Will BYU’s trip to Coastal Carolina have an impact on the college football playoffs?

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Realistically, BYU needed to increase its calendar strength in order to have a prayer during the college football playoffs. Heading into what will be their toughest game of the season – at Coastal Carolina on Saturday – the Cougars have done just that.

Would that be enough to give the Cougars a chance? Should it be? Let’s break it down using the Allstate Playoff Predictor as a guide.

Should the Cougars have a chance?

Even “should” can be divided into several categories.

Let’s start with: Should the Cougars have a chance based on the historic precedent of the selection committee? Yes.

While no non-Power 5 school has made the playoffs, an 11-0 BYU would have several measures in its favor for at least one shot.

BYU ranks 11th in ESPN’s College Football Power Index (FPI) and would likely rank seventh in backing strength (SOR) if it wins. On the surface, that doesn’t sound great (more on this in a minute), but the Cougars would benefit from a few other factors.

First: BYU’s independent status. In the past, the committee has given less credit to independents than to conference champions, all other things being equal, but also more credit than teams that could have won championships, but did not. made. This gives BYU a little boost in the event that there aren’t four clear playoff teams and conference champions.

Second: the loss column. While SOR encapsulates losses – and therefore the committee shouldn’t need to use it if used as a summary metric like SOR – the committee has historically overweighted the number of losses in its decision-making. So if BYU ends up 11-0, it would receive a further uptick from that.

(One side of medium length: With its current 11-game schedule, BYU would have the worst record strength of any undefeated team in the playoff era, except for 2016 West Michigan. On the other hand, compare All the SOR comparison really tells us is that BYU wouldn’t be a contender in a normal season, but it’s not a normal season, and the bar for the playoffs is. lower.)

So: The Allstate Playoff Predictor – based on the committee’s past behavior – gives BYU a 47% chance of reaching the playoffs if it wins. Strong enough! That means the Cougars would likely need help elsewhere – Notre Dame winning the ACC, for example, but nothing unreasonable. Caveats ahead, however.

The first of these caveats is the other way to answer the question “if BYU has any chance to come into play.” If the committee says they are looking for the “best” teams and generally strongly for the factors in which the “most deserving” teams are, then BYU probably ends up in the top four in either category, with a potential record strength and FPI ranks 7 and 11, respectively. It’s easy for the committee to avoid seeing the Cougars as the top four if they don’t want to.

Ultimately, that may not be relevant, and that’s not the purpose of the Predictor – which acts on the committee’s past behavior and thus gives BYU a better chance – but I think it’s worth it. worth noting anyway.

Make the Cougars have a chance?

This is a more delicate question. As we’ve said all season, we’d be naive to think that the particular chaos of 2020 doesn’t add some uncertainty to the playoffs.

There is also some pretty crucial information that we know the model doesn’t. So far, the committee has given less thought to BYU than we expected. The Cougars are 13th in this week’s CFP rankings, despite the current FPI and record strength of 11 and 9, respectively, plus a zero in the loss column. It’s surprising.

While the committee isn’t always consistent, that means BYU likely has more ground to do than the playoff predictor is predicting.

Another factor: the committee currently seems to have a better opinion of Coastal Carolina than our parameters. The Chanticleers only rank 32nd at FPI – unlike their 18th at CFP. This should work in favor of the Cougars; however, if BYU were to beat Coastal Carolina, there is no guarantee the latter would remain in the top 25 anyway.

While an undefeated BYU team certainly has a chance, ultimately my semi-qualitative take based on all of these factors is that BYU’s 47% predictor chance if he wins is probably high.

What about coastal Carolina?

Coastal Carolina (9-0) is actually the team put together for the best CV here. After increasing their own schedule strength by bringing in the Cougars at the last minute, the Chanticleers should be fifth in all-time strength if they win. So are they suddenly a playoff contender?

The Playoff Predictor doesn’t think so, only giving Chanticleers a 3% chance if they win. What is the difference? Quality of the team. While Coastal Carolina’s resume would be a bit better than BYU’s, FPI doesn’t consider Chanticleers as good of a team. Our model thinks BYU is about 8 points better than Coastal Carolina on a neutral field.

Lauren Poe contributed to this article.

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