When Gerhard Bradner realized he couldn’t deliver his passengers on time to Denver International Airport – he did the next best thing. The Frontier Airline pilot ordered 38 pizzas for his 160 hungry passengers (out of his own pocket) and delivered a flight experience they will never forget. Frontier Airlines Flight 719, from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport bound for Denver, was already one hour behind schedule when stormy weather in the Denver area forced the plane to divert to Cheyenne Regional Airport in Wyoming. Sensing the frustration of his stranded passengers, Gerhard Bradner took action. According to Logan Marie Thomas, a passenger aboard the diverted flight, he announced, “Ladies and gentleman, Frontier Airlines is known for being one of the cheapest airlines in the US, but your captain is not cheap. I just ordered pizza for the entire plane.”After the passenger’s pizza party aboard the Airbus A320 aircraft, Flight 719 departed Cheyenne at approximately 10:30 p.m. and landed at Denver International Airport just past midnight.Since then, Bradner’s gesture of generosity has him landed him and Frontier Airlines international fame. In a recent interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Bradner humbly stated, “No, I am not a hero. I just ordered pizza.” Bradner has now been reimbursed for his rather large pizza order by Frontier Airlines.
TagsTransfersLoan MarketAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Liverpool winger Woodburn a target for Rangers boss Gerrardby Paul Vegas9 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool winger Ben Woodburn is a target for Rangers boss Steven Gerrard.The Scottish Sun says Gerrard attempted to land the attacker, 19, in the summer before his loan switch to Sheffield United.But Gerrard’s been alerted to his availability again after his old club cut short Woodburn’s season-long stay at Bramall Lane due to a lack of game time.Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is keen for the Wales international to go back out on loan.However, Rangers face stiff competition with Blackburn, Brentford, Hull, West Brom and Wigan all interested.
OTTAWA – The federal government has ordered the military to stay in Iraq for at least two more years as the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant prepares to enter a new phase.But despite a request from NATO for police trainers, there are “absolutely no plans” to send Canadian troops back to Afghanistan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.“We have served (in Afghanistan) with distinction, with valour, over 10 years and made a significant impact,” Trudeau said during an event in Charlottetown. “And Canada’s looking to be helpful in other places.”Earlier in the day, the Liberal government announced it was extending Canada’s mission in Iraq, where the Canadian Forces will continue to help Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State group until at least March 2019.“We know that Canada can, has and will continue to do important work in our efforts in northern Iraq,” Trudeau said. “Canada has a strong role to play as part of the international coalition against terrorism.”The length of the extension is unprecedented, while the mission itself will undergo significant changes that reflect the large degree of uncertainty around what will happen in Iraq in the coming months.After working almost exclusively with the country’s Kurdish forces for the past three years, the military is being given leeway to work with different groups, such as the Iraqi military.That decision could stoke concerns following recent reports of human rights violations being committed by some of those forces, including torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the change was necessary to ensure the military had the ability to respond quickly as Iraq’s needs changed, but that Canada would only work with “credible” partners.“Human rights will always be a paramount focus for us,” he said.Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance is also being given flexibility in deciding what types of forces to deploy into the region, to a maximum of 850 military personnel.The Liberal government — like the Conservatives before them — previously laid out specific requirements for the types of forces involved in the mission.The government is also adding a military transport aircraft to the mission, and estimates the overall cost of the new two-year mission at about $378 million.Canada currently has about 200 special forces troops in northern Iraq, as well as 50 medical personnel and tactical helicopters, plus a surveillance plane and air-to-air refueller based out of Kuwait.Despite the changes, Sajjan said the military would continue to operate within the confines of its previous “advice-and-assist” mandate.That mandate has been under the microscope for years, most recently following revelations a Canadian sniper in Iraq shot and killed an ISIL fighter from a record-breaking 3,540 metres away.NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has said the incident, which bested the previous record for longest kill shot, is only the latest evidence that the mission involves combat, contrary to what the government says.“This major extension comes amid serious questions about the nature of the mission,” Mulcair said in a statement on Thursday, in which he called for a debate and vote in Parliament on the mission.“It is deeply troubling that the Liberal government made this announcement after the House of Commons has adjourned for the summer.”Unlike the previous Conservative government, Sajjan refused Thursday to say how many firefights Canadian Forces have been involved in.Instead, he repeated past assertions that the mission is a non-combat one, and said the rules governing when and why Canadian troops can use lethal force have not changed.The decision to give the Canadian Forces more flexibility reflects the uncertainty around what will happen once ISIL is defeated in Mosul, its last major urban stronghold in Iraq.Iraqi forces took a big step towards that objective on Thursday, as they captured the ruins of a major landmark in Mosul, sparking claims that ISIL nearing its end.But there are fears that it will go underground and resort to traditional terror tactics such as suicide bombings, which will require different types of training from what Canada and its allies have already provided.The extension also comes as tensions between Canada’s Kurdish allies and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad are building over the Kurds’ plans to hold a referendum on independence in September.Trudeau said Canadian officials “understand how complex the political and regional situation is in northern Iraq,” but that it wouldn’t detract from Canada continuing to help there.— Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Trudeau was in Halifax.
WHITEHORSE — Dennis Fentie, who served as Yukon premier for nine years, died Friday at the age of 68.Fentie served as the territory’s seventh premier from 2002 to 2011 as leader of the Yukon Party, which confirmed his death in a statement.He was first elected as a New Democrat to the legislative assembly in 1996, representing Watson Lake.He crossed the floor to the Yukon Party in May 2002, then won the party’s leadership and led it victory over the Liberals later that year.Fentie, who was also the territory’s finance minister, won a second term in 2006 and stepped down as leader 2011.Yukon Party Leader Stacey Hassard said in a statement that Fentie helped transfer more power from the federal government to the territory and made the economy his focus.“Over his nine years as premier, he was instrumental in negotiating a better health care funding agreement between the territories and Canada as well as for getting improvements to the territorial formula financing arrangements,” he said, adding that Fentie had “a tenacious spirit.”Hassard said Fentie was responsible for patients having access to modern hospitals in Dawson City and Watson Lake.“A hard-working premier who always had the best interests of Yukon at heart, Dennis was, above all else, a great friend to all of us and he will be sincerely missed. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family.”He was born in Edmonton and moved to Watson Lake in 1962 at the age of 12.Fentie was also the owner of a construction company.His career wasn’t without controversy. Before he was elected, Fentie admitted that he had been arrested for drug trafficking in 1975 and served 17 months in prison. He was pardoned in 1996.After he was elected, Fentie said he was embarrassed about the conviction.Flags at government buildings were lowered to half-mast in memory of Fentie.(CKRW, The Canadian Press) The Canadian Press
Trying to get the offense into rhythm, the Steelers unwittingly played into the Jaguars’ hands. Haley called a host of wide-receiver screens and dump-off passes to tailback Le’Veon Bell, but the lateral speed of the Jaguars defenders allowed them to bottle up the Steelers’ short passing game: The Steelers averaged 5.6 yards after catch on the season,2They finished fifth in the league with 2,146 yards after catch. but they averaged just 3.5 against Jacksonville.This pattern repeated itself throughout the game. Jacksonville’s corners frequently played Brown tightly, with safety help over the top, while keeping Smith-Schuster in front of them with plenty of cushion. Whether or not the Jaguars showed blitz, Roethlisberger kept throwing to his first read, frequently forcing throws to Brown.Here’s Roethlisberger’s passing chart for the game, via ESPN Stats & Info: Meanwhile, Brown is coming off a calf injury that may or may not hamper him against Ramsey and Jacksonville. If Brown is unavailable or ineffective, and the running game isn’t working, Roethlisberger will have to do a much better job of reading the defense and finding the open receiver — or there will be more picks where the first five came from.Check out our latest NFL predictions. Roethlisberger targeted Brown 19 times on the day, completing just 10 passes. Take out that opening bomb, and Brown gained just 108 yards on the 18 other passes thrown his way. That’s an average of just 6.0 yards per target, down from his season-long average of 9.4. And three of Roethlisberger’s five interceptions came while targeting Brown, including both pick-sixes.What could Haley and the Steelers have done instead? They could have taken a page from the other team on the field.While Fournette was racking up 181 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, Bell was given just six second-half carries, despite reeling off his game-high 15-yard carry on the first drive of the second half. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger dropped back to throw 39 times in the second half.Former Steelers tailback DeAngelo Williams saw the solution, too; he told Steve Gorman of Fox Sports Radio that if “Haley doesn’t run the damn ball like he should have the first time, they should fire his ass.”Bell only averaged 3.1 yards per carry in Week 5,3Down from his season average of 4.0. so maybe it won’t be quite as simple as handing him the ball more often. But with Roethlisberger pressing downfield leading to two defensive scores and three flipped fields, restoring run-pass balance to the offense can’t possibly hurt. The Steelers might also benefit from the ball bouncing their way more often; one of Roethlisberger’s picks came on a deflection, and another when Schuster fell down. The last time the Jacksonville Jaguars came into Heinz Field, the 7.5-point underdogs embarrassed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his Pittsburgh Steelers so badly, Roethlisberger wondered aloud if he didn’t “have it anymore.”Roethlisberger threw 55 passes in that Week 5 matchup, netting just 5.67 yards per attempt with no touchdowns and a whopping five interceptions. The Steelers managed just three field goals on 12 offensive possessions. The Jaguars didn’t throw the ball well either, but they didn’t need to: Tailback Leonard Fournette rumbled for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while two Jaguars defenders returned interceptions for touchdowns.On Sunday, the Jaguars will return to the scene of their triumph. Yet they opened as 6.5-point underdogs, with Vegas bookmakers not believing they can do what they did to the Steelers a second time.So just what did they do to the Steelers?On the Jaguars’ first defensive play of the game, at least, they didn’t do much. With second-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey lined up tight on All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown, Roethlisberger tested Ramsey by going long — and completing a 49-yard bomb.But if Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley had faith in Roethlisberger and his wide receivers, Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash had faith in his athletic secondary.Early in the game, Jacksonville showed a lot of tight man and off-man looks, with a single high safety. They also flashed different blitzes, but according to the ESPN Stats & Information Group, they only blitzed once. After the snap, the Jaguars frequently dropped back into middle-of-the-field zones while the corners clamped down on the outside receivers.By rushing four and dropping seven, the Jaguars allowed a lot of short completions, but they limited post-catch damage. The strategy also limited downfield options, giving the Jaguars’ second-ranked pass rush plenty of time to create pressure and force Roethlisberger to make mistakes.Just before the end of the first half, the Steelers were facing a 3rd-and-6 at their own 19-yard line. Down 7-3 with 1:20 still on the clock, they still had plenty of time to score before heading into the locker room. Here’s how Jacksonville lined up:At the top of the screen, Ramsey is giving Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster almost 10 yards of cushion. This seems like a mistake, given that Pittsburgh only needs 6 yards to convert. Pittsburgh is lined up in the shotgun with 1-1 personnel,1One running back, one tight end, three wide receivers. and Jacksonville has its nickel package in.Both linebackers are up at the line of scrimmage, along with safety Barry Church, indicating a blitz is coming. But at the snap, only the four down linemen actually rush; the Jaguars drop back seven players into coverage. Roethlisberger, presumably expecting a blitz, locks onto Smith-Schuster and throws early, anticipating Smith-Schuster getting open on his comeback route.Instead, Ramsey uses his closing speed and makes a great play on the ball:
DETBOS, OKC+1.4 (Note that all of these gains and losses are for 2014-15 only — they don’t take into account draft picks exchanged or even the future implications of picking up a player and his contract.)As SB Nation’s Paul Flannery noted, this trade deadline didn’t really make much difference despite all the chaos in the final hectic minutes.Sure, the top team, Miami, added about 2.4 wins over the rest of the season, and Phoenix brought up the rear with a loss of more than 3 WAR when the dust settled. The moves may have kept the Heat afloat for the playoffs (especially in light of the subsequent news that Chris Bosh would be lost for the season with blood clots) and signaled the death knell for the Suns’ postseason chances.But the rest of the biggest movers and shakers on deadline day either had already locked up a playoff slot (Washington and Oklahoma City took steps back but are near 100 percent playoff probability by our projections anyway) or didn’t have a prayer no matter what they did (the Celtics, for all their improvements on deadline day, are still staring at a mere 12.1 percent chance of making the playoffs).The exception to this might be the Detroit Pistons. Two weeks ago, the Pistons clung to a meager 9.9 percent probability of making the playoffs, according to our model. Now they have a 47.8 percent chance of making the postseason and have jumped from 21st to 16th in the power rankings — some of that thanks to the 1.4-WAR boost they picked up at the trade deadline with Reggie Jackson (an upgrade made doubly positive by the discarding of sub-replacement level guard D.J. Augustin).Aside from the Pistons, however, it seems as though few of Thursday’s moves will upend the playoff picture in either conference.At any rate, many of the trades yielded positive WAR simply by jettisoning a poor player from the roster. Take, for instance, Sacramento’s trade of Ramon Sessions to Washington. It netted a solid player in return — Andre Miller is expected to generate 0.8 WAR for the Kings over the rest of the season — but removing Sessions was the bigger windfall in terms of 2014-15 WAR. Sessions’ -5.1 predictive RPM combined with an expectation of 17 minutes per game to potentially deliver -1.0 WAR to Sacramento before it traded him away.As for the rankings themselves, the New Orleans Pelicans were the biggest movers since two Mondays ago — and in a very bad way. They lost all-everything forward Anthony Davis to a shoulder sprain that will cost him several weeks of action, which coupled with an ongoing injury to Jrue Holiday — and the addition of RPM disaster Norris Cole — to drop the Pelicans 11 ranking slots. RPM says their depleted roster projects to be the fourth-worst in basketball over the next week.The Dallas Mavericks dropped eight slots in this edition of the rankings. Adding Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t help, but the biggest changes were an injury to Chandler Parsons and the return of statistical enigma Rajon Rondo to their lineup. Rondo’s having a subpar season by the numbers, and short-term RPM gives him a rating near the replacement level. But at least Dallas is still 99.5 percent likely to make the playoffs, according to our simulations.Looking for good news? The Los Angeles Clippers rose six spots in the rankings from two weeks ago. Usually changes to the power ratings are due to player movement, injuries or other reallocations of minutes, but in the case of the Clippers, the improved play of Jamal Crawford has also played a role. Crawford still carries a negative RPM rating, but he’s averaging 22.8 points per game over his last four outings and has been present for some of the Clippers’ best basketball — they’ve averaged a +17.5 scoring margin per game with him on the floor over the past two weeks.Finally, let’s give a hand to the New York Knicks. While they’ve been a fun punchline all season, they’ve been in a dogfight with the Philadelphia 76ers for last place in our rankings all season. But after a season-ending injury to Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have separated themselves from the pack, easily ranking as the least-talented team in the NBA this week. With the likes of RPM ne’er-do-wells Jose Calderon, Jason Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. projected to soak up huge minutes for the rest of the season, Jim Dolan’s team is truly a fitting “Hope Diamond in his loser’s tiara.” DENPHI, POR+0.7 MILPHO+0.0 PHODET, MIA, MIL-3.2 After a week’s hiatus because of the All-Star break, we’re back with FiveThirtyEight’s NBA Power Ratings.There are more than a few trade deadline-related changes to the rankings this week, but before I get to those, a quick explanation of how these numbers work: Teams are ranked according to a projection of their strength over the upcoming week using Real Plus-Minus (RPM) player ratings provided by Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi. For more details on these numbers, see our introductory rankings post.In many ways, ranking the league after a reshuffling of players — like Thursday’s trade deadline — is precisely what power ratings such as these are intended to do. Because they’re based on the underlying talent of the players on each team’s roster, they ought to be able to account for player movement more quickly than ratings that require the new-look teams to play together a bunch of times.So, how much did the deadline really shake up the league? Here’s a look at the statistical effect of deadline trades on each team, in terms of the RPM wins above replacement (WAR) they are projected to gain or lose over the remainder of the 2014-15 schedule: NYKHOU-0.5 MIANOP, PHO+2.4 PORDEN+0.4 NOPMIA, OKC, PHO-0.1 BOSDET+2.1 UTAOKC+0.2 MINBRK-0.2 TEAMTRADED WITHNET WAR PHIDEN, HOU, MIL-0.1 SACWAS+1.8 OKCNOP, UTA-0.7 WASSAC-0.9 BRKMIN+0.4 HOUNYK, PHI+0.3
142000Spurs1694.459.9 222013Spurs1681.858.4 191965Celtics1687.159.5 281985Celtics1677.258.2 101972Bucks1703.463.9 261998Bulls1678.459.0 92014Spurs1708.160.6 161981Lakers1693.360.2 71986Lakers1725.062.1 RANKYEARTEAMELO AFTER 10 GAMESEXPECTED WINS PER 82 GAMES 52002Lakers1725.762.2 31987Celtics1736.762.9 Last season’s Golden State Warriors were a great story. Adding a new coach to what was already an exciting young core, they made The Leap and finally melded their talented roster into a champion — as well as one of the best teams in NBA history.But even after all that, the Warriors still had naysayers. Over the offseason, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers pointed out Golden State’s good fortune in having to face neither his team nor the San Antonio Spurs during its playoff run. (The Clippers, if you recall, had a chance to stand in the Warriors’ way — and whiffed on it.) Others simply wondered if things had gone too smoothly for the Warriors and questioned whether they’d be able to overcome greater adversity when it inevitably presented itself.Few defending champs have had to explain themselves as much as Golden State did this summer. But when the league rolled out the balls and started playing games again, the Warriors picked up right where they left off.Actually, strike that — over the past three weeks, they’ve somehow played even better than the lofty standard they set for themselves last season. According to our Elo ratings — which have always loved this Warriors squad — no team in NBA history has looked so good 10 games into a season:1“Expected wins per 82 games” represents Elo’s estimate of a team’s true talent relative to its league — essentially, it answers the question, “How many games would this team win in a season against an average schedule?” 112009Lakers1700.660.2 132014Heat1694.559.5 252006Pistons1679.558.7 151968Sixers1693.863.3 It might not hold up over an entire season, but the Warriors have improved at both ends of the floor in the early going. The offense is moving the ball more, simultaneously drawing more fouls and shooting more 3-pointers (which means fewer of those dreaded midrange jumpers2According to the shooting zones defined by NBA.com.), and on defense, they’re doing just about everything a teensy bit better. Plus, five of their top six minute-earners have a higher Box Plus/Minus (BPM) than they did a season ago,3The only holdout? Klay Thompson, who’s almost certainly going to start shooting better and rein in those turnovers. headlined by Stephen Curry’s outrageously high +15.4 mark.It’s not hard to tell how Curry, in particular, has gotten off to such a ridiculous statistical start this season. He’s notched 30 or more points in six of Golden State’s 10 games, including a 53-point outing against the New Orleans Pelicans and a couple more 40-point performances: 61993Bulls1725.562.8 122003Mavericks1696.459.8 172015Spurs1692.759.3 292010Lakers1676.058.0 If Curry’s BPM stays this high all season, it would make for the best individual season in modern NBA history. Of course, that’s something our preseason CARMELO projections assigned a roughly 0.9 percent probability to, so it’s likely he’ll come back down to earth a bit between now and next April.But Curry himself also typifies what might be a slightly new tendency in Golden State’s offense. Like his team, Curry is shooting fewer twos than ever but getting to the line more, eschewing the midrange game in favor of more shots in the restricted area, as well as more of every type of 3-pointer. These marginal changes in shot selection can add up: If Curry maintains his average rate of points per shot within each zone,4And we can argue how much that’s a valid assumption — especially since Curry seems to be assisting himself more in the midrange than last year, which is bad. But these shifts are so subtle that I think it’s a fair baseline to start from. he’ll essentially get four “free” points for every 100 shots he takes from the floor, a number that balloons to 54 points — or almost two extra wins — when you take 1,371 shots per season.It remains to be seen if Curry and the Warriors can keep this up. Certainly, they’re not going to keep beating the rest of the league by 17 points per game. But it’s notable that Golden State has come out of the blocks so quickly this season. After a summer spent fending off doubts about the long-term viability of its style of play, this team seems determined to extend the Year of the Warriors into 2016 and beyond. 241973Bucks1680.361.3 81999Jazz1710.761.4 12016Warriors1793.866.8 232008Spurs1680.458.5 212010Cavaliers1684.358.8 272005Spurs1677.458.7 41992Bulls1729.663.4 21997Bulls1785.567.1 301991Pistons1675.759.6 201989Pistons1685.160.1 181982Celtics1687.559.5
blythe (Blythe Terrell, general editor): OK, so the conference championships are this weekend. The real test of our new College Football Playoff model is IMMINENT.natesilver (Nate Silver, editor-in-chief): Well, it’s not much of a test, since the scenarios are either pretty obvious or the model’s like all ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.andrewflowers (Andrew Flowers, quantitative editor): Yeah, if Alabama and Clemson cruise to win their conference titles, this is an open-and-shut case: They both get into the playoff, alongside Oklahoma and the Big Ten winner. But if one or both lose, all hell will break loose.natesilver: Probably where the model most disagrees with the conventional wisdom is in thinking Clemson might still have a pretty good shot — even with a loss.andrewflowers: Exactly, @natesilver. That makes the ACC championship the most interesting game to watch. If Clemson loses, the playoff committee has a difficult job. Will UNC get in? Or could Stanford take their place if they win the Pac-12?Or will Clemson sneak in despite losing?!blythe: Part of me hopes it gets exciting (since I’ve got no team in the game). I want something weird to happen. And part of the model is trying to predict how the committee members will think, right?natesilver: Yeah, the whole point of the model is that it’s trying to replicate human thinking. So since everyone else is all ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about what happens if Clemson or Alabama loses, maybe that means it’s right in some sense!What it can do, though, is think an extra step or two ahead. For instance, it recognized that Stanford still had an outside path to making it into the playoff even after Stanford’s second loss to Oregon a few weeks ago. Why? Because it knew that Stanford could potentially beat Notre Dame, then win the Pac-12 — and that might look pretty good to the committee.Likewise, it recognized that a Big 12 team that got hot was likely to leapfrog Notre Dame — and it turned out that Oklahoma did exactly that, even before Notre Dame lost to Stanford.blythe: Stanford sneaking in would make SOMEONE here happy (@allison)allison (Allison McCann, visual journalist): AND WE DID BEAT NOTRE DAME!blythe: Oh, yeah, what ever happened to the Irish?andrewflowers: I get emails from Notre Dame fans asking for their playoff odds if they had beaten Stanford.blythe: Everyone is on a quest for hope, Andrew.natesilver: If there were a six-team playoff, like there should be, Notre Dame would be a bubble team right now. But maybe let’s get back to the cases at hand?allison: Stanford is sitting with a 13 percent chance of making the playoff, but they almost certainly need a big-time loss from someone else this weekend, right?andrewflowers: That’s right @allison — Alabama and/or Clemson need to lose for the Cardinal to get in.blythe: So, the Big Ten winner gets in. And Oklahoma is a lock. That’s where we stand, right? Those are the two knowns?natesilver: And that Alabama and Clemson are locks if they win. So there could be no drama at all, if the favorites win out.blythe: Right. So the interesting scenarios …allison: Yeah, forget favorites. Give us all the drama.blythe: If Clemson loses and Alabama wins, then what?allison: Does that make Ohio State next in line? (It’s NOT Stanford, which is garbage.)andrewflowers: Our model is high on Clemson even if they lose; they have the highest odds to get in, at 42 percent (assuming Alabama wins). But the Pac-12 game really matters here. If Stanford beats USC, they might get in.allison: I am completely unashamed of my favoritism here. Stanford could be more likely than Ohio State to make it in if they win that conference title! THAT’S WHAT ANDREW WROTE!natesilver: Yeah, let’s unpack a few things here. First, the model thinks that four teams have a credible case — Stanford, Clemson, UNC and Ohio State. It likes Stanford’s chances a little better than UNC and Ohio State — if Stanford wins. And it puts Clemson right up there with Stanford, in defiance of the conventional wisdom I guess.But when I think through the politics of the committee’s decision, I like Stanford’s chances a little better than the model does.allison: Because of Condi???andrewflowers: Think of it like this: if Clemson loses, they can point out they’ve played a more challenging schedule than UNC, and had a signature win over Notre Dame, too. And, relative to Stanford, they’d have fewer losses despite not winning their conference. It’s a tough call for the committee.But the ultimate nightmare is if Clemson and Stanford lose. Will that pave the way for Ohio State to sneak in? Don’t sleep on the Buckeyes!natesilver: @allison: I think the committee starts from the premise that it doesn’t have much respect for UNC and thinks they’d get demolished if they were in the playoff. So it wants to find an excuse to leave them out. But it has trouble taking Clemson over UNC when UNC just beat Clemson. How about Ohio State? Maybe, but they’re not a conference champion either — and frankly, if you’re going to take a one-loss nonchampion, Clemson’s resume is at least as good as Ohio State’s. That leaves Stanford. They’re a politically correct choice, having won their conference title and having played a much better schedule than UNC.allison: And because of Condi ;-).Okay fine, Andrew, I’ll go with you and consider losses from both Clemson and Stanford. You’ve written that our model consistently likes the Buckeyes more than the committee — why?andrewflowers: Would the committee really pick UNC over Ohio State if the Tar Heels beat Clemson and Stanford also loses? That to me is the existential question. Lots of $$$ is involved in these selections. I don’t mean to sound too conspiratorial, but with Ohio State’s national football fanbase, it’d be awfully tempting to pick them.blythe: Let’s look at another scenario. What if the Tide get rolled and the Tigers beat the Tar Heels? Then you have Florida as the SEC champ over ‘Bama. What does that do? Could a two-loss Gators team show up in the playoff?andrewflowers: Um, no.natesilver: Ohio State’s a fascinating case, @allison. Because, remember, the model’s job is to replicate human thinking. And it thinks humans should really like Ohio State for some pretty basic reasons. One-loss power conference team. Defending national champion. (That’s factored in implicitly in way the model uses Elo ratings, which carry over slightly from season to season.) Coming off a HUGE win against Michigan. Only loss was against another very good team, Michigan State.But the narrative that developed around Ohio State was poor. I actually thought the Ezekiel Elliott comments after the Michigan State loss might have hurt them — it made it seem like they had blown their chance instead of reminding voters that this was a very good football team that had a chance to redeem itself against UM.blythe: That Florida State loss was pretty brutal. So no Florida. But how does that change the picture? A ‘Bama loss and Clemson win?andrewflowers: A ‘Bama loss is less of a headache than a Clemson one. Sorry Florida fans, but if you win, the SEC is getting shut out. Stanford is in pole position to make it if they win the Pac-12; and if they slip up, then Ohio State is waiting in the wings.To be specific — Stanford has a 61 percent shot at the playoff if Alabama loses, Clemson wins and the Cardinal beat USC.blythe: But ‘Bama is pretty unlikely to lose, right?natesilver: Florida would have to DEMOLISH Alabama. If they win 42-3 or something … and Stanford loses … and the committee decides it really prefers conference champions after all, they might get a look.andrewflowers: Very unlikely, @blythe. They’re 78 percent favorites.natesilver: And having seen a bunch of Florida over the past few weeks … I’m not taking the 22 percent side of that bet.blythe: OK, so the final scenario: If ‘Bama and Clemson both lose, then what? MAXIMUM CHAOS!andrewflowers: In this nightmare scenario, Stanford is a great bet if they win the Pac-12 (62 percent). But, honestly, it gets messy real fast. Five teams possibly competing for two spots.natesilver: Here’s something interesting, though. According to the model, Ohio State would rather have Alabama lose and Clemson win than both Alabama and Clemson lose.andrewflowers: But don’t count out just-beaten Clemson, either: They’re right with the Cardinal at 59 percent. And that’s right, @natesilver — Buckeye fans should be rooting hard for Clemson.blythe: This seems like the real ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ situation.natesilver: They should be rooting for Clemson only if Alabama loses. If Alabama wins, though, they need Clemson to lose to have any shot at all. It’s like some weird prisoner’s dilemma.blythe: As college football should be.natesilver: But the thinking here is that if both Alabama and Clemson lose, the committee would resolve its UNC-Clemson “problem” by letting both teams in. Especially if Stanford loses, too.andrewflowers: One last thing: We’d be remiss without mentioning how @natesilver rigged the model to favor Michigan State. The Spartans are obviously in if they beat undefeated Iowa; and vice versa for the Hawkeyes. Zzzzz…natesilver: Ha! The main question is how far Sparty will move up into the top four with a win.Excuse me — WHEN they win. Weirdly, it might be best for them to stay at No. 4 — because most computer rankings think No. 1 Clemson isn’t as strong as No. 2 Alabama or No. 3 Oklahoma.andrewflowers: BTW, a strong Michigan State win makes Ohio State look good. Another thing for Buckeye fans to root for.allison: Should I [Stanford fans] be rooting for a Michigan State or Iowa? What’s my prisoner’s dilemma here?natesilver: Yeah, that could help Ohio State a bunch. Historically, the times when we’ve seen two teams from the same conference rank in the coaches poll or AP top four is when the second team’s only loss came to the team ranked ahead of it. Which works for Ohio State is Sparty wins, but not if it’s Iowa instead.So you should be rooting for Iowa, @allison, because it makes Ohio State’s case weaker.blythe: So basically, the likeliest situation is that ‘Bama and Clemson win their conference titles and everything is very boring (or great, depending on your team preference) with Oklahoma, Iowa/Michigan State, Clemson and ‘Bama. But we’ll see if UNC or Florida makes it interesting on Saturday.andrewflowers: Should be fun! Read more: All The Wild Scenarios That Could End The College Football Season That’s the big question going into this Sunday’s College Football Playoff selection. Our staff college football fans sat down to talk through the scenarios on Slack. The transcript below has been lightly edited.