The weeks leading up to the College Football Playoff selection have us wondering: Who's in?
But then suddenly on Sunday afternoon there will be a bracket, and the question will shift to: Who will win?
In advance of that moment we're consulting FPI to find out: What are the title chances in the more likely scenarios? As always, we'll have the trusty Allstate Playoff Predictor at our side to guide us through the likelihood of these permutations and what the committee might do.
Note that in each bracket we are listing each team's chance to win the national championship and that the numbers might not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
Bracket 1: Georgia wins
There's a 34% chance that Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State all win, per FPI. That ought to set up fairly straightforward semifinal matchups of Ohio State vs. LSU and Clemson vs. Georgia. The only question is where the games would be played, and for this scenario we'll work under the assumption that the committee puts the Ohio State game in Arizona.
Though Ohio State is the favorite to win the national championship in this scenario, this is not an ideal situation for the Buckeyes. If it remains the No. 1 seed, Ohio State would be far better off playing Utah or Oklahoma - who both FPI and Caesars Sportsbook agree are not among the five best teams in college football.
As a result of Ohio State facing LSU, Clemson is actually the most likely team to reach the national championship game in this scenario, though the Buckeyes are still the favorite to win it all.
Bracket 2: Chalk holds, and so does Ohio State at No. 1
If chalk holds and LSU, Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma and Utah all win, the Allstate Playoff Predictor gives the edge to Oklahoma over Utah because it projects the Sooners to have a superior strength of record and FPI considers them the slightly better team.
Can LSU jump Ohio State for the top spot? Maybe, and we'll get to that in a minute. But let's first look at what happens if the Buckeyes hang on.
Note that in this bracket and going forward, we are working under the assumption that the No. 1 vs. No. 4 matchup will be played in Atlanta.
It's a much better situation for Ohio State, clearly. Oklahoma comes in as a long shot to do damage in the playoff, while it doesn't make much difference for LSU if it ends up facing Ohio State or Clemson in the semifinal. But what if ...
Bracket 3: Chalk holds, and LSU jumps to No. 1
LSU certainly would have the résumé case to move to the top spot. How large is the difference between what LSU and Ohio State has accomplished? According to strength of record, Ohio State would have to add a neutral-site win over Georgia just to get on LSU's level.
In actuality, LSU will be the one facing Georgia this weekend, so the Tigers will remain unquestionably the team with the best résumé with a win.
The result here would be a leveling out of the national championship chances, with LSU lagging behind Clemson and Ohio State in quality but catching a break with an easier semifinal matchup.
Bracket 4: Utah makes it
We'd be remiss if we did not include the Utes here. But as we can see from the numbers below, the impact of subbing out Oklahoma with Utah is minimal on the other three teams. Certainly not minimal to Utah, however.
Bracket 5: Baylor sneaks in, Ohio State at No. 1
There's a 9% chance that Baylor, LSU and Oregon win, which would make Baylor the most likely team to nab the fourth spot (the Allstate Playoff Predictor also thinks that in a Baylor vs. Utah showdown for the fourth spot Baylor would at least have a chance, though the Utes are more likely to get in).
If Ohio State can hang on to that No. 1 seed, this creates a lopsided set of playoff projections where the Buckeyes have almost a coin-flip chance to win it all. Especially if Oregon pulls off the upset Friday night, Ohio State fans should become Bears fans on Saturday.