College football analyst Kelley Ford ranks teams based on projected wins
Power rankings are funneling in as we approach the 2023 college football season. One power rating slots Texas as the No. 9 team in the country based on projected wins. Albeit, there’s a surprise team ahead of the Longhorns in the rankings.
Oklahoma checks in just ahead of Texas in this rating system. Kelley Ford, a leading voice in college football analytics, gives Oklahoma 9.6 wins heading into the season with Texas right behind at 9.5 wins.
One can’t help but think the schedules for both teams play some role in the win projection. In nonconference play, Texas faces Alabama on the road while Oklahoma hosts SMU as its premier out-of-conference game. While the Mustangs pose a minuscule threat to upset the Sooners, SMU winning in Norman would be more shocking than Appalachian State’s upset win over Texas A&M last year.
Here’s a look at Ford’s projected win totals for the top 30 teams.
Texas Tech - 7.3 wins
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Texas Tech is a safe pick to reach eight wins despite a tough schedule. Bad luck is likely on the way for the team after going 4-0 in one-score games last year, but some suggest the Raiders return a conference championship caliber roster in the Big 12.
Texas A&M - 7.4 wins
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How many games will Texas A&M win in 2023? Your guess is as good as mine. There’s so much to like about the roster, quarterback ceiling for Conner Weigman and new offensive playcaller Bobby Petrino. There’s so much not to like about head coach Jimbo Fisher’s ability to mess it all up. The ceiling puts the Aggies in an SEC championship game over Alabama and LSU. The floor? A 5-7 record is within the realm of possibility.
Ole Miss - 7.5 wins
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Slotting Ole Miss over Texas A&M and Texas Tech is somewhat surprising given the Aggies and Red Raiders have more certainties across their respective rosters. Even so, Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin has had the upper hand over A&M in recent seasons. Ole Miss could surprise again this season.
Louisville - 7.5 wins
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No Scott Satterfield, no problem. That is, if Ford is right on the Cardinals this season. Despite losing its head coach to the Cincinnati Bearcats, the team is given 7.5 wins here. In a wide open ACC, Louisville could emerge as a contender.
UCF - 7.5 wins
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Central Florida has the makings of a team that could take the Big 12 by storm. That’s not what we’re predicting, but something to monitor heading into the season. UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee could give teams trouble with his dual-threat skillset.
Oklahoma State - 7.5 wins
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Let’s put it this way: I will be surprised if Oklahoma State wins more than 7 games. There’s too much roster turnover in Stillwater. Even though the team brought in numbers through the portal, the talent it lost appears to outweigh its replacements.
Kansas State - 7.6 wins
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The K-State doubt is strong here, as the team seems like a clear favorite to make the Big 12 championship alongside Texas and Oklahoma. The schedule is tough and the Wildcats’ best offensive and defensive players from last year depart (running back Deuce Vaughn, edge Felix Anudike-Uzomah). Nevertheless, there’s enough returning skill players to thrive behind a veteran-laden offensive line.
Miami - 7.6 wins
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The KFord ratings aren’t garnering much credibility with this pick. Miami certainly can bring in players, but fell flat in head coach Mario Cristobal’s first season last year.
Iowa - 7.9 wins
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Putting my questions about its poor offensive scheme aside, Iowa has a strong chance to win 8 games in 2023. The Hawkeyes sit atop the Big Ten West with the Wisconsin Badgers.
TCU - 8.2 wins
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An 8- or 9-win season feels right for the Horned Frogs after a surprising national championship appearance. The inexperienced defense should struggle. The offense should flourish.
North Carolina - 8.3 wins
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This is a quality ranking here as quarterback phenom Drake Maye returns for head coach Mack Brown. The Tar Heels should win plenty of games in the ACC.
UCLA - 8.4 wins
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UCLA might be an eight-win team. Unfortunately, the Bruins may not be afforded an eight-win schedule. In a loaded Pac-12 wins could be harder to come by than usual. The tough schedule will be more difficult to navigate without Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback.
Oregon State - 8.6 wins
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Clemson quarterback transfer DJ Uiagelelei could be the missing piece for the Beavers in a stacked Pac-12. Oregon State should be one of the better teams in the country.
Utah - 8.6 wins
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Utah should clear 8 wins with veteran quarterback Cam Rising returning. This could be the year the Utes finally make a College Football Playoff.
Washington - 8.7 wins
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Washington should easily win nine games in 2023. Arguably the best passing attack last season returns the quarterback that made it all work in Michael Penix. Watch out for Penix to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy this season.
Tennessee - 8.8 wins
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Tennessee should exceed this win total with ease with its own playoff-caliber roster. Head coach Josh Heupel has the offense rolling and you could argue only Georgia appears to have all the answers to stopping his team at full strength.
Wisconsin - 8.8 wins
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Even with new head coach Luke Fickell and a different coaching staff, 9 wins is certainly possible for the Badgers. There should be an element of surprise for the offense as it leaves its smash-mouth, I-formation system.
Florida State - 9.1 wins
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Ford gives Florida State a refreshing prediction at No. 13 in the projected win total rankings. There’s plenty to prove for the team even after a strong season in 2023. Beating LSU last year in Week 1 isn’t enough to build a playoff case for the upcoming season,
Notre Dame - 9.1 wins
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I take no issue with the Notre Dame win total. The schedule is manageable and Wake Forest transfer quarterback Sam Hartman is a significant upgrade at his position.
LSU - 9.4 wins
LSU is going to get its wins this season. Ford might be underrating what could be the most likely winner of the SEC West.
Oregon - 9.4 wins
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With Oregon, Utah and Oregon State already mentioned, does the Pac-12 have the most playoff-caliber teams in college football? Bo Nix leads a Ducks team that could run the loaded conference.
Texas - 9.5 wins
After going 8-5 last season, the 9.5 win total is more than fair for the Longhorns. The season will hinge on Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers. If he starts to make the critical plays he missed a year ago, the team could easily reach 10 wins. His spring performance is reason to believe he can make those plays.
Oklahoma - 9.6 wins
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Oklahoma is ranked ahead of Texas after a 6-7 season? Yes, and there’s valid reasoning behind the ranking. The Sooners have a very manageable schedule that avoids three of its six regular season losses from last year: Kansas State, Texas Tech and Baylor. Texas plays all three in addition to its road bout with Alabama.
It’s hard to see a world where the Oklahoma defense has any answer for the current Texas offense, but the team should be favored in every other matchup in 2023. We’re not predicting the Sooners will go 11-1, but it’s a legitimate possibility.
Penn State - 9.6 wins
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The Nittany Lions are a real threat to win 10 or more games in 2023. The Big Ten is in flux outside of the top two teams, Michigan and Ohio State. As is the case with Texas, the win total could all hinge on quarterback play.
Clemson - 9.8 wins
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I subscribe to the Garrett Riley effect. Really, the “Riley effect” extends to both Garrett and his brother, USC head coach Lincoln Riley. Whatever it is that they know offensively, both offensive minds have played defenses like a fiddle in their short coaching careers. Clemson could reap the benefits.
USC - 9.9 wins
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You can’t have Caleb Williams at quarterback for three seasons and leave with zero playoff appearances. That’s the distinction head coach Lincoln Riley looks to avoid in 2023. Even in the Pac-12’s recent resurgence, the Trojans should still be the conference title favorite.
Michigan - 10.2 wins
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There’s not much to back up claims of a potential Michigan downfall this year. Head coach Jim Harbaugh returns one of the best quarterbacks in college football in JJ McCarthy after reaching two consecutive playoff appearances.
Alabama - 10.4 wins
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Is Alabama a lock to win 10 games? Hardly. To get there, the team will need to avoid losses to three of the following teams: LSU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Auburn. The Texas game puts the Tide in a vulnerable position early. Head coach Nick Saban and company will face a Longhorns team that knows its own strengths and limitations far more because of the quarterback position. 10 wins feels fair for the team.
Ohio State - 10.9 wins
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My early national championship pick checks in at No. 2. The Ohio State wide receiver room almost makes the Texas receiver room look shallow. And the depth of pass catchers the Longhorns possess is outstanding. Add in the talent the Buckeyes have acquired the past three seasons and Georgia likely has a worthy title challenger.
Georgia - 11.1 wins
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It would be crazy not to expect 11 wins for the Bulldogs after two consecutive national titles. Outside of a matchup against Tennessee, the team might not be challenged until January.