Using Advanced Stats to Project the Playoff Top 4

UPDATED 10/29

Using Bill Connelly’s conference win projections at Football Study Hall (Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, ACC), I have projected all of the remaining games for ranked unbeaten, one-loss teams (except for Marshall; if you want to go to the Playoff, all of your non-conference games can’t be against the MAC), and a select group of two-loss teams who are projected to win out. For the ACC teams, Notre Dame and ECU, I did my best to project their remaining games using F/+ ratings.

Scroll all the way to the bottom if you just want to see the top four.

Using the game projections, I found conference and overall win-loss records for the regular season as well as projected conference champions. Finally, using that information, I chose the most likely top-four teams who will be competing in the college football playoff.

Once the final records had been projected, to select the final four teams, I made a few assumptions beforehand. First of all, that undefeated Power 5 conference champions will be invited to the playoff. Secondly, the only possible two-loss teams to be invited would have to be from the SEC West or a conference champion. Third, that there is no way the committee will chose three teams from the same conference (even the SEC). Finally, that if two one-loss conference champions are available, the committee will look at the “quality” of those teams’ wins and loss.

#1 Mississippi St

Current Record: 6-0
Current Conference Record: 3-0

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Kentucky W 7-0 4-0
Arkansas W 8-0 5-0
@ Alabama L 9-1 5-1
Vanderbilt W 10-1 6-1
@ Ole Miss L 10-2 6-2

#2 Florida St

Current Record: 7-0
Current Conference Record: 4-0

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Louisville Toss-Up 8-0 or 7-1 5-0 or 4-1
Virginia W 9-0 or 8-1 6-0 or 5-1
@ Miami W 10-0 or 9-1 7-0 or 6-1
Boston College W 11-0 or 10-1 8-0 or 7-1
Florida W 12-0 or 11-1 8-0 or 7-1
ACC Championship W 13-0 or 12-1 9-0 or 8-1

#3 Ole Miss

Current Record: 7-0
Current Conference Record: 4-0

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ LSU W 8-0 5-0
Auburn W 9-0 6-0
@ Arkansas W 11-0 7-0
Mississippi St W 12-0 8-0
SEC Championship W 13-0 9-0*

*SEC Champs

#4 Alabama

Current Record: 6-1
Current Conference Record: 3-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Tennessee W 7-1 4-1
@ LSU W 8-1 5-1
Mississippi St W 9-1 6-1
Auburn W 11-1 7-1

#5 Auburn

Current Record: 5-1
Current Conference Record: 2-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
South Carolina W 6-1 3-1
@ Ole Miss L 6-2 3-2
Texas A&M W 7-2 4-2
@ Georgia L 7-3 4-3
@ Alabama L 8-4 4-4

#6 Oregon

Current Record: 6-1
Current Conference Record: 3-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Cal W 7-1 4-1
Stanford W 8-1 5-1
@ Utah W 9-1 6-1
Colorado W 10-1 7-1
@ Oregon St W 11-1 8-1
Pac-12 Championship W 12-1 9-1*

*Pac-12 Champs

#7 Notre Dame

Current Record: 6-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record
@ Navy W 7-1
@ Arizona St L 7-2
Northwestern W 8-2
Louisville W 9-2
@ USC L 9-3

#8 Michigan St

Current Record: 6-1
Current Conference Record: 3-0

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
Michigan W 7-1 4-0
Ohio St L 7-2 4-1
@ Maryland W 8-2 5-1
Rutgers W 9-2 6-1
@ Penn St W 10-2 7-1

#9 Georgia

Current Record: 6-1
Current Conference Record: 4-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
Florida W 7-1 5-1
@ Kentucky W 8-1 6-1
Auburn W 9-1 7-1
Georgia Tech W 11-1 7-1
SEC Championship L 11-2 7-2

#10 TCU

Current Record: 5-1
Current Conference Record: 2-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
Texas Tech W 6-1 3-1
@ West Virginia W 7-1 4-1
K-State W 8-1 5-1
@ Kansas W 9-1 6-1
@ Texas W 10-1 7-1
Iowa St W 11-1 8-1*

*Big 12 Champs

#11 Kansas St

Current Record: 5-1
Current Conference Record: 3-0

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
Texas W 6-1 4-0
Oklahoma St W 7-1 5-0
@ TCU L 7-2 5-1
@ West Virginia L 7-3 5-2
Kansas W 8-3 6-2
@ Baylor L 8-4 6-3

#12 Baylor

Current Record: 6-1
Current Conference Record: 3-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
Kansas W 7-1 4-1
@ Oklahoma L 7-2 4-2
Oklahoma St W 8-2 5-2
Texas Tech W 9-2 6-2
K-State W 10-2 7-2

#13 Ohio St

Current Record: 5-1
Current Conference Record: 2-0

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Penn St W 6-1 3-0
Illinois W 7-1 4-0
@ Michigan St W 8-1 5-0
@ Minnesota W 9-1 6-0
Indiana W 10-1 7-0
Michigan W 11-1 8-0
Big Ten Championship W 12-1 9-0*

*Big Ten Champs

#14 Arizona St

Current Record: 5-1
Current Conference Record: 3-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Washington W 6-1 4-1
Utah W 7-1 5-1
Notre Dame W 8-1 5-1
@ Oregon St W 9-1 6-1
Washington St W 10-1 7-1
@ Arizona W 11-1 8-1
Pac-12 Championship L 11-2 8-2

#15 Arizona

Current Record: 5-1
Current Conference Record: 2-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Washington St W 6-1 3-1
@ UCLA L 6-2 3-2
Colorado W 7-2 4-2
Washington W 8-2 5-2
@ Utah L 8-3 5-3
Arizona St L 8-4 5-4

#16 Nebraska

Current Record: 6-1
Current Conference Record: 2-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
Rutgers W 7-1 3-1
Purdue W 8-1 4-1
@ Wisconsin W 9-1 5-1
Minnesota W 10-1 6-1
@ Iowa W 11-1 7-1
Big Ten Championship L 11-2 7-2

#17 Oklahoma

Current Record: 5-2
Current Conference Record: 2-2

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Iowa St W 6-2 3-2
Baylor W 7-2 4-2
@ Texas Tech W 8-2 5-2
Kansas W 9-2 6-2
Oklahoma St W 10-2 7-2

#18 East Carolina

Current Record: 6-1
Current Conference Record: 3-0

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Temple W 7-1 4-0
@ Cincinnati W 8-1 5-0
Tulane W 9-1 6-0
@ Tulsa W 10-1 7-0
UCF W 11-1 8-0*

*American Champs

#19 Utah

Current Record: 5-1
Current Conference Record: 2-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
USC Toss-Up 6-1 or 5-2 3-1 or 2-2
@ Arizona St L 6-2 or 5-3 3-2 or 2-3
Oregon L 6-3 or 5-4 3-3 or 2-4
@ Stanford L 6-4 or 5-5 3-4 or 2-5
Arizona W 7-4 or 6-5 4-4 or 3-5
@ Colorado W 8-4 or 7-5 5-4 or 4-5

#21 Clemson

Current Record: 5-2
Current Conference Record: 4-1

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
Syracuse W 6-2 5-1
@ Wake Forest W 7-2 6-1
@ Georgia Tech W 8-2 7-1
Georgia St W 9-2 7-1
South Carolina W 10-2 7-1

#25 UCLA

Current Record: 5-2
Current Conference Record: 2-2

Remaining FBS Schedule

Opponent W/L Overall Record Conference Record
@ Colorado W 6-2 3-2
Arizona W 7-2 4-2
Washington W 8-2 5-2
USC W 9-2 6-2
Stanford W 10-2 7-2

Projected Records

TEAM PROJ CONF REC PROJ FINAL REC
Ole Miss 9-0 13-0*
Florida St 9-0 or 8-1 13-0 or 12-1*
Oregon 9-1 12-1*
Ohio State 9-0 12-1*
TCU 8-1 11-1*
East Carolina 8-0 11-1*
Alabama 7-1 11-1
Arizona State 8-2 11-2
Georgia 7-2 11-2
Nebraska 7-2 11-2
Michigan State 7-1 10-2
Clemson 7-1 10-2
Oklahoma 7-2 10-2
Baylor 7-2 10-2
UCLA 7-2 10-2
Mississippi St 6-2 10-2
Notre Dame 9-3
Kansas State 6-3 8-4
Arizona 5-4 8-4
Auburn 4-4 8-4
Utah 5-4 or 4-5 8-4 or 7-5

*Conference Champions

Now that we have projected the remaining games, I think we can safely put Ole Miss and Florida St into the playoff as undefeated SEC and ACC conference champions, respectively. Also, I think we can safely eliminate teams with two or more losses from consideration.

Since there are no other relevant unbeaten teams, using my rules for playoff eligibility, the following teams make up the possible pool for the two remaining spots.

Team Reason
Florida St ACC Champ
Oregon Pac-12 Champ
Ohio St Big Ten Champ
TCU Big 12 Champ
East Carolina American Champ
Alabama Only Loss to SEC Champ who is already in
Arizona St Pac-12 Runners-Up
Georgia SEC Runners-Up
Nebraska Big 12 Runners-Up

Other than those teams, I think you’d have a hard time making an argument for anyone else (even Mississippi St). With five one-loss teams (of which four are conference champions and the fifth being from the strongest division in the country), I can’t see how a two-loss team gets in.

That leaves us with Florida St, Oregon, Ohio St, TCU, East Carolina, and Alabama. It’s time to look at quality of wins and losses.

Florida’s only potential loss may come at the hands of Louisville on the road. Their wins against Oklahoma St and NC State were suspect and the close win against Clemson came without their Heisman-trophy winning QB. However, I think the human element of the selection committee gets them in based on past credentials. I don’t think the committee will be able to look past the fact that they’re defending champions and may have only lost once in two years.

Oregon’s loss to an un-ranked Arizona and barely squeaking by Washington St make them an unlikely pick out of these five.

Despite hanging half a hundred on four teams in a row, Ohio St‘s loss to Virginia Tech is looking worse and worse every week. And save Michigan St, their schedule is super weak.

TCU makes a good case for being chosen. They have strong wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma St and their loss came at the hands of a quality Baylor team who they dominated for three of four quarters.

East Carolina. You almost lost to UConn. Sorry, you’re out.

While Alabama hasn’t been who most thought they would be, a huge win over Texas A&M and their only loss being a six-point deficit to arguably the best team in the nation. I think they’re in.

That’s it. There you have your advanced-stats-projected top-four college football playoff teams.

TOP 4

  1. Ole Miss
  2. Florida St
  3. Alabama
  4. TCU

1 thought on “Using Advanced Stats to Project the Playoff Top 4

  1. Pingback: Week 11 Updated Playoff Projection Using Advanced Stats | Above the Press Box

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