Post-spring Top 25 projection

Alabama favored to top rankings ahead of Pac-12, ACC challengers

Updated: May 5, 2014, 2:43 PM ET
By Brian Fremeau | Football Outsiders

Jameis Winston, Nick Saban and Marcus Mariota AP Photo, Getty ImagesJameis Winston, Nick Saban and Marcus Mariota are most likely to see the playoffs this season.

Projecting Big Ten standings | ACC | SEC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | Top 25

We wrapped up conference projections for each of the Big Five conferences last week, but it is now time to turn our attention to the national scene. The post-spring FEI projections are a function of 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 of which figure prominently into the projection model.

For each team in the projected Top 25, we provide the team's projected regular-season and conference record and their opponent-adjusted offensive and defensive projection. We also identify each team's likelihood to position itself for a berth in the inaugural national championship playoff, and highlight the three toughest games on the schedule according to these projections. The likelihood of victory in each of those games is listed as well.

Here is the post-spring projection for college football's Top 25 teams:


1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1 overall; 7-1 conference)

Opponent-adjusted projection: No. 4 offense, No. 3 defense
Chance to finish 11-1 or 12-0: 59 percent
Toughest games: Oct. 4 at Ole Miss (76 percent chance of victory), Nov. 8 at LSU (59 percent), Nov. 29 vs. Auburn (78 percent) 

The last time Alabama lost its last two games in a season, it ran the table the following year (2009) and claimed three of the next four BCS national championships. Coming off consecutive losses to Auburn and Oklahoma in 2013, will the Crimson Tide respond the same way this fall? Alabama has ranked among the top three in our end-of-year FEI ratings in each of the last five seasons, and the 2014 schedule features eight opponents against which the Tide have at least a 90 percent win likelihood.

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com