Ed Feng's Week 4 College Football Playoff Standings Predictions

Ed Feng@@thepowerrankAnalytics ExpertSeptember 19, 2016

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 17:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates with Jamari Staples #2 after he ran for a touchdown against the Florida State Seminoles  at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/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 probabilities 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. The strength of schedule ranking considers only FBS opponents played so far, not a team's entire schedule.

Here's what we learned in Week 3.

Ed Feng's College Football Playoff Probability
RankTeamPlayoff ProbabilityAP RankingWinsLossesSOS
1Alabama59.8513018
2Louisville48.7633097
3Clemson42.6853041
4Florida State38.7613212
5Stanford31.7972059
6Ohio State29.4523063
7Michigan18.57430116
8Tennessee16.2143085
9Texas A&M10.88103024
10Michigan State10.648203
11LSU10.52182113
12Baylor9.731630119
13Georgia8.48123028
14Oklahoma8.11251236
15Washington7.5930125
16Wisconsin6.64113096
17Arkansas5.641730101
18Mississippi5.0623121
19Nebraska4.382030111
20Houston4.1963015
21Notre Dame3.63331264
22TCU3.22262157
23San Diego State2.59223058
24Utah2.13243050
25Miami (FL)1.531530104
The Power Rank

    

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Louisville Sluggers

While it was a little difficult to figure out Louisville when it was beating up on Charlotte and Syracuse, an emphatic 43-point win over Florida State puts the Cardinals in the middle of the playoff race.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson has been spectacular, and let's not forget head coach Bobby Petrino has led Top 10 teams in the past. Louisville's 49 percent chance to make the playoff trails only Alabama (60 percent).

    

FSU Still in the Mix

Dalvin Cook and the Seminoles still have time to save their season.
Dalvin Cook and the Seminoles still have time to save their season.Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

It might seem strange to see Florida State with the fourth-highest playoff probability after getting crushed at Louisville. However, it's all about the schedule.

The Seminoles still play Clemson but have rather large win probabilities against their remaining competition. A team can bounce back from one early loss, as evidenced by Ohio State's loss to Virginia Tech early in the 2014 season only to storm back to win the inaugural College Football Playoff.

    

ACC Trio to Fight It Out

Louisville, Clemson and Florida State might have the second-, third- and fourth-best playoff odds, but this in no way means all three ACC teams will make the playoff. These three teams play in the Atlantic division, so the results imply that the winner of this division has a high likelihood to make the playoff.

A second team from this division is not out of the question either, particularly if both finish with just one loss. However, there's no certainty for any of these three teams, as no ACC teams made the playoff in 12 percent of the simulations.

     

Alabama Stays on Top

Top-ranked Alabama didn't play the perfect game against Ole Miss, as it gained fewer yards than the Rebels (492 to 527). However, the Crimson Tide had two defensive scores and a punt-return touchdown to aid in their five-point win. This road win against the 10th-best team by my numbers keeps the Crimson Tide on top, with a 60 percent chance to make the playoffs.

    

Clemson Cruises

Clemson's offense struggled in its first two games against Auburn and Troy, as the Tigers could only muster about five yards per play in each game. Deshaun Watson's unit got back on track against South Carolina State, as the Heisman hopeful threw for 10.1 yards per attempt in just one half of action. Clemson's 59-point win keeps its playoff odds high at 43 percent.

     

Stanford Safe...for Now

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Late in the first quarter Saturday, Christian McCaffrey found himself open in the USC secondary. The Stanford standout scored the easiest 56-yard touchdown reception of his career, and Stanford remained untested in a 27-10 win over the Trojans.

Stanford looks like the top Pac-12 playoff contender with calculated playoff odds of 32 percent. The Cardinal can confirm this position by beating UCLA and Washington on the road over the next two weeks.

     

Buckeye Beatdown

Ohio State scored a huge 45-24 road win over Oklahoma and moved up to second in the rankings that drive these playoff odds. However, the Buckeyes still face difficult games against Wisconsin, Michigan State and Michigan. They have a 29 percent chance to make the playoff, surprisingly lower than a team like Florida State, which faces a less difficult remaining schedule.

    

Vols Need a Makeover

Tennessee entered its game against Ohio as a 27-point favorite, per Odds Shark. However, the Vols didn't look impressive in a 28-19 win. Tennessee has a 75 percent probability to beat Florida at home this week. Then its path to the playoff gets progressively tougher, with games at Georgia (57 percent), at Texas A&M (44 percent) and against Alabama (35 percent).

    

Spartans Ascend Rankings

MSU running back L.J. Scott flies over a Notre Dame defender.
MSU running back L.J. Scott flies over a Notre Dame defender.Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

After a poor showing to open the season against Furman, Michigan State impressed with a 36-28 win at Notre Dame. The Spartans have the 10th-highest playoff odds at 10.7 percent. This will improve if the Spartans can convert on their 62 percent win probability against Wisconsin this week.

     

Aggies Stay Hot

Not many saw Texas A&M as a playoff contender this preseason. Following consecutive 8-5 seasons, the Aggies didn't crack the Top 25 in the preseason AP poll. But after three weeks of football, 3-0 Texas A&M has wins over UCLA and Auburn.

My numbers give the Aggies an outside shot at the playoff spot at 11 percent, third-best in the SEC. They still face many pitfalls in the SEC West, the first of which is a date with Arkansas in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, with a 54 percent win probability.

       

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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