Who Will Win Syracuse vs. West Virginia? A.I. Predicts

A hive-mind of college football experts has made its prediction for the Camping World Bowl.

by T.E. Andrews
William Purnell/Icon Sportswire

Bowl season heats up in earnest when No. 20 Syracuse squares off against No. 16 West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl this evening. After going 4-8 in both 2016 and 2017, Syracuse finally broke through in head coach Dino Babers’ third season, posting a 9-3 record. Of those three losses, da ‘Cuse fell to Pitt in overtime, gave Clemson a run for its money, and got blown out in Yankee Stadium against Notre Dame. When two of your three losses come at the hands of playoff teams, you’re not doing half bad. Syracuse showed signs of a pending resurgence when it upset No. 2 Clemson last year in the Carrier Dome. After the game, Babers delivered this epic sermon speech. The year before that, Syracuse knocked off then-No. 17 Virginia Tech, also in the Carrier Dome. Tell me you wouldn’t run through a brick wall for this guy. Preach, Coach. Who’s house? OUR HOUSE!!

If Coach Babers resembles a preacher, exhorting his congregation to greater heights after each signature win, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen appears headed in a different direction. No stranger to the grape and grain, Coach Holgorsen has spent his time in Morgantown frequenting the local watering holes, where he often lasts about as long as a Trump cabinet member before getting the boot. Coach Holgo’s incendiary nature has also translated to West Virginia’s offensive performance on the field, where the Mountaineers have averaged more than 40 points per game. This year’s team started off hot, winning eight of its first nine games, before ending the season with back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.

Which brings us to this evening’s game. Expect points in bunches in this one, as West Virginia fielded the No. 8 scoring offense in the country this season in terms of points per game, with Syracuse not far behind at No. 11. Several key players will also miss the game, as Syracuse will be without the services of two starters on its defensive line. Star Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier – the triggerman of West Virginia’s prolific offense – will also sit out as he prepares for the upcoming NFL draft, where he will likely be one of the first quarterbacks taken off the board. Stay healthy and get paid, young man – you don’t owe anyone in the college game anything else.

This game has “shootout” written all over it, even without Grier in the mix. We’ll take the Orange in a high-scoring, fan-friendly affair, and hope for yet another Dino Babers sermon after the game. Take us to church. Syracuse 42, West Virginia 38, is my prediction, but how does a hive-mind of college football experts see this bowl game turning out?

To predict the result of this college bowl game match-up, Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence. A “swarm” of 29 college football enthusiasts worked together as a hive mind to make their prediction, and as you can see in the animation below, each participant controlled a golden magnet and used it to drag the puck toward the result they thought was the most likely outcome. This is where it gets interesting: As a user sees the puck move toward a particular decision, it triggers a psychological response. They might readjust their thinking as the group builds toward a consensus. It’s an artificial intelligence, produced by human brains, working together as a swarm.

As the replay of the swarm shown above indicates, the hive-mind of 29 college football experts has low confidence that 29th-ranked Syracuse win against 16th ranked West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl.

Syracuse play West Virginia at 5:15 p.m. Eastern Friday on ESPN. The game is being played at World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

Here’s how Unanimous A.I. has predicted NFL games this season.

Unanimous A.I. has made some scarily accurate predictions in the past using swarm intelligence, as our this article explains. For instance, the swarm picked this year’s Oscar winners with 94 percent accuracy. Here’s Unanimous A.I. founder Louis Rosenberg explaining swarm intelligence at a recent TEDx Talk:

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