Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Washington Are In: What Did Latin Predict?

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Sean Gorman

This fall has been a great season of sports for Chicago and Latin.  In addition to the historic Chicago Cubs World Series victory, the Latin Romans made some history too with the first ever Varsity Boys Soccer state title and Varsity Girls Volleyball Super-Sectional championship (not to mention the first ever girl’s golf season and many other fall sports team successes).  One fall sport has not drawn to a close, though, for sports fans here at Latin. For the past twelve weeks, students at Latin have also been paying attention to college football. Many fans of the game try to analyze where their favorite FBS schools will fall at the end of the season, whether in the playoffs, a bowl game, or, sadly, nothing at all. As bowl games approach, college football becomes all the more intense.
To gain a perspective on how Latin students see the playoff picture shaking out, The Forum sent out a survey to all students in the High School asking ten questions, including who respondents thought would make the playoff, who they think will win the national championship, who their favorite team is and who they think will win the coveted Heisman trophy.
The survey had a great response rate with 123 surveys completed. Students shared their wide-ranging opinions about each of the questions. To gain a sense of who Latin students cheer for, the survey asked them whether they pay attention to college football or not, and who their favorite team is. The survey revealed that Michigan has the largest fan base at Latin (Go Blue!), with 35 out of 123 students choosing Michigan as their favorite football team. To compare that with other schools, the second largest Latin fan base (11 respondents) supports Wisconsin.  Then, there are a couple of students who chose a favorite team based on aesthetic, not athletic, factors: “I did watch Notre Dame once and like their gold helmets” and “the one with the best colors.”
As it turns out, a significant number of students at Latin follow college football. Although Latin does not have a football team, football is a popular sport among the student body and 56.1% of respondents said that they pay attention to college football.  A staggering percentage of students shared that the Big Ten was their favorite FBS conference, with 67.5% reporting that they like the Big Ten the best.  Based in part on the large Big Ten and Michigan fan bases, 78 respondents (66.1%) said that the greatest college football rivalry was Michigan-Ohio State. That game often brings an energy like no other.
Latin students seem knowledgeable about college football, as students’ playoff and national championship predictions are similar to the way that the playoffs shook out. Many students correctly guessed some of the top four and a few got all four teams correct. The survey asked the students to pick the four teams that they thought would make the playoff out of the 12 highest ranked FBS teams at the time of the survey. The team most often chosen by Latin students to make the playoffs was Ohio State, with 95 people (77.2%) predicting that Ohio State would earn a playoff spot after a solid win (controversial or not depending on your personal loyalty) against Michigan. Next in line were Alabama (70.7%), Clemson (54.5%), and Michigan (43.9%). These predictions mostly lined up with who made the playoffs, as the only difference was that Michigan was left out. Instead, Washington was selected among the top four—even though only 24.4% of students believed Washington would make the playoff—after beating Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship. On top of that, almost half of the respondents thought (or was it hoped?) Michigan would make the playoff, and the only chance of that happening was with a Washington loss at the hands of Colorado (a team Michigan beat earlier this season) or a Clemson loss to Virginia Tech, neither of which occurred in an upset-free weekend. Even if one of those two things had happened, Michigan still was not guaranteed a spot, notwithstanding three top ten wins, due to the top-heavy Big Ten with Ohio State, Penn State as conference champion, and Wisconsin.
Looking forward to the national championship, many respondents believe that Alabama will win (52 students who responded think that Alabama will win), and this lines up with predictions from the college football fan base and professional college football analysts, since Alabama is one of two unbeaten FBS teams (Western Michigan is the other unbeaten), the only undefeated Power Five team, and the seed one in the College Football Playoff. Alabama also is the only team to make the playoff in all three years of the playoff’s existence, and has won four national titles under Nick Saban in his nine years with the Crimson Tide.
Not everyone at Latin is a college football fan, of course. Some students prefer the professional game, and chose the NFL as their favorite conference. Several other respondents said they are fans of football—just not the American kind.  The Premier League won several votes as students’ favorite football conference. Other students do not necessarily like football at all, for instance choosing the MLB and the NBA as their favorite conferences.  There were also a few students who seemed at a loss to answer questions about college football at all.  One such response: “what is football?”
For those devoted to the college game, however, it was great to see that Latin has a large, knowledgeable fan base, with students cheering for a wide range of teams and having a wide range of opinions. It’s clear that many Latin students will be watching the rest of the college football season, with some still having hopes that their teams can win a bowl game or even a national title. Considering that 61% of the respondents reported that they own college football apparel for their favorite team, just take a look around you in the hallway and you might learn something about where your classmates’ loyalties lie
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