College Football Playoffs (10/17/13)

By John Ewing’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 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. 

One and Done
Last week we made a case for each team to win it all, this week we knock’em down a peg. A case against each team to win the title:
44, 64, 4, 46, and 28. Those are not lottery numbers, that is the rank of the remaining teams on Alabama’s schedule and it does not include FCS opponent Chattanooga. Aside from LSU, which we project the Tide to beat 62.1% of the time by an average score of 33-24, nothing is standing in the way of Alabama returning to the SEC Championship game. A game in which Bama would be favored over any SEC East opponent and most likely win. It seems like the only real challenge might come from Oregon, but Alabama has defeated them in our previous simulations. But do they this week?
While the Ducks’ win over Washington was impressive, Oregon scored/allowed the fewest/most points this season. Oregon has benefited from the 65th ranked schedule to date but that is all about to change when the Ducks host No. 9 UCLA and travel to take on No. 13 Stanford in the next three weeks. The Ducks are less than 50/50 (42.7%) to beat both UCLA/Stanford in consecutive weeks.
This is easy, at home against Florida State this week; the Tigers lose to the Seminoles. Florida State has an edge in every offensive and defensive efficiency rankings. The Seminoles win on the road at Clemson 53.8% of the time by an average score of 32-28.
Ohio State
The Buckeyes are the weakest of the four playoff teams. Their preseason ranking combined with a soft schedule has allowed Ohio State to remain at the top of the polls. It is that soft schedule that makes them vulnerable to be jumped. With a Michigan loss last week Ohio State does not have any ranked opponents left on their schedule. The Buckeyes are treading water and hoping others sink around them.  
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.
Football Four Playoff Projection Simulation
Alabama, Oregon, Clemson and Ohio State have accumulated 1,014 of a possible 1,120 voting points, roughly 91%. As a result, the Football Four's four-team Playoff Projection (Alabama, Oregon, Clemson & Ohio State) has remained unchanged for seven weeks. In last week’s simulation Alabama prevailed as the most likely national champion. However, earlier in the article we hinted that Oregon might top Alabama.
After 50,000 simulations, the most likely National Champion is the Alabama Crimson Tide. What? Why did you suggest that there would be a new champion? In a four-team playoff Alabama does win the title more often than any other team, 38.4% of the time. Oregon follows closely behind at 37.3%.
However, in the most likely National Championship game, Oregon defeats Alabama 50.3% of the time by an average score of 34-33.
Still confused? Don’t worry, we will feed you baby birds. At this point in the season, an Alabama/Oregon matchup is a coin flip.
While Oregon would defeat Alabama on a neutral field, Alabama gets a boost by playing Ohio State in the semifinals. Ohio State is the linchpin for Alabama being the most likely champion in a four-team playoff. If Oregon got to face Ohio State in the first round their odds to win the title would increase from 37.3% to 38.1%, making them the most likely champion.
Based on the analysis, here is the projected College Football bracket.
1 Alabama vs. 4 Ohio State
Alabama wins 69.4% of the time by an average score of 34-22.
2 Oregon vs. 3 Clemson
Oregon wins 68.2% of the time by an average score of 42-29.
National Championship
Alabama vs. Oregon
Oregon wins 50.3% of the time by an average score of 34-33.
Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship.
Team Semifinal Championship
Alabama 69.4% 38.4%
Ohio State 30.6% 11.3%
Oregon 68.2% 37.3%
Clemson 31.8% 13.0%’s Playoffs

Last week we simulated an eight-team playoff. Like the Washington State popcorn guy, sometimes you just want more. That is why this week we are simulating a sixteen-team playoff based on our Power Rankings and using our Bracket Simulator.
Note: The regions are named after the four primary bowls Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange. It is unclear in an expanded tournament where each round would be played. For our purposes, we assume a neutral field where neither team has an advantage.
In our sixteen-team tournament the Sweet Sixteen matchups would include:
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 16 Wisconsin
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 15 Miami- FL
No. 3 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Stanford
No. 4 LSU vs. No. 13 Florida
No. 5 Baylor vs. No. 12 Louisville
No. 6 Florida State vs. No. 11 Georgia
No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Washington
No. 8 Ohio State vs. No. 9 South Carolina.
Oregon is the most likely team to advance to the Elite 8 winning its matchup over Miami-FL 67.9% of the time. Alabama defeats Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen 67.4% of the time while LSU is the only other team greater than 60% likely to advance to the next round. Ohio State (50.8%), Louisville (50.7%), and Washington (52.7%) upset the higher seeded team.
The Elite Eight would feature No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 9 Ohio State, No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 10 Washington, No. 3 Texas A&M vs. No. 6 Florida State, and No. 4 LSU vs. No. 12 Louisville.
Oregon is once again the most likely team to advance to the next round, 46.6% likely to reach the Final Four. The other top seeds Alabama (46.3% to reach Final Four) and LSU (33.7% to reach Final Four) also reach the next round. Florida State, as a 6-seed, (35.1% to reach Final Four) is the other most likely team to make the semifinals. The Seminoles, ranked three spots lower than Texas A&M, upset the Aggies 50.4% of the time by an average score of 39-38.
In the Final Four, Alabama defeats Ohio State 68.0% of the time by an average score of 34-22. Oregon defeats Jameis Winston and Florida State 58.2% of the time by an average score of 36-30.
In what has been the most likely championship game in every simulation this season, Alabama squares off against Oregon for the title. However, the Oregon Ducks flip the script on Alabama and beat the Crimson Tide 50.3% of the time by an average score of 34-33. Oregon wins 17.1% of all simulated tournaments. The Ducks are followed by Alabama (15.7%), Florida State (9.9%), and Texas A&M (9.4%), no other teams wins the title more than 9% of the time.
Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship based on’s Power Rankings.

Seed Team Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Championship
1 Alabama 67.4% 46.3% 28.3% 15.7%
16 Wisconsin 32.6% 16.0% 6.5% 2.5%
8 South Carolina 49.2% 18.4% 8.3% 3.2%
9 Ohio State 50.8% 19.3% 8.6% 3.0%
4 LSU 63.6% 33.7% 17.7% 8.1%
13 Florida 36.4% 16.4% 6.9% 2.5%
5 Baylor 49.3% 25.3% 12.3% 6.1%
12 Louisville 50.7% 24.6% 11.4% 5.6%
2 Oregon 67.9% 46.6% 26.7% 17.1%
15 Miami-FL 32.1% 15.0% 6.4% 3.2%
7 Clemson 47.3% 17.5% 8.3% 4.0%
10 Washington 52.7% 20.9% 9.2% 4.4%
3 Texas A&M 59.6% 33.2% 17.9% 9.4%
14 Stanford 40.4% 19.4% 8.6% 3.7%
11 Georgia 32.2% 12.3% 4.1% 1.6%
6 Florida State 67.8% 35.1% 18.8% 9.9%