Bleacher Report's Week 11 College Football Playoff PredictionsNovember 11, 2015
Will your team make the College Football Playoff?
Unlike most media sites, Bleacher Report doesn't give you a yes-or-no answer. Instead, we use the playoff committee rankings and 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 here. After a wild Week 10 that saw five unbeaten teams lose, let's look at the biggest stories in these numbers in the latest playoff projection.
One-loss Notre Dame makes Top Four over notable unbeatens
As predicted on Saturday, a one-loss Notre Dame took the last of the four playoff spots, essentially replacing LSU, which lost to Alabama. The committee put the Fighting Irish ahead of undefeated Iowa and Baylor, presumably giving them credit for a close loss to top-ranked Clemson. Notre Dame lost by two points when a two-point conversion failed in the game's waning seconds.
Notre Dame actually played quite well against Clemson, as it won the yardage battle 437 to 296. However, the Fighting Irish couldn't overcome four turnovers—one of which prevented a score deep in Clemson territory.
The Irish have one more big opportunity to impress the committee: a Thanksgiving weekend date at Stanford. However, there's still uncertainty for Notre Dame even if it wins out, depending on what the rest of the field does.
For example, Baylor has Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU left in consecutive weeks. If the Bears win out, would the committee be bold enough to bypass them for Notre Dame on Dec. 6?
Iowa mysteriously vaults to fifth spot
In Week 10, Iowa beat Indiana on the road by eight, while Baylor traveled to Kansas State and emerged with a seven-point victory. Since Kansas State is a better team than Maryland, one could reason that Baylor should have stayed ahead of Iowa in this week's committee rankings.
Instead, the committee jumped Iowa over Baylor and into the fifth position this week, probably to further punish the Bears for scheduling SMU, Lamar and Rice. Iowa also stayed ahead of unbeaten Oklahoma State—a team that now has a marquee win over TCU on its resume.
However, Iowa has a much lower playoff probability (13.4 percent) than both Baylor (26.4 percent) and Oklahoma State (19.4 percent). On Saturday, the Hawkeyes play a fired-up Minnesota team that has yet to win a game for recently retired coach Jerry Kill. They also travel to Nebraska to end the regular season, and my numbers give Iowa only a 48 percent chance to win that game.
In the Big Ten title game, Iowa would be an underdog to whatever team it plays. This table shows the three most likely opponents, along with the probability for each to make the championship game and an expected point spread over the Hawkeyes.
|Iowa's Potential Big Ten Championship Game Opponents|
|Team||Playoff probablity||Projected Point Spread vs. Iowa|
|Ed Feng algorithm|
Iowa should have no problem the rest of the regular season. But no matter how you slice it, the Hawkeyes will have an uphill climb making the playoff.
Does new QB Jarrett Stidham change Baylor's odds?
Maybe Baylor got better when Jarrett Stidham replaced Seth Russell at quarterback. In his first start, the true freshman threw for 419 yards on 12.7 yards per attempt against Kansas State. For the most part, his throws caught his receivers in stride for big plays.
Moreover, Baylor went against its usual run-first tendencies. The Bears have run on 58 percent of plays this season, although part of this tendency comes from their having big leads in most games. Against Kansas State, however, Stidham threw on 33 of 67 plays despite never trailing in the game. Coach Art Briles seems to have confidence in his young quarterback.
When a quarterback on an elite offense goes down, you often have to adjust the numbers to make accurate predictions going forward. However, no adjustments seem necessary for Baylor...yet.
This weekend, Stidham will get tested against Oklahoma, by far the best defense he'll see the remainder of the regular season. Oklahoma has allowed 4.2 yards per pass attempt this year, second-best in the nation (numbers include sacks).
Stanford faces stiff test in familiar foe Oregon
Stanford jumped up to seventh in the committee rankings following its 42-10 win over Colorado in Boulder. The Cardinal must feel good about their 31.7 percent chance to make the playoff, currently fourth-best in the nation.
To add to the joy, they launched a slick new site for Christian McCaffery's Heisman campaign. All is good in Palo Alto, California. Bring on Notre Dame.
Not so fast. Oregon comes to town this weekend, and the Cardinal face a stiff test. While most people have forgotten about Oregon after its 62-20 debacle of a loss against Utah, the Ducks can still score points and are led by running back Royce Freeman, who is averaging 6.6 yards per carry this season.
In 2012, Stanford beat Oregon 17-14 in Eugene to wreck the Ducks' national title hopes, giving them their only loss of the season. The next season, it turned the trick again, beating Oregon 26-20 and knocking the Ducks from the ranks of the unbeaten.
If Stanford wants to avoid payback, it can't overlook Oregon on Saturday.
The Cardinal have the better defense in a game of two explosive offenses. However, to win this game and keep its playoff hopes alive, the offense can't lay an egg like it did at Northwestern to open the year.
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.