College Football Playoff Odds: Where 8 Contenders Stand Heading Into Final Week

We had a chaotic Week 13, but all the major contenders survived (sorry, Louisville) and we have the same eight contenders we’ve had for the past month. Seven of those eight teams play this weekend, including rivals in the Pac-12 (Washington vs. Oregon rematch) and the SEC (Georgia vs. Alabama). There are various combinations of outcomes that determine which four teams enter the College Football Playoff, and my projection model projects how likely it is that each team will make the field of four and win the national title.

A few caveats should be added to predictions this week. My season simulator uses a model I created to select playoff teams. The playoff selection model is very simple and, in my opinion, very similar to the team’s selection process, which creates a “resume strength rating” derived from previous resume strength ratings, past playoff rankings, and playoff selections for each season. That is, the model makes certain assumptions in scenarios where mass discussion occurs.

To be honest, this season is unprecedented in terms of the number of playoff teams that have qualified this late in the season, so the algorithm may not be great. For example, my performance put 12-1 Washington ahead of 11-1 Ohio State. So will the committee agree? Who knows, but that’s why Ohio State’s CFP chances are so low in these projections. My skin crawls thinking about Oregon booting Texas and Alabama.

Here’s how the national title contenders rank heading into the conference championship games, according to my model.

Projected national title and College Football Playoff chances

The biggest risers in national title opportunities

Michigan: +7.5% (16.9% to 24.4%)

Alabama: +5.4% (6.6% to 12%)

Texas: +2.9% (5.1% to 8%)

Biggest fallers in national title chances

Ohio State: -14.7% (15% to 0.3%)

Washington: -4.2% (7.6% to 3.4%)

Louisville: -0.7% (0.7% to 0%)

Biggest Rises in CFP Opportunities

Michigan: +32.7% (65.9% to 98.6%)

Texas: +20.4% (27.5% to 47.9%)

Oregon: +19% (45.7% to 64.7%)

It’s obvious why Michigan is here. Texas is in part because the Longhorns are playing Oklahoma State in place of Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Oregon has cleared the state ban and is in the Pac-12 title game for a rematch against Washington, which continues to fall in my model due to unimpressive results. My model strongly favors Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.

Florida State missed the top three here, but saw a big jump in CFP prospects. The Seminoles are still seen as a long shot for the national title after Jordan Travis’ injury and are only a slight favorite against Louisville, but it won and is in the CFP for FSU.

The biggest fallers in CFP opportunities

Ohio State: -56.2% (57.5% to 1.3%)

Washington: -23.6% (50.7% to 27.1%)

Georgia: -14.5% (84.1% to 69.6%)

Washington’s chances also fell due to the Huskies playing Oregon instead of Arizona, which was not decided last week.

The case of Georgia is interesting. With the win at Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs’ national ranking rose slightly (29.5% to 29.8%). However, Georgia’s CFP hopes dwindled last week as, like Washington, Georgia’s chances to come in at 12-1 were abandoned due to lack of handicaps. Georgia would love to beat Alabama and still has a long way to go in the CFP at 12-1, but not nearly as much as it was a week ago.

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(Photo by Blake Coram: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)

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