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AlgoStats: CFP Edition

I’ve been taking a few days off from CPaws to recharge the batteries, but I want to get this out. I wanted to see this comparison for myself and I since I put this together, I thought I’d share. These are the AlgoStats which are the major algorithms out there to determine team strength. I take these rankings and then weigh their importance based on how accurate they have been in the past.

For this, I have taken past rankings from this point in the season, which I call post-conference championship weekend, and weighted them based on their ability to predict the eventual national champion. Last year’s rankings are included as well for reference. Credit to Football Outsiders, ESPN, and Team Rankings for the data.

I understand that ipushpull may have adverse effects to the Firefox browser.  Both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge/Explorer work fine. Since we have so much ipushpull on this site, I thought I’d pass that information along. 

For starters, this shows some confirmation of what most already suspect. Alabama is better than they were last year, and so is Clemson. It should also be mentioned that Georgia is also better than they were last year according to this. What we have seen is that the rich have gotten richer.  Alabama finally got an elite QB to ignite their offense while Clemson and Georgia are riding what I refer to as “The Synergistic Trend” upwards. This is basically where winning leads to better recruiting which leads to winning which leads to better recruiting and on and on until complacency or staff turnover reverses the trend.

The gap between Alabama and Clemson here is roughly the same as it was last year.  However, with Georgia out of the picture, the gap between #2 and #3 is far greater than it was last year. The betting lines of the two games (Bama -14, Clemson -11.5) have upset SoonerFan and IrishFan, but these algorithms agree with a wide disparity in the two matchups.

Fortunately for Clemson, we have a secret weapon against algorithms I call the Genius Kid Syndrome. We’re at the point where statisticians and national pundits have jumped on that train and no longer refer to Clemson as a “fraud.” It took a while, but most have largely figured out that when the lights come on and Clemson has something to prove, they make their point, often emphatically.

Clemson was a 3 point underdog in the semifinals to Oklahoma in 2015 and Ohio State in 2016.  Clemson won by 20+ in both games. Clemson was a 6.5 point underdog to Alabama in both 2015 and 2016 and out-performed the spread both times there as well. Last year, Vegas got hip to that jive and made Alabama just a 3 point favorite. While the game was a 4 point affair midway through the 3rd quarter, Clemson’s offense could do nothing and Alabama won that game by 18 with back to back TDs off of turnovers. So, this is interesting to me because Clemson has never been the favorite in a playoff game, let alone a big favorite. How will they respond in this situation?


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That’s a really good question at the end. There’s no doubt that Dabo/Clemson used the last few years of disrespect as fuel in the playoffs. How will Clemson perform when they get the respect finally? I suspect that Clemson will do what they usually do… take care of business. I’ve watched every Clemson game and more than a few of the ND games this season. I think that Clemson is 2 TDs better than ND on a neutral field. I suspect that the total talent level is comparable when you look at the rosters, but Clemson has better talent at the skill positions on Offense and on the DL on defense. Can ND beat Clemson… absolutely. But more things have to go right for ND to win this game than have to go right for Clemson to win. On the other hand, I feel the same about Bama vs. Clemson. But the game will be closer. At the beginning of… Read more »

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