College Football Playoff (09/30/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing'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

What if Oregon isn't good?

The Ducks have been one of the elite teams in the country over the last half decade but a 42 point loss at home to Utah is cause for concern. Last year's runner-up doesn't play defense. Anyone can score on Oregon. The defense has yielded 40.8 points per game (117th in nation) and the offense is struggling, relative to past performance.

The Ducks do not have a championship caliber team (29th in Power Rankings) and the wins banked by Michigan State and Utah should be weighted accordingly. The Spartans and Utes are currently in the four-team playoff but neither should get too comfortable.

Ohio State has already jumped Michigan State for the top seed in the selection committee's playoff projection. The Buckeyes square off against Utah in the first semifinal. The Utes are good and their win over Oregon was one of the top storylines of Week 4 in college football but against a true playoff team, like the Buckeyes, Utah will be exposed.

Urban Meyer's team is incredibly balanced. The Buckeyes have a top 20 offense and perhaps the best defense (allowing 8.3 points per game) in the country led by the future first pick in next year's NFL draft. Utah would lose to Ohio State 82.1% percent of the time by an average projected score of 30-20.

Who will face the Buckeyes in the championship game?

Ole Miss didn't have its A-game in a shaky win over Vanderbilt last week. The hangover after an emotional win against Alabama almost cost the Rebels their seat at the table. A focused Mississippi team is dangerous and that is the squad Michigan State faces in the second semifinal.

The Spartans have been outgained in terms of total yards in three straight games. Michigan State is outside the top 10 in our Power Rankings. Against the best team from the SEC, the Spartans get rolled. Ole Miss wins 89.6 percent of the time with an average projected score of 37-23.

Once again, it's Ohio State against the SEC for the title. Like in years past the Buckeyes fall to college football's bully. Ohio State's offense hasn't found its rhythm and Ole Miss ranks in the top 12 in every offensive and defensive efficiency category, the only team in the nation that can make that claim.

After 50,000 simulations, the most likely National Champion is the Ole Miss Rebels. Mississippi wins 56.8% of all the simulated tournaments. In the most likely National Championship game, Ole Miss defeats Ohio State 59.3% of the time by an average score of 29-27.

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

#1 Ohio State vs. #4 Utah
Ohio State wins 82.1% of the time by an average score of 30-20.

#2 Michigan State vs. #3 Ole Miss
Ole Miss wins 89.6% of the time by an average score of 37-23.

National Championship
#1 Ohio State vs. #3 Ole Miss
Ole Miss wins 59.3% of the time by an average score of 29-27.

Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship.

Team Semifinals Championship
Ohio State 82.1% 38.3%
Utah 17.9% 3.2%
Michigan State 10.4% 1.7%
Ole Miss 89.6% 56.8%