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NCAA College Football Bowl Simulations – How Did We Do?


Now that the college football season is over, and the champions have been crowned, it’s the perfect time to take a look back at our simulations to see how well we did in predicting the outcome. We simulated a number of bowls leading up to the playoffs, so let’s see how the results stack up to the real games.

We simulated a total of seven games; The Texas Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Peach Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, and Fiesta Bowl, and the National Championship. Out of those games, six of seven were correctly predicted — at least as far as the victory is concerned. The scores, though? Not so much. While the winner may have been correct, the scores in most cases were a bit off.

The Cotton Bowl, for example, was something of a blowout with a crushing score of 38-0 in favor of Alabama. Our simulation did predict an Alabama victory, but not of that caliber. Where the simulation predicted Connor Cook gaining 218 yards and 3 touchdowns, the real game played out a little different, with Jonathan Allen leading the Tide’s defense to sack Cook four times.

The Spartans did make their way to the red zone, but Cyrus Jones managed to intercept a pass at the at the goal line thwarting their attempt. Jones then went on to score two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Kenyan Drake who the simulation predicted would be the MVP of the game didn’t fare as well, though he did give us this flop.

As for the other half of the playoffs? Both the game and the simulation were much closer. The simulation predicted a Clemson victory of 31 to 14, which wasn’t far off from the final score of 37 to 17. The simulation had B.J. Goodson as MVP with 6 tackles and 2 interceptions. In the end he only scored one interception, with DeShaun Watson stealing the spotlight and achieving 332 yards while scoring the first touchdown for Clemson.

The rest of the games played out similarly, with one exception. For the Holiday Bowl, our simulation predicted a Trojan victory with a score 26 to 6. The real game was actually pretty close, but Wisconsin managed to pull ahead thanks to a 29-yard field goal from Rafael Gaglianone before ending the game with a final score of 23-21. That marks the first ever win against USC for the Badgers. This was the only victory that was not predicted, as the simulation had Kevin Seymour as the MVP with 3 tackles, TFL, and 2 interceptions.

The Fiesta Bowl, which was another great game, did simulate the correct winner. However, our simulation predicted a much closer game despite the Buckeyes pulling ahead 14-0 in the first quarter thanks to Ezekiel Elliott and Warren Ball. Notre Dame managed to score 10 points in the second, and then followed that up with another 10 points in the third for a score of 21-20. In the 4th, nobody scored, leaving the final score at 21-20. Our simulation had J.T. Barrett as the MVP, with 25-39, 202 yards, 10 car, 33 yards, and 2 total touchdowns.

In the real game, Ohio State took a strong lead early with 14 points in the first quarter leaving Notre Dame to trail with 0. Eventually, Joey Bosa was ejected for targeting before the second, leaving Ohio without one of their best players. That didn’t stop the Buckeyes, however, as they went on to win the game with a final score of 44-28.

While the Tigers might have doubled Texas Tech’s score in the actual Texas Bowl, our simulation predicted a score in favor of 33-23 in favor of LSU. The Red Raiders were the first to score in the first quarter, gaining 6 points with a touchdown by Cameron Batson. That didn’t stop LSU, as they quickly caught up in the second, ultimately pulling ahead Texas Tech by 7 points for a score of 20-13 at halftime. LSU quickly gained another 10 points in the third, leading to a score of 30-20 before scoring another 3 points in the 4th quarter, bringing the final score to 33-23.

For The Peach Bowl, we had a final score of 14-10 in favor of Houston. The final score for the real game was actually 38-24, although Houston did win. The simulation had a very slow first quarter with no points on either side, which continued until close to the end of the second when FSU scored the first three points with a field goal from the 30-yard line. With less than two minutes left before halftime, Freddie Stevenson scored another touchdown leaving the score at 10-0. Before the end of the second, Cameron Oliver manages to snag a touchdown bringing the game closer for Houston at 10-7.

No points were scored in the 3rd, but in the 4th Greg Ward Jr. scores another touchdown for Houston, landing the game at the final score of 14-10 for the Seminoles.

The real game saw FSU trailing for most of the first half, thanks to a few turnovers, allowing Houston to score two touchdowns with Florida struggling into the second half. It was rough, but FSU did eventually manage to score a total of 24 points. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to take the game, but they still made an effort.

That’s how the games played out leading up to the championship game, but we also simulated the championship this year between Alabama and Clemson. How close were we on that?

The score might have been off, but the real game that happened last night was arguably just as close, although there was an obvious difference of about 20 points compared to the simulation. We predicted a 23-16 score for Alabama. The score in reality was 45-40. But we did get the victor right!

It might not be the exact score, but the game was arguably just as close. Either way, we’re 5 for 6 of our predictions, and that’s not bad. What did you think of the simulations? Let us know in the comments or on social media.

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