Bleacher Report's College Football Playoff Predictions Before Selection Sunday

Ed Feng@@thepowerrankAnalytics ExpertDecember 4, 2016

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 03:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers holds the championship trophy following the ACC Championship game against the Virginia Tech Hokies on December 3, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The Clemson Tigers won the game 42-35.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Which four teams will make the College Football Playoff? Will the committee have any surprises for us at noon Eastern on Sunday when it announces the four teams?

Championship week didn't bring any of the chaos that a team such as Michigan needed. Alabama, Clemson and Washington, the three of the Top Four teams that played, all won their games.

The table below shows my prediction for the final committee rankings, which also give the semifinal playoff matchups. Let's look at the top talking points:

Ed Feng's College Football Playoff Standings Predictions
1AlabamaWin vs. Florida, 54-16
2ClemsonWin vs. Virginia Tech, 42-35
3Ohio StateDNP
4WashingtonWin vs. Colorado, 41-10
6Penn StateWin vs. Wisconsin, 38-31
7OklahomaWin vs. Oklahoma State, 38-20
8WisconsinLoss vs. Penn State, 38-31
10ColoradoLoss vs. Washington, 41-10
11Oklahoma StateLoss vs. Oklahoma, 38-20
12Florida StateDNP
15West VirginiaWin vs. Baylor, 24-21
16Western MichiganWin vs. Ohio, 29-23
18FloridaLoss vs. Alabama, 54-16
22Virginia TechLoss vs. Clemson, 42-35
25NavyLost vs. Temple, 34-10
The Power Rank

—Washington holds onto the fourth spot after a convincing 41-10 win over Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Committee chair Kirby Hocutt had previously discussed the "small separation" Washington had over fifth-ranked Michigan, but the extra win gives the Huskies an added advantage over the idle Wolverines.

—Clemson got all it could handle from Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game but held on for a 42-35 win. The committee often moves a team that wins a championship game ahead of an idle one. For example, Michigan State jumped ahead of Oklahoma after winning the Big Ten championship in 2015. The ACC title puts Clemson ahead of Ohio State at second in the final rankings.

—As mentioned, Ohio State didn't play this week and dropped behind Clemson in the final predicted rankings. However, the Buckeyes do not drop behind Washington. Hocutt discussed the significant distance between Ohio State and seventh-ranked Penn State, but he also remarked about the closeness between Michigan, Washington and Penn State. This suggests Ohio State will not drop below Washington.

—Is there any doubt Alabama deserves the top seed? The Crimson Tide dominated Florida in the SEC Championship Game, 54-16. They scored touchdowns in all three phases of the game (offense, defense and special teams).

—Poor Penn State. It won the Big Ten championship with a 38-31 win over Wisconsin, its ninth win in a row. However, the Nittany Lions couldn't overcome an out-of-conference loss to Pittsburgh and a 39-point loss at Michigan. They remain on the outside of the playoff bubble.

Penn State QB Trace McSorley after the team's win over Wisconsin.
Penn State QB Trace McSorley after the team's win over Wisconsin.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

—Oklahoma went undefeated in conference play to take the Big 12 with a 38-20 win over rival Oklahoma State. However, the committee relegated the Sooners to ninth in last week's rankings due to a 1-2 start to the season. Even nine wins in a row will only move Oklahoma up to seventh in the final rankings.

—Colorado looked competitive in the first half against Washington, as the Buffaloes trailed 14-7 at the half. Then a banged-up Sefo Liufau began the second half with two interceptions, and Colorado never recovered. It drops behind USC in my final rankings, implying that USC represents the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl.

—Michigan will end the season fifth in the committee rankings, as its failure to win the Big Ten East didn't give it a final chance to impress the committee. The Wolverines will regret the one-point loss at Iowa and their second conference loss versus Ohio State last weekend that resulted in Penn State as Big Ten East champion.


Predictions for each possible College Football Playoff game

So, who holds the edge if this playoff Top Four plays out accordingly? Here are the predictions for all possible playoff matchups based on my algorithm. These predictions do not include data from the championship games:

Ed Feng's Playoff Game Predictions
MatchupPoint DifferentialWin Probability
Alabama vs. WashingtonAlabama by 9.5 points77 percent
Clemson vs. Ohio StateOhio State by 2.3 points57.3 percent
Alabama vs. ClemsonAlabama by 9.2 points76.3 percent
Alabama vs. Ohio StateAlabama by 6.9 points70.6 percent
Clemson vs. WashingtonClemson by 0.4 points51.3 percent
Ohio State vs. WashingtonOhio State by 2.7 points58.5 percent
The Power Rank

Alabama is favored over each of the other three teams in its matchups. If the numbers hold true to form, Nick Saban will earn his sixth national championship, tying him with Bear Bryant for the most all time. 


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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