College Football Playoffs (09/26/13)

By John Ewing
A look at what the College Football Playoffs could look like through 50,000 simulations of FootballFour’s most likely four-team playoff. Follow @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.
 
Playoff Summary
In the first semifinal, Alabama, the No. 1 team in our Power Rankings, defeats Ohio State (assumes Braxton Miller plays). Ohio State’s greatest strength on offense is its rushing game, sixth in the nation with 311 yards/game (third in rushing efficiency in our Power Rankings). The Tide is able to neutralize this strength with its run defense, first in defensive rush efficiency in the country. Alabama, led by A.J. McCarron, wins on average by more than a touchdown. (Note: This was also our original preseason projection for the BCS National Championship game.)
 
In the second semifinal, Oregon’s run happy offense squares off against Clemson’s passing attack. Clemson does not have an answer defensively for Oregon but the Ducks are able to slow Tajh Boyd down with their fifth ranked pass defense. Oregon rushes to a win in a high scoring affair. Also, though Clemson’s resume may look strong now, our Power Rankings only have the Tigers as the 12th best team in the country.
 
After 50,000 simulations, the most likely National Champion is the Oregon Ducks. Oregon wins 34.0% of all the simulated tournaments. In the most likely National Championship game, Oregon defeats Alabama 51.9% of the time by an average score of 34-33. Even though Alabama has a slight edge in our Power Rankings, Oregon wins the matchup on a neutral field a little more often than not. As Johnny Manziel has clearly shown, this Alabama team is susceptible to teams that run at a high tempo and have playmakers at every offensive and defensive level.
 
Based on the analysis, here is the projected College Football bracket.
 
Semifinals
#1 Alabama vs. #4 Ohio State
Alabama wins 63.6% of the time by an average score of 32-23.
 
#2 Oregon vs. #4 Clemson
Oregon wins 64.0% of the time by an average score of 42-31.
 
National Championship
#Alabama vs. #2 Oregon
Oregon wins 51.9% 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 63.6% 28.3%
Ohio State 36.4% 16.4%
Oregon 64.0% 34.0%
Clemson 36.0% 21.3%

PredictionMachine.com’s Playoffs
What would the playoffs look like based on PredictionMachine.com’s Power Rankings?
 
First the bracket would look a little different with Texas A&M and Georgia replacing Ohio State and Clemson. While this is not likely to occur due to the fact that three of these teams are in the same conference, we actually rank six of the top seven teams in the country as hailing from the SEC. At least two, if not three or more, teams from the SEC would deserve to make a college football playoff like this.
 
Second, the semifinal matchups are closer. Alabama no longer wins by more than a touchdown and Oregon, while its scoring goes up, does not win by as much either. In the end, Oregon still faces Alabama in the most likely championship game winning it all 51.9% of the time by an average score of 34-33.
 
Semifinals
#1 Alabama vs. #4 Georgia
Alabama wins 56.6% of the time by an average score of 37-32.
 
#2 Oregon vs. #4 Texas A&M
Oregon wins 60.1% of the time by an average score of 47-38.
 
National Championship
#Alabama vs. #2 Oregon
Oregon wins 51.9% of the time by an average score of 34-33.
 
Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship based on PredictionMachine.com’s Power Rankings.

Team Semifinal Championship
Alabama 56.6% 26.7%
Georgia 43.4% 20.3%
Oregon 60.1% 29.8%
Texas A&M 39.9% 23.2%