Spoiler alert: The next four paragraphs could ruin your enjoyment of the 2014 college football season if you believe in the power of the Predictalator, the computer program that is the backbone of projections produced by PredictionMachine.com.
Developed by statistician Paul Bessire, the Predictalator runs each college football team’s schedule 50,000 times to garner the most likely outcome based on matchup and venue. With this being the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff era, Bessire seeded and completed his own four-team bracket, complete with playoff scores and — if he’s right — one heck of a championship game on Jan. 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
For Big 12 football fans, the news is grim: No playoff participant in the CFP’s debut season because Baylor and Oklahoma each suffer at least two losses. With each team’s average number of wins in parentheses, the Bears (9.9) and Sooners (9.6) finish their seasons in the Cotton and Fiesta bowls. The Big 12 produces seven bowl teams, with Texas Tech (7.5), Kansas State (7.5), Texas (7.2), TCU (7.1) and Oklahoma State (6.6) joining the postseason mix.
But all will be spectators during a four-team playoff that culminates with Florida State knocking off Oregon 41-34 in JerryWorld.
Frankly, I concur with Bessire’s matchup for the title tilt in Arlington and hope it will be every bit as entertaining as the final score suggests. I also believe he is spot-on in regard to projected victory totals for Texas A&M (7.3), SMU (3.9), North Texas (6.0), Houston (8.9), Rice (6.0), UTSA (8.3) and UTEP (3.0).
As for the Big 12 projections, I’ve been peeking into my own crystal football and have uncovered different results. Among them:
Spencer Drango, Baylor LT
It would be an understatement to declare Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango upbeat about his return from career-threatening back surgery in November.
When he was cleared by doctors to return for fall drills, Drango immediately posted the news on his Twitter feed. Before school officials could craft an official announcement, the information was shared by a Waco radio station. Drango and Baylor trainer Mike Sims heard the report as they returned to campus from the office of Dr. Andrew Dossett, who also repaired the back of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
“He kind of looked at me and I went, ‘Yeah,’ ” Drango said of his exchange with Sims. “I was happy about it. The information was coming out soon enough … I think I’ve come out better from it. I came out stronger than when I went in.”
A fourth-year junior who protects the blind side of quarterback Bryce Petty, Drango (6-foot-6, 305 pounds) already was considered one of the nation’s top offensive linemen before rupturing a disk in his lower back in last year’s 63-34 victory over Texas Tech.
He had surgery on Nov. 19 and missed the Bears’ final four games. In those contests, Baylor finished 2-2. The Bears were 9-0 with Drango on the field, a statistic that Petty does not consider a coincidence.
“Spencer is an unbelievable talent. Your blind-side guy is your main guy,” Petty said. “I can tell the difference with him back there, believe me.”
Drango said he’s confident the repair will last because of how he feels and because of Dossett’s track record.
“He’s done lots of Cowboys’ surgeries. He did Romo’s. He’s done several for bull riders,” Drango said. “If a bull rider can go back out and ride again after surgery, I think I can play football.”