The Poinsettia Bowl and variance

When Ricky Dobbs and the triple option are rolling, it's very hard to stop Navy. Getty Images

If you spend any amount of time analyzing college football, bowl season can be pretty tough to call correctly. This year has mostly been chalk -- but with long layoffs, final exams, coaching changes and more, it's usually fairly tough to predict these games accurately. As analysts, how do we approach the problem of forecasting what is supposed to happen in these games based on game data that doesn't include any of these factors?

The first data point worth considering is variance in play over the course of a season.