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STATS’ College Football Watchability Ratings: Week 12

By: Stats Perform

STATS’ predictive formula produces a unique rating that ranks the best college football games to watch every week

The SEC’s and ACC’s (rather annoying) tradition where many of the conference’s top teams play lower-level competition toward the end of the regular season removes some excitement from that week’s college football slate.

Instead of No. 1 Alabama having a potentially tough matchup with an SEC foe, it’ll host the 5-5 Mercer Bears from the FCS. Clemson, which is ranked No. 4 in the latest AP poll but No. 2 behind Alabama in the College Football Playoff rankings, faces The Citadel rather than an ACC opponent.


Given some of college football’s top teams are facing cupcakes, the Week 12 schedule isn’t as exciting as previous weeks. The highest Watchability Rating a game can receive is 10. No game even hits a 9.0 when put through STATS’ system.

STATS’ data experts have developed a proprietary model that gives a watchability score to every college football game in a given week. That rating is a combination of analytics, including the projected score of each game from a model that factors in team production, explosiveness and “cleanliness” of play – a metric that includes turnovers, among other data points.

Team production includes evaluations of run and pass efficiency, explosive plays (20+ yards) and the defensive ratings also involved with the aforementioned metrics. Watchability Rating takes that data combined with talent level of each team based on other various STATS models and is adjusted based on the projected final score to produce a value of watchability.

Essentially, the model takes some randomness out of choosing which game to view, making for less channel-flipping while relaxing at home or fewer maneuvers through a bar crowd to place yourself nearest the television broadcasting a certain contest.

Have a look at Week 12’s Watchability Ratings from most- to least-watchable on a 1-10 rating scale:

If you’re planning your Saturday around watching the best college football games in each time slot – with a small exception for a couple early games this week – STATS sees this week’s list as follows:

  • 12:00 – No. 19 Michigan at No. 5 Wisconsin (8.3)
  • 12:20 – Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech (8.9)
  • 3:30 – Purdue at Iowa (8.9)
  • 8:00 – UCLA at No. 12 USC (8.2)
  • 10:30 – Utah at No. 16 Washington (7.1)

The only matchup pitting ranked teams against each other will take place in Madison, as Michigan visits the Badgers. Although undefeated, Wisconsin sits fifth in the latest CFP rankings despite half of the teams ahead of it having suffered a loss. The Badgers might be the Big Ten’s last hope to reach the Playoff, and because of their relatively weak schedule might need to run the table to get there.

The 19th-ranked Wolverines have won three in a row and will try to play spoiler. Las Vegas had Wisconsin listed as a 7.5-point favorite as of Wednesday, but STATS projects the Badgers to win 25-14. That’s not nearly as close as STATS predicts the top two most-watchable games of the week to wind up.

STATS’ model views Purdue and Iowa on even ground and only gives the Hawkeyes a one-point edge because they are playing at home. The 8.9 Watchability Rating for that contest ties Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech for the highest rating of the week, with STATS projecting at 26-25 victory for the visiting Panthers.

What’s so shocking about that? The Hokies are listed as a 15.5-point favorite in Vegas. So, there’s at least the potential for some drama if STATS is correct, and it’ll be much-needed during an overall underwhelming week of games.