Let’s talk about the conference’s double failure: two teams in the playoffs, to everyone’s chagrin.

It’s a feat that has only happened twice in the previous eight years of the college football playoff era, but it’s a scenario we’re already moving towards in 2022. This time, a word of caution: we don’t yet know which conference it will be.

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According to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, our model that predicts the rest of the season. as well as the resulting selection committee decision – there is currently a 69% chance that the SEC will repeat with multiple teams in the playoffs. as well as 32% chance that the Big Ten will take two teams to the playoffs.

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chance that at least one from these two conferences sends a few selected teams to the playoffs? 85%! (Note: The SEC and the Big 10 leading multiple teams to the playoffs are not independent events, so we can’t just add the likelihood of each together.) However: 85% is a lot.

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For those wondering, there is a 15% chance that both teams will advance two teams to the playoffs and close out the rest: 15%.

But let’s focus on 85%. And see how every conference can get there.


How the SEC gets two teams into the playoffs

Let’s start with the most obvious path: The easiest path is to win Alabama and Georgia before they face each other in an SEC title game. If that happens, the winner will obviously be in the game, and the loser will most likely be in it: 93% chance if Alabama loses, and 86% chance if Georgia loses.

So the SEC has been in great shape since the beginning. There is a 19% chance that this is exactly what will happen – again, quite remarkable since it takes two teams to win.

But the SEC has a margin of safety beyond this scenario. We can easily add a loss to a team that wins an SEC championship: so Alabama beats previously undefeated Georgia with one loss, or vice versa, and both of them also make the playoffs the vast majority of the time.

Or we can add a loss to the loser and he still has a good chance. So for example: Alabama can lose in Ole Miss, still make it to the SEC championship game, and then lose to Georgia and still have a 73% chance of making it. Or Georgia could lose in Kentucky and lose to Alabama and still have a 38% chance. to earn a spot. The strength of the states of Alabama and Georgia, which rank first and third in the FPI, as well as Alabama’s strong schedule (predicted to be the fourth most difficult) provide these teams with such flexibility. Georgia’s schedule is only predicted to be the 36th hardest in FBS, so that’s not the case. enough get the same leeway in the model’s mind.

For Alabama and Georgia, there is another way: let’s say Alabama loses to LSU and only to LSU and therefore misses the SEC title game. In this case, the Crimson Tide would have a shockingly high 92% chance of making the playoffs, as the model calculated that the committee would reward Alabama for being, according to the FPI, the best team in the country.

Flip it over and say that Georgia loses to Tennessee, and only Tennessee, and misses the SEC championship game: it will have a 61% chance of CFP.

Thus, there are numerous ways in which only these two teams can enter the game. But now let’s combine common plans. Sure, they could just win the SEC—easier said than done—but even for these schools, there are other paths.

If Tennessee wins every game except their road event against Georgia (including a victory over Alabama) and misses the SEC championship game, they have a 51% chance of making the playoffs. Run the same scenario with Ole Miss only losing to Alabama and the Rebels have a 34% chance.

There are too many permutations to run through – and we should include LSU in this group – but the bottom line is that the SEC has huge blocks of chance to get two teams into the playoffs through Alabama and Georgia, and many smaller fragments. which are still feasible, including long-range shots.

How the Big Ten Leads Two Teams to the Playoffs

The Big Ten are clearly in a different situation, with their two main rivals Ohio and Michigan in the same division. If Ohio State loses to Michigan and only Michigan and the Wolverines win the Big Ten, the Buckeyes have a 73% chance of joining Michigan in the CFP. If the roles were reversed, Michigan would still have a good chance: 63% chance of making the playoffs with one loss to Ohio State. In this scenario, there is an additional safety net in the form of the possibility of the winning team losing another game at the start of the year, which does not really affect the probabilities.

The Big Ten East has an additional wrinkle in the form of the University of Pennsylvania, which could play the same role as the favorites. If we were to switch places in Pennsylvania State instead of Michigan State – losing to eventual Big Ten champion Ohio State and only Ohio State – he would also have a chance, but much less (37% shot). This is because Penn State is much less respected by the IFP than Michigan – the Nittany Lions are #12 and the Wolverines are #4, so it’s harder to argue that Penn State is one of the top four. teams, although Penn State’s schedule is this. harder.

Then there’s the added element of Minnesota coming from the West. At 4-0, the Golden Gophers have a 10% chance of a surprise playoff spot that can’t be ignored. And that’s handy for the Big Ten because it opens up more opportunities to double the playoffs.

Clearly, Minnesota can simply win to get into the game (otherwise, the undefeated Ohio State team would have about a 4-in-5 chance of making the playoffs with a loss to Minnesota in this scenario). Or he could lose a game to, say, the University of Pennsylvania and then win the Big Ten for a 61 percent chance of a spot. Or he can win before the Big Ten championship game, lose there, and then have a 28% chance of reaching CFP as a one-loss non-champion. None of this is unfounded. Minnesota is ranked 14th in the FPI and is an underdog in only one scheduled game: the Nittany Lions.

So while the chances of the Big Ten placing two teams in the CFP are significantly lower than those of the SEC, they have different paths to reach.