College Football Playoff (10/14/15)

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

The Football Four playoff projection remains unchanged. If the postseason started today Utah, Ohio State, TCU and Baylor would be in. Each team is undefeated and in position to win its respective conference. What are the chances that the Utes, Buckeyes, Horned Frogs and Bears win out and capture league titles – criteria for inclusion in the College Football Playoff?

Utah – "The Utes have that feel of a special team that's destined to create some history," Playoff Projection panelist Jim Ross said. We respectfully disagree with Mr. Ross. Utah is far from the top seed, the Utes rank 21st in our Power Rankings. USC, a team with a losing conference record that just had its coach fired, is more likely to win the Pac-12 (20.9% chance).

Team Win Out Wins Division Wins Conference
Utah 0.1% 24.2% 7.1%
Ohio State 4.4% 40.6% 31.8%
TCU 1.6% N/A 12.3%
Baylor 5.1% N/A 82.1%

Ohio State – Urban Meyer's squad was a heavy favorite to win the Big Ten but after lackluster showings the Buckeyes are now underdogs to Michigan (39.9%).

TCU/Baylor – the Frogs and Bears combined win nearly 95% of all simulated Big 12 titles but it's not evenly split.

With half the season to be played, no team is a lock to win out. The playoff is far from determined but which of these teams could win it all?

Baylor against Utah in the first semifinal would be a laugher. The Bears are the nation's top offense in both points and total yards. Art Briles' group is averaging nine yards per play and is beating teams by more than 40 points on average. The Utes have a top 25 defense but its offense won't be able to keep pace. Baylor wins 95.0% of the time by an average score of 49-27.

They say defense wins championships and Ohio State has the best unit of these four teams but it comes up short against TCU. The Frogs offense carries TCU to a narrow victory over the defending champions. Trevone Boykin leads TCU to a 36-33 win 57.4% of the time in our simulations against the Buckeyes.

The championship game is all about offense but how do you compare two teams that are so similar?

Baylor is Alec Baldwin, TCU is one of the lessor Baldwin's, probably Stephen. Baylor is Rob Gronkowski and TCU is, again pick any Gronkowski that isn't an all-world tight-end. Baylor is a Ferrari, TCU is a Vespa. These comparisons might not be fair but it gets the point across. Baylor does high-octane offense better than TCU.

After 50,000 simulations, the most likely National Champion is the Baylor Bears. Baylor wins 75.7% of all the simulated tournaments. In the most likely National Championship game, Baylor defeats TCU 73.5% of the time by an average score of 54-43.

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

#1 Utah vs. #4 Baylor
Baylor wins 95.0% of the time by an average score of 49-27.

#2 Ohio State vs. #3 TCU
TCU wins 57.4% of the time by an average score of 36-33.

National Championship
#3 TCU vs. #4 Baylor
Baylor wins 73.5% of the time by an average score of 54-43.

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

Team Semifinals Championship
Utah 5.0% 0.8%
Baylor 95.0% 75.7%
Ohio State 42.6% 7.3%
TCU 57.4% 16.2%