Ed Feng's Week 9 College Football Playoff Standings Predictions

Ed Feng@@thepowerrankAnalytics ExpertOctober 25, 2015

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 24:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers passes during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

How would the College Football Playoff committee rank teams this week?  Which four schools would make the playoff?

We use analytics to make an educated guess on the committee rankings.  The Associated Press poll provides a baseline for the top 25 teams before the committee releases its first poll on November 3.  My algorithm then adjusts teams based on the most recent opponent and margin of victory.

Teams that win keep their place unless they need overtime to beat Jacksonville State.  Teams that lose drop, but not as much if they lose to a top-10 team. You get the idea.

Let's look at the three most interesting movers from Week 8.

Ed Feng's Top 25 College Football Standings
1Ohio StateWon at Rutgers, 49-7
2LSUWon vs. Western Kentucky, 48-20
3ClemsonWon at Miami, 58-0
4BaylorWon vs. Iowa State, 45-27
6Michigan StateWon vs. Indiana, 52-26
7StanfordWon vs. Washington, 31-14
8AlabamaWon vs. Tennessee, 19-14
9Notre DameBYE
12Oklahoma StateWon vs. 58-10
13OklahomaWon vs. Texas Tech, 63-27
14UtahLost at USC, 42-24
16MemphisWon at Tulsa, 66-42
17ToledoWon at UMass, 51-35
18HoustonWon at UCF, 59-10
19Ole MissWon vs. Texas A&M, 23-3
20Florida StateLost at Georgia Tech, 22-16
21TempleWon at East Carolina, 24-14
22DukeWon at Virginia Tech, 45-43
23Texas A&MLost at Ole Miss, 23-3
24Mississippi StateWon vs. Kentucky, 42-16
25PittsburghWon at Syracuse, 23-20
Ed Feng, ESPN

 Overrated Utah plummets after USC beatdown

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Raelon Singleton #11 of the Utah Utes is tackled by Kevon Seymour #13 of the USC Trojans during a 42-24 USC Trojans win at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Ge
Harry How/Getty Images

It might have seemed like the markets went crazy this week.  Utah, 6-0 and ranked third in the AP poll, was an underdog versus 3-3 USC.  The spread ballooned to 6.5 points by kickoff.

However, my numbers have considered Utah overrated all season.  In addition, looking at how Utah fared in terms of yards per play, a powerful efficiency metric, showed flaws with this team.  These numbers agreed with the markets.

On Saturday, Utah actually had a better yards per play (5.5) than USC (5.1).  However, the Utes could not overcome four interceptions by QB Travis Wilson.  In addition, USC helped itself by converting two 4th-and-goal opportunities from the 1-yard line.

Utah lost 42-24 to USC and dropped to 14th in the committee rankings.  However, the Utes are the only Pac-12 South team with only one conference loss.  This still puts them in good position to win their division and play in the conference title game.

Clemson solidifies its position among nation's elite

Clemson charged out to a 42-0 lead over Miami by halftime.  Quarterback Deshaun Watson spent most of the second half on the bench as the Tigers rolled to a huge 58-0 win over their ACC rivals.

The game was a complete embarrassment for Miami and coach Al Golden.  The Hurricanes allowed Clemson to rush for 416 yards on 6.6 yards per carry for the game (numbers do not include sacks).  Clemson maintained this high efficiency despite running on 32 of 40 offensive plays in the second half.  The Hurricanes gained 146 yards the entire game, in large part because of QB Brad Kaaya leaving with an injury. 

With the emphatic win, Clemson moves up to third in the committee rankings and solidifies its spot among the nation's elite, which will be strengthened with a win over Florida State in two weeks.

Ole Miss batters Texas A&M in SEC West elimination game

Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Ole Miss scored a convincing 23-3 win over Texas A&M in this week's only contest between two AP Top 25 teams.  Ole Miss rises to 19th in the committee rankings with the win, while Texas A&M drops to 23rd.

Despite not having standout lineman Robert Nkemdiche, the Ole Miss defense had an amazing game, harassing QB Kyle Allen into 22 straight pass attempts without positive yardage.  

The game served as a de-facto SEC West elimination game.  Texas A&M is now unlikely to win the division while Ole Miss, which still controls its own fate, now joins Alabama and LSU as the three primary contenders.

Ole Miss' playoff hopes suffered a major setback with the loss at Memphis last week, their second of the season.  However, the College Football Playoff committee would have to consider the merits of an Ole Miss team that wins the SEC despite two losses.

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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