2018-19 Bowl Review & Championship Preview

If you’d like better insight into how we made these picks, check out our last post, the Bowl Preview, which covered this thoroughly before listing our predictions.

After 39 bowl games, to this point on the eve of the CFP Championship, we are 25 – 14, or 25 of 39, in correctly picking bowl winners, only trailing 4.8% of approximately 500,000 entrants (95.2nd Percentile) in this year’s ESPN Capital One Bowl Mania pick’em pool. Last year, Hierank’s same quick pick method ended up beating out all but 3.9% of the same pool with about 850,000 entrants.

Put another way, two years running we are heading toward beating 24 out of every 25, and 19 out of every 20 pickers each year, respectively.

Even our misses, aside from a few widely unpredictable flukes, generally happened to be toss-up picks or situations with real-world circumstances that a human picker could easily consider alongside the algorithm’s choice and added volatility context.

But enough gloating, here’s a rundown of game results, our results, some commentary, and a preview for tomorrow night’s game:

College Football Playoff

Saturday, Dec. 29

Semifinal: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

(13-0) #2 Clemson 94.7 Avg, 85-105 Normal Power
vs
(12-0) #5 Notre Dame 86.0, 68-104 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
74.3% Clemson

FINAL: Clemson 30, Notre Dame 3

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Semifinal: Capital One Orange Bowl

 (13-0) #1 Alabama 98.1, 79-118 Pow
vs
(12-1) #4 Oklahoma 87.7, 74-101 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
75% Alabama

FINAL: Alabama 45, Oklahoma 34

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Monday, Jan. 7

National Championship Presented by AT&T

 (14-0) #1 Alabama 99.7, 80-120 Pow
vs
(14-0) #2 Clemson 98.1, 82-114 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Give:
55% Alabama

Alabama is a broad, but not clear favorite; and has been the better team consistently thus-far by a respectable but shrinking margin.

LAST 3 CONTESTS:

Alabama – 106 Pow 56-35 W vs Auburn, 116 Pow 35-28 W vs Georgia, 127 Pow 45-34 W vs Oklahoma | 116.3 Avg Pow

Clemson – 85 Pow 56-35 W vs South Carolina, 100 Pow 42-10 W vs Pittsburgh, 140 Pow 30-3 W vs Notre Dame | 108.3 Avg Pow

SHARED OPPONENTS:

Alabama – 104 Pow 45-23 W vs Texas A&M, 64 Pow 51-14 W vs Louisville | 84 Avg Pow

Clemson – 90 Pow 28-26 W vs Texas A&M, 72 Pow 77-16 W vs Louisville | 81 Avg Pow

Looking at the added dimensions of shared opponents & recent contests, Alabama maintains its Power-lead in both areas, reinforcing their 55% Normal Power Distribution-probability of winning a National Championship tomorrow night.


Bowl Schedule

Saturday, Dec. 15

Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl

(9-2) FCS#40 North Carolina A&T 48.9, 27-71 Pow
vs
(9-3) FCS#39 Alcorn State 48.9, 25-73 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
50% Alcorn State

FINAL: North Carolina A&T 24, Alcorn State 22

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

We cant even be mad at how this one turned out. A literal coin flip between two volatile teams; one with a hairline-edge so small that it is only apparent in the comparative ranking. It ended as a two point shoot-out, landing the wrong way.
Consider us almost right. 🙂

New Mexico Bowl

(9-3) #75 North Texas 57.7, 39-76 Pow
vs
(10-2) #44 Utah State 65.5, 54-77 Pow

FINAL: Utah State 52, North Texas 13

OUTCOME: CORRECT

AutoNation Cure Bowl

(6-6) #87 Tulane 54.7, 37-72 Pow
vs
(7-6) #84 Louisiana 54.8, 43-67 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
51.4% Louisiana

FINAL: Tulane 41, Louisiana 24

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

It looked like another virtual toss-up, but Louisiana either had extraneous circumstances we weren’t privy to, or they just let us down.

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl

(11-2) #24 Fresno State 73.0, 60-86 Pow
vs
(7-5) #49 Arizona State 64.3, 47-82 Pow

FINAL: Fresno State 31, Arizona State 20

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

(9-3) #54 Georgia Southern 61.5, 44-79 Pow
vs
(7-5) #68 Eastern Michigan 59.9, 44-75 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
55.7% Georgia Southern

FINAL: Georgia Southern 23, Eastern Michigan 21

OUTCOME: CORRECT

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

(8-4) #71 Middle Tennessee 58.7, 42-76 Pow
vs
(10-2) #33 Appalachian State 69.5, 57-82 Pow

FINAL: Appalachian State 45, Middle Tennessee 13

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Tuesday, Dec. 18

Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl

(10-3) #63 UAB 60.5, 42-79 Pow
vs
(8-5) #78 Northern Illinois 56.2, 41-72 Pow

FINAL: UAB 37, Northern Illinois 13

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Wednesday, Dec. 19

DXL Frisco Bowl

(7-5) #81 San Diego State 56.1, 39-73 Pow
vs
(8-4) #64 Ohio 60.4, 43-78 Pow

FINAL: Ohio 27, San Diego State 0

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Thursday, Dec. 20

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

(8-4) #74 Marshall 58.1, 44-73 Pow
vs
(7-5) #91 South Florida 52.9, 36-70 Pow

FINAL: Marshall 38, South Florida 20

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Friday, Dec. 21

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

(8-4) #89 FIU 53.5, 38-69 Pow
vs
(7-5) #73 Toledo 58.3, 42-75 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
63.5% Toledo

FINAL: FIU 35, Toledo 32

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

We’re not sure if there were predictable extraneous circumstances, but the 36.5% probability won out & Toledo let us down in the end of a close match.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

(7-5) #94 Western Michigan 51.5, 36-67 Pow
vs
(6-6) #62 BYU 60.7, 49-73 Pow

FINAL: BYU 49, Western Michigan 18

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Saturday, Dec. 22

Jared Birmingham Bowl

(8-5) #61 Memphis 60.8, 45-77 Pow
vs
(6-6) #57 Wake Forest 61.1, 37-85 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
50.3% Wake Forest

FINAL: Wake Forest 37, Memphis 34

OUTCOME: CORRECT

We feel especially right when a close “upset” pick (the ESPN pool heavily chose Memphis) wins a close game.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

(8-4) #77 Houston 56.8, 39-75 Pow
vs
(9-2) #31 Army 70.5, 53-88 Pow

FINAL: Army 70, Houston 14

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Dollar General Bowl

(10-3) #67 Buffalo 60.0, 44-76 Pow
vs
(9-3) #65 Troy 60.3, 45-76 Pow

FINAL: Troy 42, Buffalo 32

OUTCOME: CORRECT

SoFi Hawai’i Bowl

(7-5) #95 Louisiana Tech 50.4, 31-70 Pow
vs
(8-5) #96 Hawaii 50.2, 36-64 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
51.3% Louisiana Tech

FINAL: Louisiana Tech 31, Hawaii 14

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Wednesday, Dec. 26

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

(7-5) #42 Boston College 66.4, 50-83 Pow
vs
(10-3) #34 Boise State 69.1, 54-85 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
70.7% Boise State

FINAL: CANCELLED

Quick Lane Bowl

(6-6) #51 Minnesota 63.2, 34-93 Pow
vs
(7-5) #41 Georgia Tech 67.0, 48-86 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
55.9% Georgia Tech

FINAL: Minnesota 34, Georgia Tech 10

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

Minnesota was the #1 most-Volatile team in all of the college football. Georgia Tech wasn’t too consistent either. While Georgia Tech had been the cumulatively-better team going into the bowl game, Minnesota brought what looked like their 93-Power squad (technically 88 Pow), and laid a beatdown.

Cheez-It Bowl

(7-5) #56 California 61.3, 39-83 Pow
vs
(6-6) #38 TCU 67.7, 49-86 Pow

FINAL: TCU 10, Cal 7

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Thursday, Dec. 27

Walk-On’s Independence Bowl

(8-4) #50 Temple 63.6, 49-78 Pow
vs
(7-5) #47 Duke 64.5, 38-91 Pow

FINAL: Duke 56, Temple 27

OUTCOME: CORRECT

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

(7-5) #40 Miami 67.0, 48-86 Pow
vs
(7-5) #48 Wisconsin 64.4, 45-84 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
56.1% Miami

FINAL: Wisconsin 35, Miami 3

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

Very incorrect. Miami brought their 45 Pow-game (technically 31), and Wisconsin brought their 84-squad (actually 99).

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

(6-6) #55 Baylor 61.4, 47-76 Pow
vs
(6-6) #45 Vanderbilt 65.2, 49-81 Pow

FINAL: Baylor 45, Vanderbilt 38

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

Friday, Dec. 28

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

(6-6) #29 Purdue 71.0, 43-99 Pow
vs
(7-5) #25 Auburn 72.1, 53-91 Pow

FINAL: Auburn 63, Purdue 14

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Camping World Bowl

(8-3) #9 West Virginia 79.6, 62-97 Pow
vs
(9-3) #26 Syracuse 71.8, 56-87 Pow

FINAL: Syracuse 34, West Virginia 18

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

Valero Alamo Bowl

(8-4) #23 Iowa State 73.3, 56-90 Pow
vs
(10-2) #10 Washington State 78.5, 62-95 Pow

FINAL: Washington State 28, Iowa State 26

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Saturday, Dec. 29

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

(9-3) #16 Florida 76.5, 62-91 Pow
vs
(10-2) #6 Michigan 85.2, 69-102 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
72.5% Michigan

FINAL: Florida 41, Michigan 15

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

Don’t want to think about it. Don’t want to talk about it. Don’t want to write about it.
(But #ForeverGoBlue)

Belk Bowl

(7-5) #27 South Carolina 71.2, 60-83 Pow
vs.
(7-5) #52 Virginia 62.7, 47-79 Pow

FINAL: Virginia 28, South Carolina 0

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

(8-4) #69 Arkansas State 59.3, 47-72 Pow
vs
(7-5) #90 Nevada 53.2, 35-71 Pow

FINAL: Nevada 16, Arkansas State 13

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

Monday, Dec. 31

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman

(10-2) #28 Cincinnati 71.0, 57-85 Pow
vs
(6-6) #70 Virginia Tech 59.1, 35-83 Pow

FINAL: Cincinnati 35, Virginia Tech 31

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Hyundai Sun Bowl

(8-4) #20 Stanford 74.4, 63-86 Pow
vs
(7-6) #35 Pittsburgh 68.0, 47-89 Pow

FINAL: Stanford 14, Pittsburgh 13

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Redbox Bowl

(7-5) #39 Michigan State 67.2, 47-87 Pow
vs
(8-4) #36 Oregon 67.9, 48-88 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
54.8% Oregon

FINAL: Oregon 7, Michigan State 6

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Lol. Redbox Bowl. Lol.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

(8-4) #11 Missouri 77.9, 63-93 Pow
vs
(6-6) #37 Oklahoma State 67.7, 42-94 Pow

FINAL: Oklahoma State 38, Missouri 33

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

(8-5) #32 Northwestern 69.7, 48-91 Pow
vs
(9-4) #17 Utah 76.2, 61-92 Pow

FINAL: Northwestern 31, Utah 20

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

(9-3) #30 NC State 70.6, 57-84 Pow
vs
(8-4) #21 Texas A&M 74.4, 58-91 Pow

FINAL: Texas A&M 52, NC State 13

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Tuesday, Jan. 1

Outback Bowl

(8-4) #19 Mississippi State 75.0, 57-93 Pow
vs
(8-4) #13 Iowa 77.1, 59-96 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
56.4% Iowa

FINAL: Iowa 27, Mississippi State 22

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Another proud pick, as Mississippi State was a broad favorite, and Iowa pulled through with a win that was in-line with Hierank’s Power-comparison.

VRBO Citrus Bowl

(9-3) #22 Kentucky 73.4, 53-94 Pow
vs
(9-3) #12 Penn State 77.5, 57-98 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
58.9% Penn State

FINAL: Kentucky 27, Penn State 24

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

(9-3) #14 LSU 77.1, 55-100 Pow
vs
(12-0) #15 UCF 76.9, 63-91 Pow

FINAL: LSU 40, UCF 32

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual

(10-3) #8 Washington 80.7, 60-101 Pow
vs
(12-1) #7 Ohio State 84.6, 64-105 Pow

FINAL: Ohio State 28, Washington 23

OUTCOME: CORRECT

Allstate Sugar Bowl

(9-4) #18 Texas 75.4, 53-98 Pow
vs
(11-2) #3 Georgia 89.8, 74-105 Pow

Normal Power Distributions Gave:
76.9% Georgia

FINAL: Texas 28, Georgia 21

OUTCOME: INCORRECT

Presented merely to show one upset of probability worse than Michigan’s. Texas had more to play for than Georgia, and brought a better squad.


For final rankings after the Championship, visit here.

We’re excited to bring even smarter analyses in 2019-20 when we have the database computing power to add extra intelligence to each comparison such as additional weight to shared opponents & recent weeks, as well as doing linear & quadratic regressions to predict trends & next-performance.

Thank you for checking out our Bowl Review & Championship Preview! Please share, comment important input you may have below, & stay tuned for more project updates & football insights from Hierank!

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