How Will Boise State Fare This Year?

It's time! Herein is the release of the higly-anticipated E/A Sports predictions for the upcoming college football season. What can we expect in 2009? Let's find out!

 

For the past seven years, BroncoCountry has featured a simulation summary of what we can expect from the Boise State football team each fall.  E/A Sports releases a computer software program called "NCAA Football" that is eagerly anticipated by gamers around the country for its realistic play, images and simulations.  It has been a computer sports software staple for years; we noticed something very striking beginning in 2002.  

In addition to the addictive manual play against a competitor or against the computer, the software allows one to run a computer simulation of one game, a season, and even what they call a "dynasty" (which allows you to play seasons well into the future).  The staff at E/A Sports inputs thousands of variables, using such things as .  They get considerable feedback for each school regarding their players and their abilities.  The computer whizzes at E/A account for home field advantage, momentum, weather, etc.  The players that then take the field in the game in the software not only actually look like the college players physically but also take on their mental makeup and tendencies.  Thanks to this incredible body of work, by simulating a team's season, you get an idea of how the year could go.   

Of course, one simulation is just one take on the upcoming year and could be greatly influenced by key injuries and a fluke upset.  These are very realistic and certainly reflective of what could happen in a given season.  However, it must be understood that they are just one outcome or set of outcomes, and not necessarily indicative of the true results.  To be more accurate and to be able to climb inside the variables process so to speak and to utilize the full potential of those variables, one must run a significant number of simulations.  Each simulation will of course be different, with a different group of injuries and upsets.  Together, though, they represent a general average of essentially what E/A Sports believes to be how the 2009 football season will go like.  I have found that a minimum of 50 simulations is required to get an idea of how all the variables play out and to come up with an accurate prediction.  

What I didn't expect was how accurate those predictions would be.  In 2002, the software predicted exactly Boise State 's 11-1 season in the summer, months before the season began.  Each of the 12 games wound up with the same result as the E/A simulated prediction.  The simulations summary predicted the Broncos would lose to Arkansas and win the rest of their games.  Wow, that seemed pretty neat.  A lot of prognosticators made predictions, but to accurately predict the winner in 12 games, especially for a team coming off an 8-4 season was something that made me took notice.  The software predicted a 12-1 regular season in 2003 with the lone loss being to Oregon State on the road.  Lo and behold, that's exactly what happened.  Coincidence?  

Possibly, but when the software accurately forecast an 11-0 season in 2004, a 9-3 campaign in 2005 and a 12-0 season in 2006, with accurate projections of each and every game, one would tend to discount the "luck" aspect.  To predict the winner of 60 games in a row or any college team would seem to indicate a degree of expertise for which E/A Sports must be given credit.  That said, those predictions took a dive in 2007 when E/A predicted another undefeated season only to see Boise State lose to both Washington and Hawai'i .  These two mistakes could show that the people at E/A are human, or they could show that the Bronco team simply blew it and lost games they really should have won.  That is a moot point, the results are simply added to the prediction record and we move on.  

The NCAA Football software once again was perfect last season with a spotless 12-0 record predicting Boise State games last season, bringing their seven-year record to 82-2.  There isn't anything lucky about that.  So knowing of their great track record, yet also mindful that they aren't perfect, I again simulated the Boise State season for this fall.  

One peculiar omission was the lack of the Cal-Davis game on the Broncos' fall season in the software.  That is very unusual for these guys who are usually pay so much attention to details.  They got other things wrong as well, raising eyebrows as to whether they are slipping.  Nonetheless, I ran the simulations and this is what I found:  

Boise State 's average season, according to the folks at E.A Sports, was 10-2; adding what logically would be a predicted win against Cal-Davis would put the Broncos at 11-2.  There are two important and very different results from these findings that you should know about.  While the average season came out 11-2, Boise State is predicted to win all but one game.  This is simply a result of averages; a team's average season is quickly brought down when you mix in an undefeated season with a four-loss year.  What it does indicate is that there are several games in which upsets are possible and the 2009 Bronco team must be ready each week.   

While NCAA Football projects Boise State to be the winner in all but one of these matchups, the number of losses in each simulation was frankly surprising.  Although they are not the norm, these pesky deviations add up and are responsible for only two unbeaten seasons.  When you view the simulation summary for each game, you will see the results of 61 simulations, that averaged together predict the winner as well as the average score of the 61 simulations.  

Another result to look at closely is the Western Athletic Conference race.  Boise State won the WAC in 45 of 61 simulations.  Nevada won the WAC title seven times, Hawai'i five times and Fresno State four.  No other WAC school won the league title in any simulation.  

While I did not run extensive simulations on Boise State's opponents, I did a representative sample of their ending season record. Oregon had an average of 9.4 wins in 12 games, with a best of 12-0 and a BCS national championship game and a worst of 6-6. Miami of Ohio averaged 5.8 wins with a best season of 8-4 and a worst of 2-10.  

Fresno State put together an average of 7.3 wins with a best year of 10-2 and 6-6 was their worst. Bowling Green didn't fare quite as well, but still a respectable 6.8 wins with 10-2 also being their best simulation and a worst season of 5-7. Tulsa averaged 5.2 wins in the simulations with their best being 6-6 and their worst 2-10.  

Hawai'i is projected to have a good season, averaging 7.8 wins. The Rainbow Warriors put together an 11-1 season in one scenario and three 10-2's but their worst was 4-8. San Jose State averaged 3.4 wins this season with 2-10 being the most common. The Spartans did achieve 5-7 season in several simulations. Louisiana Tech is also expected to make a bowl game in most scenarios, averagin 7.1 wins. The Bulldogs had a best of 9-3 and a worst season of 5-7.  

Idaho is projected to win 4.1 games this year, with 6-6 being the best they can hope for an 1-11 being a possibility as well. Utah State won an average of 2.2 games with 2-10 being the norm. They had little deviation from that, although they did enjoy a 4-8 season in one simulation.  

Nevada averaged 7.1 wins in the simulations with 10-2 being the high and 5-7 the low. Finally, New Mexico State averaged 4.1 wins with 6-6 being their best season and 2-10 their worst.  

Yet another interesting facet of the software is its national rankings and bowl predictions.  Boise State enters the season #16 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.  They are also #16 to begin the season in NCAA Football.  In 52 of the 61 simulations, the Broncos ended the year ranked in the Top 25.  This year's simulations marked a first for the program.  Never before in history has Boise State been ranked #1 for its current team.  Often in the "Dynasty" mode, the Broncos would be ranked on top at some point in the future.  Last year, the results showed that Boise State could be #1 this year.  That is indeed what occurred.  In one simulation the Broncos were #1 and in another they finished #2.  They played Florida in one BCS national championship game and TCU of all teams in the second—wouldn't that be a great repeat matchup?!  

Boise State finished the regular season in the top five in 13 other simulations, for a total of 15 out of 61 in the top five.  The team finished in the top ten 13 other times for a total of 28-61 (or nearly half).  In 30 of 61 simulations, the Broncos received an invitation to a BCS Bowl.  And keep in mind that in 28 of those simulations, Boise State had one loss.  That scenario may or may not be reflective of the votes of the nation's coaches should such an outcome occur; it is what the software predicted.  

As mentioned above, the software has thousands of variables built into it each offseason, and relies largely on its player ratings to be successful.  If a team's player ratings are either generally low or high, it has a significant bearing on the accuracy of the predictions.  In the past, E/A has done a magnificent job, but their success in predicting a team's future is only as good as their research.  

For example, Boise State is forecast to lose their season opener to Oregon .  If this does not happen, it means the player ratings were too low, which in turn means that they should beat the remainder of their opponents by a larger-than-predicted margin.  The reverse is true if the Broncos were to lose to a different opponent—that would mean the player ratings are too high and the remaining games should be closer than originally predicted.  It's all in good fun.  

Below are the 12 games which E/A supplied the information available for simulation with the results of each simulation and a brief summary of those results.

 

Boise State vs. Oregon

Thursday, September 3  

The favored #14 Ducks won in 45 if the 61 simulations.  The way to interpret that information is that Oregon has a 71.2% chance of winning and Boise State 's chances are 28.8%.  Each of the individual outcomes below is a representation of what could happen.  Each is influenced by a key injury to either team, a breakdown in coverage, a strategic success or failure by one of the two head coaches, etc.  When a team's actual results come in and adjustments are made to the player ratings to reflect those results, the average score of these simulations gets fairly close.  In the preseason, it doesn't mean much but I will show it for each game anyway.  In the opener, Oregon scored an average of 26.6 points to Boise State 's 18.3.  The biggest Bronco victory was 35-3, while the largest Oregon margin of victory was 56-13.  Sorry, didn't mean to depress everyone right off the bat.  The clarification is that the software has been wrong in two of 84 games over the last seven years.  If Boise State wins, it means the software has underestimated how good the Broncos are this fall or overestimated Oregon 's strength.  In the two times that EA was wrong in the last seven years, however, both Washington and Hawai'i won a far-greater percentage of the simulations (over 45%) than Boise State did against Oregon this year. Plus, Boise State has never won a game in which E/S Sports said they would lose. There's always a first time.   

17-14

21-30-

22-40-

32-24

14-30-

17-36-

24-31-

3-17-

20-10

20-19

10-27-

17-34-

6-35-

17-20-

21-31-

7-30-

10-32-

29-42-

22-19

3-36-

26-21

25-44-

14-29-

36-9

10-27-

24-30-

6-31-

7-45-

13-24-

34-17

20-23 (OT)-

17-39-

20-34-

25-20

20-37-

3-17-

13-15-

35-3

27-17

24-30-

21-30-

13-17-

13-27-

10-30-

30-29

24-19

18-31-

24-10

20-23-

7-23-

7-27-

13-56-

13-34-

9-31-

24-34-

23-14

13-31-

40-21

7-17-

9-35-

13-40-

 

 

 

 

I also have some summaries of a few of the simulations. These are some of the possibilities:

  Oregon 34, Boise State 24—Jeremiah Masoli threw three touchdown passes for Oregon, Austin Pettis (33 yards) and Titus Young (14 yards) had TD receptions for the Broncos.

  Boise State 24, Oregon 10—Pettis had a 21-yard TD catch from Moore, who also had a quarterback sneak for a touchdown, while Jeremy Avery scored on a 69-yard run.

  Oregon 30, Boise State 24—Oregon held a 23-7 halftime lead but had to hold on. Masoli tossed two TD passes and LeGarrette Blount had a 60-yard run for a score. Moore hit D.J. Harper and Young with scoring strikes and Avery had a four-yard touchdown.

  Oregon 17, Boise State 13—The Broncos held a narrow 10-7 advantage at the half, but the Ducks scored on a nine-yard pass to Dickson and a field goal to win it.

  Oregon 27, Boise State 13—The Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead but then Oregon woke up with 24 unanswered points. Masoli threw two touchdown passes and Blount scored on the ground

  Oregon 30, Boise State 10—Masoli had two TD passes and a nine-yard run to pace the Ducks.

  Boise State 30, Oregon 29—Oregon led a defensive struggle at the half, 13-7 and led 23-7 through three quarters. But then Brandyn Thompson picked off a Masoli pass and returned it 38 yards. Young hauled in a 52-yard pass from Mike Coughlin to make it 23-21 and, with the score Oregon 29, Boise State 23 (after a safety), the Broncos drove down the field with Coughlin hitting Pettis for the game-winning 37-yard touchdown pass.

  Oregon 23, Boise State 20—Oregon had five field goals, including the 25-yard game-winner. Avery had a touchdown, but neither quarterback was successful. Moore was 22-53 while Masoli was 13-36 with two picks.

  Oregon 34, Boise State 20—The Ducks outpaced Boise State 21-10 in the second half to win as Masoli threw four touchdown passes.

  Boise State 17, Oregon 3—Moore threw touchdown passes to Shoemaker and Pettis.

  Oregon 15, Boise State 13—Titus Young had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown but the Ducks kicked five field goals.

  Boise State 34, Oregon 3—Pettis grabbed three touchdown passes from Moore and Coughlin also threw two touchdown strikes.

  Boise State 27, Oregon 17—Thompson burned Oregon with a 25-yard interception for a touchdown and Avery scampered for 80 yards for another score. Moore threw a short touchdown pass to Shoemaker.

 

Boise State vs. Miami of Ohio

Saturday, September 12  

Although Boise State is the overwhelming choice to win this game, again I was surprised by how many wins Miami of Ohio had, especially considering it is at home.  Perhaps in many of those simulations, Oregon so beat up Bronco players that they were not in the lineup a week later.  Miami won nine of the 61 simulations (14.8%).  The Broncos scored an average of 29.0 points to Miami 's 16.9.  The biggest wins by Miami were 31-17 and 24-10 while Boise State won simulations of 51-14 and 56-19.  

35-38-

22-9

49-33

31-17

28-23

36-25

20-13

28-12

26-10

37-13

44-30

29-17

28-21

38-7

31-14

23-15

31-17

26-24

25-24

23-21

24-16

26-20

27-6

51-14

44-17

37-14

17-31-

16-7

23-28-

38-6

27-12

46-21

24-17

25-13

49-26

24-12

21-16

34-13

33-0

56-19

19-29-

27-7

21-29-

38-6

35-14

20-19

15-20-

35-12

30-21

33-24

26-7

10-17-

14-10

28-14

20-22-

23-20

37-14

10-24-

43-14

31-17

 

 

Boise State at Fresno State

Friday, September 18  

Boise State scored an average of 28 points to 18.2 for the Bulldogs.  That's a little deceiving, because outside of Oregon , this is one of the teams that gave Boise State the most trouble.  On the few occasions in which Boise State did not win the WAC, it was often a loss to the Bulldogs that did them in.  The Broncos did win 46 of the simulations (75.4%) but Fresno State got their share—15 wins.  Fresno State 's biggest win came in the first simulation you see below, 34-10.  Boise State pitched a shutout 45-0 for their biggest win of the 61 simulations.  

10-34-

31-24

49-14

28-27

27-24

22-16

13-30-

33-14

26-34-

40-20

29-7

28-0

37-6

28-17

31-21

45-17

20-42-

21-6

41-7

23-6

30-14

32-15

45-7

35-44-

30-0

20-25-

19-24-

38-31

44-28

37-20

38-0

24-13

17-12

33-14

28-27

13-27-

45-0

28-3

31-19

44-21

13-20-

12-23-

27-21

23-21

27-17

13-22-

12-31

25-31-

13-17

27-13

34-20

19-23-

31-13

51-26

36-14

13-28-

37-14

10-24-

43-14

31-17

31-20

 

Boise State at Bowling Green

Saturday, September 26  

Again I was surprised by the strength of yet another Mid-American Conference foe.  This one is on the road, where Bowling Green was the winner of 13 of the simulations (21.3%).  Boise State won the simulations by an average score of 28.4-19.9.  The Broncos pummeled the Falcons 48-7 in one simulation while Bowling Green got the best of the Broncos 38-17 in another.  All of these results could happen given the variables in the computer; none are outside the realm of possibility.  By averaging them in, however, we get a clear picture of what the projections are saying.  

48-14

9-29-

17-0

24-14

52-29

30-20

47-33

49-17

28-37-

43-34

33-28

38-22

45-38

41-16

38-21

27-20

51-31

31-20

24-23

34-17

34-24

22-24-

20-24-

30-5

31-7

15-12

27-24

27-31-

23-40-

31-20

40-14

31-30

40-21

30-24

48-7

30-6

24-17

32-31

15-24-

42-10

45-31

44-17

17-28-

17-38-

20-27-

26-7

26-14

14-35-

31-36-

31-17

14-28-

16-10

48-10

42-30

28-13

40-14

21-17

35-21

42-20

31-21

34-17

 

 

Boise State vs. UC-Davis

Saturday, October 3  

No data available

 

 

Boise State at Tulsa

Wednesday, October 14  

Boise State won this matchup with 53 wins (86.9%), thought Tulsa won enough times (eight) to make a Golden Hurricane win more than just a random possibility.  Boise State scored an average of 26.88 points in this matchup to 14.95 for Tulsa .  The Broncos' explosiveness showed at times, with Boise State winning 54-10, 51-3 and 42-0.  Tulsa got in their licks too, to the tune of a 55-30 win in one simulation.  

30-24

3-38-

38-17

21-24-

42-0

30-24

17-13

20-6

50-24

7-24-

44-27

37-28

42-10

19-3

28-10

38-22

48-7

27-21

23-13

27-16

20-17

21-14

16-18-

37-9

45-35

10-5

25-9

20-14

19-10

13-3

33-13

24-30-

31-3

45-10

41-21

30-10

34-10

20-17

30-27

31-6

31-6

54-10

30-55-

35-10

23-17

24-0

16-32-

31-14

21-17

31-28

34-13

21-24-

38-13

33-23

51-3

41-14

31-10

35-3

42-21

31-17

 

Boise State at Hawai'i

Saturday, October 24  

Boise State won 43 of the 61 simulations, with Hawai'i winning a statistically significant 29.5% of the time.  The software has Boise State scoring 28.4 points per simulation, which is oddly similar to the above results.  Hawai'i scored an average of 20.4 points.  The Rainbow Warriors scored their biggest win in a 48-20 victory, while Boise State completely dominated one simulation 48-7.  

25-31-

20-30-

24-27-

31-10

32-23

48-33

35-10

18-20-

16-14

20-48-

6-17-

32-40-

55-22

38-44-

44-28

29-17

41-17

24-27-

41-20

32-22

20-28-

19-13

43-7

36-31

51-31

37-23

44-6

27-39-

34-6

38-6

48-14

34-27

31-21

16-20-

47-17

48-7

31-38-

37-34

20-17

20-16

21-18

41-43-

41-13

27-34-

14-27-

33-26

23-16

16-14

34-31

17-20-

31-20

42-17

41-3

19-24-

27-13

37-27

35-10

38-18

35-28

31-14

 

 

Boise State vs. San Jose State

Saturday, October 31  

Boise State won 58 of 61 simulations (95.1%), meaning the Spartans have a 4.9% chance of winning.  San Jose State won one simulation 35-21 while the Broncos smothered the Spartans 62-10 for their biggest win of the series.  The average score was 38.9-14.3.  It is worth noting that the Broncos had four shutouts in the simulations, meaning that they have a better chance of blanking San Jose State than the Spartans do of winning.  

31-10

43-10

48-6

24-14

39-0

55-16

34-0

43-7

34-3

48-10

21-35-

28-21

44-7

48-23

45-10

30-17

45-19

38-14

35-24

38-19

13-20-

62-10

41-7

21-16

35-31

42-7

41-7

31-14

44-0

28-7

49-16

40-17

26-21

38-14

45-24

44-3

59-38

37-10

42-3

29-14

37-17

31-13

20-24-

45-10

47-21

56-10

26-20

48-16

41-17

34-3

39-7

51-10

33-3

48-0

29-20

52-17

47-7

49-21

35-21

34-20

35-21

 

 

Boise State at Louisiana Tech

Friday, November 6  

This one was a surprise but for a different reason than some of the above.  With all of the hype surrounding the Bulldogs, I would have expected more wins from them; they were able to manage five.  It doesn't mean they couldn't or won't win, just that their chances are 8.2%.  The Broncos took the Dogs by an average of 30.8-18.7.  Tech's biggest win was 37-17, while Boise State blasted the Bulldogs 62-10 in another simulation.  

14-21-

38-17

41-16

44-17

42-23

34-24

36-16

38-3

38-20

36-27

35-30

17-14

33-3

23-0

28-7

34-17

51-21

38-16

16-31-

27-24

28-9

18-6

28-21

20-17

55-21

36-17

62-14

24-17

27-20

38-31

49-28

38-7

35-21

40-28

53-29

35-25

56-20

24-14

38-7

31-28

44-21

38-7

37-27

30-23

24-14

38-14

17-37-

34-21

19-13

25-30-

14-28-

31-26

25-10

35-3

35-33

31-13

41-21

35-17

34-28

35-20

42-10

 

 

Boise State vs. Idaho

Saturday, November 14  

Idaho managed just one win in 61 simulations, 31-27, for a 1.6% chance of winning.  Boise State 's biggest win was 62-16.  The average score was 40.2 to  16.0.  

30-7

27-10

62-16

30-26

49-17

45-13

31-16

31-7

62-17

49-7

55-30

33-16

24-17

52-17

30-20

32-21

62-31

56-17

27-5

52-28

35-30

31-24

27-31-

41-3

27-17

27-11

34-17

46-23

49-28

32-21

55-10

38-7

31-24

48-3

52-28

31-21

34-0

39-10

45-13

31-28

36-6

48-10

45-13

35-14

48-12

51-10

47-17

14-7

24-3

19-10

33-3

38-16

49-17

48-27

22-10

34-13

55-10

49-28

63-14

56-21

49-20

 

 

Boise State at Utah State

Friday, November 20  

Utah State also won just one of 61 simulations, a 39-36 win in overtime towards the end of my work.  The Broncos won by an average count of 40.9-11.9.  Boise State 's biggest win was 55-3.  

39-8

22-9

31-21

48-20

40-28

34-6

34-18

31-12

40-10

29-0

44-10

51-13

59-13

31-0

40-14

36-0

41-0

44-13

41-23

48-9

30-10

27-24

44-21

36-14

37-3

42-3

38-20

37-7

40-13

53-31

39-17

48-0

55-3

24-16

42-3

38-10

35-6

35-6

38-9

66-17

34-0

45-7

48-0

44-10

37-14

41-0

42-10

45-16

41-6

37-10

48-13

36-39 OT-

38-3

50-19

56-14

38-28

35-10

41-21

44-17

49-21

56-10

 

 

Boise State vs. Nevada

Friday, November 27  

Although Boise State won the vast majority of the simulations 78.7% of the time), Nevada garnered enough wins (13) to make Bronco fans nervous.  Still, it is interesting that even though the Wolf Pack finished second to Boise State in WAC Championships with seven titles in 61 simulations, Nevada did not beat Boise State head-to-head as often as either Fresno State or Hawai'i .  Further, the times Nevada did win, it  often resulted in a WAC title for Fresno State or Hawai'i rather than translating into a Wolf Pack championship.  What a Nevada win did do was occasionally ruin a Boise State undefeated season.   Chris Ault's team scored a 31-7 win over Boise State for their biggest margin of victory while the Broncos managed a 52-10 win over Nevada.  Most of these, however, were tight.    22 of the 61 simulations were decided by seven or fewer points.  Boise State scored an average of 32.8 points to 19.7 for the Wolf Pack.  

23-28-

52-45

36-39-

13-24-

41-20

27-21

24-27-

34-24

31-13

39-7

34-29

24-17

34-10

26-21

31-21

40-10

52-10

38-7

45-25

31-24

36-17

34-24

49-17

26-23

42-19

13-10

34-0

17-24-

16-21-

35-28

42-7

35-29

30-7

35-10

34-16

13-20-

27-34-

45-17

21-27-

41-17

39-15

37-13

28-9

51-21

13-16-

34-27

7-31-

38-10

44-17

26-42-

40-23

34-17

28-3

38-10

42-10

26-21

35-30

28-31-

44-14

35-24

42-31

 

 

Boise State vs. New Mexico State

Saturday, December 5  

New Mexico State did the same thing that Idaho and Utah State did in this set of simulations—they won one time against Boise State , by a score of 17-14.  Boise State 's biggest win was 60-10.  The Broncos scored an average of 38.6 points per simulation to 11.8 for the Aggies.  

37-31

27-17

37-14

49-28

38-10

20-15

30-6

45-10

30-12

21-14

52-13

38-31

39-13

48-6

41-10

34-10

44-20

38-14

45-20

38-6

28-17

28-0

54-7

54-14

32-31

34-0

52-7

45-10

19-14

43-14

46-13

45-0

14-17-

34-18

23-13

21-7

40-6

38-12

42-13

44-3

37-7

28-10

34-9

23-6

47-21

25-22

42-3

33-13

40-10

40-10

44-6

24-3

48-3

49-3

44-10

34-3

42-3

60-10

56-14

49-21

42-14

 


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