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Each Team’s Chances Of Winning The College Football Playoff

The college football playoff committee has returned its verdict: No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Michigan St., No. 4 Oklahoma. Here’s what those final seedings mean for each team’s championship odds, according to FiveThirtyEight’s model:

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PROBABILITY OF…
TEAM MAKING FINAL NAT. TITLE
Oklahoma 66% 41%
Alabama 68 34
Clemson 34 15
Michigan St. 32 10

Oklahoma comes into the playoff as the favorite with a 41 percent chance of winning the title despite being the fourth seed. That’s because the Sooners have the highest FPI rating (the metric we use to calculate win probabilities for the playoff games) in FBS football. They’re matched up against Clemson (the third-highest rated team of the four playoff teams, according to FPI), and have a 66 percent chance of beating them and advancing to the final.

The other side of the bracket pits Alabama against Michigan St., which made a somewhat surprising move up to No. 3 (our model gave it a 32 percent chance of happening). But that move may not benefit the Spartans. Alabama is better than Clemson according to FPI, and Michigan St. now only has a 32 percent chance to reach the final, rather than the 42 percent chance they would have had if the Spartans faced Clemson.


You can read all of our College Football Playoff coverage here.

Jay Boice is a computational journalist for FiveThirtyEight.

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