College Football Playoff (11/04/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
A look at what the College Football Playoffs could look like through 50,000 simulations of FootballFour's most likely four-team playoff.

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

Clemson is the top dog this week in the Football Four playoff projection (and the College Football Playoff rankings). The Tigers jumped from the fourth seed to the top seed after scoring more than 50 points in back-to-back games. Ohio State, LSU and Baylor follow Clemson in the Playoff Projection panel's foursome.

There are 10 undefeated (Toledo last on Tuesday night) and nine one-loss teams in the AP Poll vying for four spots, there is no room for error. A loss and you are likely out of the postseason party. Below are the chances these teams win out.

Note: these projections are through each team's respective conference championship, when applicable.


A tough matchup against Florida State looms this weekend, assuming the Tigers get past the Noles, Clemson is 39.2 percent likely to finish undefeated through the regular season and ACC title game.

Ohio State

The quarterback situation may never be settled in Columbus. J.T. Barrett has been suspended one game for a misdemeanor arrest forcing the Buckeyes to call upon Cardale Jones. Despite leading Ohio State to the championship a year ago, there is a big difference between Jones and Barrett in our simulations (3.5 points per game). Assuming Barrett is the starter after is suspension, the Buckeyes are 31.5 percent likely to have a perfect record after the Big Ten title game.


The Tigers play a top five schedule the rest of the way including one of this week's marquee matchups – a home game against Alabama. LSU has an 7.3 percent chance to win all of its SEC games plus the conference championship.


Saying the Bears have an explosive offensive is a bit of an understatement. Baylor has outscored opponents by five touchdowns on average. Even without Seth Russell, Baylor is 25.2 percent likely to win out.


Baylor has a plug-and-play offense. Lose your starting quarterback, insert a true freshman, nothing changes. Or at least that is what we expect. Assuming the offensive machine still hums with Jarrett Stidham at the helm, the Bears would be projected to top Clemson in the first semifinal. The Tigers have a top five defense but Baylor's offense is something special.

When Leonard Fournette faced Florida and its 12th ranked run defense two weeks ago, all the Heisman hopeful did was drop 180 yards and two touchdowns on the Gators. Ohio State's 25th ranked defense against the run will be no match for the LSU running back. The Tigers top the Buckeyes 73.5 percent of the time by an average score of 33-24.

National Championship

In a shootout, go with the team that has the better offense. No doubt Leonard Fournette is a beast but the Baylor offense might be unstoppable.

After 50,000 simulations, the most likely National Champion is the Baylor Bears. Baylor wins 44.7% of all the simulated tournaments. In the most likely National Championship game, Baylor defeats LSU 57.5% of the time by an average score of 42-39.

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

#1 Clemson vs. #4 Baylor
Baylor wins 66.0% of the time by an average score of 38-32.

#2 Ohio State vs. #3 LSU
LSU wins 73.5% of the time by an average score of 33-24.

National Championship
#3 LSU vs. #4 Baylor
Baylor wins 57.5% of the time by an average score of 42-39.

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

Team Semifinals Championship
Baylor 67.3% 44.7%
LSU 73.5% 35.0%
Clemson 32.7% 13.4%
Ohio State 26.5% 6.9%