ESPN's FPI maps out, predicts WSU season

THE FPI (Football Power Index) rating employed by ESPN predicts Washington State fans will be flying high in the early part of the 2015 season. The projection calls for the Cougars to be halfway to bowl eligibility after the nonconference slate with a 3-0 start. But that's when they project things start to turn sour.

ESPN characterizes the FPI ranking as an estimate of team strength. ESPN says it is calculated using three components for each FBS team: prior years’ offense, defense and special teams efficiencies; returning starters and head coach information; and recruiting rankings.

Washington State has a 97.1 percent chance of winning its opener against Portland State on Sept. 5, says the FPI.

WSU is likely to be a slight underdog when they travel to Rutgers the next week but the FPI likes the Cougs in a close matchup, giving Wazzu a 53.2 percent chance to win.

Washington State should then close out their nonconference schedule with a W over Wyoming. ESPN sees an 88.6 percent chance of a Wazzu victory over Wyoming.

At 3-0, the Cougs have a bye week to get ready for their Pac-12 opener. They head out on the road for two weeks to face Cal and Oregon. The FPI sees little chance of the Cougs coming home with a victory.

Washington State has only a 24.6 percent chance of beating Cal, and an 8 percent chance of beating Oregon, according to the ratings.

But the Cougs bounce back the following week, with a 68.9 percent of beating Oregon State at home.

So now the Cougs would be 4-2 at the midway point of the season, needing only two wins out of their last six games to become bowl eligible. The FPI says it's not going to happen.

WSU has only a 21.2 percent chance of winning at Arizona, and a 22.3 percent chance of winning at home against Stanford, according to the FPI.

At home against Arizona State, the Cougs have just a 27.1 percent at victory followed by a 9.3 percent chance at UCLA.

The FPI predicts WSU will beat Colorado (62.1 percent) but has only a 38.4 percent chance of winning the Apple Cup, finishing with a mark of 5-7.

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