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.
While it was a little difficult to figure out Louisville when they were 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 that 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
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 falling to Virginia Tech early in the 2014 season and storming 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 its 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’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
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.
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 and Michigan State. 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. 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 Up Rankings
After a poor showing to open the season against Furman, Michigan State impressed with a 36-28 point 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 two 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 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.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News