A number of teams have a chance to make one final statement and pad their résumés during conference championship weekend.
What will each team's résumé look like with a win or loss on Saturday?
With the help of ESPN’s strength of record metric (SOR), we can project how each team’s overall body of work will stack up. Strength of record measures the chance an average top-25 team would have a team’s record or better, given its schedule. We often display strength of record as a rank, but behind those rankings are calculations that give an actual probability. For example, an average top-25 team would have a 3 percent chance of starting 11-1 or better against Ohio State’s schedule.
But what will the rankings look like after Saturday’s games? We can project strength of record based on if a team wins or loses. It’s important to note these may change overnight depending on the actual results of the games. Nonetheless, below you will find the percentage chance for an average top-25 team to achieve each team’s record or better based on various outcomes Saturday:
-- Alabama will likely end the season with the strongest strength of record, no matter the result of the SEC championship game.
-- Will Washington hang onto the fourth spot in SOR? If Wisconsin beats Penn State it will be a tight race between the Badgers and Huskies for No. 4. However, if Penn State wins, Washington appears to have the clear edge to remain in the top four.
-- If Clemson loses, the Tigers would likely drop out of the top four in SOR and open the door for a Big Ten team.
-- Michigan will remain outside the top five in SOR without another chance for a quality win. The Wolverines are the greatest example of best vs. most deserving, though, with a top-three ranking in ESPN's Football Power Index and nearly every other power ranking.
-- Finally, the Big 12’s outlook looks bleak, but one interesting number from above is Oklahoma State’s strength of record assuming a win Saturday, and assuming they had defeated Central Michigan. The Cowboys would be right in the mix for the fourth-best SOR.
There are obviously more factors that contribute to a team’s seeding and inclusion in the playoff than simply its résumé (eye test, team strength, etc.), but strength of record, though not designed to predict the playoff, has correlated closely with the committee’s rankings the past two seasons. Seven of the eight teams to make the playoff the past two seasons ranked in the top four in strength of record.
If the favorites win Saturday the rankings may not change too much, but if mayhem ensues, keep an eye on these projections to see how each team’s résumé will stack up.