Week 14 College Football Projections Update: Projecting a Playoff! (The Only Way To Stop The SEC)

posted in College Football

Everybody loves to hate the BCS.

Sure, it may not be perfect, and it may have its biases. But its purpose is to have the number 1 team play the number 2 team in a championship game, and according to just about any flavor of our power ratings it has succeeded this year.

There’s a reason that every other major sport uses playoffs, though:  the excitement.  It’s always exciting in the late season chase, the early round upsets, and the final clashes of titans.  Unfortunately, the closest we can get in college football is putting together our own brackets, and simulating out the odds.

To do this, I used a bracket odds calculating program originally developed for other sports.  Actually, when I entered in college football as the sport it said “Hahaha, nice try.  We’ll pretend though”.

I used it anyways, setting up single elimination tournaments with all games held at neutral locations, and the seedings determined by the BCS standings.  Beyond the standard 4, 8, and 16 team formats, I also included projected odds for a 6 team playoff where the 1 and 2 seeds receiving a first round bye.

Let’s take a look at how each scenario would play out.

4 Team Playoff

Does Oklahoma State or Alabama deserve a spot in the title game?  What better way to decided than to have them settle it out on the field?

In the other semifinal, LSU faces more than just a speed bump from Andrew Luck and company.

Here are the odds each team would win the title in a four team playoff, based on the predictive ratings we use to drive our college football projections:

SeedTeamTitle Odds
3Oklahoma State22.5%

6 Team Playoff

Personally I’ve always favored the six team playoff, as I think it keeps the importance of finishing in the top 2 that makes college football so exciting.

Oklahoma State would have to work their way through the SEC to a title here, but they still win almost one out of five times.  Stanford and Oregon will also have an exciting rematch for the right to challenge LSU.

Here’s how the odds turn out in a 6 team playoff:

SeedTeamTitle Odds
3Oklahoma State18.3%

8 Team Playoff

Moving up to 8 teams introduces our first mid-major in Boise State, and they would finally have a chance to show they belong among the elites.  A title is a little out of the question for them, but a 33% chance of upsetting Alabama would go a long way.

As the luckiest team in college football this year Kansas State has earned it’s spot, but skill-wise doesn’t belong in the same class as the rest of the field.

Here are each of the 8 teams’ chance for a championship in this format:

SeedTeamTitle Odds
3Oklahoma State20.6%
7Boise State4.0%
8Kansas State0.0%

16 Team Playoff

A sixteen team playoff sounds huge, but even the first round would provide us with some fun games.  Rematches of LSU-Georgia and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State?  Wisconsin looking for mid-major redemption against Boise State?  I’m excited.

Somehow, even with two more opponents to go through, LSU’s title odds are almost the same as with just four teams.  Apparently the possibility of a later round cupcake cancels out the small odds of the Tigers losing early.

Here are the projected title odds for a sixteen team tournament:

SeedTeamTitle Odds
3Oklahoma State13.9%
7Boise State2.4%
9South Carolina0.2%
11Virginia Tech0.0%
8Kansas State0.0%

Which Option Is The Best?

Good question.

They all have pluses and minuses. It’s nice to give more teams a shot, but adding more also decreases the odds that one of the favorites wins.

In the end though, Honeybadger don’t care. LSU is the clear favorite in any format.

By the way, if you’re going to compete in a Bowl Pick’em or are planning on wagering on some of the games, make sure to check out our 2011-2012 college football bowl games section, complete with bowl predictions, bowl betting picks, and bowl pick’em advice and picks.

  • Jvma7621

    The 4 team playoff is the next logical step.  And, we’d still need a system (BCS) to choose the top 4 teams.  Play games on 27 Dec and 10 Jan to allow 14 days between games (eases logistical concerns of filling seats).  Continue to use the bowl system.

    Since we’re being all nice and friendly, I’ll pitch my play-off system here.  First, make ten 12-team conferences.  Each conference has a champion.  Rank them via BCS (or better yet, use my ranking system).  Drop the lowest 2.  First round of playoff is held 3 Dec (means conference playoffs need to be Thanksgiving weekend) using HOME and AWAY.  Home field advantage is huge in college and the top 4 teams should get a benefit for being the top 4.  Then, use the 4 team system mentioned above (neutral sites this time using the bowls).  Other teams still go to bowls.  Everybody is happy and making money hand over fist.  Here’s an example using this year’s data:
    Drop Arkansas St (#34 Sun Belt), N Illinois (#37 MAC), and LA Tech (#56 WAC).  On 3 Dec,
    #25 S Miss @ #1 LSU
    #24 W VA  @ #2 OK St
    #21 Wisc   @ #7 Clemson
    #16 Oregon @ #15 TCU