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Analytical Deep Dive on the 2024 CFB Title Contenders

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buckeye1313's picture
May 29, 2024 at 12:45pm

Analytical Deep Dive on the 2024 CFB Title Contenders

I wanted to take a sort of hodgepodge analytical look at how to project the future performance of CFB teams in the coming season. This is by no means an exact math but gives a decent look at how to expect certain title contenders to perform next year and what teams may be undervalued or overvalued in the betting market.

The method involves looking at a couple different metrics and creating a weighted average to rank order and score each team going into the coming season. The metrics I pulled are listed below:

  1. NFL Mock Draft Projections. This is a consensus big board of each draft eligible player’s overall ranking for the 2025 NFL Draft put together using the compilation of a myriad of different Big Boards, 1st Round Mock Drafts, and Team Based Mock Drafts. At this point in writing, there are 108 data points of the aforementioned mocks. I assigned 1.25 points for a Top 50 pick, 1 point for a 51-100 Pick and 0.75 points for a 101-257 pick. It’s super early in the process so I weight this data point only 10% of the overall score as there’s not much to go on yet. Source: https://www.nflmockdraftdatabase.com/big-boards/2025/consensus-big-board-2025?pos=ALL
  2. On3 Top 100 Returning Players. This is effectively an opinion piece from On3 where they rank their top 100 returning CFB players for the coming season. I just counted up the amount of players from each school on this list. This makes up 20% of the weighted score. Source: https://www.on3.com/news/top-100-players-in-college-football-2024-season-james-pearce-luther-burden-kelvin-banks-carson-beck-will-campbell/
  3. CBS Top Returners. Similar to the On3 piece above, this is an opinion piece written by CBS that gives their top 100 returning players for the upcoming CFB season. I just counted up the amount of players from each school on this list. This makes up 20% of the weighted score. Source: https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/college-football-top-100-players-of-2024-sec-crowds-top-10-colorado-star-at-no-1-in-spring-rankings/
  4. All-Conference Players. I went back and counted up all the returning CFB players that made the previous season’s respective All-Conference teams. Some conferences do a First, Second, and Third team while some conferences only do a First and Second team. To make things fair, I only counted players that made either the First or Second All-Conference team. Third team players did not make the list. I also did not count any special teams players. I counted transfers who made All-Conference for their previous conference (i.e. Quinshon Judkins counts for OSU since he made the All-SEC first team). This makes up 10% of the weighted score.
  5. PFF Returning Players. PFF creates a list of 10-11 of the top returning CFB players by position. I went in and counted each player that was included in any of these lists. Because PFF is the most analytical of any of these metrics by far, I am counting them as 40% of the weighted score. Source: https://www.pff.com/news/college-football-2024-the-top-returning-players-at-every-position

Now that the method has been explained, I wanted to show how this method performed on LAST season’s crop of title contenders to show the correlation to success that it can have. Below shows each teams respective weighted average scores and their betting odds to win the National Championship. There is also a F+ rating which is a blend of the FEI and SP+ analytical systems that show how good a team was in 2023 weighting for pace of play, opponent strength, neutral field etc. The exact definition from their website defines the metric as “opponent-adjusted data representing the scoring advantage per possession a team would be expected to have on a neutral field against an average opponent, calculated from the results of non-garbage possessions in FBS vs. FBS games”. It’s also worth noting that there were no CBS rankings for last year. They were a new addition to this year’s model. Last year’s weightings were: 10% Draft Picks, 10% All-Conf, 30% On3, and 50% PFF. Source: https://www.bcftoys.com/2023-fplus/

When I created this metric last season, there were some clear takeaways. Firstly, Alabama was overvalued in the betting market. They had the second best odds to win the title but only finished 7th on this list in terms of Weighted Score. And it turns out that the weighted score was correct. Alabama finished exactly 7th in the final F+ metrics. Yes, they did make the CFP but they squeaked by in a bunch of games and quite frankly never looked very good the entire season. It was objectively one of Saban’s worst teams ever. Florida State was a great betting value last year. They only had a 3.9% implied probability for the title but finished 4th in weighted score. They finished the year undefeated and were a Jordan Travis injury away from making the CFP and being a serious contender for a title.

Overall, I thought the weighted score did a very good job of projecting the outcomes of F+ rating. All Top 8 teams in weighted score finished in the Top 8 in F+ rating with one outlier being Oregon. This could be a testament to a great coaching job by Dan Lanning last season or a problem with the weighted score model. Clemson also finished very poorly compared to where their weighted score projected them. Perhaps this was a poor coaching job by Dabo. Going into 2023, there were 3 teams at the top that were all relatively close together in OSU, UGA, Michigan. These teams all finished in the Top 4 in F+ rating.

With all of that being said, here are the results going into the 2024 season:

As you can see from above, unlike last season where there were a close 3 teams at the top. That is not the case this season. Ohio State is the clear favorite and it’s not all that close. Ohio State has an enormous 9.4 weighted score which blows everyone else out of the water. Not only is the average impressive, Ohio State was ranked first in literally every single individual metric. Not only is Ohio State the highest rated team in the past two seasons, the rest of the field in 2024 is weaker than it was in 2023. The second highest rated team in 2024 comes in at 6.1 weighted score; this would be the 5th highest rated team in 2023. Ohio State is the clear top team while there’s a cluster of Tier 2 teams in UGA, Michigan, Oregon, Bama, and ND.

I don’t see it with Texas, and I say this as a Texas fan. My wife went to Texas. I follow Texas closer than any team not named OSU. They are all the way down at 9th on this list despite being the 3rd in betting odds. They are a bad betting value and I expect them to regress a bit this season. They have big liability’s in their defense and specifically in their secondary. They are last year’s Bama. So that begs the question, who is this year’s Florida State (a team that is undervalued)? I believe it’s Notre Dame. You can make an argument for Michigan but with Ohio State and Oregon’s score combined with Michigan’s tough schedule, I think ND is the better bet. ND is undervalued in the betting market according the weighted score. They bring back a good amount of NFL talent defensively and added Riley Leonard at QB, who has an NFL future unlike Sam Hartman. Not being in a conference hurts them but may also create an aura of unknown in how the CFP committee wants to treat them that could work in their advantage as well.

This is a forum post from a site member. It does not represent the views of Eleven Warriors unless otherwise noted.

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