red Raiders95.050 
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs12.918Boxscore
@ Oklahoma Sooners87.131 
SMU Mustangs14.918Boxscore
@ Baylor Bears85.132 
North Texas Mean Green41.620Boxscore
@ Texas Longhorns58.426 
Florida State Seminoles70.331Boxscore
vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys29.722 
Savannah State Tigers 5.09Boxscore
@ Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders95.044 
Hampton Pirates 5.09Boxscore
@ Old Dominion Monarchs95.044 
Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 5.09Boxscore
@ FIU Golden Panthers95.029 
Troy Trojans58.428Boxscore
@ UAB Blazers41.625 
Bowling Green Falcons67.328Boxscore
@ Western Kentucky Hilltoppers32.724 
North Dakota 5.08Boxscore
@ San Jose State Spartans95.044 
Montana Grizzlies 5.08Boxscore
@ Wyoming Cowboys95.046 
Nicholls Colonels 5.07Boxscore
@ Air Force Falcons95.042 
Southern Utah Thunderbirds 5.09Boxscore
@ Nevada Wolf Pack95.044 
Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 5.07Boxscore
@ San Diego State Aztecs95.045 
UTEP Miners29.722Boxscore
@ New Mexico Lobos70.329 
Washington Huskies78.228Boxscore
@ Hawaii Rainbow Warriors21.817 
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions 5.07Boxscore
@ Texas State Bobcats95.042 
Southern University Jaguars 5.06Boxscore
@ Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns95.046 
Montana State Bobcats 5.07Boxscore
@ Arkansas State Red Wolves95.042 
Abilene Christian Wildcats 5.08Boxscore
@ Georgia State Panthers95.039 
Cal Poly Mustangs 5.09Boxscore
@ New Mexico State Aggies95.039 
Wake Forest Demon Deacons46.020Boxscore
@ Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks54.022 
Austin Peay Governors 5.09Boxscore
@ Memphis Tigers95.040 
Western Carolina Catamounts 5.06Boxscore
@ South Florida Bulls95.043 
North Carolina Central Eagles 5.09Boxscore
@ East Carolina Pirates95.044 
UTSA Roadrunners43.624Boxscore
@ Houston Cougars56.428 
Tulane Green Wave47.520Boxscore
@ Tulsa Golden Hurricane52.522 
Penn State Nittany Lions56.925Boxscore
vs. UCF Knights43.123 
BYU Cougars74.328Boxscore
@ Connecticut Huskies25.718 
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Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

Jake Westrich is the Digital Content Coordinator for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jwestrich@whatifsports.com.

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