DALLAS – As college football’s regular season draws closer to an end, every game takes on more magnification, especially as it relates to the teams still left in the chase for the national championship. Losses at the end of the season tend to carry much more magnification than losses early on, so a loss to the wrong opponent this time of year just might put a team on the outside looking in of the playoff race.
The weekend served as Elimination Saturday for two traditional college football powers. After spending most of the season ranked in the FPCI Top 5, the Michigan Wolverines dropped out of the FPCI for the first time this weekend after a loss to Penn State. The USC Trojans also fell out of the FPCI following their loss at Notre Dame.
After a week’s hiatus, the Georgia Bulldogs returned to the No. 1 spot in this week’s, soaring to an incredible 71.45% chance to make the college football national championship game. Georgia is followed by No. 2 Penn State, which all but eliminated Michigan, one of its Big Ten contenders, from the conference and national championship race. Notre Dame comes in at No. 3 with a 34.11% chance to make the championship game, followed by Alabama, the second SEC team in the Top 4, at No. 4 with a 17.87% chance to make the national championship game.
Following the Top 4, the remainder of the FPCI Top 10 includes No. 5 Ohio State (17.73%) No. 6 Miami (7.10%). No. 7 Michigan State (2.80%), No. 8 Auburn (2.71%), No. 9 Oklahoma (2.51%), and No. 10 North Carolina State (2.08%).
|WK 9 RANK
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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
WITH POTENTIAL PLAYOFF FIELD SHRINKING, WHO’S IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT?: With just 4-5 regular season games still on each team’s slate, the group of teams still with a chance to play in the national championship game is beginning to shrink to a handful of teams. This week the FPCI indicates that there are 26 teams left that have a chance to make the playoff field, but just 18 teams still with a chance to play in the national championship game. The FPCI ratings have begun to really hone in on a group that control their own destiny as it relates to the championship game.
The SEC champion and Big Ten champion both would seem to have a direct path to the playoffs at this point in the season. It would be a huge surprise if both No. 1 Georgia and No. 4 Alabama did not arrive in Atlanta with one loss or fewer. Both are favorites to finish the regular season undefeated, and the winner of that matchup, if it happens, will certainly have earned a spot in the playoff field, with a chance that both teams could advance of both were undefeated heading into that game.
The Big Ten champion seems to be the other lock in the field right now. In that conference, the big matchup is not in the conference championship game, but instead this upcoming weekend when No. 2 Penn State travels to Columbus to face No. 5 Ohio State. If Penn State wins the game, the Nittany Lions would then only have to beat No. 7 Michigan State the following week in order to waltz into the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, where a win would place them into the playoff field. If Ohio State wins this weekend, that would put the Buckeyes in the driver’s seat to the playoffs and leave Penn State, if it can win out afterwards, as another one-loss team with an argument for being in the field.
The only other teams that would seem to control their own destiny to the playoffs are No. 6 Miami in the ACC and No. 11 TCU in the Big 12. For both teams to be assured of a spot in the field, they would have to continue their winning ways and win their respective conference championship games as undefeated teams. If both are undefeated they would join the SEC champion and the Big Ten champion in the playoff field with little to no argument to be made. If TCU should lose a game down the stretch, however, that could also open the door for No. 3 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish, with an 11-1 final record that would include a win over Miami, would not overtake an undefeated conference champion in TCU, but a 12-1 TCU team would likely not be strong enough to overtake an 11-1 Notre Dame team whose only loss came by one point against Georgia.
What would create total chaos, and what would be a fun argument to have, would be a scenario whereby Alabama wins the battle of unbeatens in the SEC Championship Game, a one-loss Clemson team beats Miami in the ACC Championship Game, Ohio State wins the Big Ten Championship Game with just one loss, a one-loss Oklahoma teams beats TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game, and Notre Dame runs the table. In this scenario, Alabama and Ohio State would be in the playoff field without question. It would then become an all-out PR war in arguing the merits of Georgia (12-1), Clemson (12-1), Penn State (11-1), Notre Dame (11-1), and Oklahoma (12-1) for the final two spots. Good luck sorting that out.
CANIBALIZATION AT THE TOP WILL LIKELY MAKE THE COMMITTEE’S LIFE EASIER: As much fun as it is sitting back and projecting what might happen, the schedule makers were prescient in their late-season matchups this season. Amazingly, all of the Top 12 teams in the FPCI this week will face at least one other current FPCI Top 12 team during the remainder of the regular season, some of the confusion and ‘what ifs’ will clear themselves up without politicking having to come into the equation. The following is a list of each team’s Top 12 opponents left on their regular season schedules, not counting who they might face if they were to advance to their respective conference’s championship game:
No. 1 Georgia: November 11 at No. 8 Auburn
No. 2 Penn State: October 28 at No. 5 Ohio State, November 4 at No. 7 Michigan State
No. 3 Notre Dame: October 28 vs No. 10 North Carolina State, November 11 at No. 6 Miami
No. 4 Alabama: November 25 at No. 8 Auburn
No. 5 Ohio State: October 28 vs No. 2 Penn State, November 11 vs No. 7 Michigan State
No. 6 Miami: November 11 vs No. 3 Notre Dame
No. 7 Michigan State: November 4 vs No. 2 Penn State, November 11 at No. 5 Ohio State
No. 8 Auburn: November 11 vs No. 1 Georgia, November 25 vs No. 4 Alabama
No. 9 Oklahoma: November 11 vs No. 11 TCU
No. 10 North Carolina State: October 28 at No. 3 Notre Dame, November 4 vs No. 12 Clemson
No. 11 TCU: November 11 at No. 9 Oklahoma
No. 12 Clemson: November 4 at No. 10 North Carolina State
WHY THE BIG DROPS?: The two teams that saw the largest drops this week in their overall percentage to make the national championship game – Alabama and Miami — both happened to win games over the weekend. So why did they see such a large drop in their national championship game hopes?
No. 4 Alabama, which was ranked No. 1 in the FPCI last week, saw the biggest drop in Week 9, from 46.08% in Week 8 to just 17.87% this week. That’s a decrease of more than 28 percentage points, despite the Crimson Tide picking up a huge 45-7 rivalry game win against Tennessee. But what’s holding the Crimson Tide back in the FPCI metrics is their schedule. They’re blowing out every team they play and they’re still favored to win out, but they have only played three teams that currently have winning records. Also, they haven’t yet played any teams currently ranked in the FPCI’s Overall Performance Top 20, and only one team in the Top 25. Florida State’s continued disappointing season is hurting Alabama’s stock and the quality of Alabama’s win against the Seminoles. Plus, Alabama still has a FCS game on its schedule, which never helps matters from a strength of schedule standpoint.
Alabama Results and Projections
Date Opponent Result Odds
Sat, Sep 02 Florida St W (24-7) %
Sat, Sep 09 Fresno St W (41-10) %
Sat, Sep 16 Colorado St W (41-23) %
Sat, Sep 23 at Vanderbilt W (59-0) %
Sat, Sep 30 Mississippi W (66-3) %
Sat, Oct 07 at (22) Texas A&M W (27-19) %
Sat, Oct 14 Arkansas W (41-9) %
Sat, Oct 21 Tennessee W (45-7) %
Sat, Nov 04 LSU W (38-7) 99%
Sat, Nov 11 at (25) Mississippi St W (35-18) 90%
Sat, Nov 18 Mercer W (49-0) 99%
Sat, Nov 25 at Auburn W (27-15) 82%
The other big drop was the Miami Hurricanes. Ranked No. 4 in Week 8 with a 24.22% chance to make the national championship game, the Hurricanes are No. 6 this week with a 7.10% chance, a drop of 17.12%. Miami is suffering a bit from losing a game after reshuffling its schedule due to Hurricane Irma. The Hurricanes will only play 11 regular season games this season, so as we get closer to the end of the season, Miami winning all of its games (11-0) is equivalent to a similar team going 11-1 as long as the one loss was to a respectable team. But more importantly than that, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame both won by big margins this past weekend. As a result, Virginia Tech is now favored to win the game against Miami (55% chance), according to the FPCI. So with only five games remaining on its schedule, Miami is only favored to win three of them right now, with projected losses to Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, thus dropping its chances to make the national championship game.
Miami Results and Projections
Date Opponent Result Odds
Sat, Sep 02 Bethune-Cookman W (41-13) %
Sat, Sep 23 (20) Toledo W (52-30) %
Fri, Sep 29 at Duke W (31-6) %
Sat, Oct 07 at Florida St W (24-20) %
Sat, Oct 14 Georgia Tech W (25-24) %
Sat, Oct 21 Syracuse W (27-19) %
Sat, Oct 28 at North Carolina W (37-17) 94%
Sat, Nov 04 (13) Virginia Tech L (23-25) 45%
Sat, Nov 11 (6) Notre Dame L (27-37) 23%
Sat, Nov 18 Virginia W (36-15) 95%
Fri, Nov 24 at Pittsburgh W (32-20) 82%
WHO COULD WRECK EVERYTHING?: If there’s any team that could wreck the playoff field, it’s the Auburn Tigers. Auburn not only plays Georgia and Alabama in the regular season, but the impact of those games could also have far-reaching implications into programs such as Notre Dame, Miami, Clemson, and more.
Despite two losses on the season, Auburn is ranked No. 8 in the latest FPCI ratings with a 2.71% chance to make the national championship game and a 6.57% chance to be in the playoff field. This is because the Tigers still control their own destiny and have a couple of high-profile games left on their schedule in contests on November 11 against No. 1 Georgia and on November 25 against No. 4 Alabama. Let’s say the Tigers win both of those games. That not only drops both Alabama and Georgia’s playoff chances, but it also puts a blemish on Notre Dame. One of the major reasons for Notre Dame’s lofty No. 3 ranking is due to the fact that it’s only loss was by one point against the team currently ranked No. 1. If Georgia were to lose to Auburn and fall out of the Top 5, that would also affect Notre Dame, and thus, have a domino effect on teams that Notre Dame plays such as Miami and North Carolina State, and teams that those teams play such as Clemson.
So while it’s not likely – the FPCI gives Auburn just a 7.08% chance to win out – it still is a possibility. Three of Auburn’s four remaining games are against FPCI Overall Performance Top 25 opponents (Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama). If Auburn wins out, Alabama and Georgia would still likely only have one loss each and Georgia would be headed to the SEC Championship Game for a likely rematch with Auburn, which would be in via a tie-breaker with Alabama. Another Auburn win over the Dawgs would have a second domino effect on the teams listed above, and also place Auburn squarely in the playoff hunt, as with the quality of wins it would have picked up in the last third of the season, it could be argued that a 2-loss Auburn team is actually better than both Alabama and Georgia, along with many of the other playoff contenders. So if Auburn were to win out, that would remove Georgia and likely Notre Dame from the playoff field, make Alabama a questionable candidate, and give Clemson, as long as it beats Miami to win the ACC, a playoff push due to its early-season win over Auburn.
Auburn Results and Projections
Date Opponent Result Odds
Sat, Sep 02 Georgia Southern W (41-7) %
Sat, Sep 09 at (8) Clemson L (6-14) %
Sat, Sep 16 Mercer W (24-10) %
Sat, Sep 23 at Missouri W (51-14) %
Sat, Sep 30 (25) Mississippi St W (49-10) %
Sat, Oct 07 Mississippi W (44-23) %
Sat, Oct 14 at LSU L (23-27) %
Sat, Oct 21 at Arkansas W (52-20) %
Sat, Nov 04 at (22) Texas A&M W (30-19) 80%
Sat, Nov 11 (2) Georgia L (17-20) 42%
Sat, Nov 18 Louisiana-Monroe W (54-12) 99%
Sat, Nov 25 (1) Alabama L (15-27) 18%
MORE LOSSES TO COME: If looking at the upcoming schedules for the top teams doesn’t convince you that there is plenty of movement still to be made in the FPCI down the stretch, one look at the FPCI’s percent to win out metric will give you even more proof. Of the major contenders, Alabama (55.04%) is the only team that has a greater than 50% chance of winning all of its remaining regular season games. Not surprisingly, Wisconsin is next with a 40.45% chance to win out, followed by Ohio State (37.07%), Clemson (35.93%), Notre Dame (33.27%), Washington (33.26%), Georgia (28.86%), and Penn State (26.61%).
SORRY GOLDEN KNIGHTS: The UCF Golden Knights are many people’s pick to be the one Group of Five school to finish the season undefeated. UCF actually leads all teams with a 62.34% to win all of its remaining regular season games according to this week’s FPCI. But going undefeated will still likely not be enough to sway the playoff committee, especially when UCF’s one major Power Five test was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. The Golden Knights were actually looking at having just a 10-game season, but AD Danny White was able to schedule FCS opponent Austin Peay for a game this weekend. That game provides UCF with an 11th contest for its resume, but it also further dilutes the Golden Knights’ strength of schedule. Missing out on the game against Georgia Tech was a crushing blow to the Golden Knights’ chances of being in the playoff field, and it stings a bit more after UCF handled Navy’s triple option offense a week ago, the same triple option offense that Georgia Tech would have brought to the field, leaving the Golden Knights to wonder ‘what if.’