College Football Playoff (12/06/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
College Football Playoff – odds for each team to win the title.



We finally know who is in, but who will win? With the College Football Playoff set, which team is the most likely champion?

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 and win the championship of the College Football Playoffs.

The Most Likely Champion Is…

Clemson, Alabama and Michigan State all won titles on college football's conference championship Saturday, but it's the team that didn't play that will win it all.

Oklahoma is the No. 1 team in our Power Rankings. The Sooners have won seven straight including three in a row against ranked teams, two of which were on the road. Bob Stoops' team has the most efficient offense in the country. Oklahoma averages 543 yards and 45.8 points per game.

After 50,000 simulations, the most likely National Champion is the Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma wins 44.6% of all the simulated tournaments. In the most likely National Championship game, the Sooners defeat Alabama 54.8% of the time by an average score of 29-28. Bob Stoops' teams have never lost to the Crimson Tide (in three previous meetings).

Of the four teams in the playoff, Michigan State is the weakest. Sparty has four wins over teams that ranked in the top 12 (when they played) but Mark Dantonio's squad doesn't rank in our top ten. Another Big Ten team should be in and it isn't the Iowa Hawkeyes, the conference runner-up.

Ohio State lost one game that cost them a shot at the Big Ten Championship and an opportunity to defend their crown. If the Buckeyes, who are the No. 4 team in our Power Rankings, switched places with Michigan State, Urban Meyer would have a 7.5% chance to win his fourth National Championship. In that hypothetical scenario, Oklahoma would still be the most likely champion.

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

Semifinals
No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
Oklahoma wins 69.2% of the time and by an average score of 36-29.

No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Michigan State
Alabama wins 82.6% of the time and by an average score of 30-18.

National Championship
No 2. Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma
Oklahoma wins 54.8% of the time and by an average score of 29-28.

The likelihoods for each team to win the championship are 44.6% for Oklahoma, 40.3% for Alabama, 12.8% for Clemson and 2.3% for Michigan State.