Ed Feng's Week 3 College Football Playoff Standings Predictions

Ed Feng@@thepowerrankAnalytics ExpertSeptember 12, 2016

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Houston Cougars take the field before playing against the Lamar Cardinals at TDECU Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/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 analytics and a proprietary algorithm as a substitute for committee rankings to assign teams a probability to make the playoff. Each week, we’ll highlight the most important talking points from the previous weekend’s action and how those results impact our algorithm for playoff probability.

The table shows the results, and you can find more information on the methods at The Power Rank. Here’s what we learned in Week 2.

Ed Feng's College Football Playoff Probability
RankTeamPlayoff ProbabilityAP RankingWinsLossesSOS
2Florida State53.322028
6Ohio State20.73320105
9Notre Dame16.47181186
16Michigan State7.351210N/A
22Texas A&M2.7172060
25North Carolina1.99341151
Ed Feng


Disrespect for Houston?

A 3 percent playoff odds probability for Houston? That might seem like disrespect for a team that has gone 15-1—with wins over Florida State and Oklahoma—since Tom Herman took over last season.  

However, we still do not know if the committee will treat Houston like it would a Power Five team. A year ago, a 10-0 Houston rose only as high as 19th in the CFP rankings. Presumably, with a similar record this season, Houston would be ranked higher with its win over Oklahoma already in hand. But will it be as high as the Cougars' current No. 6 ranking in the Associated Press poll?

The playoff odds calculation makes some guesses about how the committee will deal with highly ranked "Group of Five" teams, which results in the low probability for Houston. If the simulation treats Houston like a Power Five team, its playoff odds go up to 21 percent.

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SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 10: DeShone Kizer #14 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish passes against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the first half of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on September 10, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

 Notre Dame, Michigan State in de facto elimination game Saturday

Notre Dame slipped in the polls after losing to Texas, but it can get back in playoff contention with a win over Michigan State on Saturday night.

My numbers give the Fighting Irish a 66 percent to win this game, and Michigan State's struggles against Furman suggest this number might be low. But if Notre Dame loses, its second loss effectively eliminates it from playoff contention. With a loss, Michigan State can likely say goodbye to a return trip to the playoff as well, as it would need to beat both Michigan and Ohio State for a second consecutive year to have any chance. 


Oklahoma still in the picture...

Oklahoma might seem out of the playoff picture at 14th in the AP poll. However, my numbers don't overreact to the Sooners' Week 1 loss to Houston and still give them a 31 percent chance to make the playoff. The Sooners can make everyone forget about that loss if they capitalize on their 65 percent win probability against Ohio State this week.


...the rest of the Big 12, not so much

The Big 12 playoff hopes outside of Oklahoma took a big hit this weekend. TCU lost to Arkansas, and Oklahoma State fell victim to a last-second Hail Mary, lateral miracle to Central Michigan. These losses dropped both of these teams in the polls and out of playoff contention. Other than the Sooners, only Baylor remains as a playoff contender for the league, but the Bears’ probability sits at only 5 percent.


BRISTOL, TN - SEPTEMBER 10: Running back Jalen Hurd #1 of the Tennessee Volunteers carries the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the first half at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 10, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty
Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

 Vols back on track?

Preseason darling Tennessee won big (45-24) over Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway. Let's get those Volunteers back into the playoff race, right? In reality, Virginia Tech gifted Tennessee five fumbles and had more yards than the Volunteers (400-330). Tennessee still looks like the favorite in the SEC East, but its playoff probability is only 15 percent.


Are Clemson’s struggles hurting its probability?

Clemson could never pull away from Troy in a 30-24 win, which dropped the Tigers from second to fifth in the AP poll. However, my numbers aren't as temperamental as the pollsters and still rank Clemson third, behind only Florida State and Alabama. This high rank implies a 49 percent chance to make the playoff.


SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Linebacker Psalm Wooching #28 of the Washington Huskies reacts after tackling quarterback Matt Linehan of the Idaho Vandals in the second quarter on September 10, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto G
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

 Is the Husky Hype justified?

Washington has an average margin of victory of 40 this season, and it might increase as the Huskies play FCS Portland State on Saturday. However, my numbers rank the Huskies 12th, which explains their meager 9 percent playoff probability. Washington would greatly increase these odds with wins over Stanford and Oregon within the next 30 days.


Lamar Jackson’s video game numbers can’t keep Cards in the conversation

Louisville has stormed out of the gate with huge wins over Charlotte and Syracuse. Head coach Bobby Petrino has quarterback Lamar Jackson jumping over defenders and the offense averaging 10 yards per play. However, the Cardinals' path to the playoff gets much tougher this week as they host Florida State. If they convert on their 38 percent win probability, they’ll have games at Clemson (22 percent win probability) and at Houston (44 percent) to derail their playoff hopes.


Ed Feng is Bleacher Report's playoff probability guru and runs the sports analytics site The Power Rank. Stats provided by The Power Rank unless otherwise noted. You can find him on Twitter @thepowerrank.

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