Bleacher Report's Week 10 College Football Playoff PredictionsNovember 4, 2015
Will your team make the College Football Playoff?
Unlike most media outlets, Bleacher Report doesn't give you a yes-or-no answer. Instead, this playoff committee uses analytics to assign your team a probability of making the playoff.
The sortable table shows the results, while you can find more information on the simulation methods at The Power Rank.
With the first committee rankings having been released Tuesday evening, we can now identify groups of teams that will play one another in the upcoming weeks. These contests are essentially elimination games to make the final four teams on December 6.
Here, we'll examine four of these groups as well as identify a sleeper team no one is talking about.
Top-ranked Clemson faces immediate test vs. FSU
Clemson certainly deserved the top spot in the committee's rankings. It destroyed Miami so badly that Hurricanes head coach Al Golden got fired. The Tigers also have a marquee win over Notre Dame, although the Fighting Irish did manage two critical fumbles in a close game.
Clemson faces its stiffest test over the remainder of the season this weekend against Florida State.
My numbers give Clemson a 68 percent chance to win this game, although this win probability should be higher due to injuries. Florida State quarterback Everett Golson and standout running back Dalvin Cook are dealing with a concussion and ankle injury, respectively.
If Clemson beats Florida State, its playoff probability will shoot even higher than the 61 percent from this week's calculation. Should Clemson stumble, Florida State suddenly becomes the favorite to win the ACC. While the Seminoles are currently at 16th in the committee rankings, they would have an outside shot to make the playoff with this big win.
Alabama-LSU showdown will turn rankings on their head early
In its first rankings last year, the committee sorted teams by losses. Undefeated teams, then one-loss teams and so on.
The committee made a big departure from this simple math this year. It ranked one-loss Alabama fourth, ahead of five undefeated teams from Power Five conferences.
Alabama has a 37 percent chance to make the playoff, which is greater than the 24 percent chance of the LSU team ranked ahead of the Crimson Tide. A big reason for Alabama's higher probability is that it gets LSU at home this weekend.
Alabama has allowed 3.67 yards per carry, which ranks eighth in the nation (numbers do not include sacks). With arguably the best front seven in college football, the defense should be able to at least slow down Leonard Fournette—no one is going to stop him outright—and win the game.
However, the winner of this elimination game still has a tough road to winning the SEC West. Alabama has a road game against Mississippi State and veteran signal-caller Dak Prescott. LSU travels to Ole Miss to face an elite defense led by Robert Nkemdiche.
Let's not pencil the winner of this game into the playoff just yet.
Baylor, TCU on collision course for Thanksgiving weekend
The committee tipped its hat to Baylor for winning its games by big margins. The undefeated Bears have won each of their games by 18 or more points.
Despite an incredibly weak out-of-conference schedule, the committee ranked Baylor sixth.
TCU is also undefeated. However, it needed a tipped-pass miracle to beat Texas Tech by three points and also needed a comeback from a big second-half deficit against Kansas State.
One could argue that TCU should be ahead of Baylor for beating a decent Minnesota team out of conference. The committee didn't see it this way, putting TCU at eighth, two spots below Baylor.
Baylor travels to TCU on Thanksgiving weekend for one of the most anticipated games of the year. The numbers give TCU a 60 percent win probability mostly due to the home-field advantage. However, I may adjust this number based on how quarterback Jarrett Stidham performs as a replacement for the injured Seth Russell.
But there is a team lurking that could wreck the playoff hopes of both Texas teams.
Don't count out Oklahoma
In one of the most inexplicable games of the season, Texas beat Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown. The loss has a strong Oklahoma team at 15th in the committee's rankings.
However, don't count out the Sooners. They've been fantastic on both sides of the ball. The offense has gained 6.9 yards per play (ninth-best in the nation) under new coordinator Lincoln Riley. The defense has allowed 4.3 yards per play (sixth-best).
Oklahoma gets TCU at home, and the numbers give the Sooners a 49 percent chance to pull off the upset.
Oklahoma also travels to Baylor. If it wins both games, the Sooners could fulfill their 11 percent chance to make the playoff.
Possible Stanford-Notre Dame elimination game looming
Washington State kicker Erik Powell saved the Pac-12's playoff hopes last week when his game-winning 43-yard field goal attempt sailed wide as time expired, allowing Stanford to hold on for a two-point win in Pullman, Washington.
A second loss for Stanford would have made it very difficult to make the playoff. Instead, Stanford keeps hope alive for the Pac-12 with a 24 percent playoff probability. The numbers don't like Utah, giving the Utes only a 6 percent playoff chance despite being ranked one spot below Stanford.
Stanford has a unique opportunity to impress the committee when fifth-ranked Notre Dame visits on Thanksgiving weekend. The contest is essentially an elimination game for both teams.
Notre Dame at Stanford should feature a lot of points, as both offenses have been explosive this season. The numbers see two evenly matched teams and give the advantage to Stanford based on home-field advantage.
Ed Feng has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Stanford and runs sports analytics site The Power Rank. You can find him on Twitter @thepowerrank.