It is the beginning of the 2015 season and the computer has given us 10 front-runners for making the playoffs. Two of these teams, Wisconsin and Alabama will play each other right out of the gate. After last year’s compelling Fiesta Bowl victory, Boise State also starts the season as one of the 10 favorites, with few other Group of Five teams likely to join the race.
Favorites (>10% and >95% if win out):
Big Ten: Ohio State (55%), Michigan State (24%), Wisconsin (10%)
ACC: Florida State (29%), Georgia Tech (11%)
SEC: Alabama (27%)
Pac-12: UCLA (17%), Oregon (13%)
Big 12: TCU (15%)
Other: Boise State (15%)
Need Help (<95% even if win out):
Before the season begins we have a team listed in the “Need Help” category. The computer thinks Marshall has a decent chance of running the table but even if they do there is a distinct possibility they will be on the outside looking in. Remember that last year the Playoff Selection Committee never ranked the Thundering Herd. The Computer is more forgiving for the poor schedule, still Marshall is currently on the outside looking in.
Other: Marshall (11%, 80%)
Contenders (5% to 9%):
The Contenders category is for those strong teams who are not the frontrunners of their conference or division. This season the category starts out with 8 teams.
Big 12: Baylor
SEC: Georgia, Ole Miss, Missouri, Mississippi State
Pac-12: USC, Utah, Arizona
Big Ten: NONE
Long Shots (1% to 4%):
And now follows all of the longshots who made the playoffs at least 1% of the time in simulations. We have 17 Power Five teams and 15 other teams to start the year, expect lots of shake-up here after the first week.
Big Ten: Nebraska, Minnesota, Penn State, Rutgers
Big 12: Oklahoma, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas
SEC: LSU, Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M, Arkansas
Pac-12: Arizona State, Stanford
ACC: Louisville, NC State
Others: Western Kemtucky, Northern Illinois, Air Force, Colorado State, Memphis, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Louisiana Tech, Utah State, Toledo, Central Florida, Bowling Green, Louisiana Lafayette, Navy, Western Michigan
Everybody Else. We’re not writing any team off this list until they lose their fist game, even new FBS team Charlotte (are they even eligible?).
Nobody, for the same reasons listed above.