Conference Championships and CFP Predictions and Scenarios

By Hayden Ore
Dec. 01, 2017

The upcoming conference championship games are looking to be the best in recent history. On top of the pride and bragging rights that come naturally with winning your conference, 4 of the 5 Power-5 title games also have CFP implications. The Pac-12 title is the only game that I do not see having any impact on the top-4, but it is still looking like a great game. Here are my predictions for the winners of each game as well as the chances of each team making it into the postseason tournament.

ACC Championship Game: #1 Clemson vs. #7 Miami (FL)

This game will serve as a play-in for the playoff. The winner will go, and the loser will be out. Many people are not giving Miami a chance against the reigning champions, and I find that to be foolish. While the Hurricanes have looked flimsy at times against weak opponents, they have dominated the handful of good teams they've faced. They beat Virginia Tech (ranked 13th at the time) by 18. The following week, they destroyed Notre Dame (ranked 3rd at the time) by 33. Miami seems to play their best against better opponents. That's not to say Clemson won't win, but they shouldn't feel too comfortable. While Clemson has looked unstoppable for a majority of the season, their loss to Syracuse still shows that can be beaten by just about anyone. I think the Tigers will win the ACC title and advance to the playoff, but I think the Canes will keep it close enough to beat the 9.5-point spread. Prediction: Clemson 26, Miami (FL) 20 (Clemson 57% chance of winning)

Big 12 Championship Game: #3 Oklahoma vs. #11 TCU

I find it amusing that people still think TCU can make it into the playoff. Even if they win, they would be a 2-loss champion from a conference that the committee doesn't respect. That being said, Oklahoma would obviously remain in the top 4 with a win over the Horned Frogs. Oklahoma dominated TCU in their first meeting on November 11th in Norman. I expect TCU to make it more interesting this time around since the stakes are higher and they know which adjustments need to be made. That being said, Baker Mayfield and company will be too good for the Horned Frogs once again. However, I would bet on TCU to beat the 7-point spread. Prediction: Oklahoma 31, TCU 27 (Oklahoma 53% chance of winning)

Big Ten Championship Game: #4 Wisconsin vs #8 Ohio State

Finally, Wisconsin will face a big test. We'll get to see just how legitimate their undefeated record truly is. If the Badgers win, they're in. If Ohio State wins, they'll likely need Oklahoma to lose as well in order to move into the #4 spot because the committee has southern bias that will prevent the Buckeyes from leap-frogging Alabama. Ohio State has been wildly inconsistent this season. One game, they're rallying back to hand Penn State their first loss. The next game, they're getting blown out by Iowa. After that, they beat Michigan State by 45. You just never know which Ohio State team is going to show up, but I think they will be good enough to knock off Wisconsin and win the Big Ten. Again, I would bet on underdog Wisconsin to beat the 6-point spread. Prediction: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 27 (Ohio State 53% of winning)

Pac-12 Championship Game: #10 USC vs. #12 Stanford

This is the only major title game that should not matter to the CFP committee. The Pac-12 ate itself alive this season, so winning the conference title would not make up for either team's losses. Depending on how things shake out, I could see the winner jumping as high as #6, but getting to #4 would be a humongous stretch. Like Ohio State, both of these teams have been very inconsistent. USC beat Stanford 42-24 back on September 9th. However, USC lost to Notre Dame 49-14 on October 21st. Stanford beat the same Notre Dame team 38-20 a month later. It's tough to say who will win this time around, but I like the Cardinal's defense to limit Sam Darnold and pull off the upset. Prediction: Stanford 28, USC 26 (Stanford 52% chance of winning)

SEC Championship Game: #2 Auburn vs #6 Georgia

Like the ACC title game, this one is basically a national quarterfinal. The winner will definitely be into the playoff while the loser will be out. Auburn dominated Georgia when these teams met in the regular season, but they are only 1.5-point favorites. That is likely due to questions surrounding Kerryon Johnson's health, as he is still listed as a game-time decision. If he can't play, Georgia may be able to run away with the game. If he is there, he will likely be limited, making the game very interesting. I'm going to give the slightest of edges to Auburn, and I expect them to meet the 1-point spread. Prediction: Auburn 24, Georgia 23 (Auburn 51% chance of winning)

% Chance of Each Team Making the Playoff

1 Alabama 75%

2 Clemson 57%

3 Oklahoma 53%

4 Auburn 51%

5 Georgia 49%

6 Wisconsin 47%

7 Miami (FL) 43%

8 Ohio State 25%

CFP Scenarios (listed from most-likely to least-likely)

IF Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma, and Ohio State win (8.2% chance):

1 Clemson

2 Auburn

3 Oklahoma

4 Alabama

IF Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Ohio State win (7.8% chance):

1 Clemson

2 Oklahoma

3 Georgia

4 Alabama

IF Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin win (7.2% chance):

1 Clemson

2 Auburn

3 Oklahoma

4 Wisconsin

IF Clemson, Auburn, Ohio State, and TCU win (7.2% chance):

1 Clemson

2 Auburn

3 Ohio State

4 Alabama

IF Clemson, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Georgia win (7% chance):

1 Clemson

2 Oklahoma

3 Wisconsin

4 Georgia

IF Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, and TCU win (7% chance):

1 Clemson

2 Georgia

3 Alabama

4 Ohio State

IF Clemson, Auburn, Wisconsin, and TCU win (6.4% chance):

1 Clemson

2 Auburn

3 Wisconsin

4 Alabama

IF Clemson, Wisconsin, Georgia, and TCU win (6.2% chance):

1 Clemson

2 Wisconsin

3 Georgia

4 Alabama

IF Auburn, Oklahoma, Miami (FL), and Ohio State win (6.2% chance):

1 Auburn

2 Oklahoma

3 Alabama

4 Miami (FL)

IF Oklahoma, Georgia, Miami (FL), and Ohio State win (5.9% chance):

1 Oklahoma

2 Georgia

3 Alabama

4 Miami (FL)

IF Auburn, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Miami (FL) win (5.5% chance):

1 Auburn

2 Oklahoma

3 Wisconsin

4 Miami (FL)

IF Auburn, Miami (FL), Ohio State, and TCU win (5.5% chance):

1 Auburn

2 Miami (FL)

3 Alabama

4 Ohio State

IF Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Miami (FL) win (5.2% chance):

1 Oklahoma

2 Wisconsin

3 Georgia

4 Miami (FL)

IF Georgia, Miami (FL), Ohio State, and TCU win (5.2% chance):

1 Georgia

2 Miami (FL)

3 Alabama

4 Ohio State

IF Auburn, Wisconsin, Miami (FL), and TCU win (4.8% chance):

1 Auburn

2 Wisconsin

3 Alabama

4 Miami (FL)

IF Wisconsin, Georgia, Miami (FL), and TCU win (4.7% chance):

1 Wisconsin

2 Georgia

3 Alabama

4 Miami (FL)

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