College Football Playoffs (10/03/13)

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. 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, if it were to go into effect this season.
 
Playoff Summary
FootballFour’s most recent four-team Playoff Projection (Alabama, Oregon, Clemson & Ohio State) is the same from last week but that does not mean there isn’t dissension in the ranks. Georgia has moved up to fifth in the selection committee’s ranking with panelist Dan Shanoff giving Georgia a first-place vote. Smart call by Shanoff as Georgia ranks fourth in our Power Rankings and if they made the tournament the Bulldogs would win it all 21.0% of the time, more on this later.
 
Looking at the semifinal matchups this week, both Alabama (vs. Ohio State) and Oregon (vs. Clemson) are more likely to win then in the previous simulation. Alabama took the greatest leap after an impressive shutout against an Ole Miss team that is thirteenth in our rankings. The Tide saw their chances of advancing to the title game increase from 63.6% to 66.7%. This probably grinds every Ohio State fan’s gears considering the Buckeyes’ win over a then AP top 25 team and Braxton Miller matching a career-high with four touchdown passes. The simple fact remains, Ohio State’s current ranking has more to do with preseason poll position then with the level of competition they have faced. The Buckeyes are outside the top 10 in our rankings.
 
Oregon also became 66% likely to reach the championship game after dismantling Cal 55-16, an improvement from 64% last week. For context, last week Clemson was twelfth in our rankings but jumped to ninth in our rankings this week after crushing Wake Forest 56-7. Oregon is able to overcome Clemson’s rise in the rankings by improving defensively. The Ducks are now third in defensive passing efficiency which would go a long way to slow down Tajh Boyd.
 
After 50,000 simulations, the most likely National Champion is the Alabama Crimson Tide. In the most likely National Championship game, Alabama defeats Oregon 50.4% of the time by an average score of 33-32. Alabama takes the title back from Oregon (last week’s champion) and extends the SEC’s winning streak to eight straight titles. Fun note: Alabama currently ranks 27th in total defense, of the SEC’s last seven national champions, six finished in the top 10 nationally in total defense. This is a number that will surely improve with Alabama’s next four games coming against Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
 
The difference between Alabama and Oregon at this point in the season is nearly nil. Though Oregon losses in the most likely national championship matchup they still win the title 36.3% of the time, just behind Alabama’s 36.5%. While Alabama would defeat Oregon in a matchup on a neutral field, Oregon is more likely to defeat Ohio State than Alabama is to triumph over Clemson in the other potential title games. This speaks to how close these teams are and how exciting any of these championship matchups would be. Given how close these teams are, it also reinforces how silly the idea is that Alabama could beat an NFL team.
 
Based on the analysis, here is the projected College Football bracket.
 
Semifinals
Alabama vs. 4 Ohio State
Alabama wins 66.7% of the time by an average score of 34-22.
 
Oregon vs. 3 Clemson
Oregon wins 66.0% of the time by an average score of 41-29.
 
National Championship
Alabama vs. Oregon
Alabama wins 50.4% of the time by an average score of 33-32.
 
Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship.

Team Semifinal Championship
Alabama 66.7% 31.9%
Ohio State 33.3% 16.6%
Oregon 66.0% 32.6%
Clemson 34.0% 19.0%

PredictionMachine.com’s Playoffs
I mentioned Georgia earlier and their likelihood of winning the tournament, now, what would the rest of the playoffs look like based on PredictionMachine.com’s Power Rankings?
 
As in our previous bracket, Georgia and Texas A&M replace Ohio State and Clemson, however Georgia is now the three seed after an impressive win over LSU last weekend. The addition of Georgia and Texas A&M would give the SEC three representatives making this bracket highly unlikely. Nevertheless, the SEC can claim five of the top six teams in the country, according to our Power Rankings. Though improbable, at least two teams from the SEC would deserve to make the college football playoff, which would not necessarily be unprecedented after the 2012 BCS National Championship game featured two teams from the SEC.
 
The semifinals are closer than in the FootballFour’s bracket but Alabama and Oregon both advance to the most likely championship game. The Crimson Tide wins their matchup against Oregon 50.4% of the time by an average score of 32-31. Again, Oregon is edged narrowly by Alabama as the overall champion. The Crimson Tide win it all 30.6% of the time compared to the Ducks’ 29.1%.
 
Semifinals
Alabama vs. 4 Texas A&M
Alabama wins 57.7% of the time by an average score of 38-32.
 
Oregon vs. 3 Georgia
Oregon wins 54.7% of the time by an average score of 44-40.
 
National Championship
Alabama vs. Oregon
Alabama wins 50.4% of the time by an average score of 32-31.
 
Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship based on PredictionMachine.com’s Power Rankings.

Team Semifinal Championship
Alabama 57.7% 28.4%
Texas A&M 42.3% 21.1%
Oregon 54.7% 28.9%
Georgia 45.3% 21.5%