Quick update on our end-of-season projections, focusing on the “In The Conversation” (ITC) metric we discussed in this pre-season blog. The aim is to anticipate which 6-7 teams will the playoff debate focus on going into the conference championships. This is all based on the sim we slaved over in August, updated for what we’ve learned since.
We look at things this way because making the playoff involves not just being good (ala MP power rankings), and not even just winning most of your games (ala MP projections). But it also depends on who else wins lots of games and where they are in the country. Tough to boil all that down to a single number but we like a good challenge, so here we are.
Gonna be quick. Here are the 16 teams we show having a 10% or better chance of being “in the conversation”. There is considerably more differentiation now than pre-season, with a few teams (Alabama, Louisville and Ohio State) strong favorites to be there, by dent of exceptionally high power rankings and/or exceptionally weak schedules.
The second tier are familiar to those listening and reading CFB commentary these days – Michigan, Clemson, Washington, Tennessee, Stanford, Florida State & Texas A&M. We bring some analytics to bear on this discussion to put, for example, Michigan’s chances at almost twice Stanford’s, and Clemson’s at almost Florida State’s and Texas A&M’s combined.
Our dark horse bottom 6 include, sadly, Georgia, who we’ve had an unrequited love affair with for years now. (We were hoping things would change, either way, post-Richt. Alas.) Others in that last tranche include the best of the Big 12 contenders (Baylor and WVU), the only Big 10 West contenders (Nebraska and Wisconsin), and a Pac12 sleeper (Utah). AND Group-of-5 representative Houston, who finally breaks into the “>10% Club”. They soared up our rankings this week, from #35 to #17. But their chances of getting into the playoff conversation essentially come down to their chances of remaining undefeated – we put both at 11%.
And here’s a bit more detail on our projections for the 20 teams most likely “in the conversation”.
Note: This post was revised Friday morning, 9/30/16, to correct a coding error that mistakenly excluded Houston from the top 16.