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


The full Badger Bracketology composite Markov Chain rankings are on the NCAAF rankings tab. The top 25 teams and the B1G teams are below. My rankings are close to those made by the College Football Playoff selection committee. A notable difference is that the committee has the order of LSU and Ohio State swapped (although the committee also had these teams swapped the week before). Georgia is ranked fourth over Oklahoma likely for two reasons. First, Georgia had a tough schedule with wins over ranked Florida, Auburn, Notre Dame. Second, Oklahoma won the Big 12 conference championship in overtime, which was not a decisive victory. If Oklahoma had won the game by 7 in regulation instead of overtime, they would have been ranked fourth. As a result, I would have selected Oklahoma for the fourth seed for the playoff if I were on the committee.

On a side note, the committee had Ohio State ranked #1 before the last ranking, where they switched Ohio State to #2. The committee deliberations are secret so we don’t know what they discussed, but it appears that Ohio State’s bad first half against Wisconsin made the difference. This reflects the availability bias, a cognitive bias in which recent events carry more weight than they should. Should a bad first half on the last game of the season carry so much weight given all the other games played? Combined with the Oklahoma ranking, this suggests that the committee did not employ a consistent process that they applied evenly to all teams. Instead they had one process for Oklahoma, who was rewarded for a non-decisive victory, and a second process for Ohio State, who was penalized for a bad first half (but a dominant second half and overall decisive victory over Wisconsin).

Finally, some readers have asked for a “what if” analysis if Wisconsin had beaten Ohio State. I think we shouldn’t go there. Instead, I’m looking forward to the Rose Bowl. Go Badgers!

1 Ohio St
3 Clemson
4 Georgia
5 Oklahoma
6 Memphis
7 Oregon
8 Boise St
9 Wisconsin
10 Notre Dame
11 Appalachian St
12 Penn St
13 Utah
14 Alabama
15 Auburn
16 Florida
17 Baylor
18 Michigan
19 Minnesota
20 Iowa
21 Cincinnati
22 SMU
23 Navy
24 UCF
25 USC

Big 10 Conference rankings:

1 Ohio St
9 Wisconsin
12 Penn St
18 Michigan
19 Minnesota
20 Iowa
35 Indiana
49 Michigan St
62 Illinois
70 Nebraska
86 Purdue
96 Northwestern
108 Maryland
115 Rutgers