College football playoff probabilities after week 10, 2017

Penn State drops after their loss to Michigan State, and Oklahoma assumes the top spot after their win over Oklahoma State.

Remember, this list does not rank teams by who would win on a neutral field. This reflects the odds of making the college football playoff, which depends on a team’s remaining schedule.

Oklahoma still has TCU and West Virginia, but they get both of these teams at home. They also have a road trip to Kansas before a likely berth in the Big 12 championship game.

While it isn’t certain that Oklahoma wins these remaining games, it’s an easier path than teams like Georgia and Notre Dame.

Georgia travels to Auburn for a rivalry game with enormous college football playoff implications. If they win, you’ll see their playoff probability rise next week.

My numbers give Georgia a 46% chance to win at Auburn. The win probability should perhaps be higher given that Auburn has injury issues on their offensive line.

Notre Dame travels south to play undefeated Miami. My numbers make this a 50-50 game.

I might lean a bit towards Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have the best rushing attack in the nation with an experienced offensive line and running back Josh Adams. Miami has struggled this season against the run, as they rank 26th in my adjusted yards per carry.

If Miami can slow down the ground game and make Brandon Wimbush throw, they give themselves the edge. Otherwise, it could be a long night for the Hurricanes.

For more on the methods behind these calculations, click here.

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Why is your Ohio State at Iowa prediction off?

After posting the public week 10 college football predictions, I got some push back on why Ohio State was only a 3.6 point favorite at Iowa this week.

As of Friday morning, Ohio State is a 18 point favorite in the markets.

The public predictions are based on the team rankings that take margin of victory and adjust for strength of schedule. By this points based metric, Iowa gets ranked a strong 17th, as they beat a surging Iowa State by 3 and only lost to Penn State by 2.

17th seems way too high for Iowa, and I agree that a prediction of Ohio State by 3.6 is too low. Some of my other metrics support this.

My market rankings take closing point spreads and adjust for strength of schedule. This predicts a 17 point win for Ohio State on the road.

I use yards per play adjusted for strength of schedule to evaluate teams and make predictions. This metric makes Ohio State a 20 point road favorite.

Members of The Power Rank have access to predictions that combine these sources, which predicts a 10.6 point win for Ohio State. I believe this will be closer to the actual margin of victory.

However, I don’t like to go against coaches like Urban Meyer and Nick Saban as big favorites. The large spread implies a significant talent gap, and these coaches almost always have their teams prepared for these games.

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Podcast: NFL Injuries, College Football Playoff Probabilities and Mailbag

This episode of The Football Analytics Show comes in 3 parts.

In part 1, I ask how many points RB Ezekiel Elliott, who got suspended for 6 games, is worth. How does this compare with QB Aaron Rodgers?

In part 2, David joins me to discuss my college football playoff probabilities.

  • Why does Penn State have the highest probability?
  • Why is Georgia so low?
  • Can Notre Dame survive their remaining schedule?

In part 3, I answer questions from listeners. Topics include data sources, games with the most value and how to get a prediction from adjusted yards per play.

To listen on iTunes, click here.

To listen here, click on the right pointing triangle.

College football playoff probabilities after week 9, 2017

What? Penn State with the highest chance to make the college football playoff?

These probabilities are not about the best team. These numbers reflect which teams end the season in the committee’s top 4, and this depends on schedule.

Penn State has the easiest remaining schedule of major playoff contenders. They play at Michigan State, Rutgers, Nebraska and at Maryland. Their smallest win probability is 74.5% at Michigan State.

However, it’s not likely Penn State wins the Big Ten East. With their loss to Ohio State this past weekend, they have a 7% chance to win the division.

The most likely scenario is that Penn State wins their remaining games, sits at home during championship weekend, and sneaks in as the 3rd or 4th seed. Overall, my numbers give this a 51% chance.

On the flip side, Georgia and Notre Dame get hurt by their remaining schedule.

Georgia almost certainly wins the SEC East. However, they must travel to Auburn, a game that I have them as a slight underdog. Also, don’t discount a trip to Georgia Tech to end the season.

Notre Dame has surprised many with a powerful offensive line and punishing ground game. However, they still have games at Miami and Stanford before they can claim a playoff spot.

My numbers give Georgia and Notre Dame a 27% and 36% playoff probability respectively.

For more on the methods behind these calculations, click here.

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The two faces of Michigan’s offensive line in 2017

How is Michigan’s offensive line developing? As Tony Kaminski wrote, there were high hopes heading into the season that Jim Harbaugh could replicate the rushing success of his Stanford teams.

To measure the contribution of the offensive line on running plays, we look at Line Yards, a metric developed by Football Outsiders.

Based on regression analysis, the Line Yardage formula takes all running back carries and assigns responsibility to the offensive line based on the following percentages:

  • Losses: 120% value
  • 0-4 Yards: 100% value
  • 5-10 Yards: 50% value
  • 11+ yards: 0% value

The offensive line gets full credit for the first 4 yards of any run, but decreasing credit for the next 6 as the running back gets past the defensive line. The line gets no credit for yards beyond 10 as the running back gets into the secondary.

As the visual shows, Harbaugh saw a sharp increase in line yards for his Stanford teams. His first two Michigan offensive lines have disappointed.

Based on play by play data, here is the line yards for Michigan in the 2017 season.

  • Florida: 2.86
  • Cincinnati: 2.55
  • Air Force: 2.68
  • at Purdue: 2.41
  • Michigan State: 3.19
  • at Indiana: 3.23
  • at Penn State: 3.48
  • Rutgers: 3.62

The offensive line did a good job run blocking against Michigan State and Penn State, an easy thing for Michigan fans to miss in two difficult losses. I was shocked at the Penn State number.

In addition, Indiana has a solid defense as well. The last 4 games have been a stark contrast to the poor performances against Cincinnati, Air Force and Purdue (who might have a decent defense).

How about pass protection? This shows the sack rate allowed for Big Ten teams.

1. Minnesota, 3.65%
2. Nebraska, 4.13%
3. Michigan State, 4.33%
4. Ohio State, 4.53%
5. Iowa, 4.55%
6. Rutgers, 4.90%
7. Wisconsin, 5.03%
8. Indiana, 5.41%
9. Purdue, 6.95%
10. Penn State, 7.24%
11. Northwestern, 7.67%
12. Illinois, 8.71%
13. Maryland, 9.71%
14. Michigan, 9.79%

Despite not allowing a sack against Rutgers, the pass blocking has been bad in 2017.

The numbers suggest that Michigan’s offensive might be improving in run blocking, but has struggled in pass protection.

Thanks to the Michigan Sports Analytics Society, as I wrote the Line Yards code as part of a lesson I presented at one of their meetings.