E/A Sports Predicts the 2010 Bronco Season

The long-awaited results from the annual E/A Sports simulations are here. After 50 simulations of every Boise State game, here are the results.

The results of the E/A Sports simulations are in.  I have simulated these results through the use of E/A's "NCAA College Football" software since Boise State became a major college football team.  In 2002, I began noticing that the outcomes, if not necessarily the predicted score, were startlingly accurate.  E/A accurately predicted all 13 regular season games in 2002.  Not only did they predict an 11-1 record for the Broncos, but they accurately predicted each game.   They did the same thing in 2003 when Boise State was 12-1 in the regular season.  NCAA Football predicted the 11-0 2004 season and the 8-4 2005 campaign, with each game's outcome going the way it was predicted in the preseason before any games were played.  E/A then accurately predicted the 12-0 Fiesta Bowl season for Boise State .  I should mention here that the bowl games are impossible to predict because you cannot place teams in bowl games to do the simulations; they are placed there by the software at the conclusion of the regular season.  This is something that I wish E/A would allow.   

In any case, I noticed that if the simulations were totaled, Boise State 's season could be predicted.  And, the more simulations that were used, the more accurate the results, as logic would have us believe.  I also found that to be as accurate as possible, one team in the simulated matchup would have to open up a minimum of a 15-game lead on the other.  In the past, I have found that 50 simulations is generally the minimum needed to obtain a fairly accurate result.  However, E/A missed its first two games in 2007, when the software predicted another unbeaten regular season of 12-0 and Boise State lost to Washington and Hawai'i on the road.  All of the 2007 predictions involved 50 games however, and the software was still wrong twice (or perhaps the Broncos were wrong twice in losing two games that they should have won…)  In 2008, E/A again accurately forecast all 12 Bronco games.  In 2009, the software predicted a 12-1 regular season record with a loss to Oregon but instead Boise State was 13-0. So the cumulative record of predicting Boise State football games for E/A Sports' NCAA Football stands at 82-3 since 2002.  It is the most accurate predictor of college football games that I have found.  

If this year's results are fairly accurate, and they usually are, this will be a big year for the Boise State defense.  I am quick to point out the disclaimer that these simulated results do not necessarily reflect the upcoming season nor do they represent the opinions of E/A Sports or BroncoCountry.  It is all in good fun.  That said, I was amazed at the number of single digits recorded by opponents in these simulations.  If Boise State is to have the season they hope for, it is evident that none of the games against the lower-ranked opponents should be close.  Some of the games against nationally-ranked teams were not.  Perhaps that puts pressure on this team, but it also shows the level at which they should perform—a level unseen in Boise .  

Boise State finished the season unbeaten (12-0) in 22 of the 37 seasons  The Broncos received a bowl invitation in all 37 seasons, meaning that, according to the software, there is a 100% chance that the Broncos will go to a bowl game this season.  

Now, which one?  

Last year, for the first time, Boise State had a mathematical chance to make the national championship.  This was not according to actual results, but rather by simulations run in the preseason.  This year, the Broncos were selected to play in the mythical national championship game eight times in the 37 simulations (21.62%).  The interpretation of this is that Boise State has approximately a 22% chance of reaching the mythical national championship game.  The toughest part seems to be getting in the game, for of the eight simulations in which Boise State made the title game, they won six of them.  The Broncos defeated Alabama 27-24, Wisconsin 22-17, TCU 47-14, 42-14, 35-32 and 49-24 and lost to Alabama 13-8 and Nebraska 24-21.  Isn't it interesting that TCU is the most common opponent and would represent the third consecutive year that the Broncos and Horned Frogs have met in a bowl game?   

Alabama and Ohio State , the nation's top two teams in the preseason USA Today Coach's Poll, get confirmation from E/A Sports as the two teams most likely to appear in the MNC .  Alabama reached the title game in 39 simulations while Ohio State received the berth in 18.  TCU and Boise State are the next most likely with eight berths apiece.  Oklahoma and Wisconsin received seven title game appearances each.  Washington played in four simulations (although they all required wins over BYU, which did not happen).  West Virginia played in the championship game in two simulations, with Florida State, Georgia Tech, Navy, Nebraska, Nevada, Texas and Utah getting one berth each.  There is a special rankings system at the conclusion of the predictions, a BroncoCountry first.  

I viewed the simulations carefully and can honestly say that the "Bowl Championship Series ( BCS ) Standings" that E/A uses were the most accurate they have been.  For instance, the only time Boise State made the MNC game was when there was no more than one other unbeaten team.  This is fairly close to reality.  

If expectations are lowered somewhat from the sky-high level of making it to college football's ultimate game, Bronco fans should be satisfied with the season.  By going unbeaten in those 22 simulations, good bowl invitations are sure to follow.  Of course, the Rose Bowl would be the most likely in real life since they are required to take a non-Automatic Qualifying team if a spot is available.  I don't think E/A properly programmed that in as there were a few cases in which they should have received the Rose Bowl berth and went to another BCS Bowl instead.  Nevertheless, in the seasons in which Boise State is fortunate enough to go unbeaten and does not play in the MNC game, the odds are good that they would land in one of the BCS bowl games.  In the 37 simulations, the Broncos were selected to play in the Sugar Bowl 10 times and the Rose Bowl nine times and the Orange Bowl three times.  Thus, the odds are 30 in 37 (81.08%) that the Broncos will go to a major bowl or national championship.  In three simulations, Boise State lost a game during the season and still received an invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl and two other times an 11-1 Bronco team received a bid to the Orange Bowl.  BCS expert Jerry Palm recently said he expected the odds of an 11-1 Boise State team receiving a BCS Bowl berth as being "very good".  There is a special BCS Bowls section following the Boise State predictions.  

Boise State received invitations to the Emerald Bowl in four simulations and the other two times played in the Humanitarian Bowl.  

I also kept track of individual national awards.  In nearly every simulation, five-six school records were set at Boise State .  The list of Bronco school marks that are in danger is chronicled in the article "Chasing Records".   Of the national college football awards, wide receiver Titus Young won the Heisman three times and the Bilitnikoff Awards six times, finished second in the Heisman once,  third in the Heisman once and fourth once.  He finished third in the Bilitnikoff four times, fourth three times and fifth three times.  Young was an All-American in nine simulations.  Fellow wideout Austin Pettis won the Heisman in four simulations, finished second once, third once and was fifth in the race in one simulation.  He won the Bilitnikoff Award seven times and was third once, fourth twice and fifth twice.  Pettis was named to the All-America team in six simulations.   

Quarterback Kellen Moore won the Heisman Trophy twice, finished second in the Heisman twice, third five times, fourth two times and fifth in three other simulation.  He won the O'Brien Award in two simulations, finished second four other times and was fifth once.  Kellen made the All-America team in four of the simulations.  Nickel back Winston Venable was named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award in one simulation.  Brandyn Thompson was chosen as an All-American and finished third in the Jim Thorpe Award once.  Placekicker Kyle Brotzman won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best kicker in one simulation.  Running back Jeremy Avery finished fourth for the Doak Walker Award once and fifth another time.  Brotzman, Billy Winn and Jamar Taylor each made the All-America team once.   

In each of the 12 Boise State games below, I include the results of 50 simulations, an analysis of the matchups and the raw data from the simulations.  The 50 scores shown are all possible results of the game itself.  Each simulation is a possible result and taken together, represent a good approximation of the outcome.  It should be mentioned that the 50 results for each matchup do not come close to representing all of the possible outcomes, but it is a good estimate.  Often, a result might be affected by a key player injury or two for one of the teams.  It might also reflect a costly turnover or penalty one way or the other.  By simulating 50 times, the sample reduces the effect of one of those events, while still recognizing that injuries, penalties and turnovers are a vital part of the game.  The biggest wins for each team represent the extremes that are reflected in the sample size of 50.  Should the actual result be outside of the extremes, it is a "red flag" that the player data that E/A Sports used in their software might need to be adjusted up or down.  

As usual, the results are interesting.  As you look at the raw statistical data below, keep an eye on the right column.  Those are the opponent scores.  I will give my interpretation of what it means but it makes for a fascinating look at the 2010 season.  

We will start with Game Two!

 

 

 

Boise State vs. Wyoming

September 18

Laramie , Wyoming

35-21

44-13

52-17

55-3

53-10

37-0

41-3

56-9

31-0

48-3

47-13

32-15

31-7

38-0

48-0

45-10

63-6

38-3

48-3

51-10

48-0

44-0

52-9

31-10

40-3

35-14

41-13

51-17

42-10

50-10

38-0

46-6

70-7

47-3

51-0

41-21

35-21

41-7

51-6

42-0

44-7

48-10

37-0

33-10

36-7

41-10

51-7

41-0

45-7

45-7

 

Analysis:  Boise State won all 50 simulations with Wyoming .  It doesn't mean that there is no statistical chance that the Cowboys will win; it means that is likely less than two percent.  Boise State scored 2,180 points in the 50 simulations for an average of 43.6 to an average of 8.7 for Wyoming (368 total points).   

The Broncos scored 40 or more points in 36 simulations, which means that there is a 72% chance they will hit that total.  Boise State held Wyoming to single digits in 31 simulations.  That is a theme that will be familiar to you as you look at the raw data.  Boise State 's defense has approached those numbers in recent years but never before has the software showed such domination.  

Note the extremes.  If the actual result falls within these margins, the actual result is contained within the existing sample.  If the result is markedly different than the extremes, the player ratings for one or both schools will likely need to be adjusted.  The smallest margin of victory was 14 at 35-21.  That result occurred twice in 50 simulations, meaning that despite the average score, the 35-21 score could happen.  The biggest Bronco win was 70-7.  The conclusion from these extremes is that the actual margin should be between 14 and 63 if the software contains correct data.  If Wyoming wins, of course, that causes all kinds of problems with the software.  

Wyoming had an average season record of 2.2 wins and 9.8 losses.  Their best season was 5-7 which occurred three times, while their worst season was 1-11.

 

 

Boise State vs. Oregon State

September 25

Bronco Stadium

34-22

42-17

32-10

38-9

10-21-

24-6

34-19

37-13

28-17

42-27

52-10

31-21

17-27-

25-13

17-12

31-24

34-21

28-17

24-19

31-0

37-21

45-17

42-20

24-20

45-9

40-30

40-7

36-6

21-13

19-13

30-10

21-18

20-7

42-7

38-24

24-21

35-20

51-7

27-17

38-32

44-10

36-10

33-13

48-17

36-14

21-12

17-7

34-13

20-27-

3-17-

 

Analysis:  Boise State won 46 of 50 simulations, which is a much different result than the last four meetings with the Beavers.  And keep in mind this is a Beaver team that began the season nationally-ranked.  Their strong showing against Oregon State last night could also mean that OSU's ratings need to be adjusted upward.  That likely would not affect the outcome but certainly would make it closer.  

Boise State scored 1,578 points in these 50 simulations, while Oregon State posted a total of 781.  That averages out to 31.6 points for the Broncos and 15.6 for OSU.  Note that the single digits do not appear near as often for Oregon State as they did for Wyoming , but still there were 10 occasions.   

The biggest Oregon State win was 17-3 while the biggest Boise State win was 51-7.  Those are huge extremes but not out of the ordinary for a game matching two very talented teams.  Both teams have great talent and if everything goes their way, they are indeed capable of those results.  The game result would have to be out of the margin to mean any flaws in the data.  

Oregon State went on to have an average of 6.5 wins and 5.5 losses.  Their best season was 10-2 while their worst was 4-8.  The Beavers made a bowl game in 40 of the 50 simulations (80%).  They finished the season nationally-ranked in four of the 50 simulations (8%). 

 

 

Boise State at New Mexico State

October 2

Las Cruces , New Mexico

48-6

48-0

45-0

55-9

44-0

58-3

59-3

47-0

52-6

32-0

42-0

26-3

52-3

47-0

44-3

58-3

48-0

55-7

59-0

52-7

48-0

47-3

63-3

40-10

55-0

45-10

62-10

49-3

56-10

45-17

42-7

40-7

42-0

35-7

38-6

42-10

38-17

46-7

55-3

31-0

64-9

54-0

59-7

51-7

49-3

43-0

35-7

45-0

51-3

48-7

52-14

 

Analysis:  Once again, Boise State was fortunate enough to win all 50 simulations.  The Broncos held New Mexico State to nine or fewer points on 43 occasions.  The software is predicting that there is an 86% chance that the Aggies will not score at least 10 points and a 32% chance (16 in 50) that they will not score.  It remains to be seen if the E/A data is correct but those are certainly targets for the Bronco defense to shoot for.   

Boise State scored 2,441 points to 240 for New Mexico State .  That represents an average score of Boise State 48.8, New Mexico State 4.8.  If Boise State does not achieve that result in Las Cruces , it means they are not meeting expectations that E/A Sports has built into the software.  The extremes are a 26-3 Boise State win and a 63-3 Bronco win.  A Boise State win by less than 23 points might necessitate lower Bronco player ratings.   

E/A forecasts that New Mexico State will be 0-11 with the game against San Jose State being a toss-up.

 

 

Boise State vs. Toledo

October 9

Bronco Stadium

56-3

38-0

37-6

55-3

41-14

38-7

43-13

49-6

52-14

47-7

41-3

42-6

48-0

50-9

47-0

41-0

39-0

35-16

37-11

30-0

42-3

48-20

27-7

20-0

52-0

45-10

44-6

37-14

42-7

48-10

43-10

38-3

36-0

31-3

27-0

52-7

31-14

43-3

52-10

38-9

33-7

48-3

28-3

34-3

21-7

42-3

39-13

28-3

38-0

35-14

 

Analysis:  Boise State won all 50 of these simulations with the Rockets.  The Broncos scored 2,003 total points while Toledo scored 310 in the 50 simulations.  The average score, then, was 40.0 for Boise State and 6.2 for Toledo .  The Broncos held Toledo to single digits in 36 of 50 simulations (72%).  The closest game was 21-7, while the biggest margin was 56-3.   

Toledo had an average season record of 6.9 wins and 5.1 losses.  The Rockets' beat season was 10-3 with the MAC Championship while their worst was 5-7.  They made a postseason bowl game in 42 of the 50 simulations (84%). 

 

 

Boise State at San Jose State

October 16

San Jose , California

62-0

45-10

66-7

42-0

55-7

37-0

58-0

48-3

58-3

69-3

45-9

48-0

47-14

58-6

55-7

41-0

41-3

65-17

52-7

52-0

40-7

40-7

31-3

37-3

42-0

41-14

44-6

53-3

49-14

49-0

58-7

56-0

49-6

30-0

30-0

42-10

35-14

53-0

45-10

49-3

48-7

27-7

66-0

52-7

65-3

49-10

48-10

48-0

44-0

45-0

 

Analysis:  Boise State was able to win all 50 simulations against the Spartans.  This traditionally has been a tough place to play and has proven to be the ultimate trap game in 2006 and 2008.  The Broncos cannot achieve their desired season if they fall victim to the trap this year.  The software certainly is not predicting that, but it didn't in those two previous years either.  Boise State scored 2,379 total points in this matchup while San Jose State scored 247 in the 50 simulations.  Thus, the average score was Boise State 47.4, San Jose State 4.9.  There is a 32% chance (16 in 50) that San Jose State will not score.  There is an 80% chance (40 in 50) that the Spartans will score less than 10.  Again, results short of that mean that expectations are too high for Boise State .  

San Jose State is predicted to be 2-9 with the Idaho and New Mexico State games too close to call.

 

 

Boise State vs. Louisiana Tech

October 26

Bronco Stadium

38-10

41-0

49-7

40-3

51-20

43-3

55-17

52-10

51-0

52-10

52-7

55-20

41-9

55-14

42-13

48-14

39-10

43-26

45-7

48-17

45-0

45-0

56-0

35-6

42-7

35-14

48-9

38-7

35-25

48-10

42-3

48-0

42-10

19-3

35-10

56-0

42-7

41-10

57-14

40-3

52-17

45-6

47-10

40-0

42-0

44-7

52-17

44-11

42-21

45-10

41-14

 

Analysis:  Boise State was able to win all 50 simulations against Louisiana Tech. The average score was 45.6 to 8.8.  The closest score in the simulations was 19-3 while the biggest margin was 56-0, which occurred twice.  There is exactly a 50% chance that Boise State will be able to hold the Bulldogs to nine or less points.  

Louisiana Tech is projected by the software to have a 4-7 record with the Utah State game a toss-up.

 

 

Boise State vs. Hawai'i

November 6

Bronco Stadium

38-17

42-3

34-14

44-6

41-3

42-13

37-0

41-0

54-3

52-17

61-7

39-6

49-16

44-3

48-13

42-6

41-0

44-6

45-3

35-0

42-9

44-3

33-7

37-7

56-21

49-14

44-3

49-13

42-20

48-6

44-14

44-13

42-7

30-6

40-24

47-10

30-7

31-14

42-10

45-24

45-13

20-24-

59-31

55-10

37-13

56-13

47-14

51-6

49-28

44-21

 

Analysis:  Boise State was able to win 49 of 50 simulations against Hawai'i .  The average score was 43.5 to 10.8.  The Hawai'i win was the 24-20 score you see above. The other extreme would be the 61-7 Bronco win.  

Hawai'i is predicted to finish the regular season with an 8-5 record and make a postseason bowl game.

 

 

Boise State at Idaho

November 12

Moscow , Idaho

45-10

47-0

45-10

33-7

44-3

42-3

45-0

41-6

40-7

44-7

49-0

41-7

52-3

41-0

48-3

52-3

52-0

49-0

41-0

70-6

41-0

41-7

43-0

37-0

45-0

42-10

48-7

52-14

41-10

48-7

45-0

42-0

55-0

30-0

41-3

48-7

44-9

45-21

48-14

44-7

44-0

44-0

48-3

41-7

55-10

48-6

44-7

48-0

45-10

42-7

Analysis:  Boise State was able to win all 50 simulations against Idaho .  The averages score was Boise State 48.7, Idaho 4.8.  The two extremes in the sample are the 33-7 game and the 70-6 simulation.  Idaho did not score in 16 of the 50 simulations (32%) and they scored 10 or more points in nine simulations (18%).  

Idaho is projected to have a 2-10 record with the San Jose State game too close to call.

 

 

Boise State vs. Fresno State

November 19

Bronco Stadium

48-25

42-16

38-41-

40-10

48-13

25-20

27-24

45-23

27-13

45-28

52-13

44-24

34-17

49-21

48-3

40-17

33-17

43-24

51-3

41-10

41-17

45-17

41-7

31-17

35-21

31-20

27-13

45-14

35-21

31-0

52-13

14-24-

37-20

45-19

17-27-

23-12

41-31

35-20

38-20

36-13

51-24

34-14

40-3

37-17

48-13

54-21

40-23

45-19

31-34-

42-21

 

Analysis:  Boise State won 46 of 50 simulations in this one.  The average score was 38.5 to 17.7 in favor of the Broncos.  The four Fresno State wins were 34-31, 27-17, 24-14 and a wild 41-38 game. The biggest Bronco win was 51-3.  

Fresno State is projected to finish the season with a record of 9-3.

 

 

Boise State at Nevada

November 27

Reno , Nevada

43-21

28-17

48-20

42-36

37-0

34-13

46-14

27-34-

45-17

31-13

34-14

27-24

40-21

41-23

44-21

35-42-

59-14

27-9

41-7

38-31

38-42-

42-28

48-13

43-14

34-14

51-20

34-7

38-24

38-31

50-39

41-31

36-24

45-23

41-13

31-26

47-17

27-38-

31-21

44-14

44-12

35-31

35-20

44-14

28-35-

41-21

35-21

38-28

24-10

42-35

 

Analysis:  Boise State won 45 of 50 simulations against Nevada .   The average score was Boise State 37.8, Nevada 21.3.  Nevada won by scores of 35-28, 38-27, 35-28, 34-27 and 42-35.   The biggest Bronco margin was the 59-14 simulation.  

Nevada is projected to win 10 games against one loss, with the BYU game being too close to call.  The Pack is projected to make a postseason bowl game and more than likely will finish the year in the Top 25.

 

Boise State vs. Utah State

December 4

Bronco Stadium

49-21

45-7

42-0

49-14

55-3

55-0

48-0

45-7

25-28-

47-7

27-9

41-14

51-6

41-6

42-3

34-13

31-3

46-3

31-3

52-13

30-0

38-0

49-0

30-7

48-7

40-0

48-2

47-6

41-0

37-7

52-14

44-10

44-10

42-10

48-9

46-17

48-14

41-6

56-3

42-10

49-7

50-7

42-20

42-0

49-3

42-3

45-9

45-7

42-10

45-21

 

Analysis:  Boise State won 49 of 50 simulations against the Aggies.  The average score was Boise State 44.6, Utah State 7.6.  Utah State 's win came fairly late in the 50 simulations at 28-25.  At the other extreme is the 55-0 Boise State win.   

Utah State is predicted to be 4-6 with the Louisiana Tech and San Diego State matchups too close to call.

 

Boise State vs. Virginia Tech

September 6 in Washington , D.C.  

As common sense would indicate, this should be the closest game of the season, and the results are reflective of a real " Battle in the Capital"! 

 

16-10

23-20

31-27

28-35-

24-16

27-0

38-6

17-31-

34-22

31-34-

24-10

24-34-

20-0

47-7

45-31

32-14

13-24-

35-10

26-9

31-33-

34-24

37-12

42-6

16-31-

20-23-

30-27

52-22

30-20

31-27

46-28

20-10

31-19

28-35-

38-23

28-31-

31-27

21-31-

30-23

20-14

37-27

16-29-

29-21

24-17

34-29

17-21-

28-13

26-31-

30-20

24-34-

45-28

 

Analysis:  Boise State won 35 of 50 simulations.  According to the software this year, that reflects a 70% chance that Boise State will be fortunate enough to win this contest.  Obviously, 30% is very significant and turnovers, injuries and penalties will play a key role in the outcome.  In looking at the other three Boise State games in which E/A Sports erred, Boise State was a 60-40 winner in 100 simulations against Washington in 2007 and a 58-42 winner over Hawai'i .  The Broncos lost both of those games, so even a 20-game advantage was not enough.  The 15-game advantage for Boise State is below both of those simulations.  The 45-16 advantage for Oregon last year clearly showed that the Boise State player ratings were far too low.  Did E/A Sports overcorrect this year and make the Bronco ratings too high?  We will know about 9:15 p.m. Mountain Time!  

Keep in mind also that should the actual result be within the two extremes, the software is correct and has the actual result contained within the sample.  In other words, all of the above scores (and countless others) are possible.  All we are doing here is getting the average result and determine trends based on the simulations.  The average score was Boise State 29.2, Virginia Tech 21.5.  That is by far the closest of the 12 matchups in this article.  The biggest Hokie win was 31-17; this represents one extreme of the sample.  The 47-7 Bronco win is the other end of the spectrum.  All results from a 14-point VT win to a 40-point Boise State win are possible and the actual result will depend on the usual football factors—turnovers, penalties and injuries.  Here's hoping for an injury-free game for both sides!   

Virginia Tech went on to have an average season record of 9.5 wins and 2.9 losses.  The best season was a 12-1 year in which they won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.  The worst season was 8-4 which was achieved several times.  The Hokies are projected to go to their 18th consecutive bowl game and more than likely will finish the year in the Top 25.


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