Using preseason watch lists to predict N.C. teams win-loss records

NC State has the toughest schedule in the state

Jeremy Brevard—USA Today Sports
NC State coach Dave Doeren is flanked by preseason All-ACCplayers Jaylen Samuels (left) and Bradley Chubb during last week's ACC Football Kickoff event

NC State has the toughest schedule in the stateThe college football award watch list season ended with the release of the preseason list for the Walter Camp Award. In just over a month, watch lists for 17 different awards were released. Everything from best player to best punter will be honored at the end of the season, and the various awards committees have made their first cut before fall practice even started.No team in the country had a player included on every watch list. Locally, Duke and NC State appeared on the most lists, getting someone named for 10 of the 17 awards.Since multiple players could be included on each watch list, NC State edged out Duke for the most players honored.Charlotte was one of just six FBS teams not to have a player named to any of the preseason watch lists. Florida International, UNLV, UAB, Georgia Southern and Louisiana Monroe were the others.The lists aren’t perfect. Players that were missed in the preseason get added as the year goes on, and some watch listed players won’t live up to the hype. But it gives a good early read at who’s expected to be good this season. In short, the more watch-listed players a team has, the better it should be.With that in mind, it’s possible to come up with a measure of a team’s strength of schedule, based on how many watch-listed players it will go up against this season.It’s not a perfect metric. All watch listers aren’t created equal. For instance, going up against Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, included on lists for the Camp, O’Brien and Maxwell Awards, will be a tougher task than facing UNC punter Tom Sheldon, who made the list for the Ray Guy Award.Still, a tally of the watch list players for each local school’s opponents shows that NC State has the toughest slate this year.Taking it a step further, it’s possible to look at individual games, based on the watch lists. For example, Duke faces Baylor in week three. The Bears seemed like a challenging opponent when first added to the Blue Devils’ schedule, but now that the watch lists are out, the game looks far more winnable for Duke. After all, the Blue Devils have 11 watch list players to Baylor’s five.Going game-by-game, here’s a look at the expected win-loss records for local teams, based on which team has more watch list appearances: