ESPN FPI Predictions on the 2020 BYU Football Season After 2-0 Start

Casey Lundquist

ESPN FPI updated their season predictions for BYU the Cougar's dominant victory over Troy. As the schedule currently stands, BYU has a 50% chance to go undefeated according to ESPN - the highest number in all of college football.

If you really want understand these numbers, you need to understand how ESPN FPI is calculated - I've included the definition at the bottom of this article.

Opponent: BYU's chances to win according to ESPN FPI

@ Navy: W (Was 32.1%)

Troy: W (Was 83.6%)

Louisiana Tech: 92.9% (Was 85.2%)

UTSA: 97.6% (Was 94.4%)

@ Houston: 62.0% (Was 45.6%)

Texas State: 96.3% (Was 94.1%)

Western Kentucky: 92.1% (Was 85.7%)

North Alabama: 99.8% (Was 99.8%)

Houston is the greatest challenge remaining on the official schedule according to ESPN FPI. According to ESPN FPI, there is a 91% chance that BYU will be 4-0 heading into their game against Houston. While these percentages favor BYU in most games, the Cougars will need to prove that they can consistently win games they are favored to win. 

For those that aren't familiar with FPI, here's a definition from ESPN's website:

"FPI is a predictive rating system designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward. The ultimate goal of FPI is not to rank teams 1 through 128; rather, it is to correctly predict games and season outcomes. If Vegas ever published the power rankings it uses to set its lines, they would likely look quite a lot like FPI.

Correctly predicting game outcomes can’t be done by evaluating teams’ records because some teams are stronger than their records indicate (lots of close losses), and others have favorable schedules. Both of these situations are reflected in the game- and season-level projections.

Each team’s FPI rating is composed of a predicted offensive, defensive and special teams component. These ratings represent the number of points each unit is expected to contribute to the team's net scoring margin on a neutral field against an average FBS opponent.

In the preseason, these components are made up entirely of data from previous seasons, such as returning starters, past performance, recruiting rankings and coaching tenure (more on the preseason component below). That information allows FPI to make predictions (and make determinations on the strength of a team’s opponents) beginning in Week 1, and then it declines in weight as the season progresses. It is important to note that prior seasons’ information never completely disappears, because it has been proved to help with prediction accuracy even at the end of a season. Vegas similarly includes priors when setting its lines."

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