We’ll have fun and list every possible team that can make the playoff, by record. First, we’ll start with the win-and-in teams, those with >97% chance of making the playoff if they win out AND win their conference. Here is our source.
Ohio State, Stanford, Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Iowa, Michigan State and Baylor.
Somehow teams from all 5 power conferences are on that list. Only Ohio State scored 100% in the computer, but we all know Clemson, Baylor, and the other OSU would also be locks for the committee. Of the others, I’d guess Alabama > Stanford > LSU > Michigan State; this would be a situation similar to last year where the playoff is one spot too small.
Here are the other teams that scored >50% likelihood of making the playoff at certain records. All (except ND) are conference champions).
93% 12-1 Ohio State
90% 12-1 Florida
82% 11-1 Oklahoma
80% 11-2 Michigan
68% 11-1 Notre Dame
65% 13-0 Houston
58% 12-1 Utah
And finally, here are the remaining teams’ chances. Non- conference champions are noted as such. Records with <1% of occuring or with <5% of making the playoff are excluded.
43% 11-2 Alabama
39% 12-1 UNC
38% 12-1 Ohio State (loss in CCG)
38% 11-2 UCLA
31% 10-1 LSU (no CCG appearance)
30% 12-1 Memphis
29% 11-1 TCU
25% 11-2 Stanford
24% 12-1 Navy
18% 11-1 Ohio State (no CCG appearance)
14% 12-1 Clemson
14% 12-1 Temple
12% 11-1 Baylor
8% 10-2 Michigan (no CCG appearance)
6% 12-1 Iowa
5% 11-1 TCU (non-champion)
5% 11-1 OK State
5% 10-3 USC
Right now it appears Ohio State is the only team that can “afford” another loss, making the playoff 93% of the time if they lose a game en route to a Big Ten Championship. Ohio State is also the only team >5% chance of surviving a Conference Championship Game loss, making the playoff 38% of the time if that is their only loss.
TCU is the only Big 12 contender who is not in Tier II, but they are also the only Big 12 contender to even make an appearance as a non-champion, appearing neck-and-neck with an 11-1 OK State champion.
What about the Wild Card Game? While the above list does not explicate the likelihood of each record, 11-1 Notre Dame and 11-1 Oklahoma are the two Tier II teams who will not have conference championship games. A game between these two squads would be a wonderful way to determine the final playoff spot.
Not satisfied? Vote for your own selections to the Playoff at our Vote Playoff page.