We’re breaking down some of the biggest movers in our top 25 and revealing our TRACR projection model’s college football predictions for this week’s biggest matchups.
Playoff Potential Leaders
Michigan, Florida State, Georgia and Washington.
That isn’t the top four in the Associated Press Top 25 or our TRACR rankings. It’s the four teams that should receive the highest consideration for the College Football Playoff, according to our playoff potential ratings.
But there is still a ways to go before then, starting with this weekend. Oregon, the first team out of the top four at this point, will try to halt Utah’s 18-game home winning streak and Georgia takes on 5-2 Florida in Jacksonville.
Oregon’s Bo Nix threw for 287 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 20-17 home win over Utah last season, but the Ducks have dropped their last two trips to Rice-Eccles Stadium.
They’re not alone. The 6-1 Utes are hoping to extend the third-longest active home winning streak in the nation.
The 6-1 Ducks (96.5) are just behind the 7-0 Huskies (98.3) in playoff potential rating after bouncing back from a 36-33 loss at Washington in Week 7 with a 38-24 win over Washington State last weekend. The Huskies, meanwhile, slipped past Arizona State 15-7 in Week 8.
Teams with a rating between 90-100 should be considered the favorites for the playoff, while those between 80-90 have playoff potential, but would likely need to win out and have one team ahead of them fall.
Teams between 61-80 would not be included unless there is a little chaos and those between 40-60 are probably two- or three-loss schools that would not make it barring total chaos (i.e. every team ahead of them somehow losing out).
Heading into Week 9, there’s a huge difference between 7-0 Oklahoma (seventh in our playoff potential ratings) at 87.0 and 6-1 Penn State (sixth) at 61.4. The Nittany Lions suffered their first loss of the season in Week 8, 20-12 at Ohio State.
This makes it clear that our model indicates that only seven teams should be in serious consideration at this point.
Highest Playoff Potential Ratings
- Michigan Wolverines (99.9)
- Florida State Seminoles (98.7)
- Georgia Bulldogs (98.4)
- Washington Huskies (98.3)
- Oregon Ducks (96.5)
- Ohio State Buckeyes (92.1)
- Oklahoma Sooners (87.0)
- Penn State Nittany Lions (61.4)
- Alabama Crimson Tide (60.1)
- LSU Tigers (58.4)
However, a closer look reveals that our projections only give the Buckeyes a 9.0% chance of running the table over the rest of the regular season.
This weekend’s tilt at 5-2 Wisconsin could be a challenge, as could a Week 10 test at 6-2 Rutgers, but certainly it’s the regular-season finale at 8-0 Michigan that’s driving that percentage down.
Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville
Georgia has the eighth-highest chance of winning out (45.8%) behind Michigan (69.5%), Toledo (61.0%), Oklahoma (59.4%), Florida State (56.8%), Air Force (56.6%), Notre Dame (53.8%) and SMU (47.5%).
That’s despite still having 5-2 Florida, 7-1 Missouri, 6-1 Ole Miss, 5-2 Tennessee, which has the fourth-longest active home win streak in the nation, and rival Georgia Tech still remaining on the schedule.
The Bulldogs have won five of the last six meetings with the Gators in this rivalry, which has been played in Jacksonville on all but two occasions since 1933. Daijun Edwards rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns in Georgia’s 42-20 win last season, and he’s likely to play a major role again after running for 146 yards and a score in a 37-20 win at Vanderbilt in Week 7.
That’s not to say that the Bulldogs, who are No. 1 in the AP Top 25 but No. 4 in our TRACR rankings, won’t put the ball in the air. Carson Beck averages 306.7 passing yards per game – eighth in the nation – and Georgia ranks eighth in passing TRACR (37.6). The Gators are 17th in defensive TRACR against the pass, but they sit 27th against the run.
TRACR (Team Rating Adjusted for Conference and Roster) is a net efficiency metric that evaluates how well a team performs based on who it plays. The model, which is trained on over 10 years of data, is based on an EPA (expected points added) calculation weighed by who teams play.
SmartRatings Top Games
The Oregon-Utah and Georgia-Florida matchups are the second- and third-rated games, respectively, on the college slate in terms of excitement level (per SmartRatings) behind only the Oregon State-Arizona Pac-12 showdown.
SmartRatings is an AI-based platform that calculates excitement ratings based on six primary variables: pace, parity, novelty, momentum, context and social buzz. The scale translates to the following general sub-ranges: 0-39 (dull game), 40-64 (OK game), 65-84 (good game) and 85-100 (great game).
Most Exciting Week 9 NCAA Football Games (SmartRating)
- Oregon State at Arizona (71)
- Oregon at Utah (70)
- Georgia vs. Florida (69)
- Duke at Louisville (68)
- Oklahoma at Kansas (66)
So which teams are the moneyline best bets? How do they compare to sportsbooks’ college football picks? Well, here are the rest of our model’s win probabilities for all the TRACR top 25 college football games.
Week 9 College Football Predictions
TRACR No. 1 Michigan is idle
No. 2 Oregon 89.9% over No. 34 Utah
No. 3 Washington 99.5% over No. 119 Stanford
No. 4 Georgia 80.6% over No. 24 Florida
No. 5 Florida State 97.2% over No. 78 Wake Forest
No. 6 Ohio State 80.4% over No. 27 Wisconsin
No. 7 LSU is idle
No. 8 Oklahoma 87.9% over No. 40 Kansas
No. 9 Penn State 98.4% over No. 118 Indiana
No. 10 Oregon State 65.9% over No. 22 Arizona
No. 11 Texas 91.0% over No. 70 BYU
No. 12 Alabama is idle
No. 13 Notre Dame 89.4% over No. 64 Pittsburgh
No. 14 USC 91.7% over No. 77 California
No. 15 UCLA 87.9% over No. 59 Colorado
No. 16 Texas A&M 86.2% over No. 56 South Carolina
No. 17 Kansas State 93.4% over No. 85 Houston
No. 18 Duke 57.4% over No. 23 Louisville
No. 19 Miami (FL) 93.0% over No. 82 Virginia
No. 20 North Carolina 89.8% over No. 75 Georgia Tech
No. 21 Ole Miss 92.2% over No. 88 Vanderbilt
No. 25 SMU 94.1% over No. 101 Tulsa
On the outside of the top 25 looking in are No. 26 Maryland, No. 27 Wisconsin, No. 28 Tennessee (at Kentucky), No. 29 Rutgers, No. 30 Clemson, No. 31 Missouri, No. 31 TCU, No. 32 Air Force, No. 33 Troy, No. 34 Utah and No. 35 Texas State.