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

NCAA Football forecasts: November 19, 2018

Below are the teams forecasted to make the College Football Playoff based on a simulation of the remaining season and conference championship games. These are different than the rankings (see this week’s NCAA football rankings), since this list takes the remaining football season into account, including possible conference championship games. The remaining games help us understand possible playoff scenarios.

Seven teams have a reasonable chance of getting into the College Football Playoff. Alabama is the top-ranked team, but is the fourth likeliest team to make the playoff due to the challenging remaining schedule and SEC championship game. Clemson, on the other hand, has an easy remaining schedule, relatively speaking. They made the playoff in 97% of my forecasts, including some of the forecasts in which Clemson lost one of their remaining games. Notre Dame does not have a conference championship game. I think Notre Dame is a lock, although 1% of my forecasts had Notre Dame being left out of the playoff due to a combination of events, including a loss against USC and other teams winning. Even though I have no B1G football teams ranked in the top 4, in all likelihood either Michigan or Ohio State will make the College Football Playoff according to my forecasts. 

Not all of these teams can win their remaining games. Michigan and Ohio State play next week. Alabama and Georgia have both clinched berths in the SEC championship game. These remaining matchups are important for forecasting what could happen.

  1. Notre Dame (lock)
  2. Clemson (lock)
  3. Michigan
  4. Alabama
  5. Georgia
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Ohio St