There are 5 teams with a greater than 50% chance of getting into the playoff, depending upon finish. Alabama (undefeated or with 1 loss), Clemson (if they win out), Washington (if they win out), the Big Ten Champion, and Ohio State (if they are not the Big Ten Champion).
What does that mean for the rest of the teams? They need help. Florida, Colorado, Oklahoma, and OK State all control their own conference destinies but need 2 of the above teams to fall (some, like Alabama, more than once) to clear up room in the playoff. Boise State and Western Michigan are worth a mention but their chances have dropped this week after minimal chaos (no team with 2 or fewer losses lost to a team with more).
Alabama has an 82% chance of winning either of their next 2 games. The Big Ten Champ has a a 97% chance of having 2 or fewer losses. Ohio State has a 98% chance of finishing well within the “Contender” category without winning the Big Ten. Who would be fourth?
Washington (37%) and Clemson (74%) have the most tenuous holds on playoff spots and are the easiest pickings for fans rooting for an upset. The percentages below reflect how often a team’s finish results in playoff spots. After giving the long shots (Florida, Oklahoma, Colorado, and OK State in that order) wins through this week, their chances of making the playoff, should they win their conference, are in the same order with Florida even passing Nebraska as “playoff material”. A 2-loss ACC Champ Clemson finishes between Oklahoma and Colorado.
We should also note that this is a computer simulation and the playoff participants are actually picked by a committee. If Ohio State were to lose to Michigan this week would we really give them 54% odds of making the playoff? What would the committee do when our computer says Alabama-Florida and Ohio State-Wisconsin should be the 4 teams? The committee would likely try and slide a 2-loss Colorado, Clemson, or OU/OK State team in… but in place of whom?
While some may see fodder for expanding the playoff to 8 teams, we see the necessity of clear qualification guidelines and implementation of a Wild Card Game. If Alabama loses to Florida then they are disqualified from the playoff. Ohio State must play another team not in a Conference Championship Game (though OU and Neb would be disqualified from such a game because of their previous loss and lower ranking). This opens the door for another 2-loss champion or two (if Ohio State loses the Wild Card Game).
Without further ado:
|1 loss Champ||Washington (91%)||37%|
|2 loss Champ||Wisconsin (76%)||35%|
|2 loss Champ||Penn State (73%)||26%|
|2 loss at large||Ohio State (54%)||42%|
|2 loss Champ||Nebraska (44%)||7%|
|2 loss Champ||Clemson (34%)||6%|
|Need Chaos > 5%|
|1 loss Champ||Boise St (30%)||17%|
|2 loss Champ||Florida (29%)||12%|
|lose out||Alabama (18%)||4%|
|0 loss Champ||WMU (15%)||62%|
|1 loss at large||Boise St (14%)||54%|
|2 loss Champ||Oklahoma (9%)||59%|
|lose CCG||Michigan (7%)||16%|
|Not Impossible >0%|
|2 loss champ Colorado, 2 loss Champ OK State, 2 loss at-large Penn State, 2 loss at large Michigan, 3 loss Champ USC|