Mid-Season Review of Our 2013 Clemson Season Preview

Halfway through the season, Clemson now sits undefeated and in national championship contention.

Based on the original victory likelihood percentages laid out in the 2013 Clemson Football Season Preview, I favored Clemson in each game (including UGA, to which Vegas disagreed). However, rather than just picking favorites we slapped a little intellectual bonus in the preview by including victory likelihood percentages and concluding with a simulation of the season using those percentages. Given that calculation, Clemson’s odds of starting 6-0 was only 36%. For that reason, a huge kudos goes to the Clemson players and staff. Winning the games you’re “supposed to win,” isn’t easy, and Clemson now has the second longest active streak of double-digit wins over unranked opponents at 14 (Alabama is #1). On top of that, UGA was hardly a game they were “supposed to win” and Clemson performed on the big stage.

With those first six games in the bag and the chances of those wins updated to 100%, we can re-run our out simulator. In the pre-season, before a snap of football, our simulator spit out this:

Chance of 8 wins or less: 12%

Chance of 9 wins: 21%

Chance of 10 wins: 34%

Chance of (any) 11 wins: 26%

Chance of entering Columbia undefeated (11-0): 14%

Chance of leaving Columbia Undefeated (12-0): 7%

Chance of perfect (8-0) ACC record: 28%

…and after a perfect first half of the season, Clemson’s outlook (using the original victory likelihoods) improves to:

Chance of 8 wins or less: 1%

Chance of 9 wins: 8%

Chance of 10 wins: 31%

Chance of 11 wins: 41%

Chance of perfect 12-0 record: 19%

Chance of perfect (8-0) ACC record: 39%

That being said, as the season has progressed, we’ve learned more and more about our opponents. So let’s refresh our outlook for the second half of the season.

Florida State

What we said:

“One thing I don’t like about this matchup is that FSU enjoys a bye the week prior. Still, with the coaching turnover, an unbelievable amount of talent to replace after an impressive Miami Hurricanes type of NFL draft, and an 18-year-old at quarterback I’m not picking the Seminoles to repeat as ACC Champions or Atlantic winners. What makes me most confident though, is the fact that they’ve lost their last five games in Death Valley. This may not be the best FSU team that has traveled to Death Valley in that decade, but it will be the best Clemson Tiger team they’ve faced. I’m giving the Tigers a bold and confident…”

Original Victory Likelihood: 67%

What we’ll say now:

Well, Jameis Winston is better than I expected. Not that I didn’t expect big things, but nobody expected this. FSU hasn’t played anybody to speak of, but their dismantling of a respectable Maryland squad was extremely impressive. They’ll enjoy a bye to prepare for Clemson. The Tigers have exceeded expectations, but the Seminoles have exceeded their (admittedly lower) expectations by a wider margin so I have to lower the victory likelihood.

Updated Victory Likelihood: 55%

at Maryland

What we said:

“The Terrapins should improve and will boast one of the nation’s more electrifying receivers in Stefon Diggs. They’ll have an actual quarterback (rather than a linebacker, as was necessitated by injury) throwing to him as CJ Brown, the speedy quarterback who gave us fits in our last visit to College Park should be back and healthy. It’s likely their offense will improve quite a bit and it could aggravate the Clemson D, but they also return just five starters on defense.

Although I’m not at all sad to see Maryland leave the conference, and get replaced by Louisville (who will be an upgrade in all three major sports) this is a road trip I am anxious to make. It’ll be our last chance to see Clemson play against this ACC charter member, and should be a defense Tajh can roll right through, barring a Seminole hangover.”

Victory Probability: 82%

What we’ll say now:

After cracking the AP Top 25, the Terrapins traveled down to Tallahassee and lost 0-63. The talent level clearly isn’t there for them to compete with the FSU or Clemson, but Clemson will be coming off an extremely physical game against Florida State and will have to travel up to Maryland one final time. It’s a tricky spot on the schedule, but Maryland has done what I’ve expected so the percentage remains unchanged. If CJ Brown remains injured this number increases dramatically.

Updated Victory Likelihood: 82%

CJ Brown ran wild, but Sammy Watkins led a wild comeback in 2011.

at Virginia

What we said:

“Clemson will beat these ‘underachieving, cookie dough, ascot-wearing, bran muffin eatin’ weenies. ‘You’re no threat in big college football.'” (Colin Cowherd)

Victory Probability: 89%

What we’ll say now:

Whew, they are awful. I was on the Mike London bandwagon, but that program’s growth has completely stalled and he is probably on the hot seat now. The Cavaliers lost on the road against Pitt and then gave up 48 in a 21-point blowout home loss to… BALL STATE. I’m more confident we can get this road win than I was in the pre-season.

Updated Victory Likelihood: 98%

Georgia Tech (Thursday)

What we said:

“Both squads enter the game coming off a bye week and both will need it. Clemson must to prepare for a gimmick offense and a Yellow Jacket team that returns seven players on offense and eight on defense. The Jackets, playing a road weekday game, need it to counter the disadvantage of losing a day for travel on a short week. The ACC has done a good giving bye weeks before Thursday Night ESPN games as of late.

GT is excited to begin the Vad Lee era. The talented Sophomore takes over at quarterback and will run the triple option behind four returning O-linemen. More importantly, the awful defense should improve as they return eight starters and fully implement the 4-3 with new defensive coordinator Ted Roof, who took over after Al Groh was fired.

Georgia Tech is always tricky and I see them improving a bit (from 6-6 regular season) to seven or eight regular season wins. The Sun Bowl victory over the Trojans, Vad Lee, and an improving defense are reasons to worry. Nonetheless, at home, following a bye, Clemson should take care of business.”

Victory Likelihood: 80%

What we’ll say now:

I was extremely high on GT in the pre-season and even more so after they beat UNC. However, after seeing them lose to a Thursday Night home game to VT in a predicament where VT only had a short week to prepare for GT’s triple-option offense I was let down as I’m sure their fans were too. Turning around and blowing a lead to Miami the next week adds more disappointment to the mix. Losing to BYU in Provo was a particularly unimpressive loss to make it three in a tow. Georgia Tech always poses a challenge, but they’re not as good as I thought.

Updated Victory Likelihood: 87%

The Citadel

What we said:

“They’re certainly better than South Carolina State, but they’ll be heavily over-matched at virtually every position. The slot right before a trip to Columbia makes this a bit of a trap game, but it shouldn’t matter. This is the least interesting game on the schedule.”

Victory Likelihood: >99%

What we’ll say:

I love Military Appreciation Day and the purple out should be interesting… So yeah. Clemson wins by at least 35.

Updated Victory Likelihood: >99%

at South Carolina, Columbia Campus

“The Gamecocks won’t present as daunting a task as in years past–they severely lack seniority. The Tigers will likely split their two bouts with SEC opponents, and it’s not that I think South Carolina is better than UGA, I don’t. In fact, I expect UGA to beat them in Athens right after playing Clemson. The biggest difference is venue. It’s exceedingly hard to come by road wins against top competition. So while I believe Clemson certainly can win this game, and that is truly a toss up, in Detroit Columbia an objective observer must say (slight) edge Chickens.”

Victory Likelihood 49%

What we’ll say now:

First, let me pat myself on the back for correctly predicting the SC @ UGA game in the excerpt above. Now, Clowney has been mediocre and the Gamecocks have struggled mightily against the likes of UCF, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky. They’ve taken a step back from the past few Gamecock teams, but I predict that Clowney–who didn’t want to play with an “abdominal strain” against Kentucky–will magically be healthy against Clemson. They crushed Arkansas, but I’m still more confident now than I was pre-season.

Updated Victory Likelihood: 60%

So with that we have our updated likelihood percentages, so we plug them into our simulator (which comes to us courtesy @Robert_Reinhard) and here’s the outlook:

Chance of 8 wins or less: 1%

Chance of 9 wins: 6%

Chance of 10 wins: 25%

Chance of 11 wins: 45%

Chance of perfect 12-0 record: 23%

Chance of perfect 12-0 record given they beat FSU: 42%

Chance of perfect (8-0) ACC record: 38%

Not too shabby! Clemson’s chances of running the table have more than tripled since the season began and will begin approaching 50% if they can beat FSU.

I hoped you enjoyed the update. I’ve also posted my first ACC Power Rankings since the pre-season edition so you can click here to check it out and see how the ACC has broken down from where expectations originally started.

If you enjoyed this post, please click the Facebook “Like” button on the right sidebar. You can share your opinions in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

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One thought on “Mid-Season Review of Our 2013 Clemson Season Preview

  1. Pingback: Three Reasons Clemson Will Beat FSU, Three Reasons They Won’t | Home Runs, Apple Pie, and Rock 'n Roll

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