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2018 College Football Playoff Projections

College Football

2018 College Football Playoff Projections

The goal of the 2018 College Football Playoff projections is not to figure out where the teams will rank each week, but the team trajectories.

This college football page was last updated on October 14, 2018.

There are 130 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Realistically, well over 100 of them are already out of the conversation to win the college football national championship. Maybe there are 15 still alive, perhaps 20. Our objective is to look at those teams and their remaining games, then figure out where they will land when the dust settles.

This exercise will for certain be made easier when the first College Football Playoff rankings of 2018 are released. As of October 8, we are several weeks away. No matter, because we’re trying to figure out where the teams will land at the end.

2018 College Football Playoff Projections: Before We Begin…

Here is what we are using to determine what teams will finish the season in the top four:

  • Their current ranking in the College Football playoff poll or otherwise.
  • Their record so far.
  • Their remaining schedule and, at minimum, a rudimentary probability of how likely they are to win their unplayed games.
  • A comparison of the theorized resumes among the contending teams.

Please note, and underline it a few times, that these projections are subject to change. If a top five team loses in a huge upset to an unranked school, that will obviously carry a massive impact. To project where these teams finish, we’ll take into consideration the opponent, which team is likely to be favored, and metrics like the ESPN FPI on a game-by-game basis.

We are going to also set a few ground rules for determining the teams to evaluate:

  • We won’t dismiss all two-loss teams out of hand, but if they play in the Group of Five, then yes. This is reality. A two-loss Auburn might have made it in 2017, but we will never know because they lost the SEC Championship.
  • Undefeated and one-loss Power Five teams will be considered.
  • Only undefeated Group of Five teams will be evaluated.
  • Any team in excess of two losses should be considered as having been eliminated from contention, unless there are no undefeated teams remaining.

To see our predictions for the 2018 College Football Playoff, which are already worthless, click here.

2018 College Football Playoff Projections: Contending Teams Following Week 7

Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC) AP: 1st 7-0
Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten) AP: 2nd 7-0
Clemson Tigers (ACC) AP: 3rd 6-0
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Ind) AP: 4th 7-0
LSU Tigers (SEC) AP: 5th 6-1
Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten) AP: 6th 6-1
Texas Longhorns (Big 12) AP: 7th 6-1
Georgia Bulldogs (SEC) AP: 8th 6-1
Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12) AP: 9th 5-1
UCF Knights (AAC) AP: 10th 6-0
Florida Gators (SEC) AP: 11th 6-1
Oregon Ducks (Pac-12) AP: 12th 5-1
West Virginia Mountaineers (Big 12) AP: 13th 5-1
Kentucky Wildcats (SEC) AP: 14th 5-1
Washington Huskies (Pac-12) AP: 15th 5-2
NC State Wolfpack (ACC) AP: 16th 5-0
Texas A&M Aggies (SEC) AP: 17th 5-2
Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten) AP: 18th 4-2
Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten) AP: 19th 5-1
Cincinnati Bearcats (AAC) AP: 20th 6-0
South Florida Bulls (AAC) AP: 21st 6-0
Mississippi State Bulldogs (SEC) AP: 22nd 4-2
Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten) AP: 23rd 4-2
Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten) AP: 24th 4-2
Washington State Cougars (Pac-12) AP: 25th 5-1
Duke Blue Devils (ACC) AP: NR 5-1
Colorado Buffaloes (Pac-12) AP: NR 5-1
Miami Hurricanes (ACC) AP: NR 5-2
USC Trojans (Pac-12) AP: NR 4-2

2018 College Football Playoff Projections: Projected Records Through Championship Week

Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC) 13-0
Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten) 13-0
Clemson Tigers (ACC) 13-0
UCF Knights (AAC) 13-0
Texas Longhorns (Big 12) 12-1
Oregon Ducks (Pac-12) 12-1
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Ind) 11-1
Washington Huskies (Pac-12) 11-1
Georgia Bulldogs (SEC) 11-2
Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12) 11-2
LSU Tigers (SEC) 10-2
Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten) 10-2
Florida Gators (SEC) 10-2
Kentucky Wildcats (SEC) 10-2
NC State Wolfpack (ACC) 10-2
Cincinnati Bearcats (AAC) 10-2
South Florida Bulls (AAC) 10-2
Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten) 10-3
West Virginia Mountaineers (Big 12) 9-2
Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten) 9-3
Colorado Buffaloes (Pac-12) 9-3
Miami Hurricanes (ACC) 9-3
USC Trojans (Pac-12) 9-3
Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten) 9-3
Duke Blue Devils (ACC) 9-3
Texas A&M Aggies (SEC) 8-4
Mississippi State Bulldogs (SEC) 8-4
Washington State Cougars (Pac-12) 8-4

2018 College Football Playoff Projections: After Week 7

1 Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC) 13-0
2 Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten) 13-0
3 Clemson Tigers (ACC) 13-0
4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Ind) 11-1

First Four Out

5 Texas Longhorns (Big 12) 12-1
6 Oregon Ducks (Pac-12) 12-1
7 Georgia Bulldogs (SEC) 11-2
8 UCF Knights (AAC) 13-0

2018 College Football Playoff Projections: Why Those Teams? October 14

Though things did not look great for Notre Dame on the field on Saturday, they won, and some of the field cleared out for them. Georgia getting housed was the best news they got all day, and now they are in our projection as the fourth seed.

Determining that fourth seed was still tricky. We still project Texas as the Big 12 champion and Oregon enters the mix as our pick for Pac-12 champion. UCF, after their great escape on Saturday, looks like they are destined to go 13-0 again. Sad to say, you can discount the Knights unless everyone in FBS has losses, and even at that, probably not. The current system is not designed to help the Group of Five make the playoff save for a truly extraordinary sequence of events.

Georgia is not done yet, but they have to run the table. We do not have LSU up here because we suspect they will lose one more time (Alabama), and two losses probably won’t get you in this season, but we had to put a 13-0 UCF in front of them.

2018 College Football Playoff Projections: Why Those Teams? October 8

Alabama: Obviously. No explanation is required.

Ohio State: They look primed to run the table, and they’ll get there. Not above Alabama, but 13-0 and a Big Ten title locks them in for certain.

Clemson: Take the same thing we just said about Ohio State and apply to Clemson. They control their destiny.

Washington: This was tough, but 12-1 and a conference championship is probably better in the eyes of the committee than 12-1 and no championship (Georgia), though don’t tell that to Alabama. So, why not Texas, then? A 12-1 Texas that beat Oklahoma twice to win the Big 12 would have a strong case, but don’t put it beyond the CFP Committee to compare losses. Washington’s only loss in this scenario is to a ranked Auburn team. Texas lost at home to Maryland.

Notre Dame: Sitting at 11-1 with several undefeated teams ahead of them is going to put the Irish in a tough position. They do not have the so-called “13th data point” from a conference championship.

UCF: A team like UCF will not be considered for the College Football Playoff unless they are an undefeated 13-0 and all the Power 5 teams have at least one loss. Even then, it will be difficult. Hey, at least we suggested an eight-team playoff that gives the Group of Five a seat the table.

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