With spring practices wrapping up across the country, we are putting the final pieces of data together for our annual Football Outsiders projection model for the 2014 season. Factors including five-year program ratings, returning starters, recruiting success and quarterback reliance -- statistical indicators of teams that may take a step forward or a step back next season -- all figure prominently into the projection model.
For this series, we ran projections for team, offensive and defensive efficiency through the lens of our drive-based FEI ratings. We then calculated win likelihoods in each scheduled game, producing a projected overall regular-season record and the likelihood that each team would claim a conference crown. We also included the likelihood that each team would finish the regular season with one loss or fewer, a likely benchmark for teams to position themselves for a berth in the inaugural national championship playoff.
On Monday, we're looking at projections for the Big Ten. Two new conference members and a new division structure will make for an interesting league title chase in 2014.
Big Ten East
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Projected finish: 10-2 (6-2)
Chance to win Big Ten: 30 percent
Chance to finish 11-1 or 12-0: 31 percent
The Buckeyes were in line for a Bowl Championship Series title game berth last season before stumbling in the Big Ten title game, and they'll get a chance to avenge that loss to Michigan State on Nov. 8 in a showdown that may determine the East division race. Urban Meyer's team has a few key pieces back for the fall, including quarterback Braxton Miller, who could be a Heisman Trophy contender if he can stay healthy and productive. No team was more productive with its back pressed against a wall last season; led by Miller, Ohio State scored 3.9 points per drive on possessions started inside its own 20-yard line, almost three times better than the national average.