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RTI Teams With PhD Student to Determine Vols Most Likely Record

Cam Sutton-1-2

When the college football offseason hits, there aren’t that many things to talk about. Players getting in trouble and recruiting are always part of the conversation, but the ongoing discussion all summer is centered around upcoming season predictions. And with all the preseason hype surrounding Tennessee this upcoming fall, everyone is wondering whether or not they will live up to the bill.

Well, here are Rocky Top Insider we decided to use more of a mathematical approach.

I teamed up with Sam Emmons, a doctorate student in physics at the University of Tennessee (and certifiable genius), to calculate the probability of each possible season record for the Vols. I gave Emmons my own, admittedly subjective, winning probability for each of Tennessee’s games this season. Then he used a computer language called Python to analyze the data set.

I’m not going to pretend to speak nerd so here is a screen shot of some of the code he wrote if you feel like making your brain hurt:


The challenging aspect of this project was coming up with the winning probability for each of Tennessee’s games. While I do believe in the Volunteers’ potential, that’s all it is right now – potential. Still, Tennessee has steadily improved every year under Butch Jones and the trend seems likely to continue, especially considering their relatively favorable schedule.

As I came to these winning probabilities, I considered multiple factors including coaching changes, incoming recruits, season momentum, rivalries, home field advantage and bye weeks.

Here is what I came up with for each of Tennessee’s games in 2016:

1) Appalachian State: 89%
2) Virginia Tech: 73%
3) Florida: 66%
4) Ohio: 90%
5) Georgia: 63%
6) Texas A&M: 63%
7) Alabama: 43%
8) South Carolina: 75%
9) Tennessee Tech: 97%
10) Kentucky: 86%
11) Missouri: 81%
12) Vandy: 89%

Given these probability percentages, Emmons used the power of mathematics and the program code to determine which season record was most likely. After literally hundreds of calculations by the computer, here is what was concluded for each possible season record:

winning table

Based on the winning probability given for each game, Tennessee is most likely to go 9-3, followed closely by 10-2. And there’s an intriguing 3% chance of seeing the Vols go undefeated.

Another way to look at it – The Vols have nearly a 70% chance of winning nine games or more in the regular season.

Not bad, eh?

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