Rankings vs. forecasts

The Playoff Selection Committee’s rankings yield the ranking right now, which only gives insights into who would be in a playoff if it were held today. Our method simulates the rest of the season to forecast who might be in the playoff at the end of the season by taking the remaining schedule (and strength of schedule) into account.

Here are the mLRMC rankings and forecasts

Rankings right now Forecasted rankings at the end of the season
1. Clemson 1. Clemson
2. Alabama 2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma 3. Oklahoma
4. Notre Dame 4. Michigan State
5. Michigan State 5. Iowa
6. Ohio State 6. Notre Dame
7. Iowa 7. Stanford
8. Florida 8. Florida
9. Michigan 9. Ohio State
10. Stanford (no other teams have >1% chance of making the playoff)

First, I would note that the rankings right now are close to the forecasted rankings. This makes sense because the season is almost over. Two teams–Notre Dame and Ohio State–have a lower forecast than their current rankings suggest because they have a tough path to the playoff. Notre Dame has to play Stanford and Ohio State can only make the B1G championship game if Michigan State loses (and then OSU will likely have to win the playoff).

Other teams have a better forecast than their current rankings suggest because they have an easier path to the playoff. Iowa has to play Nebraska and then just has to win the B1G championship game. They will be underdogs, but they still will have a chance. Likewise, Stanford has a tough final game against Notre Dame but will then play in the PAC 12 championship game, where another win will boost their chances.

The differences between the current and final rankings is accentuated earlier in the season when there are more future games to play. I like the focus on the future because this is something industrial engineers do. We don’t just study the past using statistical methods, we build models to guide decisions in the future.

NCAA football playoff forecasts, week 12

Wow, what an exciting weekend of games. Ohio State’s loss — and to a lesser extent Oklahoma State’s loss — changed the rankings and forecasts. We now forecast Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Notre Dame are likely to make the playoff.

We see that the path to the playoff is easier for some teams than others. Iowa is fifth likely to make the playoff in both models, mainly because Iowa can make it into the playoff with a B1G championship game win. Iowa is ranked 7th and 6th now, but they have an easy path to the playoff. On the other hand, Ohio State is ranked 6th and 7th now, but has a very small chance of making the playoff because their loss to Michigan State makes their path to the playoff very difficult.

Wisconsin doesn’t have a chance, but that should make this year’s Axe Week extra exciting.

———- mLRMC Method: Top Teams to make the 4-team playoff ————
1 Clemson
2 Alabama
3 Oklahoma
4 Michigan State
5 Iowa
6 Notre Dame
7 Stanford
8 Florida
9 Ohio State

———- ln(mLRMC) Method: Top Teams to make the 4-team playoff ————
1 Alabama
2 Clemson
3 Michigan State
4 Notre Dame
5 Iowa
6 Oklahoma
7 Florida
8 Stanford
9 North Carolina
10 Ohio State

NCAA football playoff forecasts, week 11

With the end of the season near, there are few teams that have a chance to make the playoffs. Both models agree that Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame and maybe Oklahoma are the clear favorites. Others have a chance, but not a big chance.

The two forecasting models we use work in the same way in terms of how they account for strength of schedule. They only differ in how much weight they assign to a win (an “effective” win) based on the location of the game and the score differential. As a result, we generally see that they come to the same conclusions. However, there are some big differences. The most noticeable is Oklahoma, who is the fourth most likely team to make the playoff in mLRMC and eighth in ln(mLRMC). This is a huge difference. We also see that ln(mLRMC) is more enthusiastic about Iowa than anyone else who follows college football.

———- mLRMC Method: Top Teams to make the 4-team playoff ————
1 Clemson
2 Alabama
3 Ohio State
4 Oklahoma
5 Notre Dame
6 Oklahoma State
7 Iowa
8 Florida
9 Stanford
10 Michigan State
11 Michigan
12 North Carolina

———- ln(mLRMC) Method: Top Teams to make the 4-team playoff ————
1 Alabama
2 Clemson
3 Notre Dame
4 Ohio State
5 Iowa
6 Michigan State
7 Florida
8 Oklahoma
9 North Carolina
10 Oklahoma State
11 Michigan
12 Stanford

NCAA football playoff forecasts, week 10

The rankings have changed a bit since the upsets this weekend. We now have Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame in our mLRMC playoff. In the ln(mLRMC) playoff, we have Stanford but not Notre Dame. Stanford seems to benefit from being undefeated in Pac12 conference games and a great chance of winning their conference championship game.

We are happy to say that Wisconsin is in our Top 25 of teams ranked now, but unfortunately, this does not seem to translate to even a small chance of making it into the playoff. Four teams from the B1G have a chance to make it into the playoffs, but we admit that Michigan is a long-shot.

———- mLRMC Method: Top Teams to make the 4-team playoff ————
1 Clemson
2 Alabama
3 Ohio State
4 Notre Dame
5 Stanford
6 Oklahoma State
7 Iowa
8 Oklahoma
9 Baylor
10 Michigan State
11 Utah
12 Michigan
13 Louisiana State
14 Florida

———- ln(mLRMC) Method: Top Teams to make the 4-team playoff ————

1 Clemson
2 Alabama
3 Ohio State
4 Notre Dame
4 Stanford
6 Iowa
7 Florida
8 Michigan
9 Michigan State
10 Oklahoma State
11 Utah
12 Baylor
13 Oklahoma
14 North Carolina
15 Louisiana State

NCAA football playoff forecasts, week 9

Another week of college football, another week of college football rankings. It looks like our model likes Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, Stanford, and Florida for making the playoff. We see that our two model variants have different forecasts this week. In part, this is because teams like Ohio State have tough competition through the Big Ten East to the playoff. In other cases, as with Memphis and Florida, we see that differences in how teams are ranked NOW carry forward to impact our forecasts for the rest of the season. The math isn’t perfect – it’s hard to model matchups and forecast the future with just a few games for comparison. While both models seem to work well and have performed well in our validation from previous seasons. However, slight differences in modeling can occasionally lead to drastically different outcomes for a couple of the teams. We expect this to mean that neither Florida nor Memphis will make it into the playoffs (sorry!).

This week we still have many (11!) undefeated teams. Most will not be undefeated by the end of the season, and most do not have a strong chance of making it into the playoff. We still expect to have a team (or two or three) with one loss in the playoff.

We would also like to know that Wisconsin creeped into the top 25 for teams ranked NOW, but unfortunately, this did not translate to any chance of making it into the playoff.

For more details, read our ranking methodology here.

———- mLRMC Method: Top Teams to make the 4-team playoff ————

1 Clemson
2 Louisiana State
3 Ohio State
4 Memphis
5 Stanford
6 Michigan State
7 Iowa
8 Baylor
9 Texas Christian
10 Notre Dame
11 Alabama
12 Utah
13 Oklahoma State
14 Oklahoma
15 Florida

———- ln(mLRMC) Method: Top Teams to make the 4-team playoff ————
1 Clemson
2 Stanford
3 Florida
4 Louisiana State
5 Ohio State
6 Michigan State
7 Iowa
8 Alabama
9 Notre Dame
10 Oklahoma State
11 Texas Christian
12 Baylor
13 Oklahoma
14 Florida State
15 Memphis