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Pac-10 Football Championship Odds & Bowl Projections: Ducks Ducks Ducks

It's going to take a lot to displace Oregon from the top of the Pac-10 pile.
It's going to take a lot to displace Oregon from the top of the Pac-10 pile.

Pacific-10 Conference Standings

(updated 10.26.2010 at 1:00 PM PDT)

Last year we covered the race to the Roses. Lots of fun. We're bringing back our coverage before we become spectators in this race (if we already aren't).

Team that controls its own destiny and then some: Oregon

Team that controls its own destiny, but will probably eventually need help: Oregon State

Teams that need some help: Furd (needs Oregon to lose twice), Arizona (needs Oregon State to lose)

Teams on the respirator: Washington, Cal (need many things to happen)

For those who just want the bare minimum, here are the odds of the four main contenders running the table (Cal we cover later, Washington we'll cover if they beat the Furd this weekend).

Oregon: 20.07% (1 in 5 chance at Glendale? Not too bad)
Furd: 14.7% (the odds shrink when you calculate the need for Oregon to lose twice)

Arizona: 3.65% (the road trips to Palo Alto and Eugene are the killers)
Oregon State: 2.08%
(So Oregon State is ten times less likely to run the table than Oregon. Hence why the Ducks have the clear advantage in this race)

So along with our residential statistician Berkelium97, we decided to calculate a few things.

1) Expected win probabilities for all the Pac-10 teams for the rest of the season.
2) Oregon's chances of making it through the season unscathed (already covered).
3) Who can contend with Oregon? (somewhat covered)
4) Cal's astronomically slim chances of making it to the Rose Bowl.

Avinash: Here we go. Based on some guesstimation, previous lines, Vegas rankings, I tried to come up with win probabilities based on probable Vegas lines.

This week's lines

Oregon State -3 vs. Cal
Oregon -7 at USC
Arizona -9.5 at UCLA
ASU -21 vs Wazzu
Furd -7 at UW

Projected lines

Arizona +6 at Furd
Cal -19 at Wazzu
Washington +12.5 at Oregon
Oregon St -6 at UCLA
ASU +4.5 at USC

Furd -8 at ASU
Oregon -9.5 at Cal
Wazzu +27 at OSU
USC +5 at Arizona

UCLA +7 at UW
Furd -6.5 at Cal
USC +2 at OSU

UCLA +6 at ASU
Arizona +10 at Oregon
UW +3.5 at Cal
OSU +5 at Furd
Notre Dame +7.5 at USC

ASU +8.5 at AZ
Oregon -5.5 at OSU
USC -8 at UCLA
Wash -20 at Wazzu

Then using this dude's matrix of a team's win probability based on its lines, I obtained the expected win probabilities based on the line (I don't know HOW he got that data, but I'll run with it). Remind me next time to use a table for these:

Arizona Wildcats
77.6% chance to beat UCLA
33.3% chance to beat Furd
65.7% chance to beat USC
28.7% chance to beat Oregon
74.9% chance to beat ASU

Arizona St. Sun Devils
91.3% chance to beat Wazzu
41.5% chance to beat USC
28% chance to beat Furd
66.7% chance to beat UCLA
25.1% chance to beat Arizona

California Golden Bears
41.5% chance to beat OSU
90.8% chance to beat Wazzu
22.4% chance to beat Oregon
32.2% chance to beat Furd
57.9% chance to beat UW

Oregon Ducks
68.7% chance to beat USC
76.6% chance to beat Washington
77.6% chance to beat Cal
76.9% chance to beat Arizona
63.9% chance to beat OSU

Oregon St. Beavers
58.5% chance to beat Cal
66.7% chance to beat UCLA
97.2% chance to beat Wazzu
44.2% chance to beat USC (remarkably two point favorites have performed poorly)
34.3% chance to beat Furd
36.1% chance to beat Oregon

Stanfurd Cardinal
68.7% chance to beat UW
66.7% chance to beat Arizona
72% chance to beat ASU
67.8% chance to beat Cal
65.7% chance to beat OSU

UCLA Bruins
22.4% chance to beat Arizona
33.3% chance to beat OSU
31.3% chance to beat Washington
33.3% chance to beat ASU
28.0% chance to beat USC

USC Trojans
31.3% chance to beat Oregon
58.5% chance to beat ASU
34.3% chance to beat Arizona
55.8% chance to beat OSU
72.4% chance to beat Notre Dame
72.0% chance to beat UCLA

Washington Huskies
31.3% chance to beat Furd
23.4% chance to beat Oregon
68.7% chance to beat UCLA
42.1% chance to beat Cal
90% chance to beat Wazzu

Washington St. Cougars
9.2% chance to beat Cal
2.8% chance to beat OSU
10% chance to beat UW

Berkelium97: The current conference standings are:

Oregon 4-0
Arizona 3-1

Stanfurd 3-1
Oregon State 2-1
USC 2-2
Washington 2-2
California 2-2
Arizona State 1-3
UCLA 1-3
Washington State 0-5

Based on Avi's probabilities, these are expected number of conference wins for each team:

Arizona: +2.8 wins
ASU: +2.53 wins
Cal: +2.45 wins
Oregon: +3.64 wins
OSU: +3.37 wins
Furd: +3.41 wins
UCLA: +1.48 wins
USC: +2.52 wins
Washington: +2.56 wins
Wazzu: +.217 wins

Avinash: So Berkelium and I tried to calculate the final standings, and we each took diverging paths. Here we just use the win probabilities from right above. First column has expected record rest of the season, second column has expected final record.

Expected Final Pac-10 standings

Oregon 3-2 or 4-1
8-1 or 7-2
Stanfurd 3-2 or 4-1 7-2 or 6-3
Arizona 3-2 6-3
Oregon State 3-3 or 4-2
6-3 or 5-4
USC 2-3 or 3-2
5-4 or 4-5
Washington 2-3 or 3-2
5-4 or 4-5
California 2-3 or 3-2
5-4 or 4-5
Arizona State 2-3 or 3-2
4-5 or 3-6
UCLA 1-4 or 2-3
3-6 or 2-7
Washington State 0-4

Like last year, it leaves only four teams with a truly realistic shot of winning the Pac-10. There are too many tossups left to think Washington or Cal will sweep their way to the end. Only Oregon and Furd seem to have realistic shots at BCS bids outside of the Rose Bowl, and both of those teams would probably have to win the rest of their games. This would be a repeat of the 2004 scenario where Cal's lone loss was to USC, but the Furd doesn't have to worry about Mack Brown's pandering with Texas currently a broken wreck. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for us), they might have to deal with an undefeated mid-major taking their spot in Pasadena.

(And yes, Washington State fans, I know Vegas is probably underrating you by a touchdown every game. There should probably be a win in there somewhere, but if they think you're only worth of 20 point lines, then the overall odds of getting one win will be extremely low.)

Berkelium97: Going game-by-game for each team, I've listed the clear victories below. To decide on these victories, I used each team's expected number of wins to choose the number of their highest-probability wins, which were automatically counted as wins. If the win probability was less than 60%, however, I didn't credit them with a win. Sometimes this led to toss-up games between seemingly evenly matched teams. For some teams (UCLA), the expected number of wins is much higher than what we would expect if we look at each of the head-to-head matchups. So without any further complications, here are the expected wins:

Arizona beats UCLA, USC, ASU
ASU beats Wazzu, UCLA
Cal beats Wazzu, UW
Oregon beats USC, Washington, Cal, Arizona
OSU beats Cal, UCLA, Wazzu
Furd beats UW, ASU, Cal
UCLA one
UW beats UCLA Wazzu
Wazzu one :(

These games had no clear victor...
Toss-ups: OSU-USC, Oregon-OSU, Furd-OSU, Furd-Arizona I gave the nod to the team with the highest expected wins
Winners: OSU, Oregon, Furd, Furd

This gives us these final standings:

Oregon 9-0
Stanfurd 8-1
Arizona 6-3
Oregon State 6-3
USC 4-5
Washington 4-5
California 4-5
Arizona State 4-5
UCLA 1-8
Washington State 0-9

Oregon State wins its head-to-head with Arizona and therefore goes to the more prestigious bowl.

In 5th we have a four-way tie between USC, UW, Cal, and ASU. Unfortunately for everyone except Cal, only the Bears qualify for a bowl game. Washington would end up with 5 wins, USC is banned from postseason play, and ASU would need 7 wins because they played two FCS teams. So despite the tie, only Cal goes bowling.

So we have for the bowls:
NCG: Oregon
Rose Bowl: Boise St or TCU or ....Furd (FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU)
Alamo: OSU
Holiday: Arizona
Sun Bowl: Cal
Vegas: none
Fight Hunger: none

If ASU hadn't scheduled two FCS teams and if USC didn't have a bowl ban, we'd fill all 7 spots. If Oregon gets bumped from the title game, drop everyone down one spot.

Now here's the fun (or extremely depressing) part, depending on how you look at it.

Bonus: Cal's Rose Bowl chances

Avinash: Yeah, that's probably what all of you on this site care about. Sorry, but we've got to dish it straight. Hopes are slim.

Berkelium97: Here's what I've got for Rose Bowl predictions.

Cal's Rose Bowl chances if they win out to finish 7-2
Probability of Cal winning out: 1.57%
Probability of Oregon losing another game besides Cal: 74.14%
Probability of Arizona losing at least two games on their schedule (because the Wildcats own the head-to-head): 75.79%
Probability of Cal winning out and Oregon losing another game (so Cal gets the nod in a head-to-head tiebreaker) and Arizona losing at least two more: 0.882%

I'd run the exact probabilities of a 6-3 Cal team making the Rose Bowl, but they have way too many dependencies (if Cal loses, then several other top teams must lose, but the teams they lose to cannot be Rose Bowl competitors) and the calculations would take forever. I'll do the next best thing and at least walk you through each scenario. The total probability of Cal getting to the Rose Bowl is no higher than 1.00%

Cal's Rose Bowl chances if OSU defeats the Bears:
Probability of Cal winning every game but OSU given a loss at OSU: 3.79%
The only way for Cal to get to the Rose Bowl is with OSU losing twice more and Oregon losing twice and Stanford losing once and Arizona losing twice, given that none of those losses come to any of the aforementioned teams. Probability: really, really low

Cal's Rose Bowl chances if Wazzu wins its matchup with Cal (really?):
Probability of Cal winning every game but WSU given a loss to the Cougs: 1.70%
In this circumstance Cal needs OSU to lose twice and Oregon to lose twice and Stanford to lose once and Arizona to lose twice more. Probability: looooooow

Cal's Rose Bowl chances if Oregon beats Cal:
Probability of Cal winning every game given a loss to Oregon: 7.03%
Here's a fun one. If Cal loses to Oregon, it needs Oregon to lose every remaining game on its schedule in addition to OSU losing twice and Stanford losing twice and Arizona losing twice. Probability: all but impossible--this scenario has the lowest probability by far

Cal's Rose Bowl chances if Stanfurd wins the Big Game:
Probability of Cal winning every game given a Big Game loss: 4.89%
If Cal loses the Big Game and wants to end up in the Rose Bowl it needs a scenario with Oregon losing twice and OSU losing twice and Stanford losing twice and Arizona losing twice. Probability: well, at least it's not the Oregon loss scenario.

Cal's Rose Bowl chances if UW upsets the Bears:
Probability of Cal winning every game given a loss to UW: 2.71%
Should the Bears lose to the Huskies then the only Rose Bowl scenario has Oregon losing twice and OSU losing twice and Stanford losing twice and Arizona losing twice. Probability: give it up, Cal isn't going to the Rose Bowl this year.

But wait, there's more!

Cal's chances of going to the Rose Bowl with a 5-4 record: probably around .0000000000001%. This would entail MADNESS at levels unknown to mankind. In fact, I'm not even sure it's theoretically possible. If one of you wants to work out the comically bizarre scenario (which no doubt has ASU, UCLA, and Wazzu dominating the remaining games), be my guest.

Conclusion: Cal isn't going to the Rose Bowl. You might want to start checking out airfare packages for Vegas, El Paso, or San Francisco.