Skip to main content
Menu
Our Model Thinks Ohio State, Not Clemson, Is The Championship Favorite

The first College Football Playoff rankings are out, and the selection committee ranked Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Alabama as the top four teams, in that order, worthy of the playoff were it held today. But we at FiveThirtyEight want to look into the future. Our model (outlined in the table below) simulates the rest of the season to project which teams the committee will let into the playoff when it releases its final selections on Dec. 6. It expects that Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama and TCU, in that order, are most likely to make the cut. If you want to read more about how the model works, here’s Nate Silver’s explanation of its methodology. If you just want to get to the rankings, here they are:

Ranking Probability of …
Team CFP Elo FPI Conf. Title Playoff Nat. Title
Ohio State 3 1 4 47% 61% 16%
Clemson 1 7 7 56% 51% 12%
Alabama 4 2 6 14% 41% 11%
TCU 8 4 2 37% 31% 11%
Baylor 6 10 1 32% 31% 13%
LSU 2 5 8 22% 30% 8%
Notre Dame 5 8 9 25% 5%
Michigan State 7 3 19 15% 22% 3%
Stanford 11 6 13 46% 19% 3%
Florida 10 9 12 41% 18% 4%
Oklahoma 15 16 3 15% 14% 5%
Mississippi 18 17 10 20% 8% 2%
Iowa 9 12 29 25% 7% <1%
Michigan 17 22 18 7% 6% <1%
Oklahoma St. 14 11 14 15% 6% 1%
Utah 12 15 21 18% 6% <1%
Memphis 13 14 36 21% 6% <1%
Florida State 16 13 15 13% 5% <1%
USC 20 5 30% 4% 1%
Mississippi St. 20 19 17 <1% 3% <1%
Houston 25 23 33 30% 2% <1%
UCLA 23 21 22 5% 1% <1%
North Carolina 26 23 23% <1% <1%
Toledo 24 24 43 28% <1% <1%
Temple 22 32 45 41% <1% <1%
Oregon 25 32 <1% <1% <1%
Wisconsin 18 24 5% <1% <1%
Texas A&M 19 30 16 <1% <1% <1%
Arkansas 39 26 <1% <1% <1%
Penn State 27 41 <1% <1% <1%
Northwestern 21 42 57 <1% <1% <1%

Read more: Our preview of this week’s college football games

Jay Boice is a computational journalist for FiveThirtyEight.

Reuben Fischer-Baum is a visual journalist for FiveThirtyEight.

Andrew Flowers writes about economics and sports for FiveThirtyEight.

Comments