There were no changes in the top 4 in week 13, but some things have become solidified:
1. Oklahoma has secured a spot in the playoff.
2. The winner of Iowa and Michigan State is guaranteed to make it.
3. Outside of the Spartans, Ohio State and North Carolina are probably the only the two teams capable of jumping into the playoff in the final weekend. North Carolina controls their own destiny, but Ohio State would need some help.
With that in mind, let's dive in.
1. Clemson #15, 129 THOR+
|Clemson||Venue||Opponent||THOR+ Rank||Projected Win%|
Clemson beat in-state rivals South Carolina in week 13 to finish the regular season 12-0. That leaves the ACC Championship game this weekend against North Carolina as their biggest remaining hurdle to a perfect season and a playoff berth. What I'm curious to see is if Clemson ends up losing, will the committee keep the Tigers in the playoff and just drop their seeding? Or will they drop them from the playoff completely and pick Ohio State or North Carolina instead of them?
2. Alabama #8, 138 THOR+
|Alabama||Venue||Opponent||THOR+ Rank||Projected Win%|
The final thing standing in Alabama's way of their second straight playoff berth is an SEC title game showdown with an all-defense Florida team. The Tide's offense is what has held them back from being the normally elite, top-ranked team in the nation this season. Of course, even if that side of the ball isn't elite this year, it's still plenty above average and it should be good enough to score more points than Florida's offense will against Alabama's defense. So, yes, Alabama should win this game and make the playoff, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't rooting for Florida to pull off the hilarious upset.
3. Oklahoma #1, 149 THOR+
Even without a conference championship game, Oklahoma has guaranteed themselves a spot in the final four after beating rival Oklahoma State by 35 on their home turf. And with each and every week it gets weirder and weirder to ponder how this team lost to a 4-7 (and likely soon to bee 4-8) Texas team. College football works in mysterious ways.
4. Iowa #11, 131 THOR+
|Iowa||Venue||Opponent||THOR+ Rank||Projected Win%|
The greatest team in the world also didn't move this week, as they check in for the second week in a row at the #4 spot. Whoever wins the game between Iowa and Michigan State this Saturday in Indianapolis is guaranteed to be in the playoff. The loser, on the other hand, is most likely going to get jumped by Ohio State for the Rose Bowl. But THOR+ favors Iowa slightly in this matchup mainly because it likes the Hawkeye defense better.
Now, if the playoff were to happen today, this is how THOR+ would expect it to shake out:
|#1 Clemson||48%||34%||#2 Alabama|
|#4 Iowa||#3 Oklahoma|
|#4 Iowa||52%||66%||#3 Oklahoma|
If you hadn't noticed, Oklahoma took a pretty big jump in it's overall rating after it tore apart Oklahoma State at home in week 13. That's why it has them as a heavier favorite to win the playoff this week. But what are Iowa's odds to win it all?
Scenario 1: Clemson, Oklahoma 14%
Iowa's odds of beating Clemson in the first round are 52%, according to THOR+. Multiply that by the 27% odds it gives the Hawkeyes of beating the Sooners, and that gives Iowa about a 14% chance of winning the National Championship in the scenario.
Scenario 2: Clemson, Alabama 21.8%
If Alabama were to beat Oklahoma in the first round, THOR+ would currently give Iowa a 42% win probability in that game. Multiply that by their 52% win probability against Clemson, and Iowa's odds of winning it all would be about 22% here.
Overall, THOR+ currently gives Iowa about an 11% chance to beat Michigan State, make the College Football Playoff, and win the National Championship. They are still underdogs, of course. But the odds continue to get better with each win.
Finally, here are the overall odds for each team advancing out of the first round and for winning the National Championship:
|Team||Advance to National Championship||Win National Championship|
The First 2 Out
5. Michigan State #27, 121 THOR+
|Michigan State||Venue||Opponent||THOR+ Rank||Projected Win%|
The path to the College Football Playoff is pretty clear for Michigan State: Win and they are in. Personally, though, I hope they lose. I hope they lose by a million.
6. Ohio State #2, 143 THOR+
Ohio State positioned themselves about as well as they could have this past weekend with a 42-13 beating of Michigan. But because they lost to a Connor Cook-less Michigan State team two weeks ago, they still find themselves on the outside looking in. In order to get into the playoff, they will need Clemson or Alabama to lose. Hell, they may even need both to lose if Clemson ends up losing in the ACC title game. Because if that were to happen, North Carolina may be primed for a huge jump into the playoff with a win over the #1 ranked team in the country. And that would leave Ohio State as the first team out if Florida can't shock Alabama. But even if the Buckeyes can't find a way to sneak themselves into the final four, their likely Rose Bowl bid isn't a bad consolation prize.
The Next 4
7. Stanford #7, 140 THOR+
|Stanford||Venue||Opponent||THOR+ Rank||Projected Win%|
After beating Notre Dame on a last second field goal, Stanford moves up two spots this week and jumps ahead of the Irish. They play a USC team in the Pac-12 Championship game this weekend that THOR+ thinks is better than their 4-loss record, but the Cardinal are still a 62% favorite to win. Of course, with 2 losses on the season there doesn't seem to be a chaotic situation capable of sending this team to the playoff. With two spots already being claimed by Oklahoma and the winner of the Big Ten, and the final two likely coming down to 1-loss North Carolina or Ohio State should Clemson or Alabama lose, the Rose Bowl would be the best remaining outcome for the Cardinal. Again, not a bad consolation prize.
8. Notre Dame #13, 130 THOR+
The Irish were pretty much eliminated from the playoff last week when Oklahoma jumped them, but they made it official in week 13 with an ever-so-close loss to Stanford. Don't worry, though, Golden Domers, you should be playing in a New Year's Six Bowl.
9. Florida State #5, 140 THOR+
With 2 losses and missing out on the ACC Championship game, Florida State is also not making the playoff. The crazy thing is, if this hadn't happened at the end of the Georgia Tech game, the Seminoles could potentially be one of the first 2 out. Between that field goal return for a touchdown and Michigan State's punt block/fumble recovery against Michigan, it's quite apparent that teams not only need talent but they also need to have some good fortune on their side in order to win it all.
10. North Carolina #3, 143 THOR+
|North Carolina||Venue||Opponent||THOR+ Rank||Projected Win%|
The funny thing with North Carolina being here at the 10-spot is that most everybody expects them to leap into the playoff picture or at least the 5 or 6 seed with a win over Clemson. THOR+ has been high on Carolina all year and I've been a bit skeptical. So at least Saturday will be a nice test to find out whether they are legit or not.
Bonus: The Funderdogs*
*H/T to commenter Xarin for the name.
19. Houston #41, 114 THOR+
|Houston||Venue||Opponent||THOR+ Rank||Projected Win%|
I didn't realize until just this week that the championship game for the American was not played on a neutral field. That would have slightly altered projections over the past two weeks, and it is enough to swing the projection for Houston's upcoming game against Temple in their favor. If the Cougars win, they will be playing in a New Year's Six Bowl.
22. Temple #34, 120 THOR+
|Temple||Venue||Opponent||THOR+ Rank||Projected Win%|
The same thing goes for Temple. If they can beat Houston, they should be in a New Year's Six Bowl.
23. Navy #17, 127 THOR+
|Navy||Venue||Opponent||THOR+ Rank||Projected Win%|
Navy's hope for that at-large bid to a New Year's Six Bowl was squashed when they lost to Houston in week 13. But THOR+ still thinks they are the best team in the American this year and so do other advanced stats. Thus, I couldn't leave them out this week. You'll always be the #1 funderdog in my heart, Navy.