College Football Playoff (09/23/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
College Football Playoff - simulating the FootballFour's four-team playoff.'s Director of Research and Analytics, John Ewing, takes a look at what the College Football Playoffs could look like through 50,000 simulations of FootballFour's most likely four-team playoff. Follow John on Twitter @JohnEwing for more notes from his analysis and to let him know what else you may like to see with these projections.

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.

Football Four Playoff Summary

The initial playoff projection is out and Ohio State is not the top seed. USA TODAY Sports selection committee has given the nod to Michigan State as the best team in the country. The panel puts Ohio State, TCU and Ole Miss behind Sparty.

It will take a special scenario for one conference to get two teams in the playoff. The Big Ten is not the best conference from top to bottom but they have two of the best teams in the country.

Could we see an all Big Ten final in the College Football Playoff?

The first semifinal pits No. 1 Michigan State vs. No. 4 TCU, a rematch of the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. The Spartans were triumphant in that meeting riding Le'Veon Bell to victory. Michigan State had the more efficient offense back then but times have changed.

The Horned Frogs are one of the most balanced teams on offense. With Trevone Boykin (started in the loss to Michigan State in the bowl game) calling the plays, TCU is averaging 367.7 passing yards, 231.0 rushing yards and 49.0 points per game. Michigan State's defense is still legit (top 25 in Power Rankings), it's just not the gamechanger it has been in the past. The Horned Frogs win a close one 54.8% of the time by an average score of 32-30.

The second semifinal features the defending champions taking on another SEC opponent in the postseason. The Buckeyes easily dispatched Alabama in last year's semifinal as a double-digit underdog. The Buckeyes aren't likely to be dogs to any team this season even with its quarterback battle still unsettled.

Ohio State knocks Ole Miss out winning 77.7% of the simulations by an average score of 32-23.

Cooper Bateman knows the feeling.

Ohio State and TCU both reach the most likely championship with question marks about each program. Ohio State was ineffective against Northern Illinois last week leading some to ponder if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have one. TCU can score but can the defense stop anyone? The Horned Frogs gave up 37 points to SMU (ranks 95th out of 128 teams). In the end, the cream rises to the top and Ohio State is the most talented team in the country.

After 50,000 simulations, the most likely National Champion is the Ohio State Buckeyes. Urban Meyer's team repeats as champions winning 57.5% of all the simulated tournaments. In the most likely National Championship game, Ohio State defeats TCU 69.8% of the time by an average score of 34-28.

Based on the analysis, here is the projected College Football Playoff bracket.

#1 Michigan State vs. #4 TCU
TCU wins 54.8% of the time by an average score of 32-30.

#2 Ohio State vs. #3 Ole Miss
Ohio State wins 77.7% of the time by an average score of 32-23.

National Championship
#2 Ohio State vs. #4 TCU
Ohio State wins 69.8% of the time by an average score of 34-28.

Team Semifinals Championship
Michigan State 45.2% 13.7%
TCU 54.8% 18.6%
Ohio State 77.7% 57.5%
Ole Miss 22.3% 10.3%