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ESPN computer predicts Ohio State, not Michigan, will play for CFP national title

CFB-HQ on FanNation 11/28/2022 James Parks
© Provided by CFB-HQ on FanNation

The ESPN Football Power Index is one of the most prominent college football prediction computer models out there, but there are times when its projections certainly raise eyebrows.

That was the case this week when FPI announced its predictions for the College Football Playoff and national championship races.

According to the computer, it will be Ohio State — and not Michigan — that plays for the national championship against Georgia.

Ohio State over Michigan for the national title game?

FPI projects that Georgia is the favorite to qualify for the national title game at 66.1 percent, followed by Ohio State at 49.0 percent and Michigan at 48.4 percent, despite the Buckeyes' 22-point loss to the Wolverines at home last Saturday.

From there, the index favors Georgia to beat Ohio State for the national championship with 39.7 percent likelihood.

Going by the computer's percentage predictions, FPI believes that Michigan does have the edge over Ohio State to make the College Football Playoff — 97.3 percent to OSU's 88.2 percent — but it's still a big believer in the Buckeyes.

Judging by its predictions, the index expects Michigan to win the Big Ten Championship Game, but that USC will lose the Pac-12 Championship Game against Utah, allowing a one-loss Ohio State to qualify for the final four semifinal.

And from there, the computer projects Ohio State will defeat expected Big 12 champion TCU, and that Georgia will beat Michigan, in the semifinal games.

Is it possible?

Looking at the expected top four of the College Football Playoff rankings heading into Championship Saturday, the prediction is not completely out of the ordinary.

USC is a narrow 3 point favorite against Utah in the Pac-12 title game, and the Trojans' sole loss on the season came on the road to that same Utes team.

And the computer wasn't close, either: Utah has a 61.2 percent chance to win that game, compared to USC at 38.9 percent, according to FPI.

Place your bets: Game lines, odds for College Football Championship Saturday

Michigan is believed to be a lock for the semifinal even with an improbable loss to Purdue for the Big Ten title — the Wolverines are 16.5 point favorites over the Boilermakers at SI Sportsbook — and TCU will make the playoff provided it wins the Big 12 title — but the Frogs are close 2.5 point faves over Kansas State there.

A loss by either USC or TCU would seemingly clear the way for Ohio State to make the College Football Playoff at one loss, especially with Alabama and Tennessee at two losses, as is ACC title favorite Clemson.

Buckeye fans are rooting for Utah or Kansas State, or preferably both, to win on Championship Saturday. 

There's still a lot of football left to be played this weekend.

More college football from SI: Top 25 Rankings | Schedule | All Teams

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