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2014 Pulse of Cougar Nation

With BYU football training camp underway, it's time to take the 2014 Pulse of Cougar Nation.

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Jamaal Williams rushes against Wisconsin
Jamaal Williams rushes against Wisconsin
Mike McGinnis

BYU fans often seem to have a bad reputation for being overly optimistic (or unrealistic, as some non-BYU fans might say).

With a handful of fall camp practices already in the books, there is no better time to gauge the overall BYU fan optimism. So, we bring you The Pulse of Cougar Nation.

BYU fans were asked to rate the chances/odds of BYU winning each game on its 2014 schedule on a scale of 1-100. Additionally, we asked each survey participant to predict each of the wins on BYU’s schedule.

We got a great response during the two-day period in which the survey was open. There were a total of 226 responses, mostly coming from Cougarboard (122) and Twitter (78).

Most respondents were from Utah (114; pause for surprised gasp), but the next three states were Texas (16), California (15), and Arizona (10). I was happy to know I wasn't the only Hoosier taking the survey. We also had participants taking the survey in Colombia, Japan, Mexico, and Peru.

Here’s what we got:

Opponent Win Probability Will Win
UConn 80.83% 99.10%
Texas 45.81% 30.10%
Houston 68.44% 94.70%
Virginia 84.35% 100.00%
Utah State 73.70% 96.00%
UCF 50.91% 43.80%
Nevada 86.84% 100.00%
Boise State 60.83% 80.50%
Mid Tennessee 86.06% 100.00%
UNLV 91.81% 100.00%
Savannah St. 97.81% 100.00%
California 72.47% 93.40%

The real surprise for me came in the win prediction/expectation column. Out of the 226 survey participants, not even one person thinks BYU will lose to Savannah St., UNLV, Mid Tennessee, Nevada, or Virginia? I know those aren't viewed as tough games, but I would have thought there would have been at least one smartest-guy-in-the-room respondent, telling us, "Don't sleep on the Sav State Tigers!"

I was even more surprised that only two people thought BYU would lose at UConn. For as much gloom and doom as I've read on Twitter and message boards about our awful east coast history or tradition of starting seasons poorly or potential suspensions for every player ever listed on the depth chart, I would've thought we'd have more UConn picks. (Or at least some UConn fans that stumbled upon the survey, right?)

Anyway, here is the 2014 schedule with BYU's opponents placed in order of both confidence level and win prediction.

Win Probability Will Win
Savannah St. Mid Tennessee
Nevada Savannah St.
Mid Tennessee Nevada
Virginia Virginia
UConn UConn
Utah State Utah State
California Houston
Houston California
Boise State Boise State
Texas Texas

There were two things that stuck out to me: 1) USA Today's Paul Myerberg ranked California #116 out of 125 FBS teams, and we're less worried about Utah State, Virginia, UConn, and Nevada? Really?! And 2) I was surprised to see BYU fans less confident about Mid Tennessee than Nevada. Not by a lot, but still a surprise.

The average confidence was then used to simulate 200 versions of the 2014 season. I also decided to run the simulations based on the expected wins percentage for each team.

Simulations Based on Confidence Level
Wins Probability Count
12 5.50% 11
11 13.50% 27
10 26.50% 53
9 23% 46
8 17.50% 35
7 10.50% 21
6 2% 4
5 1.50% 3

Simulations Based on Expectations/Predictions
Wins Probability Count
12 7.00% 14
11 39.00% 78
10 36.50% 73
9 14.50% 29
8 2.50% 5
7 0.50% 1

The first thing I noticed is the increased number of undefeated seasons. When we did this survey last year, only one of the 200 simulated outcomes called for an undefeated season. This year 11 of the 200 were 12-0 seasons. This could be for a number of reasons (weaker schedule, for example), but it shows an increase in BYU fan optimism.

Furthermore, 45.5% of this year's simulated results called for at least 10 wins, while that was the case for only 18% of last year's simulations. Other great news from these results is the unlikelihood of less than 9 wins, as 68.5% of the seasons had BYU's improving from both the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Finally, the win total with the highest percentage of the simulated seasons last year was 8 wins, and BYU won ... 8 games. I think we can all agree - or at least we should all agree - that one season is a large enough sample size for us to plan on 10 wins for 2014.