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2019 Season Possibilities (using S&P+)

What expectations are reasonable?

NCAA Football: SEC Media Day Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

“Hey Paul, first time caller, I just wanna know how many games you think Auburn’s gonna win this year?”

It’s what we all want to know, right? How good will the 2019 version of our Auburn Tigers really be? We all have our thoughts. Orange and Truthers just heard Crow, Chief, and Ryan give their official predictions on the pod this week. Every beat writer will have their own column leading up to kickoff talking about their expectations for this season.

I’m a big numbers guy. For those of you that follow Bill Connelly (he wrote a book! you should read it), you are probably aware that when it comes to numbers, nobody has better ones than Bill. His S&P+ rankings system is mesmerizing.

Anyways, one of the features of S&P+ is a projected win probability statistic. They’re available for every FBS team here, but here is the 2019 Auburn version:

2019 Auburn Football Projected Win Probability
Bill Connelly (ESPN)

The format is pretty straightforward. Oregon is the 20th ranked team per S&P+. Auburn has a projected winning margin of 8.8 points and a 69% win probability.

So let’s have some fun with numbers. How many different win/loss combinations are there in a season? 2^12, or 4,096. Surely someone wouldn’t plot out all 4,096 different win loss combinations, apply Bill’s projected win probability to each game, and determine the most likely results.

(Note: I applied a 99.99% win probability against Samford)

Look at that! All 4,096 possibilities in one little table.
Bill Connelly (ESPN), @joshdub_

Initial Observations:

The numbers tell us Auburn has a 71.6% chance to win anywhere from seven to nine games this season.

Seven games? No Auburn fans would feel satisfied with another 7-5 campaign. I don’t think many would be pleased with 8-4. It depends on the way they lose.

Objectively speaking, 9 wins against this schedule seems excellent. And there is a 20% chance of it happening!

10+ wins is definitely possible, too. Think about it: The single most likely specific win/loss combination is 2.32%. I’ll get to that in a little bit, but there’s also a 2.21% chance Auburn wins 11 or 12 games this season.

What about 12-0? I’m telling you there’s a 0.197% chance! (Jim_Carrey.gif)

Not that anyone was worried about it, but you can safely rule out Auburn winning less than 4 games.

Specific Results:

The chart below displays a dot for each specific win/loss combination possible this season. There are 4,096 dots, and most of them blend together.

4,096 Different Win/Loss Possibilities, Charted by Likelihood of Occurance
Bill Connelly (ESPN), @joshdub_,

Ehh, this doesn’t really tell us much.

Let’s focus on, say, the top 25 most likely outcomes this season.

Top 25 Most Likely Results
Bill Connelly (ESPN), @joshdub_

Two things are happening in this chart: the orange line plots the likelihood of each result happening (see the left vertical axis), and the blue line plots the corresponding number of wins from each respective result (see the right vertical axis). Let’s take a look at an example, the most likely result is obvious: Auburn wins the game where they are the favorites (Oregon, Tulane, Kent State, @ Texas A&M, Mississippi State, @ Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Samford) and lose the games where they are underdogs (@ Florida, @ LSU, Georgia, and Alabama). There is a 2.32% chance of this happening.

Three of the Top 25 most likely results include 10 win seasons for Auburn! Additionally, six of the Top 25 are 9 win seasons. If you told me now, in August, Auburn could go 9-3 this season, I’d take it. No questions asked.

Keep in mind, in each of these 25 most likely scenarios, Auburn beats Tulane, Kent State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Samford. In 23/25, Auburn beats Oregon.

Are you looking for something specific? Are you Ryan Sterritt, who thinks Auburn goes 11-1 with a loss to LSU? There’s a 0.33% chance of that happening.

What about a season ticket holder, who really wants to see Auburn go 7-0 in home games? There’s a 5.56% chance of this happening.

Do you have a specific result you want to know? Drop a comment below with a set of conditions and I’ll tell you how likely that result is.