Projecting the Playoff Conversation (Week 9)
A quick look at our latest end-of-season projections (focusing on our “In The Conversation” metric). The aim, as always, is to project the teams we’ll be discussing as we head into the conference championships.
The field held steady this week, with the same 11 teams making up the potential playoff pool.
Alabama, Michigan and Clemson are still way out front, in the 90% likely range. Largely this is because they could all lose a game and still be in the mix.
Louisville was the biggest winner this week, with a 33% increase (~40% to ~60%). They need a lot more to happen but (notably, both the Pac-12 and Big-12 champs to falter down the stretch), but eliminating a second team from the Big 10 would be helpful. So, they are the biggest benefactor of Ohio State’s loss.
The Buckeyes are still very much in the conversation, as many pundits were quick to emphasize. We’ll put it more precisely at 36%. This happens to be more or less exactly the probability of their winning out.
Washington holds steady around 75%. Like Ohio State, that’s more or less the probability of their losing no more than 1 regular season game. They just have 1-game more room-for-error than Ohio State does.
This is the same position as West Virginia and Baylor. Even if you think they need to be undefeated to actually make the playoff, they would definitely be in the conversation as 1-loss Big 12 champs. It’s just a whole lot less likely with them than with the Huskies. We make West Virginia’s chances just under 40%. This is a bit of a jump after clearing the TCU hurdle last week. We make Baylor’s chances to be more like 20%, with both a weaker team and a tougher schedule ahead of them. Looking a bit further down the road, these two Big 12 contenders are probably going to need to go undefeated to actually make the playoff. We put WVU’s chances of that 11%, and Baylor’s at 5%.
Texas A&M didn’t lose that much in Tuscaloosa, primarily because we fully expected what they got there. They’re sill in the mix but need to finish very strong (16% chance of winning out) and/or get some unlikely help from Alabama’s opponents.
Florida and Nebraska are still floating around, technically viable. This weekend is likely to see the end of at least one of them.
More detail on our ITC Top 20. Interesting to note a couple of new contenders just below the 10% cutoff. Both Utah and LSU could get into the mix by winning out – unlikely but far from impossible.