Sports analytics from Laura Albert's team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering

College Football Playoff forecast: November 26, 2017

Top teams forecasted to make the College Football Playoff based on a simulation of the remaining season and conference championship games:

1 Wisconsin
2 Clemson
3 Oklahoma
4 Georgia
5 Auburn
7 Ohio St
8 Miami
9 Alabama

It’s going to be an exciting finish to the college football season. Here is what I observe from the forecasts and my rankings:

  • Wisconsin is underrated. They are not guaranteed to make the playoff, but I have the Badgers ranked in the Top 4 if they win and sometimes if they lose the Big 10 championship game.
  • Oklahoma is ranked #8 but is third likely to make the playoff. This is due to Oklahoma being heavily favored in their conference championship game against TCU.
  • It’s not obvious who should make it into the playoff because there is only one undefeated team from a major conference (yeah Wisconsin!) and some of the highest ranked teams are not playing in their conference championship games (Alabama, Penn State).
    • For this reason, my model shows Central Florida (UCF) as having a decent chance at making it into the playoff, although I do not think this is realistic.
  • I am showing that three SEC teams (Auburn, Georgia, Alabama) have a chance at making it into the playoffs with one week of games left. This is unprecedented. Usually, the conference championship games determine who realistically has a shot at the playoff.
  • I am showing nine teams have a chance at making it into the playoff with one week of games left. My model is showing that not a single team is a “lock” for the playoff. This is unprecedented. We are going to have an exciting finish to the season!