Playoff Picture

Week 4 Playoff Picture

After simulating the season 10,000 times, the only big changes this week are formatting. All of our playoff Favorites from last week have won, but we have raised the threshold from 10% to 15%. Clemson and Georgia will likely vault back into the Favorites category with wins this week; Oklahoma may need additional help.

According to our Fan Poll, TCU, rather than Florida State, is the predicted fourth team in the playoff. While both Fan and Computer are reticent to pick an SEC favorite, the computer favors the Seminoles’ strength of schedule over TCU’s. This again points to the need for a Wild Card Game which could feature a non-Top 3 Big 12 champ versus the OSU-MSU loser December 5th.

Favorites (>15% Playoff Chances)
Big Ten: Ohio State (4-0, 48%), Michigan State (4-0, 33%)
Pac-12: UCLA (4-0, 34%), Utah (4-0, 22%)
ACC: Florida State (3-0, 27%)
SEC: LSU (3-0, 23%), Ole Miss (4-0, 16%)
Big 12: TCU (4-0, 21%)
Others: Notre Dame (4-0, 17%)

Need Help (>1% but <95% Chances if win-out)

Missouri and Arizona join a few other teams in no-man’s land where even a 12-1 finish is no guarantee of a playoff spot. Their losses to Kentucky and USC respectively have made them darkhorses for the playoff. Toledo, Navy, and Houston are still undefeated, but even if the slim chances finishing the season that way are met, the computer thinks their strength of schedule could keep them out, even behind 1 or 2 loss teams.

Unless the favorites start losing, watch the stock in each team slowly dwindle. Alabama has a big game against Georgia this week; perhaps that’ll push them back over the 95% mark.

SEC: Alabama (3-1, 6%, 91%), Mississippi State (3-1, 2%, 76%), Missouri (3-1, 1%, 77%)
Pac-12: Arizona (3-1, 1%, 65%)
Others: Toledo (3-0, 10%, 79%), Navy (3-0, 3%, 93%), Houston (3-0, 2%, 78%), Western Kentucky (3-1, 1%, 63%)

On Track (>95% Chances if win-out)

The Contenders and Long Shots categories have been merged into the On Track category, featuring every team with a legit shot at reaching the playoff if they simply win out. Michigan and Penn State advance this week past the 1% mark after beating BYU and SDSU respectively. Even at <1%, Pittsburgh, Nebraska (even with 2! losses), and Illinois are each sporting playoff bids, should they win out.

The large number of Big Ten teams here is largely a function of the dominance which the computer attributes to Ohio State and Michigan State. The team that upsets either or both of them is going to have a remarkable resume if they proceed to win the conference.

SEC: Florida (4-0, 11%), Georgia (4-0, 10%), Texas A&M (4-0, 7%)
Big 12: Oklahoma (3-0, 10%), Baylor (3-0, 7%), Kansas State (3-0, 5%), West Virginia (3-0, 3%), OK State (4-0, 3%)
ACC: Clemson (3-0, 10%), NC State (4-0, 3%), Miami (3-0, 2%), Pittsburgh (2-1, <1%)
Big Ten: Wisconsin (3-1, 4%), Minnesota (3-1, 4%), Northwestern (4-0, 3%), Michigan (3-1, 1%), Penn State (3-1, 1%), Indiana (4-0, 1%), Iowa (4-0, 1%), Nebraska (2-2, <1%), Illinois (3-1, <1%)
Pac-12: USC (3-1, 3%), Stanford (3-1, 3%), California (4-0, 2%)
Others: Memphis (4-0, 10%), Temple (3-0, 3%)

Miracles (<1% Playoff Chances)

8 teams have fallen to Miracle Status, sending the total to 34. Next week we’ll list all the teams in this category to give you a FULL playoff picture.

Texas Tech (3-1), Georgia Tech (2-2), Syracuse (3-1), Oregon (2-2), Arizona State (2-2), Northern Illinois (2-2), Ohio (3-1), Western Michigan (2-2), and others unlisted.


The body count nearly doubled this week as 20 teams bit the dust. Appalachian State, East Carolina, and Louisiana Tech even won this week, but their previous loss(es) and weak schedule became too much to overcome; they were, after all, in the Miracles category.

Vanderbilt, Louisville, Virginia, Purdue, Kansas, Iowa State, UConn, South Florida, Central Florida, East Carolina, SMU, Tulane, BYU, Colorado State, Wyoming, New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego State, Nevada, Fresno State, Hawaii, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Texas-El Paso, Rice, North Texas, Texas-San Antonio, Southern Miss, Old Dominion, Charlotte, Middle Tennessee, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Army, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami-Ohio, Akron, Massachusetts, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Idaho, New Mexico State, Troy, Arkansas State, La Lafayette, La Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Appalachian State


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