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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
|William & Mary Tribe||5.0||7||Boxscore|
|@ Virginia Tech Hokies||95.0||45|
|@ Duke Blue Devils||95.0||53|
|@ North Carolina Tar Heels||95.0||48|
|@ Syracuse Orange||95.0||42|
|Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ Pittsburgh Panthers||95.0||46|
|@ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||95.0||44|
|Georgia Southern Eagles||34.7||19||Boxscore|
|@ North Carolina State Wolfpack||65.3||26|
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes||47.5||22||Boxscore|
|@ Louisville Cardinals||52.5||23|
|@ Virginia Cavaliers||24.3||16|
|Youngstown State Penguins||5.0||7||Boxscore|
|@ Illinois Fighting Illini||95.0||45|
|Indiana State Sycamores||5.0||7||Boxscore|
|@ Indiana Hoosiers||95.0||50|
|@ Iowa Hawkeyes||95.0||46|
|Jacksonville State Gamecocks||5.0||8||Boxscore|
|@ Michigan State Spartans||95.0||48|
|James Madison Dukes||5.0||8||Boxscore|
|@ Maryland Terrapins||95.0||44|
|Eastern Illinois Panthers||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ Minnesota Golden Gophers||95.0||45|
|Appalachian State Mountaineers||13.9||15||Boxscore|
|@ Michigan Wolverines||86.1||28|
|Florida Atlantic Owls||25.7||17||Boxscore|
|@ Nebraska Cornhuskers||74.3||28|
|California Golden Bears||39.6||21||Boxscore|
|@ Northwestern Wildcats||60.4||25|
|Western Michigan Broncos||39.6||21||Boxscore|
|@ Purdue Boilermakers||60.4||24|
|@ Ball State Cardinals||95.0||46|
|@ Buffalo Bulls||95.0||41|
|New Hampshire Wildcats||5.0||7||Boxscore|
|@ Toledo Rockets||95.0||45|
|Presbyterian Blue Hose||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ Northern Illinois Huskies||95.0||47|
|Morgan State Bears||5.0||7||Boxscore|
|@ Eastern Michigan Eagles||95.0||38|
|@ Akron Zips||95.0||41|
|@ Central Michigan Chippewas||95.0||40|
|@ Kent State Golden Flashes||47.5||25|
|Boston College Eagles||79.7||27||Boxscore|
|@ Massachusetts Minutemen||20.3||16|
|Marshall Thundering Herd||94.1||34||Boxscore|
|@ Miami (OH) RedHawks||5.9||16|
|Portland State Vikings||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ Oregon State Beavers||95.0||49|
|UC Davis Aggies||5.0||7||Boxscore|
|@ Stanford Cardinal||95.0||49|
|Idaho State Bengals||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ Utah Utes||95.0||46|
|Weber State Wildcats||5.0||8||Boxscore|
|@ Arizona State Sun Devils||95.0||48|
|South Dakota Coyotes||5.0||8||Boxscore|
|@ Oregon Ducks||95.0||51|
|@ Arizona Wildcats||71.3||28|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||32.7||21||Boxscore|
|@ Washington State Cougars||67.3||28|
|Fresno State Bulldogs||38.6||22||Boxscore|
|@ USC Trojans||61.4||26|
|Colorado State Rams||61.4||26||Boxscore|
|vs. Colorado Buffaloes||38.6||23|
|South Dakota State Jackrabbits||5.0||8||Boxscore|
|@ Missouri Tigers||95.0||47|
|@ Kentucky Wildcats||95.0||40|
|Southern Miss Golden Eagles||13.9||17||Boxscore|
|@ Mississippi State Bulldogs||86.1||28|
|@ Florida Gators||85.1||30|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||18.8||16||Boxscore|
|vs. Alabama Crimson Tide||81.2||28|
|@ Auburn Tigers||73.3||27|
|@ Vanderbilt Commodores||65.3||25|
|Texas A&M Aggies||38.1||25||Boxscore|
|@ South Carolina Gamecocks||61.9||27|
|@ Georgia Bulldogs||57.9||25|
|vs. LSU Tigers||53.0||23|
|Utah State Aggies||48.5||21||Boxscore|
|@ Tennessee Volunteers||51.5||22|
|Boise State Broncos||48.5||25||Boxscore|
|vs. Ole Miss Rebels||51.5||26|
|@ Notre Dame Fighting Irish||74.8||28|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||70.3||27||Boxscore|
|@ Navy Midshipmen||29.7||21|
|North Dakota State Bison||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ Iowa State Cyclones||95.0||46|
|Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks||5.0||8||Boxscore|
|@ Kansas State Wildcats||95.0||49|
|@ TCU Horned Frogs||95.0||44|
|Central Arkansas Bears||5.0||6||Boxscore|
|@ Texas Tech Red Raiders||95.0||50|
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||12.9||18||Boxscore|
|@ Oklahoma Sooners||87.1||31|
|@ Baylor Bears||85.1||32|
|North Texas Mean Green||41.6||20||Boxscore|
|@ Texas Longhorns||58.4||26|
|Florida State Seminoles||70.3||31||Boxscore|
|vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys||29.7||22|
|Savannah State Tigers||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders||95.0||44|
|@ Old Dominion Monarchs||95.0||44|
|@ FIU Golden Panthers||95.0||29|
|@ UAB Blazers||41.6||25|
|Bowling Green Falcons||67.3||28||Boxscore|
|@ Western Kentucky Hilltoppers||32.7||24|
|@ San Jose State Spartans||95.0||44|
|@ Wyoming Cowboys||95.0||46|
|@ Air Force Falcons||95.0||42|
|Southern Utah Thunderbirds||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ Nevada Wolf Pack||95.0||44|
|Northern Arizona Lumberjacks||5.0||7||Boxscore|
|@ San Diego State Aztecs||95.0||45|
|@ New Mexico Lobos||70.3||29|
|@ Hawaii Rainbow Warriors||21.8||17|
|Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions||5.0||7||Boxscore|
|@ Texas State Bobcats||95.0||42|
|Southern University Jaguars||5.0||6||Boxscore|
|@ Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns||95.0||46|
|Montana State Bobcats||5.0||7||Boxscore|
|@ Arkansas State Red Wolves||95.0||42|
|Abilene Christian Wildcats||5.0||8||Boxscore|
|@ Georgia State Panthers||95.0||39|
|Cal Poly Mustangs||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ New Mexico State Aggies||95.0||39|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||46.0||20||Boxscore|
|@ Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks||54.0||22|
|Austin Peay Governors||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ Memphis Tigers||95.0||40|
|Western Carolina Catamounts||5.0||6||Boxscore|
|@ South Florida Bulls||95.0||43|
|North Carolina Central Eagles||5.0||9||Boxscore|
|@ East Carolina Pirates||95.0||44|
|@ Houston Cougars||56.4||28|
|Tulane Green Wave||47.5||20||Boxscore|
|@ Tulsa Golden Hurricane||52.5||22|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||56.9||25||Boxscore|
|vs. UCF Knights||43.1||23|
|@ Connecticut Huskies||25.7||18|
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