WhatIfSports college football Week 14 predictions: Spartans join playoff field

WhatIfSports.com offers predictions for every Week 14 game, including conference championships.

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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 13 in Review

There was a slight rebound from Week 12 to Week 13. The computer’s winning percentage went from 70.5 percent in Week 12 to 75.8 percent last week. As for teams in the AP’s Top 25, 72 percent of the projections were correct (18-7). The slate is smaller for Week 14, but that doesn’t mean that the winning will be any less.

Week 13 Highlight: Colorado State 34, Fresno State 31

The Rams were 9.5-point favorites over the Bulldogs, but we thought the margin would be closer. The computers produced a line of 2.5 (32.7-30.2). CSU won by three.

Week 13 Lowlight: Florida State 27, Florida 2

The simulations suggested that the Gators would win by an average score of 27.0-26.2. The Seminoles held up their end of the bargain. However, Florida fell short.

Track our 2015 performance or view our accuracy last season, when we correctly picked the winner in 77.6 percent of all games involving FBS teams.

Week 14 Top 25 vs. Top 25 Matchups

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No. 18 Florida vs. No. 2 Alabama

Could the College Football Playoff really not include a team from the SEC? If Alabama loses, we could run into that scenario. The Tide lost early in the season, but have rebounded since. They’ve won nine straight games. As for Florida, it just lost to in-state rival Florida State 27-2. However, the Gators are fifth-best in points allowed per game (15.5 ppg). Alabama’s defense is solid, too. It has allowed the third fewest points per contest (14.3 ppg). The biggest name in Tuscaloosa is Derrick Henry. After last week’s 271-yard performance on 46 carries, Henry leads the nation with 1,797 rushing yards in 2015. Henry has rushed for over 200 yards in three of the past four games. Alabama might be heavy favorites to those experts in Nevada (-17), but our projections say the Tide will win by an average score of 24.5-21.2 and are successful in 61.9 percent of the sims.

No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 4 Iowa

It’s the Spartans and the Hawkeyes for a spot in the College Football Playoff, just like we all predicted, right? Sure. Connor Cook returned to action last week against Penn State and took it to the Nittany Lions, 55-16. In that game, Cook threw for 248 yards and three TDs. Iowa remained undefeated by narrowly winning in Nebraska, 28-20. With so many close wins, this Hawkeyes team looks awfully similar to the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes which ran the table. The Iowa offense is led by quarterback C.J. Beathard and a slew of running backs. Senior Jordan Canzeri has the most rushing yards (964) and TDs (12). He is followed by LeShun Daniels Jr. (592 yards and eight TDs) and Akrum Wadley (449 yards and seven touchdowns). This Iowa defense is no joke, either. It allows an average of 18.7 points per game and Desmond King leads the nation with eight interceptions this season. The computers predict a loss for the Hawkeyes by an average score of 27.8-26.1, with Michigan State winning in 56.2 percent of the results.

No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 1 Clemson

There is one final hurdle for the Tigers before the committee chooses them as one of the final four teams to compete for a national championship. And, it is arguably Clemson’s toughest opponent of the season. Sure, the Tigers beat the Irish and Seminoles, but those games were in Death Valley. This matchup may say “neutral site,” and both universities might have to drive two hours, but this game is still in North Carolina. The Tar Heels lost in Week 1 to South Carolina, 17-13, but have been perfect ever since that day. In each of its last four games, UNC has produced at least 30 points. On the season, North Carolina has allowed 20.8 points per game. Clemson is a couple points better on defense (18.8 ppg). As for the offense, the Tigers still have QB Deshaun Watson at the helm. He has thrown for over 3,200 yards and accounted for 27 TDs. While he has at least 340 passing yards in two of the past three games, Watson has rushed for at least 100 yards in three of the last four contests. According to the simulations, Clemson will survive and advance. The Tigers are projected to win by an average score of 32.9-29.4 and are victorious 58.4 percent of the time.

No. 17 Houston vs. No. 20 Temple

The one-loss Cougars might not get any love from the selection committee, but I notice them. The city of Houston might be in an uproar if their Cougs were undefeated and still ranked so low. In their only loss of the year, 20-17 to UConn, Houston was without its main producer, Greg Ward Jr. He leads the offense with over 2,500 passing yards and trails teammate Kenneth Farrow by only 56 rushing yards. Last week against Navy, he accounted for 391 yards and four touchdowns. Temple’s biggest strength is its defense. The Owls allow 18.8 points per game. However, that number is expected to rise. Houston is suggested to win 28.7-28.1 and has a 53.5-percent win probability.

In addition, view our Week 14 Power Rankings or visit our college football archive for predictions from past weeks. For more statistics, view our weekly college football predictions.

College Football Week 14 Predictions
Matchup Win % Avg. Score  
North Carolina Tar Heels 41.6 29.4 Box Score
vs. Clemson Tigers 58.4 32.9  
Michigan State Spartans 56.2 27.8 Box Score
vs. Iowa Hawkeyes 43.8 26.1  
Bowling Green Falcons 54.4 30.8 Box Score
vs. Northern Illinois Huskies 45.6 29.3  
Stanford Cardinal 59.9 31.4 Box Score
vs. USC Trojans 40.1 28.4  
Florida Gators 38.1 21.2 Box Score
vs. Alabama Crimson Tide 61.9 24.5  
Texas Longhorns 33.7 25.7 Box Score
@ Baylor Bears 66.3 30.1  
West Virginia Mountaineers 50.8 29.6 Box Score
@ Kansas State Wildcats 49.2 29.2  
Southern Miss Golden Eagles 44.0 34.9 Box Score
@ Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 56.0 36.0  
Air Force Falcons 37.6 28.5 Box Score
@ San Diego State Aztecs 62.4 30.1  
Texas State Bobcats 35.6 29.6 Box Score
@ Arkansas State Red Wolves 64.4 34.3  
Troy Trojans 41.6 26.7 Box Score
@ Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns 58.4 28.0  
Georgia State Panthers 41.8 29.8 Box Score
@ Georgia Southern Eagles 58.2 32.2  
New Mexico State Aggies 55.4 32.1 Box Score
@ Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 44.6 28.8  
Appalachian State Mountaineers 64.4 29.9 Box Score
@ South Alabama Jaguars 35.6 26.6  
Temple Owls 46.5 28.1 Box Score
@ Houston Cougars 53.5 28.7