Life is crazy. Sometimes, the improbable falls into your lap. And according to Seth Walder, ESPN analytics expert, in worlds unknown to mankind, the undefeated, 5-0 Syracuse Orange make the playoff 10 times out of 20,000.
But sometimes, the wild and absurd happens, and before you know it the Syracuse Orange are in the College Football Playoff. Don’t tell me it can’t happen: The¬†Allstate Playoff Predictor¬†foresaw it, exactly 10 times in the 20,000 simulations it ran on Thursday.https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/page/weeklyscenario100722/fpi-simulations-strangest-college-football-playoff-possibilities-season
So how does this scenario play out? Walder says the FPI (Football Power Index) gives Syracuse a .2% chance to win out. In one of the 10 scenarios which he picked out, SU runs the table. It would be extremely hard to keep the Orange out of the playoff with an ACC championship, wins over at least four top-25 opponents and a spotless portfolio. (And before you come for our heads, this is a simulation.)
The three other teams which make the playoff? 13-0 Alabama, 13-0 USC and Ole Miss(!). The Big 12 cannibalized itself (Texas won the conference with three losses) and the Big 10 did the same (Minnesota takes home the B10 title). Georgia was 12-1, but Walder hypothesizes the Ole Miss-Bama game was closer than the UGA-Bama game, and that’s why Lane Kiffin and the Rebels are in the CFP (the way the Crimson Tide look this year, that’s not out of the question…).
That’s one pretend situation out of 20,000 and one could assume the nine others for SU are rather similar. It speaks to a larger trend as well, one that isn’t just a part of a computer program. To make the playoff, the ACC (not just Syracuse) needs teams like Michigan and USC to drop a game or two as the college football season progresses. Clemson is the clear front-runner right now, but the Tigers are by no means invincible. The force of reputation automatically portrays the ACC as a weaker football conference than the Big Ten or Big 12. Some help will be required.
For SU, the .2% chance or whatever to make the playoff is nice, but the more important thing is the sense of national relevance and recognition the Orange program is receiving. Nobody in the national media expected Dino Babers’ crew to be competitive. Now, the expression “Wait, Syracuse?” will cross more than a few lips this Saturday, October 15th.