College football playoff probabilities after week 10

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 9.49.02 AMWill your team make the College Football Playoff?

Over on Bleacher Report, I posted my probabilities for each team based on the current committee rankings and simulations of the season. Clemson has the highest chance after their win over Florida State, while Stanford edges out Notre Dame for the fourth highest probability.

To check out all the numbers on Bleacher Report, click here.

It’s also work checking the same calculation by FiveThirtyEight. They have Baylor a bit higher and LSU a bit lower, but otherwise the two sets of calculations give roughly the same results.

My article on Bleacher Report also looks at other issues:

  • Does Notre Dame necessarily make it if they win out?
  • How the hell did Iowa jump Baylor in the rankings?
  • How does new Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham change their odds?
  • Stanford can’t overlook Oregon this weekend

To read the article, click here.

I also did this calculation last week, which I forgot to post on the blog. To check out the numbers after the first committee rankings, click here.

Predicted playoff committee rankings after week 10

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.09.41 PMI didn’t love how my predicted committee rankings turned out last week.

Last year, the committee ranked teams by losses in their first rankings of the season. So I based my predicted rankings on that idea.

However, the committee reversed course this year and ranked one loss Alabama and Notre Dame ahead of a number of undefeated teams. Both teams had a close, fluky loss to top 25 team, so it does kind of make sense.

This week, I use the committee rankings from last week to predict how things change. Alabama almost certainly takes the second spot after beating LSU. But we’ll see how far LSU drops.

Clemson holds onto the top spot, deservedly so. Their next test might come on New Year’s Eve in the playoff.

To check out the predicted rankings and article, click here.

Why Grantland was a great site for writers

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 9.59.20 AMThank you, ESPN, for creating Grantland. I know you had to kill it for financial reasons, but it was a fantastic run.

As a reader, I’ll miss two things most about Grantland. First, Bill Simmons wrote some incredible NBA articles. He had such an immense perspective on the league.

Second, I’ll miss the baseball work of Jonah Keri and Ben Lindbergh. Both of these fine gentlemen not only understood analytics but could also write. (I’m a bit biased since they used my numbers in their work.)

How to write for Grantland

However, Grantland was best for writers. As a freelance contributor, I was never asked to write about any specific topic. They wanted interesting pitches.

I first learned this back in 2012. I sent an editor an email asking what kind of college football content he wanted. He replied,

It’s hard to know what exactly to ask you to pitch, but if you have some ideas that feel right for the site, please feel free to reach out.

The vague response was a bit perplexing. Only later did I realize the reason: Grantland wanted writers excited about their articles, and this happens when they write about something they’re passionate about.

This is extremely rare in the 2015 sports media landscape. At most other sites, an editor gives you an assignment.

My top 3 articles at Grantland

The freedom to pitch anything to Grantland was awesome. Here are my three favorites from the last few years.

  • Why you have no shot at winning $1 billion of Warren Buffett’s money. It is idiocy to think you can fill out a perfect bracket for March Madness. I put some numbers behind this statement, spending more time on this article than any other I’ve ever written. Buffett hasn’t offered the prize again.
  • Q&A with John Urschel. As an undergrad, John Urschel wrote two papers each worthy of a Ph.D. in mathematics. He also plays tackle football for the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL.
  • Preseason preview of Auburn in 2014. Auburn fans didn’t like it when I called them lucky in 2013 (tipped Hail Mary against Georgia and kick six against Bama.) However, a lack of luck in 2014 and a brutal schedule ended in a 8-5 season.

Special thanks to Mallory Rubin, the amazing editor that allowed me to contribute to Grantland.

Predicted college football playoff rankings after week 9, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 3.48.41 PMHow will the college football playoff committee rank teams this week? I’ve been posting my predictions all season, but there’s a right answer this week.

Last year, the committee sorted teams by losses in their opening rankings. This led me to make some adjustments to this week’s rankings, especially for undefeated Iowa and Oklahoma State.

Undefeated Memphis and Houston also caused some problems. It’s tough to know where the committee with rank these non Power 5 teams, so I put them behind the one loss teams.

To check out my predictions, click here.

We’ll see how these predicted rankings do Tuesday night at 7pm Eastern.

Is Michigan safe from an upset against Minnesota?

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 11.55.12 AMLast week, I wrote a preview of Michigan at Minnesota asking whether the 14 point spread was too much. The markets closed at 11 points.

It’s always tough to evaluate a Michigan team that has improved under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Are they top 10 in the nation? My numbers suggest more like top 20.

Minnesota seemed to be off this year with bad losses to Northwestern and Nebraska. Then coach Jerry Kill retired due to health concerns a few days before the Michigan game.

I tried to convince my mates on the MGoBlog round table on Thursday morning. However, none of them thought Minnesota had a chance in this game.

On Saturday night, Minnesota played a fantastic game in which they outgained Michigan in yards by 461 to 296. However, they couldn’t score a touchdown from the half yard line on the final play of the game to lose 29-26.

I think interim coach Tracy Claeys forgot he could tie the game with a field goal. Instead he tried to run on the best rush defense in the nation.

To read the article, click here.