Updated Oct 5, 2015 at 4:24p ET
Each Monday, WhatIfSports.com’s college football simulation engine generates predictions for every Division I FBS game for the coming week. Our highly sophisticated algorithms simulate every play of every game to produce each team’s likelihood to win. Each matchup is simulated 101 times.
Week 4 in Review
There were five separate games with Top 25 opponents facing one another in Week 5. Our simuation machine went 4-1. One of those wins was in the biggest game of the night. For the Notre Dame/Clemson outcome, the computers produced a two-point win for the Tigers. They won 24-22.
Our upset picks were also 4-1, including the Louisville win over North Carolina State.
Week 5 Highlight: Ohio State over Indiana
The simulations had the Buckeyes winning 34.7 to 24.6 over the Hoosier. In actuality, Ohio State scored 34 points to Indiana’s 27. Either way, we had the underdog winning when you factor in the 21.5 points that Vegas was doling out.
Week 5 Lowlight: Arizona State defeating UCLA
Unfortunately, our computers weren’t perfect. According to the simulations, the Bruins were supposed to win by three (59.4 percent of the time). However, this game must have been one of the 40.6 percent. The Sun Devils won by 15.
Week 5 Top 25 vs. Top 25 Matchups
No. 13 Northwestern vs. No. 18 Michigan
The Wildcats currently sit atop the Big Ten West standings and their path hasn’t been easy. They started the season with a win over Stanford, defeated Duke, and were golden against the Gophers last week. Northwestern’s biggest strength has been its defense. This season, they have yet to allow more than 19 points in a game. When an offense knows that scoring 20 points will get the win, the pressure eases a bit. As for the Wolverines, the world wrote them off after they lost in Week 1 to Utah. Since that game, Michigan has allowed only 14 points in four combined contests. Naturally, they also won those four games. Our simulations suggest that Michigan’s winning streak will extend to five. The Wolverines won 60.4 percent of the contests by an average score of 24.6-22.0 over Northwestern.
No. 23 California vs. No. 5 Utah
If I saw a 62-20 final score between Oregon and Utah in Eugene, my guess would be that the Ducks rolled at home. Wrong. It was the Utes who brought the noise to Autzen Stadium and left with the dubya. While the Utes (4-0) lead the Pac-12 South, Cal (5-0) is tops in the North. However, this isn’t the Pac-12 Championship…yet. The Golden Bears have teetered on the brink of defeat, but managed to keep a clean slate on the loss side. Last week, Cal needed to score 21 points in the third quarter to win over Washington State. The week before that, Cal won by six, on the road, against Washington. Then, in Week 3, there was the one-point pressure cooker in Texas. When teams rely heavily on the close victory, the odds tend to even out and sway in the other direction. After 101 simulations, the Utes remained undefeated 58.4 percent of the time by an average score of 31-29.7 over Cal.
Week 5 Upset Pick: Wisconsin (+1.5) over Nebraska
The Badgers lost 10-6 last week to Iowa…in Madison. Nebraska’s Week 5 outcome wasn’t better. They lost by one (14-13) to Illinois. After 101 simulations, our computers believe that Wisconsin has the better shot to bounce back. With 55.4 percent of the simulations, Wisconsin won by an average score of 26.4-25.8 over the Cornhuskers.
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