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538: One Team Is The Real Favorite To Win The National Championship, Over Alabama

Trevor Lawrence throws the ball for Clemson,

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 22: Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers passes against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on September 22, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Alabama football has been absolutely dominant this season. The College Football Playoff selection committee evidently agrees with that assessment, as the Crimson Tide were (unsurprisingly) given the No. 1 spot in last night's debut of the 2018 College Football Playoff rankings.

Not everyone is convinced that Nick Saban's club is the true favorite to win the national championship.

FiveThirtyEight, an analytics site run by Nate Silver, formerly of both ESPN and The New York Times, has a College Football Playoff tracker that gives percent chances for teams to win their conference, make the playoff, and win the national title.

It's a pretty nifty tool, which shows the various changes based on upcoming results. It also produces some interesting numbers.

As of now, FiveThirtyEight gives Clemson football a better chance to win the national title than Alabama.

The Tigers are the No. 2 team in the country. The idea that they have a better path to the playoff isn't too controversial—Clemson has the much easier schedule and league—but the higher chance to win the title is a new one.

As of last week, FiveThirtyEight gave Alabama a 28-percent chance. Clemson was at 27-percent.

After demolishing Florida State, Clemson is up to 32-percent, vs. 26-percent for Alabama, which is coming off of a bye.

FiveThirtyEight College Football Playoff rankings on October 31.


Those percentages largely hinge on this weekend's games. Clemson has an easy draw with Louisville, while Alabama has perhaps its hardest game left, at LSU.

If both win, Alabama overtakes Clemson as the favorite, with a 31-to-30 edge. If both win out, Alabama enters the College Football Playoff as a solid favorite.

FiveThirtyEight College Football Playoff rankings on October 31.


Alabama fans shouldn't fret too much about this, but I expect that they might.