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Which Teams Will Go 12-0 or 11-1?

If you are a follower of my magazine, I am sure you are familiar with the fact that I have NINE different sets of power ratings that I create each preseason to give me 9 different ways of analyzing a team. One is based on the individual talent level and performance of each position on each team and those are added up for the rating. Another is based on my Power Plays numbers, which include rushing and passing offenses, defenses and special teams. Another is a continually updated power rating based on the score of the games and the strength of opponent. Finally a few years back, before computers became part of the BCS rankings system, there was without a doubt some flaws in the polls. Teams rated #2 or #3 in the country really were not that talented and were maybe the 5th or 6th best. One internet site decided to produce a poll of some of the top analysts and experts each week and invited me to join. I myself work 365 days a year. During magazine time (March, April, May) and throughout the football season (August through January) there are many 15-18 hour days put in and all of them are spent solely working on FOOTBALL. When they invited me to join the poll, I wanted to give them the best set of power ratings in the country to help make the poll as accurate as possible. The dilemma I had was which set?

What I decided to do was combine all eight into one rating which gives me a very solid overall ranking for each team. The rating takes into account EVERY factor, using it as my main set of power ratings which thus created my 9th set. You can learn more about this main set of power ratings on page 315 of this year’s magazine. I also go into complete details on my plus/minus power ratings on page 305.

When I have all of my sets of power ratings finalized I then plug them into each individual team’s schedule and let the computer play out each game using the different power ratings. My computer will then show me which teams that have one or more sets of Power Ratings calling for them to have undefeated seasons. Naturally, if a team is projected at the top of my Power Ratings, it has a greater chance of going unbeaten.

Here are the teams that are projected to have undefeated seasons by at least one of my power ratings this year.

# of Power Ratings Call For 12-0 Season

Team # of Sets
Virginia Tech 8
Oklahoma 6
Alabama 5
Southern Miss 4
Notre Dame 3
Georgia 3
Boise St 3
Stanford 2
Oregon 2

This list of teams has proven to be a good indicator of the chances of an undefeated season. In 2002, three sets of my ratings called for Ohio St to go unbeaten and the Buckeyes were the surprise team of the country and won the National Title. Basically any team that has finished unbeaten in the past 9 years has made this with the exception of Auburn last year which I had going 11-0 going into the Alabama game. Here are some teams that just missed the cut.

# of Power Ratings Call For 11-1 Season

Team # of Sets Team Losing To
TCU 6 Boise St
Arizona St 4 Oregon
Florida St 4 Oklahoma or Florida
Ohio 3 Rutgers
USF 2 Notre Dame
Ohio St 2 Nebraska
Wisconsin 2 Ohio St
Texas A&M 2 Oklahoma
Northern Illinois 2 Wisconsin
LSU 2 Alabama
Penn St 1 Ohio St
Nebraska 1 Penn St
South Carolina 1 Georgia
Arkansas 1 Alabama

I am sure you are wondering why I am so fascinated and dependent on power ratings when analyzing a team in the preseason and during the season. I am in my late 40’s and I started following college football with great intensity at about 10 years old. At that time (being a numbers guy) I devised my own set of power ratings, which was based mostly on where the preseason magazines I was reading ranked the teams. I even awarded points at that time for how many pictured players each team had in the magazines. I updated those ratings during the season based on the final scores of the games.

A few years later after compiling my ratings (and no longer counting pictures), I stumbled upon the GamePlan magazine. In the front of the magazine was a set of power ratings for each team!! I now had two sets of power ratings on each team and I updated them both during the year giving me two different ways of looking at the strength of a team and I was well on my way to nine different sets.


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  • A3GenHokie

    Your mag has always been my favorite of the many good CFB mags out there. Yours is the most accurate and dependable. So many other mags don’t do the appropriate due diligence and research.

  • Baalforhire

    Phil–how can you pick ASU to go 11-1, when you pick USC to win the PAC south?

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Those are just 4 of my 9 sets of power ratings. My other 5 have the Sun Devils going anywhere from 8-4 to 10-2. Nearly all of my ratings have USC going 10-2 with their only conf loss being to Oregon. 5 of the 9 sets call for them to beat Arizona St so therefore the Trojans were my pick to win the South. Thanks!

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Just last season Auburn went from 8-5 to 14-0. Also Michigan St went from 6-7 to 11-2 and Maryland went from 2-10 to 9-4 so improving by 5 wins in a season is not that rare. Also these are just my computer’s power ratings and not my personal projections. Remember I have 9 different sets of power ratings and while 4 different sets have ASU 11-1 the other 5 have them in the 8-4 to 10-2 range. Also with Georgia most of my power ratings have the Bulldogs at the 10-2 range besides the 3 that predict them to go 12-0. Thanks, Phil

  • Baalforhire

    don’t you think a lack of motivation will hurt USC this fall, what do they to play for?

  • Chrsdj

    You don’t read very well, do you?  He has 9 power polls.  Three of those polls have Georgia going undefeated.  Three (different ones) have Boise going undefeated.  When you read the article it makes perfect sense.

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    I have 9 different sets or power ratings. So 3 pick Boise to go 12-0 and 3 others pick Georgia to go 12-0. Thanks, Phil

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Thanks, Bill should be a good matchup and closer than LY’s contest. That one set of power ratings does have them beating Alabama but the other 8 do have Alabama coming out on top.

  • Noe Courts

    Just found this site and it is great I love it. All kinds of info thanks Phil

  • Toneski

    Hey Phil:
    Love your magazine and site!  Can you tell me how the Garcia suspension played into your analysis of SC when you were making your picks?  Now that he has been reinstated, does this change anything with regard to your analysis or power ratings? 

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Thanks, for the kind words. In my magazine, even with the suspension I still projected that Garcia would be the starter and factored that into my power ratings so the recent news will not effect them. Phil

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Thanks for the comments!

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    I had a feeling more dominoes would be falling at Ohio St and that is why they are only ranked #15. Had the players not been suspended they were clearly one of the top teams in the country. I don’t think losing Tressel will be a huge factor this season because of the experience of the staff and the players will take an us against the world mentality. However, in future years the loss of Tressel will hurt more especially if they are unable to land a high-profile coach or if they are hammered by the NCAA.

    Remember I had Wisconsin tied with Ohio St to begin with in the Leaders division but with Russell Wilson at QB, the Badgers clearly are the favorite now. Phil

  • Jackson

    Phil, what does LSU’s record look like in your other 7 power ratings? How do teams typically with those kind of projections typically fare?

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    All of the power ratings call for LSU to have at least 10 wins this season but road games at Miss St, at West Virginia and at Alabama along with a home game vs Top 15 Arkansas and a neutral site gm vs Top 5 Oregon has them losing at least 1 game in most of the ratings and that is why many of them do not call for an undefeated season. Thanks, Phil

  • http://www.philsteele.com Phil Steele

    Brian, All 9 sets of my power ratings call for them to have their first double digit win season since 1998! Thanks, Phil

  • Nerole1

    My preliminary thoughts after going through my Phil Steele magazine are that this stacks up to be a really exciting season.  Any number of teams could be rated #1 at the end.

  • Nerole1

    My preliminary thoughts after going through my Phil Steele magazine are that this stacks up to be a really exciting season.  Any number of teams could be rated #1 at the end.

  • Nerole1

    My preliminary thoughts after going through my Phil Steele magazine are that this stacks up to be a really exciting season.  Any number of teams could be rated #1 at the end.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see BYU undefeated in your list, but at least you have them 11-1 in two sets, a testament to your homework, since it seems unlikely a 7-6 team could improve so quickly.  Nevertheless, the BYU Cougars are going to stun the college football world this year.  They’re flying way under everyone’s radar right now.  Just watch and see. 

    Then, make sure when it happens you had a reader that correctly pointed it out.  They will stun Texas early in the year (and that will be the only game Texas loses this year) and TCU later in the year.  Those will be the only close games.  The rest will be blowouts.  Bronco Mendenhall COY

    This is the year that David slays Goliath.  And we will all be witnesses on ESPN as it happens.

  • KyleW87

    They can still be the first team ever to win the Pac 12 South; so even if they lose a game, the whole season is not a loss.

  • dawg

    BYU will probably lose its opener to Ole Miss…and OM is picked to finish dead last in their division.

  • razordoc

    I would like to know which team faces the most opponents that are projected to win 10 games or more.  I follow Arkansas and I am counting 4 (Alabama, Texas A&M, South Carolina, LSU) that we face.  I also noticed on your more recent SOS article that Arkansas will play the 20th toughest schedule.  How is that even possible?  Arkansas plays 3 road games against opponents that you have picked to win 10 games or more.