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Alabama's 2016's projected best team, but Clemson's got the best Playoff chances

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College football's back! Let's crunch some numbers.

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A couple of injuries here, a suspension there, and your numbers are blown to bits.

Creating preseason projections is the most temporary of exercises, but I like to think it's a valuable one. It helps to set the most realistic possible projections, albeit in a sport that loves to regularly stray from reality.

Back in February, before the offseason preview series began, I posted projected S&P+ numbers based on initial returning production figuresrecruiting rankings, and recent performance history. As is my custom, it's now time to update those. These numbers are based on the same three questions -- How have you done lately? Who have you lost? How good are the guys replacing them? -- but the recruiting numbers have changed slightly, and as of Thursday, the returning production figures are also updated.

There aren't too many massive changes in the numbers below. Some teams got slight bumps because of transfers or changes in those returning production figures, but for the most part the changes have been relegated to a couple of points here and there. But since the goal is to set expectations for the coming months as properly as possible, I'm also including the following, in addition to projected rating and average projected wins:

  • Each team's projected offensive and defensive ratings (something not included in February).
  • Each team's odds of finishing the regular season 11-1 or better, 6-6 or better (i.e. bowl-eligible), and 1-11 or worse.

Enjoy.

Team PROJ. 2016 S&P+ Rk Off. S&P+ Rk Def. S&P+ Rk Proj. Wins 11+ wins Bowl-Eligible 0-1 wins
Alabama 30.4 1 36.9 23 6.5 1 9.8 31.1% 99.9% 0.0%
Clemson 27.2 2 45.7 1 18.5 16 10.4 49.8% 100.0% 0.0%
LSU 26.7 3 44.8 3 18.1 12 9.5 23.6% 99.8% 0.0%
Oklahoma 24.0 4 44.1 6 20.1 21 10.0 35.8% 99.9% 0.0%
Florida State 22.4 5 41.5 9 19.1 18 8.9 12.7% 99.0% 0.0%
Michigan 22.4 6 34.9 33 12.5 2 10.1 37.5% 100.0% 0.0%
Ole Miss 20.9 7 43.0 8 22.1 27 8.0 3.4% 95.6% 0.0%
Tennessee 19.2 8 36.4 24 17.2 9 9.1 13.1% 99.5% 0.0%
USC 19.0 9 40.4 13 21.4 25 7.8 2.8% 94.2% 0.0%
Washington 19.0 10 34.7 36 15.7 6 9.3 18.6% 99.7% 0.0%
Ohio State 18.7 11 37.6 19 18.9 17 8.5 7.3% 98.1% 0.0%
Georgia 17.9 12 32.3 47 14.4 4 9.0 13.1% 99.3% 0.0%
Notre Dame 17.7 13 44.3 5 26.6 48 8.7 9.5% 98.2% 0.0%
Oregon 17.6 14 44.5 4 26.9 52 8.7 9.2% 98.5% 0.0%
UCLA 17.4 15 39.4 14 21.9 26 8.8 11.5% 98.6% 0.0%
Stanford 17.1 16 40.8 12 23.7 35 8.2 4.2% 97.0% 0.0%
Arkansas 16.9 17 40.9 11 24.0 37 7.5 1.7% 90.9% 0.0%
Louisville 16.4 18 36.0 27 19.6 20 8.6 7.8% 98.5% 0.0%
Baylor 14.9 19 43.0 7 28.1 60 8.6 7.8% 98.9% 0.0%
Florida 14.4 20 29.7 66 15.2 5 7.9 2.0% 97.1% 0.0%
Michigan State 14.4 21 32.6 45 18.2 13 7.8 3.3% 93.9% 0.0%
Mississippi State 14.0 22 37.2 20 23.2 32 7.4 0.7% 92.3% 0.0%
Texas A&M 13.5 23 32.6 44 19.1 19 6.7 0.3% 79.6% 0.0%
Oklahoma State 13.0 24 41.0 10 28.0 58 8.0 3.2% 95.7% 0.0%
Auburn 12.9 25 35.0 32 22.1 28 6.3 0.1% 72.7% 0.0%
TCU 12.7 26 37.7 18 24.9 39 7.8 2.9% 94.4% 0.0%
Nebraska 12.0 27 39.0 15 27.0 53 7.9 3.5% 94.9% 0.0%
Penn State 11.9 28 30.2 61 18.3 14 7.5 2.0% 90.7% 0.0%
Pittsburgh 11.9 29 35.0 31 23.2 31 7.3 1.2% 88.5% 0.0%
North Carolina 11.1 30 38.6 16 27.5 54 7.3 1.2% 88.8% 0.0%
Miami-FL 10.9 31 36.4 25 25.5 43 7.1 1.1% 85.7% 0.0%
Texas 9.9 32 33.1 41 23.2 33 6.9 0.7% 81.6% 0.0%
Virginia Tech 9.6 33 30.1 63 20.5 23 6.9 0.6% 81.5% 0.0%
BYU 9.5 34 32.1 48 22.7 29 7.2 1.3% 86.8% 0.0%
West Virginia 9.1 35 37.2 21 28.1 59 6.9 0.7% 81.8% 0.0%
Wisconsin 9.0 36 24.9 94 15.9 7 6.3 0.2% 70.5% 0.0%
Boise State 8.8 37 34.4 38 25.6 44 9.5 23.5% 99.6% 0.0%
Minnesota 8.3 38 31.8 51 23.5 34 7.8 2.9% 94.0% 0.0%
Utah 8.2 39 25.9 86 17.7 11 6.7 0.5% 77.5% 0.0%
Iowa 8.2 40 31.2 57 23.0 30 7.4 1.5% 88.7% 0.0%
NC State 7.5 41 32.4 46 24.9 40 6.2 0.1% 68.3% 0.0%
South Florida 7.3 42 33.7 40 26.5 46 8.1 4.2% 95.5% 0.0%
Western Kentucky 7.0 43 37.8 17 30.8 77 9.1 11.1% 99.7% 0.0%
Texas Tech 5.5 44 44.9 2 39.4 122 6.2 0.2% 68.6% 0.0%
Toledo 5.0 45 31.6 55 26.6 47 8.5 7.9% 97.8% 0.0%
Washington State 4.6 46 34.7 35 30.1 71 6.1 0.1% 66.3% 0.0%
Syracuse 4.5 47 32.1 49 27.5 55 5.2 0.0% 40.5% 0.5%
Houston 4.5 48 35.4 30 31.0 82 7.8 2.0% 94.7% 0.0%
Northwestern 4.2 49 22.5 104 18.3 15 5.9 0.1% 59.8% 0.2%
San Diego State 4.0 50 25.2 92 21.1 24 8.9 13.4% 98.9% 0.0%
Duke 3.9 51 27.7 73 23.8 36 5.8 0.1% 56.4% 0.1%
Arizona State 3.7 52 34.2 39 30.4 75 5.7 0.0% 55.3% 0.1%
Georgia Tech 3.6 53 34.6 37 30.9 80 5.3 0.0% 44.3% 0.3%
California 3.6 54 36.0 28 32.4 88 4.8 0.0% 33.0% 1.1%
Georgia Southern 3.4 55 34.7 34 31.3 85 8.2 3.5% 97.3% 0.0%
Boston College 3.4 56 17.0 124 13.6 3 6.2 0.1% 70.0% 0.0%
Missouri 3.2 57 19.9 116 16.7 8 5.8 0.0% 58.0% 0.0%
Appalachian State 3.2 58 29.9 65 26.6 49 8.3 4.5% 97.9% 0.0%
Indiana 3.0 59 35.8 29 32.9 93 5.9 0.1% 59.7% 0.1%
Temple 2.8 60 26.8 81 24.0 38 8.3 5.2% 97.3% 0.0%
Bowling Green 2.5 61 32.6 43 30.1 70 8.0 2.8% 95.9% 0.0%
Navy 2.3 62 31.8 53 29.4 65 7.6 1.9% 91.9% 0.0%
Maryland 2.2 63 31.2 58 29.0 63 5.8 0.0% 57.6% 0.1%
Western Michigan 1.9 64 37.0 22 35.1 106 7.8 3.2% 93.1% 0.0%
Arizona 1.4 65 36.3 26 34.9 104 5.4 0.0% 46.2% 0.1%
Kansas State 1.2 66 30.2 62 29.0 62 5.1 0.0% 37.3% 0.1%
Cincinnati 1.2 67 31.7 54 30.6 76 7.1 1.3% 84.7% 0.0%
Vanderbilt 1.0 68 18.4 119 17.4 10 4.9 0.0% 32.3% 0.5%
Virginia 1.0 69 33.0 42 32.0 87 4.9 0.0% 33.7% 1.0%
Southern Miss 0.9 70 30.7 60 29.8 67 8.6 6.2% 98.7% 0.0%
Utah State 0.7 71 27.5 75 26.8 51 6.9 0.4% 82.2% 0.0%
Illinois 0.5 72 25.5 90 25.0 42 5.0 0.0% 36.1% 0.5%
Marshall 0.1 73 26.7 82 26.7 50 7.6 1.5% 93.0% 0.0%
Wake Forest 0.0 74 26.1 84 26.1 45 5.6 0.0% 51.2% 0.0%
Iowa State -0.2 75 27.6 74 27.9 56 4.8 0.0% 31.7% 0.7%
South Carolina -0.4 76 31.4 56 31.9 86 4.8 0.0% 30.8% 0.4%
Northern Illinois -0.9 77 27.0 79 27.9 57 7.1 1.0% 84.3% 0.0%
Memphis -1.2 78 30.0 64 31.1 83 6.5 0.2% 73.6% 0.0%
Air Force -1.5 79 27.3 77 28.7 61 7.9 3.6% 94.3% 0.0%
Central Michigan -3.1 80 27.1 78 30.2 74 6.9 0.4% 82.5% 0.0%
Connecticut -3.1 81 21.9 108 25.0 41 5.8 0.1% 57.3% 0.1%
Louisiana Tech -3.6 82 31.8 52 35.5 108 7.1 0.5% 87.7% 0.0%
Rutgers -4.0 83 29.2 68 33.2 95 4.0 0.0% 12.0% 1.9%
East Carolina -4.1 84 26.8 80 31.0 81 5.3 0.0% 44.2% 0.4%
Purdue -4.1 85 26.1 85 30.2 73 4.3 0.0% 21.8% 2.2%
Colorado -4.2 86 25.7 89 29.9 69 3.9 0.0% 11.8% 2.5%
Kentucky -4.4 87 25.7 88 30.2 72 4.0 0.0% 12.3% 1.2%
Arkansas State -4.5 88 25.4 91 29.9 68 6.9 0.5% 83.1% 0.0%
Oregon State -5.3 89 27.4 76 32.6 91 3.5 0.0% 7.6% 5.2%
Nevada -6.1 90 28.8 69 34.8 103 6.4 0.2% 71.1% 0.1%
San Jose State -6.1 91 27.7 72 33.8 97 5.8 0.1% 58.8% 0.2%
Tulsa -6.4 92 32.0 50 38.4 121 5.4 0.0% 47.5% 0.3%
Middle Tennessee -6.4 93 28.1 71 34.5 100 6.2 0.2% 68.6% 0.0%
Akron -7.6 94 21.5 111 29.0 64 5.3 0.0% 45.2% 0.4%
Ohio -7.7 95 25.0 93 32.7 92 6.3 0.1% 71.5% 0.0%
Colorado State -8.0 96 28.6 70 36.5 113 5.7 0.0% 55.3% 0.1%
SMU -8.8 97 31.1 59 39.9 123 4.5 0.0% 24.4% 1.6%
Fresno State -8.9 98 22.3 105 31.2 84 5.2 0.0% 40.5% 0.5%
Central Florida -9.3 99 20.4 113 29.7 66 4.5 0.0% 25.3% 1.3%
Florida Atlantic -9.5 100 21.3 112 30.9 78 5.7 0.0% 55.7% 0.2%
Ball State -10.1 101 24.5 98 34.6 101 5.2 0.0% 40.8% 0.7%
Troy -10.6 102 23.3 100 33.9 98 5.6 0.0% 53.7% 0.1%
Old Dominion -10.6 103 24.6 96 35.2 107 5.7 0.0% 54.1% 0.2%
Georgia State -10.8 104 23.2 101 34.0 99 5.4 0.0% 46.7% 0.4%
New Mexico -11.0 105 24.6 97 35.5 109 5.4 0.0% 47.0% 0.4%
Kent State -11.4 106 9.0 128 20.4 22 4.7 0.0% 27.8% 0.9%
Buffalo -12.8 107 19.7 117 32.6 90 4.9 0.0% 34.5% 0.6%
UL-Lafayette -12.9 108 21.9 107 34.8 102 5.0 0.0% 37.8% 0.8%
Idaho -13.5 109 29.3 67 42.8 127 5.1 0.0% 40.9% 0.7%
Wyoming -14.0 110 22.5 103 36.6 114 3.9 0.0% 14.1% 3.8%
Miami-OH -14.1 111 19.1 118 33.2 94 4.1 0.0% 18.0% 3.3%
UNLV -14.3 112 23.5 99 37.8 118 4.5 0.0% 22.7% 1.2%
Florida International -14.8 113 22.7 102 37.4 117 4.2 0.0% 21.2% 3.4%
South Alabama -14.9 114 20.1 114 34.9 105 4.5 0.0% 22.9% 1.2%
Kansas -14.9 115 21.7 110 36.7 115 2.4 0.0% 0.4% 22.0%
UTSA -15.6 116 19.9 115 35.6 110 4.8 0.0% 30.1% 0.6%
Hawaii -15.6 117 18.0 120 33.7 96 3.8 0.0% 10.5% 0.9%
Rice -15.9 118 22.3 106 38.1 120 4.6 0.0% 26.3% 1.0%
New Mexico State -16.2 119 26.6 83 42.8 128 3.9 0.0% 14.2% 5.0%
Texas State -16.7 120 25.8 87 42.5 125 4.3 0.0% 20.2% 2.4%
Charlotte -17.5 121 13.4 126 30.9 79 4.2 0.0% 17.3% 2.5%
Eastern Michigan -17.9 122 24.8 95 42.8 126 3.7 0.0% 9.1% 4.2%
Massachusetts -18.7 123 17.7 121 36.4 112 3.3 0.0% 4.2% 6.8%
Army -19.9 124 17.4 123 37.3 116 4.1 0.0% 13.0% 1.0%
UTEP -20.0 125 21.8 109 41.8 124 4.6 0.0% 26.7% 1.0%
Tulane -20.0 126 12.4 127 32.5 89 3.1 0.0% 4.0% 11.3%
UL-Monroe -20.2 127 17.7 122 37.9 119 3.3 0.0% 5.1% 7.9%
North Texas -21.0 128 14.8 125 35.8 111 3.1 0.0% 5.1% 12.1%

Some clear favorites in the Playoff race

Here are the top 10 power conference teams, according to the likelihood of reaching 11 or more wins:

  • Clemson (49.8%)
  • Michigan (37.5%)
  • Oklahoma (35.8%)
  • Alabama (31.1%)
  • LSU (23.6%)
  • Washington (18.6%)
  • Georgia (13.1%)
  • Tennessee (13.1%)
  • Florida State (12.7%)
  • UCLA (11.5%)

In a roundabout way, that's also a Most Likely to Reach the Playoff list. Obviously, you get a boost from winning a conference title, and simply looking at record ignores strength of schedule, so there's not a direct correlation here. Still, if you assume that teams 11-1 or better are getting the first crack at the semifinals, conference title or not, this clues you in pretty well.

Per S&P+, Clemson has a less than 73 percent chance of winning in just one game (53 percent at Florida State on October 29), and Michigan's below 73 percent just twice (at Michigan State and at Ohio State). Oklahoma has quite a few games in the 70-percent range, but none are lower than 67 percent.

The sadness list

Right now, there are 81 teams with at least a 50 percent shot at reaching bowl eligibility. As there are 41 bowls, and therefore 82 bowl bids, that means we *might* not end up with any 5-7 teams in the postseason this year ... but we'll probably end up with one or two.

But never mind that. Let's get to the real pressing question: Who's finishing 0-12 or 1-11? Here are the 10 teams with the best strongest odds:

  • Kansas (22.0%)
  • North Texas (12.1%)
  • Tulane (11.3%)
  • UL-Monroe (7.9%)
  • UMass (6.8%)
  • Oregon State (5.2%)
  • NMSU (5.0%)
  • Eastern Michigan (4.2%)
  • Wyoming (3.8%)
  • FIU (3.4%)

It bears mentioning that North Texas, Tulane, and ULM are all heading into 2016 with new coaches, and that probably means that at least one of them will stray pretty far from expectations. With Willie Fritz's résumé, my guess is that Tulane won't approach 0-12 or 1-11. But the numbers don't take coaching changes, the most zero-sum of games, into account.

So that's that. We can now begin the season and watch which players and teams completely wreck the numbers' expectations.