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Simulating the 2016 Wake Forest Football Season

How many games is Wake Forest going to win in 2016? I simulated the season 1,000 times to try and find out.

NCAA Football: ACC Football Kickoff Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been sharing our season predictions here at Blogger So Dear, and while those are fun and and interesting, they have limitations. Those predictions are largely based around what the most likely scenario is, as they should be. I wanted to take it one more step and figure out a range of outcomes, and how likely each of those outcomes was. I wish I had the ability to purchase NCAA Football 2017 :( and run a simulation that way, but in that absence of that awesome game I had to rely on my good friend Microsoft Excel (puts nerd hat on).

I just simulated the whole damn season 1,000 times. What happened?


Very briefly, because I don’t want to bore you all with details, I utilized Bill Connelly’s win probabilities and took those as a given. I then used a random number generator to generate numbers between 0 and 1 in Excel. If the number was less than the win probability, then it was counted as a win, and if it was greater than the win probability, then it was counted as a loss. It really wasn’t a complicated process, and if you disagree with Bill’s probabilities, then you could rerun the exercise with your own probabilities.

Record Frequency Percentage
0-12 0 0.0%
1-11 1 0.1%
2-10 12 1.2%
3-9 50 5.0%
4-8 152 15.2%
5-7 254 25.4%
6-6 289 28.9%
7-5 162 16.2%
8-4 68 6.8%
9-3 12 1.2%
10-2 0 0.0%
11-1 0 0.0%
12-0 0 0.0%
Total 1000 100.0%

The most likely outcome is that Wake finishes the season at 6-6, but just behind that is Wake falling just short of bowl eligibility and going just 5-7. Overall, Wake is expected to be bowl eligible 53.1% of the time.

Earlier this morning I published a piece where I outlined what I thought was a “realistic ceiling” for Wake Forest in 2016, and what each positional unit would have to do to get there. Based on this data driven analysis, I was probably a bit pessimistic. While having a 6.8% chance of winning 8 games is still small, it’s not insignificant. Unfortunately, there is also a 5% chance of Wake once again going 3-9 this season, and I believe every Wake fan would agree that’s simply unacceptable.

These win probabilities do not factor in injuries, and they do not account for potential improvements or declines in performance throughout the season. In any business forecast, it’s critical to run a sensitivity analysis, and that’s what I wanted to provide here. Clearly Wake is only going to achieve one of these records, since there is only one 2016 season, but hopefully this piece provides an informative context surrounding expectations management.

If you have any questions for me, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments section. The season is soooo close. Let’s hope we’re on the right side of that bell curve in 2016.