On Tuesday, BYU surpassed Oklahoma in the CFP rankings to move up to no. 12. When the Cougars leapfrogged Oklahoma, it kept their slim NY6 hopes alive. How slim? We described BYU's chances as Lloyd Christmas-and-Mary-Swanson odds. Today, we quantify BYU's odds of sneaking into a NY6 Bowl.
The games that must go BYU's way
There are four games that must go BYU's way this weekend.
- Michigan must beat Iowa
- Oklahoma State must beat Baylor
- Alabama must beat Georgia
- Cincinnati must beat Houston
Using SP+ win probabilities, here are the chances that those games go BYU's way.
- Michigan over Iowa: 74%
- Oklahoma State over Baylor: 54%
- Alabama over Georgia: 34%
- Cincinnati must beat Houston: 76%
On the surface, there is a decent chance that each individual game could go BYU's way. Like any parlay, however, one misstep and BYU's NY6 hopes would be dashed. There is a 10.3% chance that all four of these games go BYU's way. The key, most likely, will be Alabama-Georgia. If that game goes BYU's way, there is a 30.4% chance that the rest of games will go BYU's way.
The CFP committee decisions that must go BYU's way
Assuming those four games go BYU's way, the Cougars will depend on the committee to make two critical decisions in their favor.
First, the committee must pick Cincinnati over Oklahoma State in the playoff. The committee has ranked Cincinnati over Oklahoma State over the last several weeks, but a Big 12 championship could be enough for the Cowboys to leapfrog the Bearcats. For the purposes of this article, let's say there is a 50% chance (which is probably a generous number given the committee's past treatment of G5 schools) that the committee would keep Cincinnati ranked ahead of Oklahoma State.
Second, the committee must drop Baylor below BYU in the rankings after losing to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship. The Bears would need to drop minimum three spots (from no. 9 to no. 12) for BYU to make a NY6 bowl. It isn't impossible for the loser of the Big 12 championship to drop three spots, but it hasn't always happened either.
In 2020, Iowa State lost 27-21 to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship and dropped four spots from no. 6 to no. 10. in final rankings.
In 2019, Baylor stayed at no. 7 after losing 23-30 to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship.
In 2018, Texas dropped from no. 14 to no. 15 after losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship.
In 2017, TCU dropped four spots from no. 11 to no. 15 after a blowout loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship.
Point being, it depends on the year. The committee has not established a clear precedent at this point. Given that information and the fact that Baylor holds a head-to-head victory over BYU, I'll put this at a 25% chance that the committee would rank BYU ahead of Baylor.
Using those probabilities, that would put BYU's chances of making a NY6 bowl at 1.3%. That's better than zero, but BYU will likely be playing in either the Independence Bowl or the Guaranteed Rate bowl this season.