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    College Football Playoffs (10/23/13)

    John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics, @johnewing
    By John Ewing
    A look at what the College Football Playoffs could look like through 50,000 simulations of FootballFour’s most recent four-team Playoff Projection

    Updated Futures
    There was a shakeup last weekend in college football with seven top 15 teams losing including five SEC schools losing as favorites. The Football Four selection committee took notice and for the first time since Week 2 of the season we have a new playoff projection.
    Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State comprise the new playoff. Alabama and Oregon are listed as 3/2 co-favorites to win the BCS Championship per the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino SuperBook. Florida State is 3/1 and Ohio State is 7/1. Below we look at early lines posted by the LVH for upcoming regular season matchups.
    Alabama has two games remaining against ranked teams. The Tide will host No. 13 LSU as an 11 point favorite. We project Alabama to win that game 68% of the time 35-23. In the Iron Bowl, possibly to determine the winner of the SEC West, Alabama is a 13 point road favorite over No. 11 Auburn. We project Bama to win by more than two touchdowns 71% of the time.
    The Ducks have three ranked opponents remaining on their schedule and are double-digit favorites against all of them. This weekend Oregon is a 22.5 point favorite at home against No. 12 UCLA. In two weeks the Ducks are favored by 10.5 points on the road over No. 6 Stanford and then by 22.5 points at home over No. 25 Oregon State to close the regular season. In our projections the Ducks average margin of victory in those three games is 17 points.
    Florida State
    Florida State will host No. 7 Miami in two weeks; according to the LVH the Seminoles are 14 point favorites. We project FSU to win 60% of the time by an average score of 38-26. The last regular season roadblock to an undefeated season is a trip to the Swamp. The LVH has Florida State as a 13.5 point favorite over Florida. By our simulations, FSU wins 61% of the time 25-17.
    Ohio State
    The Buckeyes will not face a ranked team until they travel to The Big House in Week 14. The LVH has Ohio State installed as a 4.5 point favorite on the road at No. 22 Michigan. This game is a coin flip with Ohio State winning just 50.3% of the time 28-27.
    How this works
    The Predictalator uses current rosters and strength-of-schedule and efficiency-adjusted team and player stats (weighted slightly more toward recent games), to play every game 50,000 times before it's actually played. For this analysis, we are tracking how likely a team is to make it to any level of the College Football Playoffs, if it were to go into effect this season.
    Football Four Playoff Projection Simulation
    After 50,000 simulations of the Football Four Playoff Projection, the most likely National Champion is the Alabama Crimson Tide winning 37.2% of all simulated tournaments. In the most likely National Championship game Alabama defeats Oregon 52.1% of the time by an average score of 35-33.
    The addition of Florida State has lowered every team’s chances of winning the title from last week but none more than Oregon. The Ducks were 68% likely to advance to the championship game a week ago when they were pitted against Clemson. Facing the Seminoles in the semifinals this week has lowered Oregon’s odds of winning the title from 37.3% to 31.1%.
    Still, the title appears headed to Tuscaloosa or Eugene with Alabama and Oregon wining a combined 68% of the tournaments.
    Based on the analysis, here is the projected College Football bracket.
    1 Alabama vs. 4 Ohio State
    Alabama wins 70.2% of the time by an average score of 35-22.
    2 Oregon vs. 3 Florida State
    Oregon wins 56.1% of the time by an average score of 35-32.
    National Championship
    Alabama vs. Oregon
    Alabama wins 52.1% of the time by an average score of 35-33.
    Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship.

    Team Semifinal Championship
    Alabama 70.2% 37.2%
    Ohio State 29.8% 9.3%
    Oregon 56.1% 31.1%
    Florida State 43.9% 22.4%’s Playoffs
    We have simulated an eight-team playoff, as well as a sixteen-team playoff using our Power Rankings and the Bracket Simulator.  This week we will look at another sixteen-team playoff but this time we will include the winners from the ten FBS conferences as well as six teams that get at-large bids. 
    The following teams, based on current standings, would represent their conferences. For conferences with ties, we used our Power Rankings to take the best team. 

    Conference Team
    AAC Central Florida
    ACC Florida State
    Big 12 Texas Tech
    Big 10 Ohio St.
    Conf USA Rice
    Mid America Ball St.
    Mt. West Fresno St.
    Pac 12 Oregon
    SEC Alabama
    Sun Belt UL-Lafayette

    The six at large bids were given to the best available teams from our Power Rankings. Teams receiving bids include: Baylor, Missouri, Texas A&M, LSU, Stanford, and Miami FL.
    We seeded each team based on our Power Rankings. In our sixteen-team tournament the Sweet Sixteen matchups would include:
    No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 16 UL-Lafayette
    No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 15 Ball State
    No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 14 Rice
    No. 4 Baylor vs. No. 13 Central Florida
    No. 5 Mizzou vs. No. 12 Fresno State
    No. 6 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Texas Tech
    No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Miami FL
    No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 Stanford
    In this format, given the weaker competition in the tournament due to automatic bids, we get some lopsided matchups. Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State are all greater than 80% likely to make the Elite 8 facing opponents ranked outside our top 50. The only upset in this round of the tournament is the 9-seed Stanford toppling 8-seed LSU.
    The Elite Eight would feature No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 9 Stanford, No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 7 Ohio State, No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 Texas A&M, and No. 4 Baylor vs. No. 5 Mizzou.
    Alabama and Oregon are once again the most likely teams to advance to the next round, 57.3% and 60.3% likely to reach the Final Four respectively. The other top seeds Florida State (49.1% to reach Final Four) and Baylor (43.6% to reach Final Four) also reach the next round. The Final Four is all chalk featuring the four top seeds.
    In the Final Four, Alabama defeats Baylor 63.6% of the time by an average score of 40-30. Oregon defeats Florida State 54.5% of the time by an average score of 35-32.
    Our most likely championship game once again features Alabama vs. Oregon. The winner of this simulated championship game has flip-flopped the last couple weeks. This week the most likely winner is Alabama. The Crimson Tide defeats the Ducks 52.1% of the time by an average score of 35-33. It is interesting to note that Oregon is more likely to reach the Elite Eight and the Final Four than Alabama. Oregon’s most likely matchup in the Final Four with Florida States lowers their probability of reaching the championship game; therefore Alabama becomes the most likely tournament champion. Alabama wins all simulated tournaments 23.5% of the time followed by Oregon (20.3%), Florida State (14.5%), and Baylor (9.0%).
    Odds for each team to advance to and win the championship based on’s Power Rankings.

    Seed Team Elite 8 Final 4 Title Game Championship
    1 Alabama 87.2% 57.3% 41.0% 23.5%
    16 UL-Lafayette 12.8% 3.5% 0.9% 0.1%
    8 LSU 49.6% 19.1% 10.2% 4.5%
    9 Stanford 50.5% 20.1% 11.8% 5.6%
    4 Baylor 72.0% 43.6% 18.1% 9.0%
    13 UCF 28.1% 9.6% 2.5% 0.6%
    5 Mizzou 62.4% 31.3% 11.6% 4.3%
    12 Fresno St. 37.6% 15.6% 4.2% 1.4%
    2 Oregon 88.1% 60.3% 35.0% 20.3%
    15 Ball St.  12.0% 2.7% 0.8% 0.1%
    7 Ohio St.  51.9% 18.6% 8.4% 3.5%
    10 Miami FL 48.2% 18.5% 7.8% 3.2%
    3 Florida St.  81.2% 49.1% 26.8% 14.5%
    14 Rice 18.8% 5.4% 1.1% 0.2%
    11 Texas Tech 32.6% 11.1% 2.9% 0.9%
    6 Texas A&M 67.5% 34.5% 17.4% 8.6%

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    Mizzou 2007 vs. 2013 (10/24/13)
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