Commentary: Evaluation of My Predictions for 2007
by Jonathan Hodges

I'm dedicating this commentary to self-evaluation of my predictions for the 2007 Northwestern football season: both preseason W/L predictions (for the year and individual games) as well as the pregame analysis prediction and predicted score.


Before the season, I predicted a 7-5 (3-5) year for Northwestern.  The season played out almost exactly as predicted, with the 'Cats going 6-6 (3-5) and winning all of the games that I predicted except for Duke (although I did admit that Duke was a potentially dangerous game and that NU has always dropped a nonconference game).  Also in my preseason prediction, I said NU could finish anywhere between 6-6 and 8-4 and made my pick right in the middle at 7-5.  If you would have told me NU would have Tyrell Sutton out for 7 games during the middle of the season yet still come out with a 6-6 record, I would have taken it.  In any case, NU basically met the lower end of the preseason expectations, finishing .500 with that 6-6 record.  Obviously the loss to Duke was inexplicable and will most likely haunt NU for some time (given the fact that a 7-5 record would probably mean a bowl trip somewhere and NU is the only win on Duke's record in the past 32 games), but other than that I was perfect on my preseason predictions.  Preseason Prediction vs. Results: 11-1.


Before each game, I predicted the result and the final score (as well as listing the spread).  In terms of my win/loss predictions, I had NU going 8-4 on the year - the 2 game difference from actual came from my prediction of a win over both Duke and Iowa, which ended up being games that the 'Cats could have won but failed to thanks to some fourth quarter mishaps in both games.  Pregame Prediction vs. Results (W/L): 10-2.

Also, I picked the final scores.  When comparing my predicted final score margin to the actual final score margin, I was off by an average of 10.75 points/game , which isn't bad considering a couple of lopsided results (I was 30 off for the Duke final, 23 off for the OSU final even though I predicted a 28 point loss for NU, and 22 off for the Iowa final - I predicted the exact final score but with the teams reversed).

Against the spread, I went 4-7 which includes the EMU game which I predicted as a push (the exact margin as the spread) but with the 'Cats beating the spread.  This does not count the game against Northeastern, where there was no spread.  The 'Cats themselves went 4-7 against the spread on the year.

In terms of total scoring on the year, here is what my predictions equaled versus reality:

Predicted/Actual - NU Points - Opponent Points - Total Margin
Predicted:  347 - 304, +43
Actual: 310 - 372, -62

Prediction Notes

There were a couple of instances where I was pretty close to the final score, and of course there were some times that I was way off, so here they are:

The Good
- Michigan State: I predicted a 34-31 win, despite MSU being favored by over 2 TDs, and NU delivered with a 7 point OT win, although with significantly more points being scored on both sides.
- Purdue: I predicted a 24-41 loss, and, unfortunately, NU held up to that, losing 17-35, one point over my expected losing margin of 17.

The Bad
- Iowa: I predicted a 28-17 final , but with the teams reversed.
- Duke: The enigma of the year for everyone, including the team - I had the 'Cats winning by 24, but of course they lost a game that will unfortunately live on in our memories for some time.

My Crowing Moments
- Northeastern: I predicted a shutout and a 31-0 win, and NU came through and delivered a 27-0 shutout, making my prediction very close to being exactly right.  Of course, a couple of missed Northeastern field goals really helped my cause.
- Indiana: I predicted a 31-28 NU win, and the 'Cats delivered, winning by that exact margin.  Hey, what can I say?

So, basically I had the 'Cats pretty well tabbed for this year although I failed to account for that one inexplicable loss during the year (this year to Duke).  What was a little surprising was that NU had no "big win" of the year; MSU and Indiana were both solid teams but finished 7-5 and didn't look good down the stretch.  Nevada is a decent team from a mid-major conference, but probably won't make a bowl.  Northeastern is a mediocre I-AA/FCS team.  Minnesota is horrible.  EMU is a low to mid level MAC team.  All in all, NU ended up right at .500 and that's basically where they deserved to be given their up and down play during games and over the season.  In any case, they did manage to meet expectations from myself and that many others, including the mainstream media, had as well.

Self-Evaluation for Predictions: A-

I would say I did pretty well on predictions, and given that I nailed one final score and almost nailed another (and did correctly predict a shutout) I would say I deserve high marks.  Even my preseason predictions made relatively early in the summer turned out to be almost perfect at 11-1 and only missing on that Duke game which is the result that disturbs all NU fans.  And during the year I predicted an extra win over Iowa, which was definitely a win-able game for NU.  In any case, I guess I can congratulate myself for doing well in predicting the winner of NU games, and in some cases predicting a pretty accurate final score.  Don't take me against the spread, though, as I only went 4-7 (but then again NU went 4-7 ATS as well).

Here's to hoping that I predict a better season for NU next year and the 'Cats can reach and exceed my predictions!

Go 'Cats!!!

e-mail: j-hodges@alumni.northwestern.edu

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