College Football Mid-Season Projections

I decided to do something a bit different this week and break down all the Power Five division races and try to assess each team's playoff probabilities. Using my individual game projections, as well as some guesses about what the committee will do in different scenarios, I calculated each Power Five team's (rough) chance at the playoff as well as winning their division and conference.


SEC West

Alabama is the obvious favorite here- the Tide have better than a 2 in 3 chance of going into the SEC title game 12-0, they could probably afford a loss there and still make the playoff. LSU is the only other team with a realistic chance here as everyone else in the west has two losses. The Tigers would likely have to win out- and their schedule includes Alabama in Death Valley (11 point underdog), Texas A&M on the road (2.5 point favorite) and Mississippi State this week (8 point favorite). 

Alabama: 92% to win division, 75% to win conference, 85% to make playoff
LSU: 7.5% to win division, 5% to win conference, 5% to make playoff

SEC East

This is going to come down to a three horse race between Georgia, Florida and Kentucky. Georgia is by far the best team of the three, but plays the other two in back-to-back weeks away from Athens. I give Georgia a 35% chance of going 11-1, Florida a 6% chance and Kentucky a 5% chance. A 7-1 SEC record will definitely win this division, but there’s a 50/50 chance this division is won at 6-2. Georgia is the definite favorite to make it to Atlanta, and they’d be about a 12 point underdog against Alabama while Florida and Kentucky would be 17-20 point underdogs. 

Georgia: 65% to win division, 14% to win conference, 20% to make playoff
Kentucky: 20% to win division, 3% to win conference, 3% to make playoff
Florida: 15% to win division, 3% to win conference, 3% to make playoff

ACC Atlantic

The winner of this week’s Clemson vs. NC State game will be the overwhelming favorite to win the Atlantic, as they’d have to lose twice to be overtaken by the loser. Clemson is only a 9.5 point favorite at Boston College and only a 14 point favorite against Duke and Florida State, but it would be pretty unlikely for them to drop 2. NC State goes to Syracuse (pick’em) and hosts Florida State (9 point favorites) after this. Clemson has an 83% chance this weekend although with the weakened state of the ACC it could be dicey getting into the playoff at 12-1 if they drop a game elsewhere.

Clemson: 85% to win division, 65% to win conference, 55% to make playoff
NC State: 15% to win division, 10% to win conference, 4% to make playoff

ACC Coastal

“Coastal Chaos” has struck once again as this division is a complete mess. I have Duke at #24, my only ranked Coastal team, but Virginia Tech has not lost in ACC play yet. 7-1 in the ACC will almost certainly win this division: the Hokies have a 20% chance at that, Miami a 5% chance, Duke a 2% chance and Virginia a 1% chance. Being a game up in the loss column gives Virginia Tech the advantage, but all four teams are in play here.

Virginia Tech: 45% to win division, 12% to win conference, 1% to make playoff
Miami (FL): 30% to win division, 8% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Duke: 20% to win division, 4% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Virginia: 5% to win division, 1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff

Big Ten East

Ohio State is the favorite, as they have a 32% chance of winning out. They have 3 legitimate tests left, @Purdue, @Michigan State and vs. Michigan. Going 2-1 in those games is probably enough to win the division. Michigan has 3 tests left as well, @Michigan State, vs. Penn State and @Ohio State. I give them a roughly 35% chance of finishing at 10-2 or 11-1. Michigan State could win the division by winning out (4% chance) and Penn State could maybe be in play if they win out and chaos erupts.

Ohio State: 60% to win division, 45% to win conference, 60% to make playoff
Michigan: 32% to win division, 20% to win conference, 13% to make playoff
Michigan State: 7% to win division, 4% to win conference, 1% to make playoff
Penn State: 1% to win division, 1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff

Big Ten West

Wisconsin and Iowa are neck and neck in my ratings, and although both have 1 loss in conference, Wisconsin holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. Purdue and Northwestern are both better teams than people realize with 1 loss in conference each as well. Given that both Wisconsin and Iowa have to go to Happy Valley and West Lafayette- that opens the door to a real bloodbath here. The realistic playoff chances in the division lie squarely with Iowa, as they are the only 1-loss team.

Wisconsin: 50% to win division, 15% to win conference, 1% to make playoff
Iowa: 35% to win division, 12% to win conference, 3% to make playoff
Purdue: 14% to win division, 3% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Northwestern: 1% to win division, <1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff

Big 12

Texas is pacing the field here as they’re the only team still undefeated in conference play. The Longhorns have a 15% chance of winning out, and even at 11-1 they should make the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma has a 35% chance of going 11-1 which would put them in the conference title game, although they still have to go to Lubbock and Fort Worth, as well as host West Virginia. I still don’t view the Mountaineers as a legitimate threat given they still have to play Texas and Oklahoma- and the same goes for Texas Tech. Watch out for Iowa State though- the Cylcones have a 12% chance to win out.

Texas: 75% to make conference championship game, 45% to win conference, 30% to make playoff
Oklahoma: 65% to make conference championship game, 40% to win conference, 30% to make playoff
West Virginia: 22% to make conference championship game, 5% to win conference, 3% to make playoff
Texas Tech: 18% to make conference championship game, 5% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Iowa State: 15% to make conference championship game, 5% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
Oklahoma State: 3% to make conference championship game, <1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff
TCU: 2% to make conference championship game, <1% to win conference, <1% to make playoff

Pac-12 North

Despite having two losses, Washington is still by far the best team in the Pac-12 North. Since only one of those losses was in conference, so long as they win out (44% chance) and Oregon slips up once they’ll be in Santa Clara. Oregon has to play at Utah (5 point underdog) and at Washington State (3 point favorite). Stanford and Washington State are both in the race as well but are not as highly rated as Oregon or Washington.

Washington: 65% chance to win division, 45% chance to win conference, 5% chance to make playoff
Oregon: 25% chance to win division, 15% chance to win conference, 5% chance to make playoff
Stanford: 5% chance to win division, 3% chance to win conference, <1% chance to make playoff
Washington State: 5% chance to win division, 2% chance to win conference, 1% chance to make playoff

Pac-12 South

Utah is the best team in the south and I have them favored in every remaining game. However, they’re a small favorite in many of them, and USC and Colorado are both a game ahead of them in the loss column. USC will be the heavy favorite if they beat Utah this week, as they’ll be 4-1 with wins over their two biggest contenders. Colorado has to play at Washington and was quite fortunate to start 5-0. The Arizona schools are not completely out of it either. Whoever wins this division will have an uphill battle against Washington in the Pac-12 title game, in all likelihood.

USC: 50% chance to win division, 15% chance to win conference, 3% chance to make playoff
Utah: 35% chance to win division, 15% chance to win conference, 1% chance to make playoff
Colorado: 10% chance to win division, 3% chance to win conference, 1% chance to make playoff
Arizona State: 3% chance to win division, 1% chance to win conference, <1% chance to make playoff
Arizona: 2% chance to win division, 1% chance to win conference, <1% chance to make playoff

Other

The two teams outside the Power Five conferences to watch out for are Notre Dame and UCF. The Irish will certainly be in if they win out, which they have a 27% chance of doing. I think they’ve got a good chance at 11-1- they’d probably get in over a 2-loss Power Five champ, and would be in the same ballpark as a 1-loss Oregon or 1-loss Clemson. UCF has a 54% chance of reaching the AAC title game 12-0, and about a 40% chance of going 13-0. I think that the Knights are not going to get in over any 1-loss power teams, but if it comes down to 13-0 UCF or 11-2 Texas, 11-2 Clemson, 11-2 USC etc. I think that they’d have a shot.

Notre Dame: 55% chance to make playoff
UCF: 12% chance to make playoff

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bracketology 3/11/18 Evening (FINAL)

Bracketology 3/11/18 Morning