If last week was the biggest week in breadth of games mattering, this week is the biggest in terms of depth. Eight! Games feature a greater than 5% chance of affecting the postseason while also giving the favorite a <60% chance of winning. If ever there were a week demonstrating regular season-as-playoff, this would be it.
Unlike last week, when we highlighted the Top Five -or-so games, this week, we’re highlighting EVERY game that has >5% chance of affecting the playoff field. The season was simulated 10,000 times to determine the weight each game has on the postseason.
#1 Notre Dame vs. Clemson (15%, 24%) (50% Notre Dame win)
The biggest game this week is Notre Dame’s visit to Clemson. The computer thinks its a push, with Notre Dame winning 50.48% of the time. This game has a 15% chance of affecting the playoff field and a 24% chance of determining a spot in a New Years Six bowl. Set your dial to ABC Saturday Night to catch this week’s primo game.
#2 Ole Miss vs. Florida (14%, 25%) (57% Ole Miss win)
Both the computer and the fans think Ole Miss is less likely than LSU to make the playoff, despite the Rebels’ higher rank. Much of that has to do with Saturday Nignt’s game at the Swamp on ESPN. The Gators too have postseason hopes and have proven to be dangerous in recent years against ranked opponents.
#3 Alabama vs. Georgia (10%, 23%) (53% Alabama win)
This is the SEC game more folks are talking about, and the computer is giving ‘Bama the edge. Regardless of which team wins, this game on CBS will be exciting!
#4 Oklahoma vs. West Virginia (9%, 21%) (55% Oklahoma win)
Yes, this is a Big 12 matchup on the list. Despite the computer’s low projections for the conference, 5th most likely behind the ACC to field a playoff team, this early matchup will go a long way in narrowing the field, and proving if West Virginia is for real, noon on FoxSports1.
#5 Ohio State vs. Indiana (10%, 17%) (83% Ohio State)
Regional coverage on ABC for this Saturday Afternoon. This is also the first game on our list where the game is not projected to be tight. It still finds its way to the #5 spot because Indiana too is undefeated and because any game featuring the #1 team is must-watch, if only to cheer for a stumble.
#6 Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State (7%, 19%) (54% Texas A&M win)
The world-wide leader in sports has this game trump the Ohio State game on their list, but the computer recognizes that these teams are more likely than not finishing with multiple losses, regardless of the outcome Saturday Night. Still, both teams have power and talent to compete at the top of college football. With only a single loss between them, the winner here can still march all the way to a National Title.
#7 Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State (6%, 18%) (56% Kansas State win)
What, another Big 12 game? Baylor and TCU still haven’t appeared in any marquee football games since the season opener versus Minnesota; Kansas State and Oklahoma State are the undercard game in the Big 12 this week, but both are still undefeated and show promise that they can compete for the Big 12 crown.
#8 Arizona vs. Stanford (4%, 16%) (50% Arizona win)
After a week of monumental Pac-12 matchups, this week features a few games with only decent postseason implications. Arizona and Stanford both have a loss and this game determines a playoff spot only 4% of the time, but there are still spots in the Rose and Fiesta Bowls worth fighting over, not to mention that should they win out, a conference championship and playoff spot are nearly guaranteed.
#9 Minnesota vs. Northwestern (5%, 15%) (58% Minnesota win)
At season’s start, who would have figured this game to have National Championship implications? Despite an unblemished record, the computer still favors Minnesota. Competing in a conference with Ohio State and Michigan State means this game likely won’t matter as much when all is said and done, but for these two teams this conference opener will determine what track their season will take going forward.
#10 UCLA vs. Arizona State (7%, 12%) (75% UCLA win)
Our second Pac-12 game is also our second game not considered a toss-up, with UCLA winning 75% of the time. The Bruins are now the Pac-12 favorite, but ASU still has a decent team and, as was the case with the Ohio State game above, watching the favorite is often fun even if only cheering for them to lose.
Other Games >5% chance of affecting New Years Six Bowls:
Wisconsin > Iowa (64%)
Air Force > Navy (50%)
Baylor > Texas Tech (71%)
TCU > Texas (82%)
Toledo > Ball State (79%)
Duke > Boston College (52%)
NC State > Louisville (67%)