PredictionMachine.com’s Director of Research and Analytics, John Ewing, takes a look at what the College Football Playoff could look like through 50,000 simulations of FootballFour’s most likely four-team playoff. Follow John on Twitter @JohnEwing for more notes from his analysis and to let him know what else you may like to see with these projections.
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.
Football Four Playoff Summary
USA TODAY Sports’ College Football Playoff Projection panel has delivered its first projected four-team playoff. If the College Football Playoff started today the four teams participating, in order of selection, would be Florida State, Oregon, Alabama and Georgia.
Which team would win this playoff? Could we have an all-SEC championship game?
In the first semifinal, Florida State, the No. 1 team in our Power Rankings, defeats Georgia 71.7% of the time by an average score of 39-24. Georgia’s greatest strength on offense is its rushing game. Led by Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley, the Bulldogs are 11th in FBS with 328 yards per game, and third in FBS in yards per attempt at 8.0.
But Florida State is able to neutralize Georgia’s rushing attack with one of the best defenses in the country. The Seminoles are fifth in defensive rush efficiency in our Power Rankings and are the only team in the country to be top five in every offensive and defensive efficiency category. The Seminoles cruise by another SEC opponent to reach the national championship game. In the past three seasons, Florida State is 3-1 against SEC opponents, with an average margin of victory of 16 points.
The second semifinal pits Oregon’s offense against Alabama’s defense. In a tight contest decided late, the Ducks edge the Tide 37-31 winning the game 57.4% of the time in our simulations. We saw what Oregon can do to a great defense last weekend. The Ducks totaled 491 yards of offense and scored 46 points, the most allowed by Michigan State’s top ranked defense since the 2011 Capital One Bowl.
Who do you like, Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? The national championship game features two of the best quarterbacks in the country. We gauged the impact both Heisman candidates have on their respective teams and without the signal callers, neither program is in the title game.
After 50,000 simulations, the most likely national champion is Florida State. The Seminoles repeat as champion winning 40.7% of all the simulated tournaments. In the most likely national championship, Florida State defeats Oregon 51.4% of the time by an average score of 38-37.
Based on the analysis, here is the projected College Football Playoff bracket:
No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Georgia | Florida State wins 71.7% of the time by an average score of 39-24.
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Alabama | Oregon wins 57.4% of the time by an average score of 37-31.
Florida State vs. Oregon | Florida State wins 51.4% of the time by an average score of 38-37.
The likelihoods for each team to win the championship are 40.7% for Florida State, 31.5% for Oregon, 17.8% for Alabama and 10.1% for Georgia.