Seven contenders lost this past week and are still very much in contention going forward: USC, LSU, Ole Miss, OU, ND, UCLA, and… CSU. The term “chaos” might be used; the window for making the playoff is widening not narrowing.
The number of teams eliminated after Week 1? 6; its hard to overcome losses to the Sun Belt… or to be Auburn in the crowded SEC West.
The number of teams joining the fray? Texas and Washington, plus a half-dozen mid-majors who saw their chances of a perfect season get a bump after defeating opponent #1.
The below is a list of teams’ chances to get into the playoff, given a certain season outcome. Only outcomes with a >1% chance (100 out of 10,000) of occurring are included.
The +/- analyzes the difference between last week and this week’s chances. Most teams saw their chances improve, meaning there was more chaos than expected at the top of the rankings. Some variance is simply due to low sample-size while other is due to the timing of a loss (ex. a 12-1 LSU team will have won 12 games in a row over sizeable competition, better than having that 1 loss be late or to dreg on their schedule, hence the +11%).
|Teams that lost but are still in contention: USC, LSU, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, UCLA, Colo St|
|Eliminated from Top Tiers with a loss: Wash St, N’western, Miss St, App St, Arkansas St, Auburn|
|Eliminated from Top Tiers statistically: (no one, we’ll likely see teams drop as relative conference strength solidifies and if the top teams look less likely to lose a game before the season ends)|
Texas is the only team in the “Guaranteed” category from the Big 12. Schedule, schedule, schedule; and we’re not sure the Big 12 possesses that great of a schedule. TCU is the team best situated to make the playoff, given their presumed strength, but they’ll likely need fewer losses than other conference champions to be considered.
The American conference has 4 teams in the Guaranteed category: Memphis, Houston, South Florida, and Navy. Obviously Houston is favored among these teams, but if any team runs the gamut undefeated they should be in the playoff. Is the American conference stronger than the Big 12? Probably not from a talent perspective, but their schedule likely is and that should be the deciding factor between two teams with identical records.
We still have lots of football to play and one or another conference might tank in their remaining OOC games. The SEC and Pac-12 were less than stellar. The Big Ten had the largest positive swing, meaning 1 loss may be no big deal for playoff qualification, while 2 is largely negotiable.