We did it! Eight years in a row. Mark Ingram, in the closest finish ever.
For the eighth year in a row, we've correctly projected the winner of the H----- Trophy. Congratulations to Mark Ingram and the Alabama Crimson Tide!
We projected that Ingram would get 1349 points, 48.6% of the maximum points possible. He earned 1304 points, 46.9% of max - just 1.2% off. We had also correctly pegged Toby Gerhart as the second-place finisher, with a projected 1225 points (44.1%) and an actual 1276 points (45.9%, also just 1.2% off.)
Ingram beat Gerhart by the closest margin ever, which validates our final projection: Mark Ingram, in a close one.
We were surprised by the third-place finish of Colt McCoy. He earned 198 points more than we expected. Tim Tebow, who placed fifth (as we projected), earned 100 points more than we expected. In retrospect, it's clear that voters who voted for McCoy and Tebow were underrepresented in our sample - likely because they didn't want public disclosure.
Ndamukong placed fourth; also a surprise. We projected 1191 points, and he earned only 815. (It's worth noting that that's the highest total for a fourth-place finisher in history, according to ESPN.) Why did Suh perform poorly compared to our projection? Most likely, the voters who voted for him - essentially arguing for an historic selection of a defensive lineman - were substantially more likely to publicly disclose their ballots.
It's almost certain that it was a combination of the "embarrassment" factor and the "campaigning" factor that led to McCoy and Suh being swapped in our projection. Over the next few days, we'll continue to dig into the numbers.
In 2010, we're hoping to start our analysis a little earlier in the season, and have some exciting things planned. Stay tuned!