DALLAS, TX (September 18, 2017) – Week 4 of the college football season brings a shake-up atop the Fan Plan Championship Index ratings. The Oklahoma Sooners have moved to the top of the standings with a 31.10% chance to make the national championship game, followed by the Clemson Tigers at No. 2 with a 26.16% chance to make the championship game. Alabama, which has been No. 1 throughout the preseason and early season, drops to No. 3 overall with a 22.40% chance to make the championship game.
Michigan rounds out the top four and qualified for the fourth projected playoff seed. This week the Pac-12 is the conference projected to be left out, as USC (11.59% chance to make the championship game) is the highest rated team from that conference but comes in at No. 7 overall in the FPCI after being ranked No. 3 a week ago.
The biggest jump came from Mississippi State, which ranked No. 5 overall this week with a 12.03% chance to make the national championship game. The Bulldogs have make huge strides in back-to-back weeks, going from unranked to No. 14 last week and now jumping from No. 14 to No. 5 following their impressive win over previously No. 10 LSU.
Following Mississippi State, Nos. 6-10 include Penn State (11.93%), Ohio State (11.59%), USC, Oklahoma State (10.32%), and Wisconsin (9.88%).
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Compiled weekly during the season, the FPCI is a proprietary analytical look at the current state of the chase for college football’s national championship. As opposed to traditional polls and rankings which purport to rank the best teams at a particular point in the season, the FPCI aims to rate college football teams by their real-time percent chance to make the national championship game — a dynamic metric that no other poll or ranking system measures.
The FPCI also includes the cost of a Fan Plan for each team. A Fan Plan is a one-of-a-kind indemnity product fans can purchase for their favorite team. If that team goes to the national championship game, Fan Plan pays for the fan’s game tickets and travel costs, up to the total coverage value of the Fan Plan. Each Fan Plan has a $1,000 coverage value and fans can buy additional coverage in $1,000 increments, up to $10,000 in total coverage. Fan Plan costs are dynamic and change based on each team’s real-time odds of making the championship game. The FPCI and Fan Plan pricing are based on season simulations that take into account a team’s wins and losses, opponents’ results, suspensions, weather, SOS, and other data points and projections.
FAN PLAN CHAMPIONSHIP INDEX NEWS & NOTES
NEW NAME AT THE TOP: For the first time this season, there is a team not named Alabama atop the Fan Plan Championship Index. The Oklahoma Sooners moved to No. 1 in the FPCI with a 31.1% chance to make the national championship game, overtaking the Crimson Tide. But it wasn’t just the Sooners that overtook Alabama. Clemson moved to No. 2 in the rankings (26.2%), leaving Alabama at No. 3 with a 22.4% chance to make the championship game. Alabama suffered the largest drop in the FPCI ratings this week, losing 12.1 percentage points from last week’s compilation. Most of Alabama’s drop can be directly attributed to the huge jump made by Mississippi State in this week’s FPCI. The Bulldogs jumped 9.1% to move to No. 5 in the overall ratings (12.03% to make the championship game), and since a heavy weighting is given to the expected conference champion in the formulas used to determine the FPCI’s percent to make the national championship game, a huge jump by a team in the ratings is typically offset by a similar drop from one or more conference teams above it in the ratings.
FOUR CLEAR LEADERS AFTER THREE WEEKS: With a quarter of the college football season in the books, the FPCI is beginning to take shape and starting to sort out the contenders from the pretenders. The Week 4 FPCI offers a glimpse at the four conferences that currently have a stranglehold on the four College Football Playoff spots. The Big 12, ACC, SEC, and Big 10 – represented by Oklahoma (31.1% chance to make the national championship game), Clemson (26.16%), Alabama (22.4%), and Michigan (18.04%) – are out front by a sizeable margin. On the outside looking in at the moment is the Pac-12, which has just one team in the FPCI Top 10 in the No. 7 USC Trojans. USC currently sits at an 11.59% chance to make the national championship game. This week’s FPCI conference rankings show a near inverse of the individual team rankings at the top. The SEC (0.6250 rating) remains the highest-rated conference, though the Pac-12 has surged extremely close with its 0.6008 rating. The Big Ten is third, followed by the ACC and the Big 12, illustrating that the teams at the top of the FPCI ratings generally have an easier conference slate to traverse than some of the other contenders and, therefore, have a better chance to win their conference and make the playoffs.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FPCI AND POLLS BEGIN TO EMERGE: Each week we’ve noted the differences between the FPCI and the human polls, with the main difference being what each attempts to determine. The AP Poll and the Coaches’ Poll both attempt to rank the teams from best to worst at that point in the season. The FPCI has a totally different take in how it rates teams. The FPCI bases its ratings on a team’s percent chance to play in the national championship game, so it is a projection based on a large number of weighted factors that all go into a simulation of the season. Each week we run the simulation thousands of times to ultimately end up with our data, and one of those data points is each team’s percent chance to make the national championship game, the specific metric we use for our ratings.
Through the preseason and the first few weeks of the 2017 season, the FPCI and the human polls largely had similar results. However, once teams began to play multiple games and real data from the current season could be ingested into the FPCI analytics engine, some of the separation began to emerge. Such is the case this week with the top three in the FPCI. The human polls are in agreement with their rankings of Alabama, Clemson, and Oklahoma as their top three teams this week. The FPCI, as noted, has it Oklahoma, Clemson, and Alabama. This truly shows the difference in the two sets of rankings. Upon closer examination, the FPCI’s power ratings for the week has Alabama, Clemson, and Oklahoma as the top three teams, just like the human polls, but because that’s not what the FPCI is primarily measuring, the power rating is just one of many pieces of data that the FPCI uses to ultimately determine its percent chance to make the playoffs rating metric.
WE SAW IT COMING: Though the FPCI didn’t predict Mississippi State’s dismantling of LSU in Week 3 (the FPCI gave the Tigers a 62% chance to win the game), Mississippi State was clearly on the FPCI’s radar entering the week. The Bulldogs were the No. 14 team in the Week 3 FPCI, just four spots down from LSU’s No. 10 ranking. While the FPCI had the Bulldogs at No. 14, neither of the human polls had Mississippi State ranked in Week 3.
With their win over the Tigers, the Bulldogs made another huge jump and now sit at No. 5 in the FPCI rankings with a 12.03% chance to make the national championship game. Mississippi State has also become the clear No. 2 team in the SEC West behind Alabama. The Crimson Tide have a 29.32% chance to win the SEC in this week’s ratings, followed by Mississippi State with a 16.19% chance to win the league. Behind Mississippi State are SEC East favorites Florida at a 16.01% chance and Georgia at a 12.59% chance.
There’s no rest for Mississippi State, as the fresh face in the FPCI takes to the road this weekend to face another set of Bulldogs, the Georgia Bulldogs, in a crucial SEC showdown in Athens.
WHO COULD STILL MAKE A RUN?: Still looking to identify a team with a cheap $20 Fan Plan team that could be set up to make a run as the season goes along? If you compare the teams’ current FPCI ratings with their overall power rating, there are a few interesting discrepancies, especially when looking at some lower ranked teams that still have high power rankings.
For example, the Florida State Seminoles sit at No. 21 in the FPCI ratings and have a Fan Plan price of $20.00. But the Seminoles have a power rating of 12, meaning our overall team calculations have them as the 12th-best team in the country right now. Because Clemson has two impressive wins on the season, including a huge win over Louisville, the Tigers’ relative strength is affecting Florida State’s FPCI ranking, but the two teams still have to play each other, and our ratings say that the ‘Noles are still no slouch despite having lost their starting QB.
Now to LSU. The Tigers (Fan Plan price $20.00) are still listed as the 13-best team based on our power ratings. However, after their loss to Mississippi State, their FPCI rating is No. 30. The Tigers still have a road to Atlanta available to them, though they no longer control their own destiny. But with some huge games still on the schedule, if LSU can find a way to run the table, it’s likely they would still be right there when the final playoff teams are announced.
Then comes Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish (Fan Plan price $20.00) are looking for a bounce-back season after their debacle a year ago and are at 2-1 with a one-point loss to Georgia. This week the Fighting Irish take to the road for a game at Michigan State, a team with just two MAC wins under its belt. The Irish, being without a conference, get dinged for that in the FPCI metrics unless they are a zero- or one-loss team, so they must finish the season undefeated to have a chance at the playoffs. But Notre Dame has a power rating of 14 despite being ranked No. 32 in the FPCI, so the discrepancy might make Notre Dame worth taking a second look, as the Irish play only one team the rest of the way (USC) that currently has a higher power rating than they currently do.
NEXT MAN UP: While four teams have established themselves as favorites in their respective conferences and, thus, have relatively high Fan Plan prices, there are some teams waiting in the wings to overtake the favorites. And those teams still have affordable Fan Plan prices entering Week Four of the season, so fans may want to roll the dice on some of these teams before the wacky world that is college football shuffles the deck with a slate of upsets.
In the SEC, Alabama’s price of $257.60 is actually down from a season high of $412.16, making the Tide a tempting buy themselves. But if you look past Alabama at the teams eyeing them in the standings, Mississippi State, the Week 4 flavor of the week, is just $90.23, while SEC East foes Georgia and Florida are $25.00 and $20.00, respectively.
Oklahoma has the highest Fan Plan price this week at $357.85. But fans can still swipe up No. 9 Oklahoma State for $77.40 and No. 12 TCU for $44.63.
Clemson’s Fan Plan price of $300.84 leads the ACC. All other ACC teams’ Fan Plans can be purchased for just $20.00. In the Big Ten, No. 4 Michigan is priced at $135.30. But if you think Wisconsin, Penn State, or Ohio State can ultimately take the Big Ten crown, those Fan Plans can be purchased for $98.80, $89.48, or $86.92, respectively.
Finally, in the Pac-12, the league that is currently projected to be left out, USC is the top-rated team at No. 7 and has a Fan Plan price of $86.92. That’s already an extremely attractive price, but if you don’t believe the Trojans have what it takes to win the conference this season, Washington can be purchased for $79.70, Washington State for $37.25, and Oregon for $27.50.