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    College Football Playoffs (11/21/13)

    John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics, @johnewing
    By John Ewing
    A look at what the College Football Playoffs could look like through 50,000 simulations of FootballFour’s most recent four-team Playoff Projection



    Undefeateds
    The four undefeated teams in the BCS automatic qualifying conferences: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and Baylor have 12 remaining regular season games combined and could play in three conference championship games (the Big 12 does not have a conference championship game). In all of those games, the current undefeated team is favored to win in our projections at least 60% of the time. Below are updated odds for the undefeated teams to win out.
     
    Alabama
    The Tide have a 66.2% chance of finishing the season undefeated with the closest remaining game against Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
     
    Note: Chances Alabama, Florida State, Baylor and Ohio State are undefeated on December 8: 9.4%.
     
    Florida State
    The Seminoles are the most likely BCS-AQ school to finish undefeated with projected odds of 68.7%. According to Bovada.LV, Florida State would be a 5.5 point dog to Alabama in a hypothetical BCS Championship.  
     
    Note: Chances that Alabama, Baylor, Ohio State and Florida State all have at least one loss on December 8: 3.0%.
     
    Ohio State
    The Buckeyes have a 48.7% chance of finishing the season without a loss. If Ohio State remains the third team in the BCS Rankings they have a 27.4% chance (they will need Alabama or Florida State to lose) of making the national championship game. If Baylor jumps Ohio State the Buckeyes odds of reaching the title game drop to 19.4%.
     
    Note: Chances that three teams from Alabama, Baylor, Ohio State and Florida State are all undefeated on December 8: 42.8%.
     
    Baylor
    The Bears have the lowest odds of finishing the season without a blemish on their record. Baylor has just a 42.5% chance of winning out with games against Oklahoma State and Texas remaining.
     
    Note: Estimated chances of a one-loss team in the BCS Championship Game: 23.5%.
     
    How this works
    The Predictalator uses current rosters and strength-of-schedule and efficiency-adjusted team and player stats (weighted slightly more toward recent games), to play every game 50,000 times before it's actually played. For this analysis, we are tracking how likely a team is to make it to any level of the College Football Playoffs, if it were to go into effect this season.
     
    Football Four Playoff Projection Simulation
    For the second week in a row there is a new pair of matchups but last week the results ended up being same. Will it be Deja Vu all over again?
     
    No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State
    No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Baylor
     
    Alabama vs. Ohio State might be considered a new matchup from what we saw a week ago but it is a semifinal matchup we have simulated in the past. Each time Alabama has faced Ohio State in a semifinal the Tide has won. Nothing changes this week with Alabama winning 59.8% of all simulated games against Ohio State by with an average score of 32-25.
     
    Florida State vs. Baylor is a contest we have not simulated in the past. This matchup features two of the most explosive offenses in the country. We would anticipate high scoring but not as much as you might expect. Both teams have defenses that rate highly in efficiency against the pass and run in PredictionMachine.com’s Power Rankings. In a tight game, the Seminoles edge the Bears 52.8% of the time by an average score of 36-34.
     
    After 50,000 simulations of the Football Four Playoff Projection, the most likely National Champion is the Alabama Crimson Tide winning 29.9% of all simulated tournaments. In the most likely National Championship game Alabama defeats Florida State 51.0% of the time by an average score of 26-25.
     
    Based on the analysis, here is the projected College Football bracket.
     
    Semifinals

    1 Alabama vs. 4 Ohio State
    Alabama wins 59.8% of the time by an average score of 32-25.
     
    2 Florida State vs. 3 Baylor
    Florida State wins 52.8% of the time by an average score of 36-34.
     
    National Championship
    Alabama vs. Florida State
    Alabama wins 51.0% of the time by an average score of 26-25.
     
    Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship.

    Team Semifinal Championship
    Alabama 59.8% 29.9%
    Ohio State 40.2% 16.7%
    Florida State 52.8% 29.6%
    Baylor 47.2% 23.8%

    The Case For Oregon
    According to Bovada.LV, Alabama would be favored over Florida State (5.5 points), Ohio State (9.5 points) and Baylor (7 points) in hypothetical BCS Title games. Can any team beat the Tide?
     
    Oregon is currently 5th in the BCS Standings sitting behind the four undefeated BCS-AQ schools. If all the unbeaten teams were to drop a game (only 3.0% chance of occurring) then the BCS would be blown wide open. The best one-loss teams would be in the championship game.
     
    Florida State would be out because they can’t lose to Idaho/Florida (both have losing records) or Duke (this isn’t basketball) in the ACC Title game and be considered one of the best one-loss teams. No one believes in Ohio State, so if they slip its over. Baylor could make a strong case with just one loss but an Oregon team sitting at 12-1 with a Pac-12 title would jump them, as would the two-time defending National Champions Alabama.
     
    There is only a 3.0% chance for Oregon to find its way back to the title game, but if they did, the Ducks would not disappoint. In 50,000 simulations, Oregon defeats Alabama 53% of the time by an average score of 34-32.
     
    The Big 12 Championship Game
    Baylor needs to win all of its remaining games to jump Ohio State and then need either Alabama or Florida State to lose in order to play for the BCS Title. Some have questioned whether the lack of a Big 12 Championship Game screws Baylor out of a BCS Title shot. We believe it is quite the opposite.
     
    We estimate that Baylor has a 23.2% chance of finishing 12-0 and playing in the BCS Title Game. If the Bears had to play in a conference championship game their odds of playing for a National Title would decline. In a hypothetical Big 12 Championship, between Baylor vs. Kansas State (based on how the conference was structured prior to Missouri and Texas A&M departing) the Bears would win 83.8% of the time but their odds to win out and play for a BCS Title would shrink to 19.4%.
     
    Baylor benefits from not having to play in a conference championship game merely by avoiding the possibility of losing even though it would be unlikely. 
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