Bleacher Report’s Week 14 College Football Playoff Predictions

Bleacher Report's Week 14 College Football Playoff Predictions

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Will your team make the College Football Playoff?

Unlike most media sites, Bleacher Report doesn’t give you a yes-or-no answer. Instead, we use analytics and the committee rankings to assign your team a probability of making the playoff.

The interactive visual shows the results of 10,000 simulations of the remainder of the season. You can find more information about the simulation methods at The Power Rank.

For Alabama, Clemson and Washington, the playoff scenario is simple: Win, and you’re in. In addition, the Big 12 seems to be out of contention with no teams in the Top Eight of the committee rankings.

The complexities of the playoff lay with the remaining top teams, most of which come from the Big Ten. Let’s look at the top stories.


How Ohio State Doesn’t Make It

Ohio State maintained its No. 2 rank after a narrow victory over Michigan in Columbus on Saturday. However, since the Buckeyes will not play in the Big Ten Championship Game, there’s not a 100 percent certainty they will make the playoff.

Over the past two years, the committee has shown it will move a team that wins a conference championship game over an idle team that was previously ahead of it. For example, Michigan State moved ahead of Oklahoma after winning the Big Ten title tilt last season.

If Clemson and Washington win their respective league championship games, Ohio State might drop behind them. So even if the Buckeyes make the playoff, don’t be surprised if they move down to the fourth seed.

Something drastic has to happen in the Big Ten Championship Game for Ohio State to fall out of the Top Four. For example, Wisconsin could win by a large margin over Penn State and jump ahead of the Buckeyes for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Remember, Ohio State made just such a jump in 2014. After beating Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten final, it moved to the fourth spot ahead of Baylor and TCU.

It’s unlikely one of these scenarios happens to knock the Buckeyes out of the playoff. My numbers give them a 98.7 percent chance to make it.


Michigan Not Dead Yet

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Michigan fought hard in taking Ohio State to double overtime. While the Wolverines fell short, they only dropped from third to fifth in the committee rankings.

Only one spot outside the Top Four, Michigan has a fighting chance to make the playoff.

If Colorado were to win the Pac-12 Championship Game, the committee might still opt to take the Maize and Blue because of their head-to-head victories over the Buffaloes, Wisconsin and Penn State. The Wolverines could also move up if Clemson were to falter in the ACC title game against Virginia Tech.

So the Wolverines need a little help, but it’s not unthinkable, and the numbers give them a 15.2 percent chance to make the playoff.


Is the Big Ten Champion on the Outside Looking In?

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The Big Ten has four teams in the Top Seven of the committee rankings. Normally, this would imply that the champion of the conference will make the playoff. However, this scenario is neither certain nor even likely.

The Big Ten Championship Game will feature the sixth- (Wisconsin) and seventh-ranked (Penn State) teams. The Badgers and Nittany Lions have a combined 35 percent chance to make the playoff, which means whoever wins that game will need help from other teams.

The simplest scenario includes either Clemson or Washington losing to fall out of playoff contention. Then the Big Ten champion could take the fourth spot—assuming the committee moves the winner ahead of idle Michigan.


Ed Feng is Bleacher Report’s playoff probability guru and runs the sports analytics site The Power Rank. Stats provided by The Power Rank unless otherwise noted. You can find Ed on Twitter @thepowerrank.