Week one predictions as Spartan football take on the Maroons to start the season

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As the Case Western Reserve University team takes the field tomorrow afternoon in Chicago, the 2015 football season will be officially underway. With the beginning of a new season, The Observer prediction machine returns to try and see into the Spartans’ future.

With limited data on this year’s squad, our predictions for the week will be largely based on speculation as the Spartans take on the University of Chicago Maroons on their home turf.

The CWRU squad is coming off a rough season and will be looking for redemption against last season’s University Athletic Association (UAA) champions. Last season, the Spartans fell at home against the Maroons to close out the season last year, and handed The Observer a prediction loss, for us to finish at 0.500 on our season predictions.

With an experienced defense returning to the field for CWRU this season, look for the Spartans allowing fewer yards, especially on the ground this year. The Spartans’ defense allowed only 109 rushing yards per game last season so look for that number to hold steady. However, last season’s UAA Rookie of the Year Chandler Carroll will lead the Chicago ground attack and pose a threat to the Spartan defense and could potentially bust through the offensive line for devastating gains.

CWRU struggled in the aerial defense last season, allowing 217.9 yards last season. The Spartans should be able to bring that number back down, and should be able to hold the Maroon offense to fewer passing yards this year, as the Maroons will be starting a new quarterback since last year’s starter, Patrick Ryan, graduated.

The Spartans also lost their starting quarterback from last season to graduation. However, the Spartans were overall a higher-powered offense last season, despite being slowed down against the Maroons last season. The Spartans put up 327.3 yards per game last season, while Chicago put up 305.3 yards per game.

While the Spartans will be returning five All-PAC selections, five first team All–UAA and eight second team All-UAA selections, the Maroons were the top-awarded team last season and are returning eight of their 15 All-UAA First Team selections. Luckily for the Spartans, Chicago will be without last season’s defensive player of the year, Scott Mainquist, and last year’s offensive player of the year, their former quarterback Ryan.

The Observer’s prediction machine relies on breaking down the game into simple components and comparing the production of each team’s offense against the other team’s defense. By averaging out the differences between a defense’s yards allowed in the air vs. the average passing yards by the offensive, a reasonable estimate is gathered for each team’s likely offensive production.

By taking into consideration the yard difference between the squads on the ground, in the air and total yards allowed, The Observer will adjust each team’s points per game accordingly and give a relatively accurate prediction of that game’s final score.

Based solely off the numbers, the Spartans are expected to win this week but will need to focus on their strengths and limit mistakes both on and off the ball.

Despite winning the numbers battle, the Spartans will have to beat history this weekend as the Spartans have only won four out of their 12 previous matchups with the Maroons when facing off in Chicago.

The Observer will be keeping track of our predictions all season and encourage readers to try to make better predictions than ours each week. The final score for both teams must be within seven points of the guess for The Observer to have a winning prediction. Also, the sports staff here will be looking to pick the winners this season again, after going 8-2 last season in that endeavor.

With all of this established, The Observer is predicting a Spartan win of 21-17, meaning a hard-fought and extremely close game is in store for CWRU this weekend. Go Spartans.