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.
 
FootballFour’s most recent four-team Playoff Projection (Alabama, Oregon, Clemson & Ohio State) stayed the same from the previous five weeks. The panelists are starting to recognize Stanford and Georgia as potential teams to crack the playoff party with only a few points separating them from the fourth playoff spot. However, for a team to climb to the top it will probably take a team stumbling from on high. Alabama looks safe with an easy schedule until a November 9th showdown with LSU. Oregon could be primed to fall out of the top four with three ranked opponents in the next four weeks. Clemson needs to avoid a #Clemsoning against Boston College before their biggest test of the season next week against Florida State. Finally, Ohio State, the team closest to falling out of the four-team playoff, only has one ranked opponent remaining on their schedule. The Buckeyes’ national championship hopes most likely would not survive a loss.
 
The Case for a Championship
With the four-team playoff remaining the same we make a case for each team to win the title.
 
Alabama
To date, Alabama has had the 6th toughest schedule in college football. The Crimson Tide has made it through the hardiest portion unscathed. Again, only one ranked opponent remains on their schedule until a potential SEC Championship game. While Alabama has not lived up to the lofty expectations of Vegas (2-3 against-the-spread), they have shown an ability to play stylistic with any team. Whether it was up-tempo with Texas A&M or a slugfest with Ole Miss, it doesn’t take much to imagine the back-to-back champions winning it all again.
 
Oregon
The Ducks have scored 55-plus points in their first five games. The over has hit in three of four games with Oregon nearly covering the line themselves. The Ducks are not only scoring at will (2nd in the nation) but they are also limiting teams to 11.8 points/game (2nd). Most teams would be hard pressed to match the Duck’s offensive firepower but with the addition of a solid defense it almost seems unfair.
 
Clemson
Since defeating No. 5 Georgia by a slim margin to begin the season, Clemson has won its last four games by nearly a five-touchdown average. If the Tigers remain unbeaten it will have meant wins over two highly touted SEC teams (the Gold Standard), a win over a top-10 Florida State squad and a prospective matchup against a ranked Miami for the ACC Championship. For pure viewing pleasure, Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins are perhaps the most dynamic quarterback/receiver combination in the country and any title game with them would be more exciting.
 
Ohio State
Before the season began we gave Ohio State the second best odds of going undefeated. As such they made our most likely title game. Sports analyst and fans alike will kill the Buckeyes for their soft schedule. It is feasible that none of Ohio State’s remaining opponents will be ranked when they face them. The Buckeyes greatest strength is every other team’s schedule. They might not win a title but they could easily back into a title game appearance with a losses from the teams in front of them in the polls.
 
Football Four Playoff Projection Simulation
 
After 50,000 simulations, the most likely National Champion is the Alabama Crimson Tide. In the most likely National Championship game, Alabama defeats Oregon 50.8% of the time by an average score of 32-31.
 
The top of the polls has remained unchanged since last week. This is reflected in the panelist four-team playoff. As such our simulations also remain relatively the same with only small changes in the win percentages of matchups. A case has been made for each team to win the title but for additional detailed analysis on this week’s matchups please see our last simulation.
 
Based on the analysis, here is the projected College Football bracket.
 
Semifinals
1 Alabama vs. 4 Ohio State
Alabama wins 67.7% of the time by an average score of 34-23.
 
2 Oregon vs. 3 Clemson
Oregon wins 67.5% of the time by an average score of 41-29.
 
National Championship
Alabama vs. Oregon
Alabama wins 50.8% of the time by an average score of 32-31.
 
Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship.

Team Semifinal Championship
Alabama 67.7% 38.3%
Ohio State 32.3% 12.3%
Oregon 67.5% 35.7%
Clemson 32.5% 13.7%

PredictionMachine.com’s Playoffs
Have you ever wanted to simulate your own college football playoff? Are you curious what a 4, 8, 16, 32, or 64 team tournament would look like? PredictionMachine.com’s new Bracket Simulator gives you the power to simulate the postseason for any sport, not just college football.
 
In the spirit of MLB postseason, we are throwing a curveball this week. Instead of simulating what PredictionMachine.com’s four team playoff would look like we are going to expand the tournament using our Bracket Simulator.
 
College football’s four-team playoff will go into effect next season and is scheduled to run through 2025. However, powerful people, and we agree, think it should be expanded to an eight-team tournament. To appease the President, we are going to simulate what our eight-team playoff would look like. We encourage you to try it as well; it’s better than working!
 
Note: The regions are named after the four primary bowls Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange. It is unclear in an eight-team tournament where each round would be played. For our purposes, we assume a neutral field where neither team has an advantage. Alabama is playing Stanford in the Rose region in this simulation; it does not mean that Stanford would have an advantage because the game is held in Pasadena.
 
In our eight-team tournament the Elite Eight matchups would include No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Stanford, No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 7 Georgia, No. 3 Texas A&M vs. No. 6 Baylor, and No. 4 LSU vs. No. 5 Florida State. We continue to see the SEC well represented in our simulated playoffs. With an expansion to eight teams the addition of SEC schools seems more plausible.
 
Alabama is the most likely team to reach the Final Four winning its matchup against Stanford 63.7% of the time. Florida State is the only team to pull an upset defeating LSU 53.5% of the time. Oregon and Texas A&M (narrowly) reach the semifinals as well.
 
In the Final Four, Alabama defeats Florida State 57.3% of the time by an average score of 29-24. Oregon wins in a thriller over Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M 58.8% of the time by an average score of 45-38. In what seems to be an inevitable championship game, Alabama defeats Oregon for the title. The Crimson Tide, the most likely champion, win all simulated tournaments 22.1% of the time. In the most likely championship game Alabama beats Oregon 50.8% 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.

Seed Team Final 4 Title Game Championship
1 Alabama 63.7% 39.0% 22.1%
8 Stanford 36.3% 15.3% 6.1%
4 LSU 46.5% 20.1% 8.4%
5 Florida State 53.5% 25.6% 12.5%
3 Texas A&M 50.5% 23.3% 11.2%
6 Baylor 49.5% 22.6% 10.5%
2 Oregon 55.0% 31.3% 17.8%
7 Georgia 45.0% 22.8% 11.4%