FanPost

ESPN FPI Update 2 (Start of conference play)

For most of the Pac12, this week starts Pac12 conference play. I thought that this would be a good time to go back and check out what ESPN's FPI thinks about the Pac12 teams-especially compared to what it thought prior to the season.

Arizona

Their best chance at a win going into the season was last week-and they blew it. They go into this weekend's game against Oregon with only a 2% chance of winning. And it doesn't get much better after that; they are underdogs in the rest of their games and only in the Cal game do they have more than a 30% chance of winning. They will be lucky to get a win this year.

Arizona State

ESPN's FPI had flip-flopped before the season started on the ASU-BYU game. Initially BYU was favored, but they had ASU as a slight favorite-so it isn't a big surprise that ASU lost. ESPN has their chances of winning their remaining games about the same as before the season-with one notable exception. They are now underdogs in two games they were favored in before the season started. One is USC; despite USC's coaching change, that make sense. The surprising one is Oregon State. ASU had a 70.9% chance of winning before the season started; now it is 46.9%. ESPN now has them winning 7 games this year.

Cal

It doesn't look great for Cal's chances at a bowl game this year. They are favored in just 3 more of their games: WSU, Colorado, and Arizona. ESPN's FPI has them winning 4 games, which is down from 5 before the season started.

Colorado

The outlook for Colorado has also gone down. They are now favored in just one of their remaining games (not surprisingly, it is against Arizona). ESPN's FPI has Colorado being lucky to win 4 games.

Oregon

With a lot of teams having issues, at least one Pac12 team has to see their fortunes improve-and Oregon is one of those teams. They are still favored in all of their remaining games and are projected to win 11.

Oregon State

The Beavers are another team whose outlook has improved according to ESPN's FPI. They are now favored in 6 of their remaining games. This is very surprising since they were not favored in any of their conference games before the season started. ESPN's FPI has them winning enough to get to a bowl game.

Stanford

After a slow start to the season, the outlook for the Cardinal appears good now, although they are favored in just 4 of their remaining games. They are still the team with few games with a high win percentages (just 2 over 61%) and few with low win percentages (just 1 under 39%). In other words, their season could be really good if they are lucky (and win 8+ games), or be bad (not make a bowl game), or just barely be bowl-eligible. ESPN's FPI has them winning 6.

UCLA

After their win over LSU, ESPN's FPI was high on UCLA. With their loss to Fresno State, not surprisingly, they aren't as high on them. UCLA is still favored in 5 more games, and they are not much of an underdog in the other 4 games. ESPN's FPI has them with 7 or more wins.

USC

Despite the coaching change, USC's outlook from ESPN's FPI is about the same; they are still expected to win 8+ games. They are favored in 8 of their remaining games (only an underdog vs Notre Dame). Before the season started, they were an underdog vs Arizona State; now they are favored.

Utah

After losing their last 2 games, the outlook for Utah has dropped. They are favored in just 5 of their remaining games, and ESPN's FPI has them with just about 6 wins. Notably, they had been favored over Oregon State and Stanford before the season, and are now the underdogs in both games.

UW

The loss to Montana dropped UW from over 8 wins to just over 6, but they are now back up to an expected 7 wins. UW is favored in 7 of their remaining games, but they are only slight favorites (less than 60% win percentage) against Oregon State and UCLA. Here's UW win percentage for their remaining games:

Opponent

Win Percentage

Cal

82.8%

Oregon State

56.8%

UCLA

59.6%

Arizona

86.6%

Stanford

45.7%

Oregon

31.1%

Arizona State

67.8%

Colorado

67.7%

WSU

88.7%

WSU

Before the season started, ESPN's FPI had WSU winning 5+ games; now they have them winning just 3. They are favored in only one of their remaining games (Arizona), and they are heavy underdogs in most of the rest (win percentage of less than 30%).

Summary

Here's a table which summarizes where each team is now and compares it to the preseason expectations.

Team

Current Wins

Remaining Games as Favorite (>50% win percentage)

Current Expected Wins

Preseason Games as Favorite

Preseason Expected Wins

Arizona

0

0

1.3

1

3

Arizona State

2

4

7.1

9

8.3

Cal

1

3

4.3

6

5.3

Colorado

1

1

3.9

3

5.1

Oregon

3

9

11

11

9.4

Oregon State

2

6

6.1

2

4.5

Stanford

2

4

6.6

6

5.5

UCLA

2

5

7.6

6

6.6

USC

2

8

8.3

10

8.7

Utah

1

5

6.4

10

8.1

UW

1

7

7

10

8.7

WSU

1

1

3.2

4

5.5

Based on this, the Pac12 could have 8 bowl-eligible teams. But, with the way things have gone so far, it wouldn't be surprising if it was less than that. (It would be surprising if it was more than 8.)

Also, based on these projections, USC should win the South. (They end up tied with UCLA with 6 conference wins, but ESPN's FPI has USC favored in the head-to-head matchup which would be the tie-breaker.) And Oregon wins the North. UW would be second in the North while WSU will be last in the North.

Of course, these projections will change as the season progresses. After just 3 weeks of games, we've already seen some significant differences between the projections and reality; there is no reason to expect that things will actually work out that way.