Bleacher Report's Week 12 College Football Playoff Predictions

Ed Feng@@thepowerrankAnalytics ExpertNovember 16, 2016

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 12: The Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate after defeating the Maryland Terrapins, 62-3, at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium on November 12, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/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 the committee rankings to assign your team a probability of making the playoff.

The interactive visual shows the results of 10,000 simulations of the remainder of the season. You can find more information about the simulation methods at the Power Rank.

Ranking teams based on their playoff chances is different from what the playoff committee does. While the committee's decisions are, at least in part, based on the eye test, my analytics look to predict the future based on the remaining schedule.

The strength of schedule rating considers only FBS opponents played so far—not a team's entire schedule. It also accounts for whether it faced an opponent at home or on the road.

Now, following a wildly chaotic weekend of games, let's look at some key talking points after the latest release of the College Football Playoff rankings.


The good and bad for Michigan

The good news for Michigan? The committee kept it at third, a sign of immense respect given its loss to Iowa last week. In addition, the Wolverines control their destiny, as winning their remaining games would make them a one-loss Big Ten champion.

The bad news for Michigan? The road to the Big Ten title goes through Columbus, and my numbers give the Wolverines only a 39 percent chance to beat Ohio State.  

In addition, Michigan reportedly lost quarterback Wilton Speight for the remainder of the season, according to MGoBlog.com. According to Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, head coach Jim Harbaugh denied Speight is done for the year on his radio show.

However, it seems likely John O'Korn, a better athlete than Speight but not as accurate a passer, will be needed.  

Many Michigan fans wanted O'Korn to start this season based on his 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a freshman at Houston two years ago, but this might have been good fortune. Not for Speight, obviously—we wish him a speedy recovery—but perhaps for the team.

This week's simulation makes no adjustment for Speight's injury. If you trust Harbaugh's eye for QB talent, the Wolverines are probably a bit worse without him, which makes their true chances of a playoff berth lower than the 30.2 percent posted here.


Louisville still has a chance

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 12:  Lamar Jackson #8 and Brandon Radcliff #23 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrate after Radcliff ran for a touchdown during the game against the Wake Forest Deamon Deacons at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on November 12, 2016 i
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Among the one-loss contenders for the playoff, Louisville has the best loss, as it fell to fourth-ranked Clemson on the road by six points. All other one-loss contenders (Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan, Washington) have lost to lower-ranked or unranked teams.

But with its inclusion of Clemson over the Cardinals, the committee emphasized the head-to-head result, ranking Louisville fifth. And this is not good news for the Cardinals.

To make the playoff, Louisville must first win its remaining two games. It plays Houston on Thursday night, a game that seems more dangerous as the offensive line for Houston gets healthier. Then, Louisville finishes with a game it should win with an upstart rival in Kentucky. My numbers give the Cardinals a 72 percent chance of winning both games.

Then, Louisville needs help. In the best-case scenario, Clemson loses to Wake Forest, which gives the ACC Atlantic Division to the Cardinals. An ACC Championship Game win over most likely Virginia Tech would almost certainly put them in the playoff.  

However, Clemson has only a 7 percent chance to lose to Wake Forest. The most likely scenario is that Louisville goes 11-1 and hopes for the chaos that struck college football this past week to descend again on championship week.  


Oklahoma's alive and kicking

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 03: Wide receiver Dede Westbrook #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners fends off the tackle of defensive back Kamari Cotton-Moya #5 of the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium on November 3, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Joshua Gateley/Gett
Joshua Gateley/Getty Images

Oklahoma seemingly had no chance at the College Football Playoff when it started 1-2. Even if it did lose to quality Houston and Ohio State teams, there's no way a two-loss team would end the season in the Top Four, right?

Not so fast. Despite injuries to the defense, Oklahoma is 8-2 and undefeated in the Big 12. The Sooners are on my upset alert at West Virginia this week (66 percent win probability). But they could also finish 10-2 and the Big 12 champion after their Bedlam rivalry game with Oklahoma State in two weeks.

In this scenario, the conversation will return to the Big 12's lack of a conference championship game. My simulations assume a team most likely gets a bump for winning a conference championship game, such as when Michigan State jumped ahead of Oklahoma after winning the Big Ten title game last year.  

Oklahoma won't have this last opportunity to impress the committee. 


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 Ed on Twitter @thepowerrank.


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