Wilson: 3 Teams I’m Backing, 3 I’m Not For The 2019 College Football Season


USA TODAY Sports. Pictured (left to right): USC QB JT Daniels (18), Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, Army QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. (8).

Jan 08, 2019, 06:13 PM EST
  • The college football season is officially over, but it's never too soon to look ahead to the 2019 season.
  • Using three factors -- coaching changes, second-order win total and power rating deviation from the mean -- here are three potential risers and fallers.

The titanic clash of Clemson-Alabama IV has closed out the calendar on the college football season. Most handicappers move to college hoops, NBA and MLB win totals, but I move directly into offseason activities sizing up all 130 FBS programs for the 2019 season.

The Action Network Power Ratings have had their final adjustment for the season following the national title. Changes will be made in the offseason as news on coaching changes and player transfers trickle out.

A number of factors go into moving the power rating this early in the offseason. Here are a few factors to consider when adjusting the number for each team.

Coaching Changes

The news of Mark Richt’s retirement led to a bevy of changes. Temple pocketed millions as Manny Diaz cleaned out his office after just a few hours as head coach to move back to the Hurricanes. Diaz is known as one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation, but the hiring of Major Applewhite will have an affect on the power rating.

Each team is different and plenty of research is needed. How did West Virginia improve offensively under Jake Spavital and will that translate to Texas State? Mike Locksley served as a highly successful Alabama offensive coordinator, but does his record of 3-31 as a head coach affect the power rating for Maryland?

Second-Order Win Total

A metric that is used often in MLB and other sports for projections, Second-Order Win Total looks at the single-game win expectancy compared to the actual result of the game. There is plenty of content provided by our friends at Football Outsiders, but when Northwestern beats Nebraska with a 16% postgame win expectancy, this specific stat will catch my eye.

Look for teams with positive SOW to rebound, like Nebraska, USC and Washington — they got a little unlucky this past season. Teams with negative numbers like Texas and Washington State could regress.

Power Rating Deviation from the Mean

All FBS programs and conferences hover around a certain power rating year to year. A few teams may deviate from their 10-year mean. For example, Notre Dame went 4-8 in 2016 and had a power rating dip from the top 20 to the middle of the pack in FBS.

In that specific scenario, a program of Notre Dame’s caliber is going to bounce back with recruiting and coaching changes like the addition of defensive coordinator Mike Elko.

There are a few teams that had a deviation more than 10 points from their initial 2018 power rating. Those teams include Florida State, South Florida, Wisconsin and Connecticut. Programs with a history of stability deserve a bump back to the mean — with the exception of UConn. We still are not sure they can improve from a Texas State-type power rating.

With those factors in mind, here are a handful of FBS programs that are headed in a specific direction for 2019.

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