In what was, by far, the most difficult season for anyone to predict how well most teams will perform, the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com performed remarkably well in 2020. Despite an ever-changing landscape, the preseason picks came within one win or loss of predicting the exact record of 68 teams.
Those same rankings were right on the money with 21 teams. Even more amazing, it picked the exact over-all AND conference record of 19 teams - including 4 of the 6 teams in the MAC East, and 3 of 6 in the MWC West.
The preseason forecast also correctly tabbed two of the College Football Playoff's Final four teams.
When it came to Weekly Picks, the computer slipped from its' 76% clip of picking outright winners to clock in at 69%. But when it came to picking against the spread, the computer vastly improved on 2019's all-time low of 47% to achieving a 52% winning mark.
The rankings, which began in 1993 and have historically outpaced all others predictors, have an all-time straight-up record of 15,938-5,321 for a win pct. of .750, and an ATS mark (against the spread) of 9,716-8,632 for a win pct. of .529. Over the years, these picks have been quite the PowerPlay.
In 2020, the computer hit an all-time with its bowl season confidence points, collecting 72% of a possible 325 points. It was 13-1 with teams it forecast to win by at least 7.98 points.
Confidence Points is a popular pick 'em game for college football fans that presents the dual challenge of picking the winners and assigning points to each pick. This past season, there were only 25 bowl games so pickers could assign 25 to the pick that gave them the most confidence and fall in descending order so that 1 point is assigned to the game that made them least confident. No number can be assigned more than once. The computer picks are ranked by the projected margin of victory for each bowl winner, ranging from 25 points for the biggest expected blowout to 1 point for the predicted tightest game.
This year, 25 points were assigned to the Louisiana-UTSA matchup in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl as the computer had the Ragin Cajuns winning by 24.41. At the other end of the spectrum, 1 point was assigned to the computer's pick of Oklahoma over Florida in the Cotton Bowl as it had the Sooners favored by just 0.87 points.
Every week during the regular season, and postseason, CollegeFootballPoll.com also offers Feature Picks selections in three different categories. The UPSET picks present every game in which the computer favors the Vegas underdog to win the contest outright. Also referred to as 'opposite picks', the computer had 76 such plays in 2020 and correctly picked half of those.
Additionally, our staff chooses any number of games in two other categories, 'Easy Pickins' and 'Hold Your Horses'.
'Easy Pickins' is a selection of games in which the computer believes the favorite will easily cover the spread set by the sportsbooks. "Hold Your Horses" are games in which the computer favors the underdog to cover.
'Hold Your Horses' was easily the best performing category of picks in 2020 with those selections going 32-14 (.696) straight up and 31-15 against the spread (.674).
Doe to the Covid-19 pandemic, nothing has been normal for the past 10 months and the offseason will be no different. For the first time in history, there will be a spring college football season with no fewer than 108 Football Championship Subdivision teams playing anywhere from 4 to 8 games beginning February 13th. The FCS season will culminate in a 16-team playoff in Frisco, Texas in April.
CollegeFootballPoll.com will cover this unique season with complete rankings and picks and, by June, we'll be ready to begin unveiling our take on the 2021 FBS season.