Way-Too-Early Top 25

Normally I’d leave this type of post for the database, but with schedules yet to come out for many teams it seemed better to offer only a taste of what the preseason poll “likely” will be.

Topping our Top 25 is the returning champion, Clemson. Note that these rankings from preseason to postseason are more reflective of what a team “deserves” or “earns” rather than their “strength” or “power”. Naturally, with no team playing a game until August, the “deserving” moniker reflects a bit of last year’s performance. But, fear not, such bias is eliminated before the post season begins.

While the predictions for individual games is somewhat interesting, of greater interest is the Playoff% for each team. Remember, not all teams have their 2017 schedule coded in (though all P5 schedules have been released. Appalachian State or Western Michigan making the playoff 10% of the time are provisional guestimates (not to mention our computer generally favors an undefeated mid-major over a 2-loss Power Five team).

Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State headline the playoff yet again, each with >25% chance of returning. #11 Washington is not predicted to return to the sport’s upper echelon, but the #4 Oklahoma Sooners are and they are followed closely by #9 USC, each with about a 1 in 6 chance of making a semifinal appearance.

RK (Rec) TEAM (week’s opponent, outcome) Playoff%
#1 (0-0) Clemson (vs. Kent St, 96.5% win) 29.09%
#2 (0-0) Alabᴀma (vs. Florida St, 62.59% win) 27.41%
#3 (0-0) Ohio St (vs. Indiᴀna, 86.97% win) 26.31%
#4 (0-0) Oklahoma (vs. UTEP, 93.63% win) 17.84%
#5 (0-0) Michigan (vs. Florida, 62.05% win) 11.42%
#6 (0-0) Florida St (vs. Alabᴀma, 37.41% win) 11.15%
#7 (0-0) Penn State (vs. Akron, 88.82% win) 12.14%
#8 (0-0) Wiscønsin (vs. Utah St, 89.04% win) 12.84%
#9 (0-0) USC (vs. W Michigan, 59.71% win) 16.57%
#10 (0-0) Iowa (vs. Wyoming, 73.65% win) 10.42%
#11 (0-0) Washington (vs. Rutgers, 89.8% win) 6.27%
#12 (0-0) Stᴀnford (vs. Rice, 91.44% win) 10.27%
#13 (0-0) OK State (vs. Tulsa, 54.26% win) 8.52%
#14 (0-0) W Michigan (vs. USC, 40.29% win) 10.77%
#15 (0-0) LSU (vs. BYU, 70.71% win) 6.36%
#16 (0-0) Nebrᴀska (vs. Arkansas St, 74.72% win) 5.69%
#17 (0-0) Tennessee (vs. Ga Tech, 55.94% win) 5.23%
#18 (0-0) Florida (vs. Michigan, 37.95% win) 4.27%
#19 (0-0) Boisᴇ St (vs. La Lafayette, 76.54% win) 8.09%
#20 (0-0) App St (vs. Georgia, 61.95% win) 10.8%
#21 (0-0) Tulsa (vs. OK State, 45.74% win) 11.33%
#22 (0-0) Cølorado (vs. Colo St, 61.42% win) 3.64%
#23 (0-0) Auburn (vs. Ga Southern, 76.58% win) 3.38%
#24 (0-0) Ga Tech (vs. Tennessee, 44.06% win) 3.16%
#25 (0-0) Va Tech (vs. W Virginia, 49.91% win) 3.64%

More than the particular teams, often it is the games we look forward to the most. With a perfectly sized 4-team playoff, games from all over the country carry significant weight toward determining playoff participants.

Topping the list is Clemson vs. Florida State in Death Valley. The outcome of this game has almost a 1/3 chance of affecting the make up of the college football playoff. Up next are 4 chances for Ohio State to stumble or, conversely, 4 must-win games for 4 other teams to establish themselves as playoff contenders. Had Michigan or Oklahoma won their games against the Buckeyes last year, they would have taken OSU’s playoff spot.

We also have a trio of top games taking place in Week 1. Alabama vs. Florida State is the clear headliner. USC vs. WMU? a victory over an FBS blue-chip is the one thing Western Michigan lacked last year; this year regardless of how USC finishes the season, they’ll have that chance right out of the gate. Finally OK State vs. Tulsa; both are Top 2 in their respective divisions (the worst P5 and the best G5), and while both have bigger in-conference games a loss here likely eliminates one; let’s hope it is not on an illegal, un-timed down.

RK (impact) FAVORITE vs. UNDERDOG (win probability)
#1 (29.92%) Clemson vs. Florida St (63.16% win)
#2 (27.78%) Ohio St vs. Oklahoma (60.24% win)
#3 (26.09%) Ohio St vs. Michigan (61.17% win)
#4 (25.94%) Ohio St vs. Penn State (61.61% win)
#5 (24.62%) Ohio St vs. Iowa (63.83% win)
#6 (23.6%) Alabᴀma vs. Florida St (62.59% win) this week
#7 (22.25%) USC vs. W Michigan (59.71% win) this week
#8 (21.75%) Alabᴀma vs. LSU (71.84% win)
#9 (21.16%) Oklahoma vs. OK State (61.32% win)
#10 (20.33%) USC vs. Stᴀnford (55.8% win)
#11 (19.51%) Wiscønsin vs. Michigan (50.06% win)
#12 (19.35%) Alabᴀma vs. Tennessee (71.37% win)
#13 (18.96%) Wiscønsin vs. Iowa (52.63% win)
#14 (18.79%) Penn State vs. Michigan (50.11% win)
#15 (18.69%) Ohio St vs. Nebrᴀska (71.71% win)
#16 (17.5%) Penn State vs. Iowa (52.24% win)
#17 (16.77%) Clemson vs. Va Tech (77.01% win)
#18 (16.56%) Alabᴀma vs. Auburn (76.34% win)
#19 (16.06%) Alabᴀma vs. Colo St (81.31% win)
#20 (15.68%) OK State vs. Tulsa (54.26% win) this week
#21 (15.46%) Clemson vs. Ga Tech (77.27% win)
#22 (15.18%) Alabᴀma vs. Texas A*M (79.94% win)
#23 (15.11%) Clemson vs. Auburn (76.79% win)
#24 (14.82%) Washington vs. Stᴀnford (50.79% win)
#25 (14.21%) Tulsa vs. Houston (57.42% win)
#43 (10.96%) Michigan vs. Florida (62.05% win) this week
#50 (10.34%) App St vs. Georgia (61.95% win) this week
#53 (10.14%) Iowa vs. Wyoming (73.65% win) this week

Listed here at the very bottom are the final three Week-One games with a greater than 10% chance of affecting the playoff. Michigan vs. Florida is a no-brainer; neither team would be out of it with such an early loss to such a storied program, but a win would certainly be the trump card if compared to against a team of similar record at year’s end. Appalachian State favored over Georgia!?! We gave App State a 52% win probability against Tennessee last year and almost looked like geniuses. Almost. Georgia is this year’s sexy pick to win the SEC East and so we’ll be eyeing this game intensely. Iowa vs. Wyoming? A ho-hum matchup on paper; neither team favored to win their division. But a loss to Wyoming almost eliminates Iowa, a decent team, right out of the gate, while a Wyoming win gives the Cowboys the signature win they’ll need to even be considered for playoff placement if they win out.



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