Five teams on the decline
Win total projections for Texas, Pitt, Cincy, USC, Michigan St. have taken a hit
There were more shake-ups in the top 25 this past weekend. Upsets knocked USC and Texas out of the polls, and teams such as South Carolina, Florida, and Notre Dame tripped up on the road. Our preseason projections still factor significantly into our drive-based, opponent-adjusted FEI ratings, but the early returns in the first two weeks of the season have had a big impact on the projections for several teams.
Last week, we took a closer look at five teams that had improved their win projections by at least a game based on early data. This week, we'll take a look at five teams that have taken a step back, due in part to performances of their own and their opponents.
Preseason Projected Wins: 9.4
Updated Projected Wins: 7.4
Texas tops our list after being dominated on both sides of the ball in a 40-21 defeat at the hands of BYU. The Cougars weren't huge underdogs, but no one expected the Longhorns to give up a school-record 550 yards rushing on defense, including 259 from BYU quarterback Taysom Hill. Texas replaced defensive coordinator Manny Diaz following the loss, the first midseason assistant coaching change in Mack Brown's tenure in Austin.
What had looked from the outset like a possible national championship contender looks now like a team that may find itself in the middle of the Big 12 race. Our updated projections now favor the Longhorns in only five of their conference games, giving Texas only an 18.5 percent chance of finishing 7-2 or better in league play. Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, TCU, and Baylor are possible threats to win the Big 12, and Texas will play only one of those four, the Cowboys, at home.
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Brian FremeauESPN Insider
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com
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Brian Fremeau projects the top 10 college football teams for 2014, led by Alabama.