With spring practices wrapping up across the country, we are putting the final pieces of data together for our annual Football Outsiders projection model for the 2014 season. Factors including five-year program ratings, returning starters, recruiting success and quarterback reliance -- statistical indicators of teams that may take a step forward or a step back next season -- all figure prominently into the projection model.
For this series, we ran projections for team, offensive and defensive efficiency through the lens of our drive-based FEI ratings. We then calculated win likelihoods in each scheduled game, producing a projected overall regular-season record and the likelihood that each team would claim a conference crown. We also included the likelihood that each team would finish the regular season with one loss or fewer, a likely benchmark for teams to position themselves for a berth in the inaugural national championship playoff.
On Monday, we outlined projections for the Big Ten. On Tuesday, we'll take a look at the ACC. The defending national champs stand head and shoulders above the rest of the league (almost 10 times more likely to win the conference title than any other ACC team) while the Coastal division could come down to the wire.
1. Florida State Seminoles
Projected finish: 11-1 (7-1)
Chance to win ACC: 69 percent
Chance to finish 11-1 or 12-0: 65 percent
Every team has question marks coming out of spring practice, but few programs are as equipped to confidently answer those questions as Florida State. The reigning BCS champions were exceptionally efficient on both sides of the ball last season -- they ranked No. 1 in points per drive (4.1) and No. 2 in points allowed per drive (1.0) -- and their program recruiting success will keep them on top. Defending Heisman winner Jameis Winston ranked No. 2 in ESPN's Total QBR last season and led the nation in yards per attempt (10.6). The Seminoles rolled through the ACC a year ago and our projection model expects more of the same this fall. Florida State has at least an 84 percent win likelihood in 10 of its 12 games, and at least a 74 percent win likelihood in all of them.