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 step back next season -- all figure prominently into the projection model.
For this series, we ran projections for 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.
Today we're looking at the projections for the Big 12. Oklahoma is the preseason favorite to win the conference this year, but a number of pitfalls in the round-robin Big 12 schedule may keep the Sooners out of the national playoff picture.
1. Oklahoma Sooners
Projected finish: 10-2 (7-2)
Chance to win Big 12: 57 percent
Chance to finish 11-1 or 12-0: 44 percent
Bowl game victories don't get to transfer to the next season on the résumé, but the Sooners' Sugar Bowl win over Alabama seems to be generating the most buzz for Oklahoma's national championship hopes in 2014. It certainly showcased the Sooners at their program best, a standard they haven't lived up to often enough in recent seasons.