If you’re a Penn State fan, you’re excited about everything right now. Ranked #12 in the AP. Ranked #14 in the Coaches Poll. Ranked #10 in tonight’s College Football Playoff. An emerging Heisman candidate in Saquon Barkley. Talk of a Rose Bowl or Cotton Bowl bid on New Year’s Day. Yet to be released, but soon Coach of the Year consideration for the second time in five years.
However, no one has really done the math on how Penn State makes the college football playoff. But on this night, on election night when strange is the norm, I give you a Cinderella long shot. But first, I’ll admit a few things. Six weeks ago, Penn State had an unlikely 99% chance of making the playoffs. Four weeks ago, 92% unlikely. Two weeks ago, 85% unlikely. Today, 30% unlikely. You’re wondering how I did that math. Yes, I have a degree from Penn State. I also have a degree from Alabama. Just for clarification, Penn State has one of the best engineering programs in the country. Alabama has the oldest. So my math is just fine. 30%. Let me explain.
Alabama is #1. They have a 98% chance of winning out. They take the #1 spot.
Clemson is #2. 94% chance of winning out. They take #2.
Here’s where it gets debatable.
Michigan is #3. 85% chance of winning out. They take #3. First real wrench, Ohio State beats Michigan. Penn State is out … admittedly.
Washington is #4. 70% chance of winning out against USC, Washington St and the Pac-12 Championship. They lose, #4 opens up and the first real glass slipper falls.
Ohio State is #5. They lose to Michigan. They are out. Remember, Penn State beat Ohio State.
Louisville is #6. 40% chance of losing out and clearly the biggest obstacle in my cinderella story. What if it happens. Then it gets interesting. Consider this the second wrench.
Wisconsin is #7. They lose the Big 10 Championship. That’s an 80% likelihood. They are out.
Auburn is #8. They lose to Alabama in the Iron Bowl. That’s an 85% likelihood. They are out.
Texas AM is #9. They must beat Ole Miss and LSU. They have a 60% chance of winning both, but they present the third wrench.
Penn State is #10. They crushed Iowa, once ranked in the top 15. They are highly favored on their remaining three games. Winning out. 85%.
Oklahoma is #11. If they win out — Baylor, WV, Oklahoma St. They are the final wrench, but we give them a 50% chance of winning out.
So there you have it. A not so unrealistic Cinderella story.