ESPN’s FPI metric predicts Washington State wins, losses in 2016

WASHINGTON STATE will start out 3-1 this season, according to ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index metric (FPI). But it may surprise some to see how ESPN projects the Cougs to get there.

WSU will lose at Boise State in Week Two, and beat Oregon at home in Week Four, ESPN projects.

The preseason FPI projects WSU to finish the season at 7-5, with a 5-4 mark in the Pac-12.

The Cougs have a 97.2 percent chance of beating Eastern in the season opener at Martin Stadium, but only a 37.1 percent chance of topping BSU on the road, according to the FPI. 

When the Cougs and Vandals restart the Battle of the Palouse in Week Three, the Cougs have a 94.8 percent chance to win at home.  The FPI likes WSU over Oregon in the Pac-12 opener in Martin by a slim margin, giving the Cougs a 51.5 percent chance at victory.

The FPI then projects a three-game losing streak for the Cougs -- WSU has a 26 percent chance of beating Stanford on the road, a 34.9 percent chance of taking care of business at home vs. UCLA and a 47.3 percent chance of beating ASU on the road, says ESPN.

The FPI has WSU then going on a four-game winning streak.  WSU has a 70.2 percent chance of winning at Oregon State in Week Seven, followed by a 56.2 percent chance of beating Arizona at home. 

The Cougs then project to snap a two-game losing streak to Cal, with the FPI giving WSU a 65.2 percent chance at home.  Colorado is an improved team in 2016 in the eyes of the FPI, with WSU given a 54.7 chance to come out of Boulder with a win.  In the regular season finale, the FPI projects Washington State will lose to Washington, giving the Cougars a 33.2 percent chance to win at home in the Apple Cup.

FOR SOME CONTEXT, a quick look back at the preseason 2015 FPI concerning the Cougs makes a strong case for why they play the games. 

At this time last year, the preseason FPI projected WSU to finish 5-7 overall, and 2-7 in the Pac-12. WSU was given a 97.1 percent chance at beating Portland State, and just an 8 percent chance to beat Oregon and a 9.3 percent chance to top UCLA.  The FPI also later projected WSU to lose its bowl game.  WSU, of course, lost to PSU, beat both Oregon and UCLA, and won its bowl game on the way to a 9-4 record, finishing with a 6-3 mark in Pac-12 play.

RELATED STORY: ESPN metric picks WSU win and losses ahead of 2015 season

ESPN characterizes the FPI ranking as an estimate of team strength. ESPN in 2016 says the FPI is calculated using four major components: the last four seasons of performance on offense, defense and special teams, with the most recent season counting most; information on offensive and defensive returning starters, with special consideration given to a team returning its starting quarterback or gaining a transfer quarterback with experience; a four-year average of recruiting rankings; and head coaching tenure. These four components, ESPN says, interact and are assigned different weights depending on the team to produce the preseason FPI.


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