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Ridley's Rankings, Week 10

Updated on November 7, 2014
Georgia's hopes may have been crushed this weekend but my resolve lives on.
Georgia's hopes may have been crushed this weekend but my resolve lives on.

Last week, I threw a curve ball to my (eight) readers by changing up the format of the weekly rankings and introducing win probability. I used that new tool to predict the games of the top 10 teams to determine who was most likely to make it to the College Football Playoff.

So how did I do? Out of the seven games played by top 10 teams (Ole Miss faced Auburn, so I'm only counting that as one), my picks went 5-2, good enough for a 71.4-percent clip, above my algorithm's prior average for the season. Ole Miss was only a 54-percent favorite, so their loss wasn't crushing. The Georgia loss, on the other hand ... well that one still burns.

Nonetheless, I am back again (albeit it extremely late) to deliver more picks, predictions and allow my reputation to be tarnished even further.

Programming note: Last week, I did the predictions for MY top 10 teams. This week I will be using the committee's rankings, since, you know, they are the ones who have the final say and I would like this to be somewhat accurate.

If you need a reminder of how the rankings are calculated or what the numbers mean, you can find the explanations here.

The Rankings

Rank
Team
Total
My Rank
1
Mississippi State
100.00
1
2
Auburn
95.02
2
3
Florida State
89.56
4
4
Oregon
88.24
6
5
TCU
87.89
5
6
Alabama
86.48
7
7
Ole Miss
86.25
3
8
Michigan State
82.48
11
9
Kansas State
81.92
10
10
LSU
80.22
9
11
Notre Dame
79.25
15
12
Arizona State
79.25
13
13
Ohio State
78.93
12
14
Baylor
78.41
16
15
Marshall
77.84
8
16
Nebraska
77.33
14
17
UCLA
73.69
17
18
Oklahoma
72.71
18
19
Georgia
71.24
21
20
Clemson
71.00
19
21
Duke
69.37
20
22
Arizona
68.24
25
23
West Virginia
67.94
22
24
Utah
67.83
28
25
Colorado State
66.55
23
Opponent
Rank
Win Probability
Tennessee-Martin
N/A
99.00%
@Alabama
4
62.35%
Vanderbilt
N/A
76.70%
@Ole Miss
12
63.95%
Proj. Finish
 
12-0

1. Mississippi State (8-0) (100.00) [1]

The Bulldogs' win wasn't pretty against Arkansas, but it kept their dream of a title alive. Despite being 75.4-percent favorites, Mississippi State needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to escape with a victory.

They have a practical bye against Tennessee-Martin this weekend, but the level of difficulty increases considerably after that. Games on the road against Alabama and Ole Miss will be no picnic, but the numbers feel confident the Bulldogs will make it through unscathed.

Opponent
Rank
Win Probability
Virginia
N/A
75.08%
@Miami(FL)
N/A
66.48%
Boston College
N/A
77.02%
Florida
N/A
70.85%
Proj. Finish
 
12-0

2. Florida State (8-0) (89.56) [4]

The Seminoles needed a big second-half comeback to overcome the Cardinals in Louisville, but still seem like the favorite to finish the season undefeated. Their win probabilities dropped slightly in three of their four remaining games, but nothing that should cause concern. With an average probability of 72 on their remaining four games, Jimbo Fisher's team just needs to stay consistent (and continue to do whatever it takes to keep Jameis Winston on the field).

Opponent
Rank
Win Probability
Texas A&M
N/A
77.79%
@Georgia
17
65.21%
Samford
N/A
99.00%
@Alabama
4
58.70%
Proj. Finish
 
11-1
Nick Marshall's Tigers may put the committee in a very uncomfortable situation.
Nick Marshall's Tigers may put the committee in a very uncomfortable situation.

3. Auburn (7-1) (95.02) [2]

There's no doubt that Auburn was the big winner of the weekend. They did something rival Alabama couldn't, in traveling to Oxford and coming out victorious. They may have needed a small miracle to do so, but the bottom line is: a win is a win.

By coming away with a win they weren't projected to get, the Tigers not only stayed in contention for the playoffs but also leapfrogged the Crimson Tide, switching their win probability from 26.91 to 58.70-percent*. If they manage to finish the season as projected, they will force the committee to address the biggest elephant in the room: should a team that doesn't even win it's division be allowed in the college football playoff?

*I looked to see if there was a historical precedent for this, but since 2004, there have only been three occasions where the third-ranked team faced the fourth-ranked team, and all of them have occurred on neutral fields: 2012 Fiesta Bowl, 2011 Rose Bowl and Oregon-LSU in Week 1 of 2011, played at Jerry World (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas).

Opponent
Rank
Win Probability
@Utah
20
67.36%
Colorado
N/A
76.26%
@Oregon State
N/A
68.40%
Proj. Finish
 
11-1

4. Oregon (8-1) (88.24) [6]

Oregon dispatched of Stanford for the first time in three years and seems well on their way to receiving a playoff invitation. With only Utah and the Pac-12 Championship as real hurdles remaining (residents of Corvallis will claim the Civil War game has upset potential, but I'm dubious). Should the Ducks take of these three games and their foe from the Pac-12 South (projected to be Arizona State), they will find themselves as the fourth seed in an increasingly tough playoff field.

5 through 10

At this point, it almost seems redundant to continue to with the rest of the top ten, given our top four seeds are projected to win out. I haven't calculated the official win probabilities of the three teams that would play a conference champion, but all of them would be ranked considerably higher than their opponents, likely have a better win percentage, and at worst, play on a neutral field, so it's not a stretch to think all three would be favored in their respective championships.

But because I'm not one to disappoint, I have provided the projected final records for the remaining six teams, plus the games they are projected to lose, if any, and their closest call.

Source

5. Alabama (7-1) (86.48) [7]

  • Projected Final Record: 9-3
  • Projected Losses: Mississippi State, Auburn.
  • Closest Call: At LSU (65.02%)

6. TCU (7-1) (87.89) [5]

  • Projected Final Record: 11-1
  • Projected Losses: None
  • Closest Call: Kansas State (For reasons discussed last week, the algorithm gets skewed when teams are very similar. Let's just say it should be about 65%)

7. Kansas State (7-1) (81.92) [10]

  • Projected Final Record: 10-2
  • Projected Losses: TCU
  • Closest Call: At Baylor (55.61%)

8. Michigan State (7-1) (82.48) [11]

  • Projected Final Record: 11-1*
  • Projected Losses: None
  • Closes Call: At Penn State (67.74%) (Michigan State and Ohio State suffer from the same condition as TCU and Kansas State. If you said the Buckeyes would be their closest call, I wouldn't argue with you.)

9. Arizona State (7-1) (79.25) [13]

  • Projected Final Record: 10-2*
  • Projected Loss: Notre Dame
  • Closest Call: At Arizona (64.36%)

10. Notre Dame (7-1) (79.25) [15]

  • Projected Final Record: 11-1
  • Projected Losses: None
  • Closest Call: At Arizona State (55.92%)

*Denotes that record would qualify them for their conference championship game.

Who Gets In?

So now that we have the records sorted out, let's decide who gets in.

As we previously mentioned, Mississippi State, Florida State and Oregon would all be favored to win their conference championships, and given their current rank, we can safely assume they would make it. The only question remains, what to do with Auburn?

The Auburn decision is the same type of situation that made people despise the BCS. Do you take an objective, formula-driven approach to decide the best teams, or do you put qualifiers in, such as "must win division"?

TCU (my fourth team last week) and Michigan State are both projected to finish with one loss, be their conference champion and likely end very highly ranked. Can the committee exclude both of these teams from the playoffs so that Auburn, who didn't even play in the conference championship game, makes it instead? If the committee sticks to their current view, the answer is yes.

The Final Four

Team
Win-Loss
Mississippi State
13-0
Florida State
13-0
Oregon
12-1
Auburn
11-1

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