The storyline this season for Stanford is pretty easy to see. The question is how the team will be able to do in the Post-Andrew Luck Era.

According to my new projection model, they will do just fine.

Stanford is coming off their second ever back-to-back top 10 finish in school history (the other the 1970-71 seasons). This year’s team, which is currently ranked 21st in the AP Poll, will look to match the record for three straight seasons finishing ranked in the AP Top 25 and possibly even break new ground by finishing in the top 10 for the third straight year. I think they should be able to get into the final poll and, with a little luck, might be able to land their first top 10 three-peat.

It won’t be easy, but the schedule is set up so that if they are able to avoid upsets, they can get to 9 wins. Add a win in one of the USC/Notre Dame/Oregon matchups and they could again be in the BCS conversation. We’ll take a closer look at this later.

Earlier this week Ruthless Sports Guy took a look at the Cardinal and today I am going to try out a brand new model that I built to attempt to forecast how things will go down on the Farm.

A quick explanation on how the model works:

  • I start by estimating the “True Talent” winning percentage for each team on the schedule and then Stanford.
  • I did this by looking at the last two years’ winning percentage, based on each team’s Pythagorean expectation. I also looked at what the “experts” at Sports Illustrated estimated for each team, then finally looked at what Las Vegas set as each team’s over/under in terms of wins this season. As the season goes on I will incorporate the Pythagorean expectation of the current season to replace the preseason expectations of the “experts” and the Casinos. The estimated differential is then converted into a projected winning percentage using the Pythagorean expectation.
  • For each game the winning percentages are converted into odds of winning the game using the log5 method.
  • I then figure in a “home field adjustment” to take into account if it is a home game or road game.
  • I then simulate each game 10,000 times using a Monte Carlo Simulation to get a projection of how the season may unfold.

Here are the results of that simulation:

Expected Record

9-3

Bowl Eligible

99.3%

8+ Wins

86.6%

10+ Wins

37.7%

Perfect Season

1.9%

Reaching a Bowl game should be a near certainty for the Cardinal. Getting to 8 wins is a pretty good bet, but after that things have to start breaking correctly for Stanford.

Here are the simulated results for each game.

Team
xWins
vs. San Jose State
0.85
vs. Duke
0.90
vs. USC
0.50
at Washington
0.75
vs. Arizona
0.90
at Notre Dame
0.57
at Cal
0.74
vs. Washington State
0.88
at Colorado
0.92
vs. Oregon State
0.90
at Oregon
0.32
at UCLA
0.78

According to the simulation that’s four near guaranteed wins (.90+), two excellent chances at wins (.80-.89), three great chances at wins (.70-.79), a pair of toss up games (.40-.59), and one game that is a good chance at a loss (.30-.39). All told, it doesn’t seem to be too hard of a slate for a team that has quite a bit of talent coming back.

The bottom line: Stanford needs to take care of business in the games they are expected to win and hope that they can perform in the big games on the schedule. If they can do that it will go a long way in showing the rest of the country they were more than just the team that had Andrew Luck as quarterback.