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|
|Rank||Team||Playoff Probability||AP Ranking||Wins||Losses||SOS|
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.
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.
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.
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.