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Pre-Season Playoff Picture

Who makes the playoff this year?

Common sense says that going undefeated in a Power Five conference will Guarantee you a spot. But we have downgraded this, at least here in the preseason, because we never know when a conference will tank. While a human committee will be looking for that goose-egg, there is a real possibility that “Undefeated” may not be as impressive as “12-1” from another conference. At this point in time undefeated Power Five teams (and Notre Dame) are the only teams graded as “Favored” for the College Football Playoff.

In our second bucket of teams come 1-loss Big Ten teams (and Notre Dame), and undefeated champions of the Mountain West (and BYU) and American Athletic Conferences. This brings our total to 9 possible teams, but we don’t think we’ll get all 4 playoff participants from these first 2 buckets.

In our third bucket come 1-loss teams from the other Power Five conference. These second 2 buckets we classify as “contenders.” An undefeated run by Western Michigan also vaults them into Contender status. As with past years, our final playoff participants usually come from this category.

Finally, in our “Needs Help” category comes undefeated teams from the Sun Belt and Conference USA, 1-loss teams from the MW and AAC, and 2-loss teams from the Power Five conferences. We haven’t had a playoff team from this category in the 3 years of the playoff, hence its moniker: “Needs Help.”

Record Playoff% Team (Chance of this finish)
Guarantees (>99%)
Favorites (>66%)
Undefeated 96.89% Big Ten: Ohio State (11%), Wisconsin (5%), others
Undefeated 89.48% SEC: Alabama (17%), LSU (3%), others
Undefeated 88.72% ACC: Clemson (20%), Florida State (4%), others
Undefeated 86.62% Big 12: Oklahoma (9%), OK State (4%), others
Undefeated 82.61% Pac-12: USC (8%), Washington (7%), others
Contenders (>33%)
1-loss Champ 65.51% Big Ten: Ohio State (11%), Wisconsin (5%), others
1-loss At Large 63.79% Big 12: Oklahoma (2%), OK State (1%), others
Undefeated 61.94% AAC: USF (5%), Tulsa (4%), others
Undefeated 61.08% MWC: Boise St (7%), Air Force (3%), others
1-loss At Large 60.49% Big Ten: Ohio State (9%), Wisconsin (7%), others
1-loss At Large 56.34% Notre Dame (1%)
Undefeated 49.50% BYU (2%)
1-loss Champ 47.42% SEC: Alabama (16%), Tennessee (2%), others
1-loss Champ 46.45% ACC: Clemson (14%), Florida State (5%)
1-loss At Large 40.45% SEC: Alabama (8%), LSU (2%), others
1-loss Champ 37.34% Pac-12: USC (8%), Washington (7%), others
1-loss At Large 36.40% ACC: Clemson (13%), Florida State (5%), others
Undefeated 35.50% MAC: Western Michigan (8%), Toledo (2%), others
1-loss At Large 34.21% Pac-12: USC (5%), Stanford (4%), others
Needs Help (>5%)
1-loss Champ 32.10% Big 12: Oklahoma (14%), OK State (6%), others
1-loss At Large 27.40% AAC: Houston (2%), USF (2%), others
Undefeated 25.76% CUSA: Western Kentucky (6%), Old Dominion (3%), others
Undefeated 24.64% Sun Belt: App St (9%), Troy (4%), others
2-loss Champ 21.43% Big Ten: others
1-loss At Large 20.18% MWC: Boise St (4%), Air Force (1%), others
1-loss Champ 18.90% AAC: Tulsa (5%), Houston (4%), others
1-loss Champ 13.15% MWC: Boise St (9%), Air Force (3%), others
2-loss At Large 11.96% Big Ten: others
2-loss Champ 7.94% ACC: others
2-loss Champ 7.60% SEC: others
2-loss Champ 6.69% Pac-12: others
1-loss At Large 6.25% MAC: Western Michigan (1%), others
2-loss At Large 5.32% Big 12: others

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