College Football Playoffs (11/13/13)

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



Undefeateds
With Oregon’s loss there are now four undefeated teams in the BCS automatic qualifying conferences: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and Baylor. I will continue to update the odds for the members of the four-team playoff to run the table. For odds on every team check out PredictionMachine.com’s Undefeated Odds article.
 
Alabama
Alabama has three games standing in the way of its first perfect regular season since 2009. The Tide’s win over LSU increased their odds from 49.4% to 65.2% of winning out including an SEC Title.
 
Note: Chances Alabama, Florida State, Baylor and Ohio State are undefeated on December 8: 7.6% (or 1-in-13).
 
Florida State
The Seminoles are the most likely BCS-AQ school to finish undefeated with projected odd of 65.6%, up from 53.0% last week. Alabama is the only team that would be favored over Florida State on a neutral field.
 
Note: Chances that Alabama, Baylor, Ohio State and Florida State all have at least one loss on December 8: 3.9% (or 1-in-26).
 
Ohio State
The Buckeyes had a bye week but their odds increased to finish without a loss because we downgraded Michigan's offense, which looks worse now than we expected. Ohio State has a 48.4% chance of finishing undefeated, up from 45.9% last week.
 
Note: Chances that there are no undefeated teams in FBS on December 8: 1.0% (or 1-in-100).
 
Baylor
The Bears have the most difficult path to perfection with games against Oklahoma State and Texas remaining. Baylor destroyed the Sooners last week but their odds to win out only increased from 23.5% to 36.9%.
 
Note: Estimated chances of a one-loss team in the BCS Championship Game: 24.7%.
 
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
Baylor or Oregon, which team has the best offense? As it turns out it does not matter when they play Alabama. In the first semifinal, Alabama defeats Baylor 64.0% of the time by an average score of 37-30. We estimate that there is an 8.3% chance of this matchup occurring in this year’s BCS Championship.
 
In the second semifinal, Ohio State continues to prove they are the odd team out among the nation’s best. The Buckeyes have continually been beaten by Alabama in previous simulations and the outcome does not change with the opponent. Florida State would win this game 69.0% of the time by an average score of 33-25. There is a 7.0% chance that the BCS Title game features the Seminoles and the Buckeyes.
 
After 50,000 simulations of the Football Four Playoff Projection, the most likely National Champion is the Alabama Crimson Tide winning 32.0% of all simulated tournaments. In the most likely National Championship game Alabama defeats Florida State 53.0% of the time by an average score of 27-25. There is a 42.7% chance that we get an Alabama vs. Florida State (undefeated vs. undefeated) BCS Championship Game.
 
Based on the analysis, here is the projected College Football bracket.
 
Semifinals
1 Alabama vs. 4 Baylor
Alabama wins 64.0% of the time by an average score of 37-30.
 
2 Florida State vs. 3 Ohio State
Florida State wins 69.0% of the time by an average score of 33-25.
 
National Championship

Alabama vs. Florida State
Alabama wins 53.0% of the time by an average score of 27-25.
 
Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship.

Team Semifinal Championship
Alabama 64.0% 32.0%
Baylor 36.0% 21.7%
Florida State 69.0% 29.5%
Ohio State 31.0% 16.8%

PredictionMachine.com’s Playoffs
They say it is better to lose early in college football than drop a game late in the season. There is only a 3.9% chance that Alabama, Florida State, Baylor, and Ohio State all have at least one loss. Lets assume the 1-in-26 shot comes through and the top teams in the BCS all lose a game. As a result teams that lost earlier in the season jump them in the polls and make the playoff. Which one-loss team would win?
 
According to PredictionMachine.com’s Power Rankings the best one-loss teams are Oregon, Missouri, Stanford, and Auburn.
 
The first semifinal matchup features two of the best running teams in the country, No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 7 Auburn. The Tigers average 320 rushing yards per game, second in FBS, yet Auburn has only faced two teams with top 25 rushing defenses. Oregon (24th in Defensive Rush Efficiency) would slow Auburn’s rushing attack and the Tigers would have no answer for the Ducks’ passing game. Oregon wins this matchup 70.6% of the time by an average score of 46-31.
 
The second semifinal matchup is about pressuring the quarterback. Missouri leads the nation with 34 sacks and Stanford isn’t far behind with 30 quarterback sacks. Stanford is not only able to pressure the quarterback in this game but also limit Mizzou’s rushing game which averages 236 yards per game. Stanford would win this game 55.5% of the time by an average score of 31-27.
 
Can Stanford beat Oregon three games in a row? Our most likely championship game would answer this question. After 50,000 simulations the Ducks win 60.4% of the time by an average score of 38-30. Oregon wins 46.6% of all simulated tournaments. Oregon might have slipped up on the road last Thursday against Stanford but on a neutral field the Ducks prevail.
 
Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship. 

Team Semifinal Championship
Oregon 70.6% 46.6%
Auburn 29.4% 13.5%
Missouri 44.5% 16.4%
Stanford 55.5% 23.5%