Ed Feng's College Football Playoff Standings Predictions Before Selection Sunday

Ed Feng@@thepowerrankAnalytics ExpertDecember 6, 2015

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio holds the trophy after Michigan State defeated Iowa 16-13 in the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Will your team make the College Football Playoff? The selection committee makes its final announcement at noon ET Sunday.

Instead of chaos, championship weekend provided order as Clemson and Alabama both won. Idle Oklahoma and Big Ten champion Michigan State will most likely join them in college football's second playoff.

Let's look at the few talking points heading into Sunday's announcement.

Ed Feng's College Football Playoff Standings Predictions
1Clemson (13-0)Won vs. North Carolina, 45-37
2Alabama (12-1)Won vs. Florida, 29-15
3Oklahoma (11-1)DNP
4Michigan State (12-1)Won vs. Iowa, 16-13
5Stanford (11-2)Won vs. USC, 41-22
6Ohio State (11-1)DNP
7Iowa (12-1)Lost vs. Michigan State, 16-13
8Notre Dame (10-2)DNP
9Florida State (10-2)DNP
10TCU (10-2)DNP
11Ole Miss (9-3)DNP
12Northwestern (10-2)DNP
13North Carolina (11-2)Lost vs. Clemson, 45-37
14Michigan (9-3)DNP
15Oregon (9-3)DNP
16Houston (12-1)Won vs. Temple, 24-13
17Oklahoma State (10-2)DNP
18LSU (8-3)DNP
19Navy (9-2)DNP
20Utah (9-3)DNP
21Tennessee (8-4)DNP
22Baylor (9-3)Lost vs. Texas, 23-17
23Florida (10-3)Lost vs. Alabama, 29-15
24Western Kentucky (11-2)Won vs. Southern Miss, 45-28
25Wisconsin (9-3)DNP
Ed Feng

Michigan State's win vaults it into Top Four

LJ Scott first got hit at the 3-yard line, and multiple Iowa defenders stood him up to protect the goal line. But the Michigan State freshman kept fighting, spun and finally stretched the ball over the plane for the game-winning touchdown, and the Spartans knocked off the Hawkeyes 16-13 on Saturday night. 

The score capped a monster 22-play, 82-yard drive. It also surely put Michigan State in the playoff as the Big Ten champion.

The Spartans struggled early in the season. They allowed lowly Purdue and Rutgers to come within three and seven points, respectively. They were outgained by Air Force and Central Michigan.

But Michigan State's season changed on a rainy day in Columbus. The defense shut down a potent Ohio State offense, and the Spartans won a critical conference game without quarterback Connor Cook. They again showed how to win a close game, and the rest is playoff-clinching history. 

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Who's the top seed?

Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Which team has the best resume: Clemson, Alabama or Oklahoma?

Clemson has the unblemished record, as the Tigers are 13-0 following their win over North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game on Saturday. However, they escaped Louisville with a three-point win, needed to stop a late two-point conversion attempt to beat Notre Dame by that margin and defeated 3-9 South Carolina by just five points.

Southeastern Conference champion Alabama (12-1) lost to Ole Miss, but the Crimson Tide suffered from a number of bad bounces in that game, including a deflected pass that landed in the hands of a Rebels receiver for a long touchdown. Since that loss, they've looked as dominant as any team in the nation. 

Oklahoma (11-1) had an inexplicable loss to 5-7 Texas. However, the Sooners have outscored their opponents by 25 points per game, which is a better mark than either Alabama (19.7) or Clemson (18.2) possesses.

You can make the case for any of these three teams. The committee will most likely stick with its preferred order of the last few weeks: undefeated Clemson first, Alabama and then Oklahoma.

Predictions for each possible College Football Playoff game

John Bazemore/Associated Press

These predictions for all possible playoff matchups come from my rankings, which drive the Bleacher Report playoff probabilities each week. They do not consider data from championship weekend.

Ed Feng's Playoff Game Predictions
MatchupPoint DifferentialWin Probability
Clemson vs. Michigan StateClemson by 2.558 percent
Alabama vs. OklahomaAlabama by 4.162 percent
Oklahoma vs. Michigan StateOklahoma by 3.661 percent
Alabama vs. ClemsonAlabama by 5.365 percent
Oklahoma vs. ClemsonOklahoma by 1.153 percent
Alabama vs. Michigan StateAlabama by 7.872 percent
Ed Feng, The Power Rank

As you can see, Alabama is favored over each of the other three teams in its matchups. If the numbers hold true to form, the Crimson Tide will win the College Football Playoff, and Nick Saban will earn his fifth national championship.

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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