We could say the 12-team playoff format was carried out now. What would the playoff panorama appear to be as we head into the 2021 season? How would it not be totally different?
Every week throughout the school soccer season we use this area to interrupt down the playoff race, utilizing the Allstate Playoff Predictor. More often than not, we’ll be speaking concerning the precise playoff race taking form — and you’ll all the time discover our projections here and, this 12 months, even input scenarios into the Predictor yourself. However earlier than we dive into this season we needed to examine in on what very nicely may very well be our future: a 12-team playoff.
So we outfitted the Allstate Playoff Predictor to additionally make hypothetical projections based mostly on the latest proposal in June: a assured bid for the six-highest ranked convention champions, plus six at-large bids, with the 4 highest-ranked convention champions receiving a bye. To make these projections, we’re working beneath the belief that the committee would draw distinctions between groups in the identical approach they do for a four-team playoff. In any case, the Playoff Predictor’s function is to not say who ought to make the playoff, however who would make the playoff.
Let’s break down some takeaways from this alternate, 12-team actuality.
There are actual preseason playoff locks
As a lot because it appears like Alabama is presently destined to make the playoff yearly, we all know it’s not. The delicate nature of a resume worthy of consideration implies that even for the Crimson Tide, the season can go askew. In our present setup Alabama has 73% probability to achieve the playoff, however that may balloon all the best way as much as 97% in a 12-team format, a digital certainty.
In fact, that may not imply the common season is meaningless, even for these groups. As a result of a bonus of the 12-team format is that it gives incentive on the prime of the standings, too, within the type of a bye. For a staff like Clemson, its probability at a bye (79%) is just like its present playoff odds (77%). However for Alabama that’s not the case, as a result of the Tide play within the SEC — which they’re much less prone to win. Due to this fact, Alabama’s possibilities at a bye within the new format? All the best way down at 53%. So Nick Saban’s staff is perhaps all however assured a spot within the playoff, however there is a coin-flip probability they’d be enjoying within the first spherical.
Nearly half the FBS has at the very least a 1% probability to achieve the playoff
57 groups, to be exact, would have a 1% shot on the playoff in a 12-team universe. It is a huge attraction, proper? Because it presently stands, followers of, say, Fresno State, know there isn’t any path to the playoff. However in a 12-team world? There is a 2% probability … which is a complete lot higher than nothing. From Buffalo to Arkansas, there can be a complete slew of colleges presently with no prayer of the playoff going to, nicely, a prayer. In a four-team format there are simply 19 groups with a 1% probability to achieve the playoff as of this writing.
Whose playoff possibilities would the adjustments assist essentially the most?
There is a couple methods to have a look at this.
First, if we wish to see merely which staff’s playoff possibilities improve essentially the most, we will do this — and nobody jumped greater than Georgia, who made a 52-point bounce from 28% to 80% probability. That is sensible: Georgia clearly has the standard of a top-12 staff however has some structural roadblocks (the SEC) in its approach. Meaning really placing collectively a playoff-quality resume beneath the present system goes to be tough even for a very good staff just like the Bulldogs.
The remainder of the checklist follows the same sample: Texas A&M, Miami, Notre Dame and Iowa State are all — excluding the Combating Irish — second- or third-string inside their very own convention. They is perhaps good groups, however they presently need to leapfrog an Alabama, Clemson or Oklahoma to get into the playoff. A 12-team format dramatically adjustments their outlook.
On the identical time, you can also make a case this issues simply as a lot, if no more, for colleges who barely had any shot in any respect. If we have a look at the biggest ratios of recent playoff probability to outdated playoff probability, a bunch of Group of 5 colleges shoot as much as the highest of the checklist. The present format makes it brutally tough for a Group of 5 staff to achieve the playoff, however in a 12-team playoff, Cincinnati turns into the favourite to take that sixth convention championship spot.
The chart under signifies that Cincinnati‘s possibilities of reaching the playoff are 170 occasions larger via this new format and that UCF is over 1000 occasions extra prone to make it. In fact, that is just because the Bearcats have, in Playoff Predictor’s view, barely any probability to achieve the playoff within the present setup. I would not get too caught up within the literal quantity right here — we by no means attempt to depend on Playoff Predictor to attract distinctions between a .1% probability and a .01% probability, so the astronomical ratios themselves aren’t that necessary — and focus extra on the truth that the impression is important for these colleges.
How would this have an effect on the nationwide championship possibilities for prime groups?
We do not have playoff simulation numbers simply but, nevertheless it’s fairly clear this may harm the very prime groups within the sport when it comes to their possibilities to win all of it.
Let’s take a staff like Clemson: If the Tigers season goes nicely sufficient that they earn a playoff bid within the present format, they’d nonetheless need to play an additional sport within the new format even with a bye.
Whereas it is true that about 20% of the time Clemson wouldn’t make the present playoff format however would attain the playoff in a 12-team format, in these eventualities the Tigers must play two further playoff video games towards top-12-ish groups. It is unlikely that may be can be a worthwhile trade-off for Clemson strictly when it comes to possibilities to win the nationwide championship.
For Alabama, the impact is much more extreme since there are an honest variety of simulations the place they’d presently make the playoff with out profitable the SEC championship, which means they’d not earn a bye in a 12-team format.
Paul Sabin and Lauren Poe contributed to this text.