Objective Analysis of CFP Contenders

Submitted by smwilliams on November 28th, 2016 at 12:23 PM

Okay, so there has been a lot of talk on the board about whether Michigan still has a chance to make it into the CFP despite the (questionable) loss on Saturday. I wanted to go team-by-team, scenario-by-scenario and examine the potential outcomes. Now, I'm going to use the latest AP rankings since the CFP rankings won't be released until tomorrow night. However, I'm going to guess that tomorrow's rankings look like this...

1. Alabama

2. Ohio State

3. Clemson

4. Washington

5. Michigan

6. Wisconsin

7. Penn State

8. Colorado

9. Oklahoma

10. Oklahoma State

So, that would be the list of contenders. 

First up...

LOCK: Alabama

No matter what happens in the SEC CG, Alabama is making it to the CFP. They'd be at least on equal footing as every other 1 loss team and I can't see a scenario in which the committee takes Ohio State, Clemson, Washington, and the B1G Champ. Winner ahead of them. 

Scenario 1: Clemson and Washington win, Penn State beats Wisconsin

IN: Alabama, Clemson, Washington

These are 3 Power 5 Champions all with 1 or fewer losses. Colorado and Wisconsin would be eliminated with their 3rd loss. The only debate at that point would be who gets the 4th spot between Ohio State and Penn State. 

Ohio State:

Record: 11-1

Wins: #5 Michigan, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Oklahoma, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #8 Penn State

Penn State: 

Record: 11-2 (B1G Champions)

Wins: #2 Ohio State, #6 Wisconsin, #22 Iowa

Losses: #5 Michigan, #24 Pitt

That's a real tough debate, but I think the committee would favor the Nittany Lions because of the H2H win and the conference championship. They'd have the same # of Top 25 wins and no bad losses. 

Projected NY6:

Peach Bowl: Alabama vs Penn State

Fiesta Bowl: Clemson vs Washington

Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs Colorado or USC

Orange Bowl: Michigan vs Florida State

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State vs Auburn or Florida

Cotton Bowl: Wisconsin vs Western Michigan

Scenario 2: Clemson and Washington win, Wisconsin beats Penn State

IN: Alabama, Clemson, Washington

These are 3 Power 5 Champions all with 1 or fewer losses. Colorado, Penn State, and Oklahoma State would be eliminated with their 3rd loss. The only debate at that point would be who gets the 4th spot between Ohio State and Wisconsin. 

Ohio State:

Record: 11-1

Wins: #5 Michigan, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Oklahoma, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #8 Penn State

Wisconsin: 

Record: 11-2 (B1G Champions)

Wins: #8 Penn State, #21 LSU, #22 Iowa, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #5 Michigan

In this scenario, I think the committee goes with Ohio State because the resumes are very similar, but Ohio State would have 3 Top 10 wins to Wisconsin's 1, and the H2H advantage. 

Projected NY6:

Peach Bowl: Alabama vs Ohio State

Fiesta Bowl: Clemson vs Washington

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs Colorado or USC

Orange Bowl: Michigan vs Florida State

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State vs Auburn or Florida

Cotton Bowl: Penn State vs Western Michigan

Scenario 3: Washington loses, Penn State beats Wisconsin

IN: Alabama, Clemson

Now, we're getting somewhere. Alabama and either Clemson or Washington would be in. There would be 2 spots available for Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Colorado, and either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. 

Ohio State:

Record: 11-1

Wins: #5 Michigan, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Oklahoma, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #8 Penn State

Penn State: 

Record: 11-2 (B1G Champions)

Wins: #2 Ohio State, #6 Wisconsin, #22 Iowa

Losses: #5 Michigan, #24 Pitt

Michigan:

Record: 10-2 

Wins: #6 Wisconsin, #8 Penn State, #9 Colorado

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #22 Iowa

Colorado:

Record: 11-2 (Pac-12 Champions)

Wins: #4 Washington, #17 Stanford,

Losses: #5 Michigan, #10 USC

Oklahoma

Record: 10-2 (Big XII Champions)

Wins: #11 Oklahoma State, #14 West Virginia

Losses: Houston, #2 Ohio State

OR

Oklahoma State

Record: 10-2 (Big XII Champions)

Wins: #7 Oklahoma, #14 West Virginia, #24 Pitt

Losses: Central Michigan, Baylor

This would probably be a good barometer for how much conference titles matter. I don't think Oklahoma State comes close to making it because of the two bad losses to .500 teams so we can eliminate them from any future scenarios. Oklahoma has a bad loss and would have zero Top 10 wins. Their resume just wouldn't stack up to any of the other contenders who would all have a Top 10 win and zero bad losses. I can't see a way the committee puts in Colorado ahead of Penn State under any scenario, so in this case, I think Penn State and Ohio State get in.

Projected NY6:

Peach Bowl: Alabama vs Penn State

Fiesta Bowl: Clemson vs Ohio State

Rose Bowl: Michigan vs Colorado

Orange Bowl: Wisconsin vs Florida State

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State vs Auburn or Florida

Cotton Bowl: Washington vs Western Michigan

Scenario 4: Washington loses, Wisconsin beats Penn State

IN: Alabama, Clemson

A little different here because of the differences between Wisconsin and Penn State.

Ohio State:

Record: 11-1

Wins: #5 Michigan, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Oklahoma, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #8 Penn State

Wisconsin: 

Record: 11-2 (B1G Champions)

Wins: #8 Penn State, #21 LSU, #22 Iowa, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #5 Michigan

Michigan:

Record: 10-2 

Wins: #6 Wisconsin, #8 Penn State, #9 Colorado

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #22 Iowa

Colorado:

Record: 11-2 (Pac-12 Champions)

Wins: #4 Washington, #17 Stanford,

Losses: #5 Michigan, #10 USC

Washington:

Record: 11-2

Wins: #17 Stanford

Losses:  #9 Colorado, #10 USC

Oklahoma

Record: 10-2 (Big XII Champions)

Wins: #11 Oklahoma State, #14 West Virginia

Losses: Houston, #2 Ohio State

I have to imagine Ohio State would definitely be in in this scenario, but here is an opportunity for Michigan to sneak in. Wisconsin would have 1 Top 10 win (over Penn State) and H2H losses to both Ohio State and Michigan. Would the committee value the conference championship and that extra win enough? The Coaches Poll certainly had no issues putting Wisconsin over Michigan in their latest poll. Again, Oklahoma's resume pales in comparison especially with the result vs Ohio State and the lack of high quality wins. Colorado maybe sneaks in, but it'd be tough to argue they deserve a spot over Wisconsin who has twice as many Top 25 win and a better loss (Michigan cancelling out). Washington's weak non-con schedule would most certainly eliminate them as their best win would be over Stanford and they'd have lost to any other Top 25 team they played. 

Projected NY6:

Peach Bowl: Alabama vs Wisconsin or Michigan 

Fiesta Bowl: Clemson vs Ohio State

Rose Bowl: Michigan or Wisconsin vs Colorado

Orange Bowl: Penn State vs Florida State

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State vs Auburn or Florida

Cotton Bowl: Washington vs Western Michigan

Scenario 5: Clemson loses, Penn State beats Wisconsin

IN: Alabama, Washington

Pretty much the same deal as Scenario 3, but with Washington in place of Clemson. At that point, Clemson will have losses to Pitt and West Virginia and three good wins so they'd be in the conversation. 

Ohio State:

Record: 11-1

Wins: #5 Michigan, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Oklahoma, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #8 Penn State

Penn State: 

Record: 11-2 (B1G Champions)

Wins: #2 Ohio State, #6 Wisconsin, #22 Iowa

Losses: #5 Michigan, #24 Pitt

Michigan:

Record: 10-2 

Wins: #6 Wisconsin, #8 Penn State, #9 Colorado

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #22 Iowa

Clemson:

Record: 11-2

Wins: #12 Florida State, #16 Louisville, #18 Auburn

Losses: Virginia Tech, #24 Pitt

Colorado:

Record: 11-2 (Pac-12 Champions)

Wins: #4 Washington, #17 Stanford,

Losses: #5 Michigan, #10 USC

Oklahoma

Record: 10-2 (Big XII Champions)

Wins: #11 Oklahoma State, #14 West Virginia

Losses: Houston, #2 Ohio State

This probably ends up the same way as Scenario 3 because you have to put in Ohio State in this scenario and if Ohio State goes, Penn State probably is in too. 

Projected NY6:

Peach Bowl: Alabama vs Penn State

Fiesta Bowl: Washington vs Ohio State

Rose Bowl: Michigan vs Colorado or USC

Orange Bowl: Wisconsin vs Clemson

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State vs Auburn or Florida

Cotton Bowl: Colorado or USC or Florida State vs Western Michigan

Scenario 6: Clemson loses, Wisconsin beats Penn State

IN: Alabama, Washington

So, here we go again with the same deal as Scenario 4, but with a little different outcome. Again, how much do conference championships and a 11th win matter. Does the totality of the season and H2H matter more? I'd like to think it does, but the committee may say that Michigan beat Wisconsin by 7 points at home, so they're basically on equal footing. 

Ohio State:

Record: 11-1

Wins: #5 Michigan, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Oklahoma, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #8 Penn State

Wisconsin: 

Record: 11-2 (B1G Champions)

Wins: #8 Penn State, #21 LSU, #22 Iowa, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #5 Michigan

Michigan:

Record: 10-2 

Wins: #6 Wisconsin, #8 Penn State, #9 Colorado

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #22 Iowa

Colorado:

Record: 11-2 (Pac-12 Champions)

Wins: #4 Washington, #17 Stanford,

Losses: #5 Michigan, #10 USC

Clemson:

Record: 11-2

Wins: #12 Florida State, #16 Louisville, #18 Auburn

Losses: Virginia Tech, #24 Pitt

Oklahoma

Record: 10-2 (Big XII Champions)

Wins: #11 Oklahoma State, #14 West Virginia

Losses: Houston, #2 Ohio State

Projected NY6:

Peach Bowl: Alabama vs Wisconsin or Michigan 

Fiesta Bowl: Washington vs Ohio State

Rose Bowl: Michigan or Wisconsin vs Colorado or USC

Orange Bowl: Penn State vs Clemson

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State vs Auburn or Florida

Cotton Bowl: Colorado or USC or Florida State vs Western Michigan

Scenario 7: Clemson AND Washington lose, Penn State beats Wisconsin

IN: Alabama

Now, this is where things get good. There are 3 available spots and 6 teams for those 3 spots. You'd have 3 conference champions in Penn State, Colorado, and Oklahoma and then Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson, and Washington. 

Ohio State:

Record: 11-1

Wins: #5 Michigan, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Oklahoma, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #8 Penn State

Penn State: 

Record: 11-2 (B1G Champions)

Wins: #2 Ohio State, #6 Wisconsin, #22 Iowa

Losses: #5 Michigan, #24 Pitt

Michigan:

Record: 10-2 

Wins: #6 Wisconsin, #8 Penn State, #9 Colorado

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #22 Iowa

Colorado:

Record: 11-2 (Pac-12 Champions)

Wins: #4 Washington, #17 Stanford,

Losses: #5 Michigan, #10 USC

Clemson:

Record: 11-2

Wins: #12 Florida State, #16 Louisville, #18 Auburn

Losses: Virginia Tech, #24 Pitt

Oklahoma

Record: 10-2 (Big XII Champions)

Wins: #11 Oklahoma State, #14 West Virginia

Losses: Houston, #2 Ohio State

Washington:

Record: 11-2

Wins: #17 Stanford

Losses:  #9 Colorado, #10 USC

Again, I think we can go ahead and eliminate Washington due to a lack of good wins. There's zero chance the CFP puts in 3 B1G teams in the playoff so again, Penn State and Ohio State go and I think Colorado goes at that point. 

Projected NY6:

Peach Bowl: Alabama vs Penn State

Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs Colorado or Oklahoma

Rose Bowl: Michigan vs Colorado or Washington or USC

Orange Bowl: Wisconsin vs Clemson

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State vs Auburn or Florida

Cotton Bowl: Washington or USC vs Western Michigan

Scenario 8: Clemson AND Washington lose, Wisconsin beats Penn State

IN: Alabama

Here is Michigan's best chance to make the CFP. They'd have the H2H win over Wisconsin and you can't make the Penn State argument (they beat Ohio State). A straight comparison of resumes would give Michigan the edge over any other contender. The only other 2 loss teams that will have won the conference championship would be Colorado who Michigan beat by 17 points, Wisconsin who Michigan beat as well, and Oklahoma who would have an outside shot. It'd be far from a guarantee that Michigan would make it, but this would be the only scenario where I'd say it's a 50/50 proposition. 

Ohio State:

Record: 11-1

Wins: #5 Michigan, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Oklahoma, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #8 Penn State

Wisconsin: 

Record: 11-2 (B1G Champions)

Wins: #8 Penn State, #21 LSU, #22 Iowa, #23 Nebraska

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #5 Michigan

Michigan:

Record: 10-2 

Wins: #6 Wisconsin, #8 Penn State, #9 Colorado

Losses: #2 Ohio State, #22 Iowa

Colorado:

Record: 11-2 (Pac-12 Champions)

Wins: #4 Washington, #17 Stanford,

Losses: #5 Michigan, #10 USC

Clemson:

Record: 11-2

Wins: #12 Florida State, #16 Louisville, #18 Auburn

Losses: Virginia Tech, #24 Pitt

Oklahoma

Record: 10-2 (Big XII Champions)

Wins: #11 Oklahoma State, #14 West Virginia

Losses: Houston, #2 Ohio State

Washington:

Record: 11-2

Wins: #17 Stanford

Losses:  #9 Colorado, #10 USC

Projected NY6:

Peach Bowl: Alabama vs Michigan or Wisconsin 

Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs Colorado or Oklahoma

Rose Bowl: Michigan or Wisconsin vs Colorado or Washington or USC

Orange Bowl: Penn State vs Clemson

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State vs Auburn or Florida

Cotton Bowl: Washington or USC vs Western Michigan

TLDR: Michigan needs Wisconsin to beat Penn State and at least Washington or Clemson to lose (and probably both) to have a shot at the CFP. Most likely outcome is an Orange Bowl against Florida State or a Rose Bowl against Colorado or USC. 

Comments

carolina blue

November 28th, 2016 at 12:53 PM ^

It seems like you're using transitive property with penn state getting in over Michigan. Problem is we slaughtered them head to head, and we have two other top ten wins to boot. Our losses were each on the road where we had a lead with no time left on the clock (ok, 1 second with OSU, but you get the point).

I think you're overvaluing conference championship with penn state. They're not getting in over us.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

smwilliams

November 28th, 2016 at 1:19 PM ^

I don't think it's the transitive property if you take the full resume into account. If Penn State wins, they'd have 2 Top 10 wins and another Top 25 win and 2 losses (both in the Top 25). Yes, Michigan beat Penn State H2H, but they finished 3rd in the division. How does the committe go:

"Yes, Penn State won their division and their conference and had multiple impressive wins while suffering no bad losses, but they lost one game to Michigan and so we're putting Michigan in."

I don't see them operating like that where the value of one game outweights the entirety of both teams resumes. Conference championships are a factor in the committee's judgment whether we like it or not. 

canzior

November 28th, 2016 at 6:02 PM ^

Eye test wont support PSU over M especially after the game that was played this weekend. No one in the country thinks Penn State is better than M, regardless of conf title. they have a bad loss to Pitt and got smoked by M.

UMAmaizinBlue

November 28th, 2016 at 12:54 PM ^

About this whole thing is that we have to watch other football teams play this Saturday and not Michigan. Every time I think about that it hurts all over again. At least this guide helps make the Saturday a bit more enjoyable. I remember UCLA beating a seemingly unbeatable USC team back in 2006 to keep Michigan's BCS hopes alive in a chaotic day of football. Crossing my fingers for a repeat (but not holding my breath).

umfan83

November 28th, 2016 at 12:55 PM ^

Minor nitpick but I don't see the Rose Bowl wanting a Colorado vs. Michigan rematch.  Not sure which team would get the boot, but there are likely more Big Ten teams with deserving Rose Bowl quality resumes than Pac 12 teams so guessing Michigan would go to Orange bowl.

smwilliams

November 28th, 2016 at 2:22 PM ^

Not sure if the Rose Bowl/Pac-12 works like the Big Ten where the Rose Bowl has a mandate to take the conference champion if they aren't in the CFP. I still think the most likely outcome is Michigan playing Florida State (and destroying them) in the Orange Bowl and finishing the year ranked #3. 

UMFanstuckinOhio

November 28th, 2016 at 1:21 PM ^

is not in!!!!!!  PSU is not getting in over OSU. Why you ask? OSU has one less loss than PSU so they are not considered similar and thus do not need to apply the three criteria.  ALL ONE LOSS Teams are in the CFP. Now if Clemson or Washington lose then you have to use the three criteria to judge similar teams. If one of them loses then it comes down to who wins the BIG TEN. If Wisconsin wins they get in because they have the best SOS and a Conference championship. IF PSU Wins Michigan gets in because they won head to head by 39 points and PSU and UM strength of schedule will be identical. PSU will have a conference championship, but UM has 3 wins over top 10 teams. I say UM is in in theis case.

jrb7

November 28th, 2016 at 1:19 PM ^

I hate saying it, but I think in addition to Alabama, OSU is also a lock. The committee had them at #2. I don't see any way last Saturday happens and they drop to #5.

That means you have the Washington, Clemson and Big 10 winner vying for 3 spots. My opinion is that if Washington and Clemson both win, the committee will pick them over a 2-loss Big 10 Champ.

If either Washington or Clemson lose, I think the 4th spot gets taken by Wisconsin or Penn State.

Now, if both Washington and Clemson lose, things could get really interesting. You'd have Alabama, OSU, and Big 10 Champ in the first 3 places. The fourth place would be between Colorado, Michigan and the Oklahoma, Oklahoma State winner. Oklahoma's 2-losses (to Houston and OSU) aren't that bad; despite a weak schedule, a Big 12 championship might be enough to nab that 4th spot. I have to believe Oklahoma State's losses to Central Michigan and Baylor eliminate them from the playoff picture, even with a Big 12 championship. With an Oklahoma loss it would come down to Michigan and Colorado. It'd be really tough for the committee to ignore that head-to-head result.

I will be rooting for Virginia Tech, Colorado and Oklahoma State this weekend.

doggdetroit

November 28th, 2016 at 1:52 PM ^

OSU actually has 4 top 25 wins (you left out their win against #23 Nebraska). So their resume should read as follows:

wins vs. #5 Michigan, at #6 Wisconsin, at #7 Oklahoma, vs. #23 Nebraska
loss at #8 Penn State

It's possible that Nebraska falls out of the CFP top 25, but they remained in the AP top 25 this week falling 6 spots from #17. They were 16th in the CFP top 25.  So unless Nebraska suffers a more severe drop this week, OSU will have the most top 25 wins of any contender (Alabama and Clemson can each pick up their 4th this Saturday). They also have the best loss of any contender (on the road to #7 PSU). I don't see them getting left out in any scenario, not after beating an at worst #5 Michigan team.
 

dyoder

November 28th, 2016 at 11:03 PM ^

I'd be cautious about reading too much into how they rank the teams this week. Even if Michigan stays in front of Wisconsin, Penn State, and Colorado, the committee may be looking for a team to make a statement in their conference title game. In which case they'll leap frog us the final week anyway.

dyoder

November 28th, 2016 at 11:15 PM ^

Logically, if OSU remains #2, I'm not sure how you justify dropping Michigan at all. They lost on the road in double-overtime to the team ranked in front of them. The game literally could not have been closer without Michigan winning. So if Michigan was #3 before the game, how do you justify dropping them to #4 or #5, let alone behind a team they beat head-to-head.

The only way to justify that would be to say that someone else made such a decisive statement in their own games as to force themselves into the millimeter-wide space between OSU and Michigan.

Of course, logic doesn't seem to have much to do with this, so that's moot. And it does seem weird to have conference championships and then not have them count for anything. On the other hand, college basketball basically does this, so why not football?

goblueram

November 29th, 2016 at 11:17 AM ^

Based on this analysis, I'm gathering you think Michigan gets in over Wisconsin, but doesn't over Penn State.  I'm thinking Michigan wins the comparison to Penn State based on the head to head beatdown.  At this point, I believe that if either Clemson or Washington loses we are in.

smwilliams

November 29th, 2016 at 12:27 PM ^

I think the biggest concern for me about Penn State is the Nittany Lions win over Ohio State. How do you justify leaving out Penn State who won their division and conference and beat another playoff team H2H for a team that finished 3rd in their division, lost to that same team that Penn State beat, and finished up the year 1-2? One H2H win would be tough to overcome all the things in PSU's favor. 

Are we better than Penn State? 100% yes. That excuse about being banged up at the LB level fails to pass the mustard when their offense scored 3 points before garbage time. 

Do we deserve to go to the playoff over Penn State if they beat Wisconsin? Probably not. 

Wisconsin would have the wins against Penn State and Iowa, but losses to both of the other B1G contenders. 

Honestly, I find it possible that Michigan gets in over Wisconsin, even if it's very unlikely. 

ak47

November 29th, 2016 at 2:41 PM ^

Exactly, while the goal is to get the 4 best teams in some of what happened during the regular season has to mater too, otherwise USC would have a good case too.

It'll just be interesting if it comes down to us vs PSU if one of Clemson or Washington loses.  How much does the comitte care about conferences, Iowa and Pitt are seen as similar teams, does the fact that Iowa is also in the big ten mean so much that it wipes out that Michigan beat psu by 39?  I have no idea.

NJMichigan

November 29th, 2016 at 2:11 PM ^

I'd like to argue that no matter a Penn St or Wisconsin victory, if both Clemson and Washington lose, we would have a spot in the playoffs. The matchups are as following for those team's conference championships:                                                                                                        Clemson vs Virginia Tech                                                                                                           Colorado vs Washington                                                                                                               Wisconsin vs Penn St.                                                                                                                 In this case, Virginia Tech, even though having the ACC Championsip, has all three losses to unranked opponents. They don't make the playoffs as well and Clemson, who has (mostly) played close games against poor opponents with two losses, one to unranked Pittsburgh and the other to a 3 loss VT, has their playoff stock drop.

With Colorado winning against Washington, Washington is out with two losses and all their wins comming against sub-par teams in the case strength of schedule is accurately applied. Colorado also misses the playoffs despite winning the conference as they suffered a 17 point loss to Michigan.

Finally, regardless of who wins the Big 10, neither Wisconsin or Penn St. can make it above Michigan, we beat both of them, Wisconsin by 7 but we looked better than that (something selection committee is supposed to look at, how the teams looked) and beat Penn St. by 39. Alabama has secured #1, Ohio St. comes in at #2 with the head-to-head win over us. Michigan has one of the last two spots locked down having a close game to number 2 OSU and a close game to number 22 Iowa. The final spot is up for grabs between Oklahoma, best 3 loss team, and Clemson, second best 2 loss team.

I don't object anything you have said, this is simply my opinion on the scenario.

991GT3

November 29th, 2016 at 5:31 PM ^

but explain to me the purpose of the Committee ranking teams before they decide who is in. PSU beat OSU and yet are ranked at least five psotion lower than OSU. Iowa beat Michigan but is ranked almost 20 positions below Michigan. The Committee is trying to find the best four teams in the country and conference chanmpionships aren't necessarily an indicator who is best. 

My sole concern about Michigan's chances is that they lost two of the last three games they played. That may weigh heavily with the Committee.