Bleacher Report's Week 12 College Football Playoff Predictions

Ed Feng@@thepowerrankAnalytics ExpertNovember 18, 2015

WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 22:  Shawn Oakman #2 of the Baylor Bears during play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at McLane Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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's rankings and analytics to assign your team a probability of making the playoff.

This sortable table shows the results, while you can find more information on the simulation methods here.

Let's look at the biggest stories after Week 11.

Losses Don't Doom Baylor or Stanford

Stanford suffered a crushing home 38-36 defeat to Oregon last Saturday, as quarterback Kevin Hogan lost two fumbles in the second half. Combined with a Utah loss at Arizona, conventional wisdom was that the Pac-12's playoff chances were all but gone.

Meanwhile, Baylor lost to Oklahoma in its first game against serious competition. The committee looked poised to bury the Bears in the early teens—giving them little chance to rise back to the Top Four—just as it had done with TCU after the Horned Frogs fell to Oklahoma State two weeks ago.

Nope. Despite losses, Stanford (No. 11) and Baylor (No. 10) remain within striking distance of a playoff spot. The committee showed how it acts differently than the polls, as these two teams dropped fewer places than in the Associated Press poll.

With its No. 11 ranking, Stanford has a 24 percent chance to make the playoff. But the Cardinal still have Notre Dame and presumably the Pac-12 Championship Game on their schedule.

Sitting at No. 10, Baylor has a 20 percent chance to make the playoff. The Bears still have opportunities to impress the committee with Oklahoma State and TCU on their schedulethey head to Stillwater this weekend to face the former.

Ohio State Catching Michigan State at Opportune Time

BRADLEY LEEB/Associated Press

Despite some early-season struggles, Ohio State has hit its stride over the last five games. During that span, no opponent has come within fewer than two touchdowns of knocking off the Buckeyes. These large margins of victory keep the team third in the committee rankings.

Ohio State gets a chance to make another statement this weekend against Michigan State. In addition, Ohio State caught a break, as Spartans QB Connor Cook hurt his throwing shoulder last week and might not be 100 percent.

It goes without saying, but Cook is critical to Michigan State's success. The Spartans can't run the ball and struggle to cover receivers, and while they have a talented defensive line, it doesn't show up every game. Michigan State has needed Cook to make plays to earn victories this season.

Consider the Michigan game, for instance. Cook continually made pinpoint passes that gave his receivers the best chance to come down with the ball. It was difficult against a good Michigan secondary, but Cook made enough throws to give Michigan State the chance to win on the last play.

In the same way, Cook will find it difficult to throw against Ohio State, a team that allows only 4.55 yards per pass attempt, sixth in the nation (numbers include sacks). But the passing game is Michigan State's best way of moving the ball, as it has gained 4.27 yards per carry (111th in the nation, not including sacks).

By our numbers, Ohio State has a 79 percent chance to beat the Spartans on Saturday. However, that win probability is too low if Cook isn't close to 100 percent by game time. His unfortunate injury helps the Buckeyes' chances to continue their playoff run tremendously.

Oklahoma State Can Open Eyes Against Baylor

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Oklahoma State made a late surge to beat lowly Iowa State last weekend, 35-31. The win moved the undefeated Cowboys up to sixth in the committee rankings. However, the road to the playoff gets much tougher, as Baylor comes to Stillwater this weekend.

Oklahoma State should be able to throw the ball against Baylor; Mason Rudolph leads the 13th-best pass offense in yards per play, adjusted for schedule. In addition, the Cowboys bring in J.W. Walsh as a change-of-pace, dual-threat QB.

However, Oklahoma State's defense will find it tough to stop Baylor. Even with freshman Jarrett Stidham at the helm, the Bears have the most efficient pass offense in the country, and Baylor hasn't seen much regression with Stidham over the last two games.

In typical Big 12 fashion, the game will likely be a shootout. The markets predicted a total of 78 points in this game, according to Odds Shark. Baylor has the better offense, though, which implies only a 36 percent win probability for Oklahoma State, even at home.

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.


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