Playoff Picture

Week 7 Playoff Picture

There was lots of drama in the Michigan-Michigan State game and, improbably, the favored team won. We’ll have to wait until the last two weeks of the season when the top 4 Big Ten-East teams complete their round-robin.

LSU tricked Florida into a victory as well, leaving them the only undefeated SEC team. Utah likewise remains unchallenged atop the Pac-12. Florida State is not the only ACC team undefeated, but our new “Top Four” format puts Clemson behind #5 TCU.

After simulating the season 10,000 times, here are the probabilities for each team to make the playoff.

Top Four
Big Ten: Ohıo State (7-0, 51%) // Michigan State (7-0, 40%)
Pac-12: Utah (6-0, 41%)
SEC: LSU (6-0, 40%)
ACC: Florida State (6-0, 27%)

Contenders (others with >95% chance if win-out)

Florida may have fallen, but their chances of making the playoff are still riding high… if they win out. Memphis now stands alone among Group-of-Five teams who are playoff “locks” should they win out. Their victory over Ole Miss also allowed Alabama to jump back into the Contenders circle, as the Rebs are predicted not get in ‘Bama’s way as concerns division tie-breakers.

There are no longer any 2-loss teams controlling their own destiny, and Stanford is the only other 1-loss team in such a position. Hopefully the season will end with fewer than 6 teams with 1 or fewer losses, as it did last year, causing playoff consternation.

Big 12: TCU (6-0, 27%), Baylor (6-0, 11%), OK State (6-0, 10%)
ACC: Clemson (6-0, 18%)
SEC: Alabama (6-1, 15%), Florida (6-1, 11%)
Big Ten: Iowa (7-0, 12%)
Others: Memphis (6-0, 13%)
Pac-12: Stanford (5-1, 11%)

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

Texas A&M, UCLA, and Michigan have all fallen into the Need Help category after losses. Even at 1 loss, A&M has less than a 50% chance of making the playoff even if they win out; much of this has to do with Alabama now holding the tie-breaker and being the team more likely to go to Atlanta.

Temple falls from the Contenders circle due to the sheer number of undefeated and 1-loss teams still likely from the Power Conferences. In fact, while most teams who won increased their overall playoff likelihood, the likelihood, given finishing undefeated, has gone down for all but Navy. The playoff picture is now shaped primarily by which undefeateds win or lose. Many will be cheering for USC over Utah and WKU over LSU.

Pittsburgh still has 1 loss and has finally climbed over the 1% mark. They have a rather high 82% chance of making the playoff at 12-1, but it’ll be a tough rode with games yet still against Contenders: Notre Dame, Duke, and FSU/Clemson.

SEC: Texas A&M (5-1, 3%, 49%)
Pac-12: California (5-1, 1%, 80%), UCLA (4-2, 1%, 23%)
Big 12: Oklahoma (5-1, 4%, 85%)
ACC: Duke (5-1, 1%, 51%), Pittsburgh (5-1, 1%, 82%)
Big Ten: Michigan (5-2, 1%, 33%)
Others: Toledo (6-0, 13%, 80%), Notre Dame (6-1, 12%, 73%), Temple (6-0, 7%, 93%) Houston (6-0, 4%, 75%), Western Kentucky (6-1, 2%, 41%), Navy (4-1, 1%, 34%)

Miracles (<1% Playoff Chances):

Penn State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Arizona State, Ole Miss, and Kentucky all compounded their loss totals, yet there is still a sliver of a chance that college football will dissolve into chaos and give them a spot in the playoff.

Big Ten: Penn State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern
Pac-12: Arizona, Washington State, Arizona State, Washington, USC, Oregon
ACC: UNC, Miami
SEC: Ole Miss, Georgia, Mississippi State, Auburn, Kentucky
Other: Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Marshall, BYU
Big 12: none

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