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Another day, another prediction — this time with USC finishing 9-3

A bit more realistic of a projection says Trojans go 9-3

NCAA Football: Southern California at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday’s prediction from CBS Sports had the USC Trojans sitting pretty at 10-2 and in first place in the Pac-12 South. Today’s prediction from ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) has the Trojans with what feels like a safe projection at 9-3 but still first place in the North.

One thing of note, the Cal ‘Cool-Aid’ was not drank by the fine folks at ESPN and they have them at 6-6, much, much more realistic than 11-1 from CBS.

Alright, so that’s out of the way. Here’s how ESPN arrives at their FPI, which is where I’d like to start:

The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily. FPI data from seasons prior to 2019 may not be complete.

That’s a ton of data and right up my alley. They’ve run simulations like this in the past and been very close on a number of occasions, so let’s just stick with this as a better indicator of where to begin when looking at the conference this year.

I can take 9-3 as a legitimate record for USC. I can see it. There’s the random collapse. The random team they shouldn’t beat that they do beat. The team they shouldn’t lose to but do anyways. One thing of note, however, in my opinion, that after Oregon’s 58.5% chance to win the conference, it’s USC next in a resounding second place over the next best team.

It gives USC a 27.8% chance to win the conference after Oregon and then it gives Utah an 8.1% chance and Washington just a 2.1% chance. I’m sorry, but Utah isn’t winning anything this year.

Here’s how the whole conference stacks up:

Nearly guaranteed to win six games, 61.5% chance to win the south and a 5% chance to make the playoffs. I have to say, given how difficult it is to make the playoffs from the Pac-12, even a remote chance is something to look at and be encouraged by.

Here’s hoping the Pac-12 doesn’t cannibalize themselves at some point because it just needs to happen. A Pac-12 team needs to be in end-season form and throttle an SEC foe in the Playoff.

Alright, off my soap box.

USC ranks 13th in the country in this projection and with its track record of late, I have to say this is pretty favorable.

What say you all?

We’d obviously prefer that 10-2 from CBS but with their Cal Cool-Aid in their veins, I’m not sure if I can get behind anything they say.