Bleacher Report's Week 6 College Football Playoff Predictions

Ed Feng@@thepowerrankAnalytics ExpertOctober 6, 2015

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 12:  Corey Coleman #1 of the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Will your team make the college football playoff?

Even before the committee releases its first rankings, it's not too early to take a look. We use the Associated Press poll as a substitute for the committee rankings and my algorithm to assign a probability to each team.  

The sortable table gives the results. Let's take a deeper look at five interesting teams.

Baylor has the highest odds currently

After a weak nonconference schedule, Baylor spanked Big 12 foe Texas Tech, 63-35. The convincing margin of victory increased Baylor's playoff odds to 53.8 percent, the highest in the nation and the only chance greater than 50 percent.

Baylor has improved on both sides of the ball this season. At The Power Rank, I rank offenses and defenses by taking yards per play and adjusting for strength of schedule.

On defense, Baylor has improved from 37th last season to 27th through four games this year. The Bears returned almost the entire two-deep roster this season on an improving unit.

On offense, Baylor has gone from 13th last season to first this year. Even though the Bears lost two-year starting quarterback Bryce Petty, Art Briles makes finding a new elite QB—in this case, Seth Russell—about as certain as death and taxes.

Baylor is good enough to make the playoff even with its weak out-of-conference schedule.

What's up with Utah's low playoff probability?

Sep 26, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; Utah Utes tight end Caleb Repp (47) celebrates a touchdown with offensive tackle Sam Tevi (52) and tight end Siale Fakailoatonga (87) and offensive lineman Siaosi Aiono (60) and wide receiver Kenneth Scott (2) against the Or
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Utah's 4-0 start has it ranked fifth in the AP poll. In the Utes' last game two Saturdays ago, they obliterated Oregon on the road, 62-20. So why do the Utes have such a low probability (7.1 percent) to make the playoff?

The numbers reveal some issues for Utah. The Utes have gained fewer yards per play than their opponent in each game besides Oregon this season. In those three games with worse efficiency, Utah gained more total yards only against lowly Fresno State.

In my rankings that drive these calculations, Utah is ranked 23rd. The Utes have only a 33 percent chance to beat USC on the road in a few weeks.

Alabama surges with big win over Georgia

In last week's playoff projection, Georgia had the highest odds of any SEC team. However, I noted that Alabama would make a big jump with a win over Georgia.

As we know now, that's exactly what happened, as Alabama scored a definitive 38-10 win at Georgia. The Crimson Tide now have a 23.5 percent chance to make the playoff, fifth-best in the nation and better than any other SEC team.

Alabama still has question marks. With only data from this season, the Tide's offense ranks 26th in yards per play adjusted for schedule, far off their typical top-10 ranking. However, the big win has Alabama back in the playoff conversation.

Clemson's easy schedule gives it the ACC edge

Sep 17, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to throw against the Louisville Cardinals during the second quarter at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson held off a surging Notre Dame for a 24-22 win this weekend. The Tigers have a 38.2 percent chance to make the playoff, fourth-best in the nation.

Clemson gets a huge edge from its weak schedule. Its toughest remaining game is a home game against Florida State. A trip to rival South Carolina the last week of the season no longer seems like a problem.

My numbers rate ACC foes Clemson and Florida State about the same. However, Florida State has to travel to Clemson and also faces a resurgent Florida team to close out the season. Florida State has a 11.9 percent chance to make the playoff, much less than the 38.2 percent of Clemson.

Boise State's lofty probability is faulty

Boise State is 25th in the AP poll but still has a 18.5 percent to make the playoff. Why? The Broncos benefit from a weak schedule in the Mountain West.

An undefeated Boise State would have made life difficult for the playoff committee. However, it lost to BYU in Week 2, and it's hard to imagine Boise State in the final four over the champion of a Power Five conference. My simulations don't account for these subjective considerations, so the results give Boise State too high a chance to make the playoff.

Ed Feng has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford and runs the sports analytics site The Power Rank. You can find him on Twitter @thepowerrank.


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