Each Conference’s Best Hope for the College Football Playoff Entering Week 9

by | Oct 29, 2021 | ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, G5, Pac-12, SEC, The American

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh athletics

Look at the calendar and we are rapidly approaching the month of November. Great teams execute and have success during the month of November. We also get our first College Football Playoff rankings during this month, which everyone will have their eyes on.

We’ll take an updated look at which conferences have the best chance to be represented in the playoff, and the number of teams each is hanging its hats on. For this to work, we are going to use the metric of the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) and our own anecdotal opinion:

Atlantic Coast Conference

ESPN FPI Potential CFP Teams: 4
Pittsburgh 22.3%, NC State 0.2%, Wake Forest 0.2%, Clemson 0.1%

If the FPI is this bad next season, we are going to move on to a differently weekly matrix to judge this. The thought that the FPI still gives Clemson a mathematical path is hilarious. North Carolina State virtually removed itself with a loss at Miami.

Pittsburgh has a beautiful 22.3% chance and a quarterback with a chance to win the Heisman Trophy in Kenny Pickett, but this is one of those seasons where the ACC champion probably needs to go undefeated. Pitt losing to Western Michigan was a death kiss. Even though the FPI does not give undefeated Wake Forest a favorable chance to win out, conventional wisdom suggests that the Demon Deacons are the ACC’s only playoff hope.

American Athletic Conference

ESPN FPI Potential CFP Teams: 2
Cincinnati 45.6%, SMU 0.2%

This could be the year that a Group of 5 team makes the College Football Playoff. If Cincinnati wins out, there is a real chance that the selection committee puts the Bearcats in. It would turn out that Cincinnati didn’t need the Big 12 to be a playoff team.

Can SMU play spoiler next month and maybe switch those percentages? The AAC league office has to secretly be hoping for that.

Big 12 Conference

ESPN FPI Potential CFP Teams: 4
Oklahoma 51.3%, Iowa State 2.5%, Oklahoma State 1%, Baylor 0.5%

This one’s easy. If Oklahoma finishes undefeated, it is in. Among Big 12 teams, the Sooners have the only realistic chance for the playoff. Losing to Kansas at halftime however, is cause for elimination in itself.

Big Ten Conference

ESPN FPI Potential CFP Teams: 5
Ohio State 44.8%, Michigan 44.4%, Michigan State 9.8%, Iowa 1.5%, Penn State .2%

Whomever wins the Big Ten will find itself in the playoffs. People love to hate Ohio State, but that is the reality of the matter.

Pac-12 Conference

ESPN FPI Potential CFP Teams: 1
Oregon 3.5%

The Oregon team entering November is not the same team that left Columbus with a win. There is no guarantee that the Ducks make it in the College Football Playoff with just one loss. The weakness of the Pac-12 does not help either.

Southeastern Conference

ESPN FPI Potential CFP Teams: 5
Georgia 87.8%, Alabama 69.2%, Ole Miss 6.5%, Auburn 0.2%, Texas A&M 0.2%

The question isn’t if the SEC will get one team in but if it can steal a second bid as it did in 2017. Keep an eye on Auburn. With two losses, the Tigers may still control their own destiny.

Other Notes

Notre Dame has an 8% chance to make the College Football Playoff

According to the FPI, the Sun Belt, Conference USA, Mountain West, and MAC have no statistical chance of placing a team in the playoff

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