If you thought last season’s college football playoffs were exciting, you’re going to need a seat belt to keep you in your chair this fall. Now that the big time colleges and universities are through the easier part of their schedules, the real fun begins. The final four rankings for the college football playoffs will become a hot topic and regardless of how I, or anyone else, rank the top 25, it is going to change weekly with these teams all playing each other. This November could be the greatest month of college football we have ever seen.
The defending national champion Ohio State University has kept their record perfect at 7-0, and both the AP and Coaches Poll have them ranked at the top. Urban Meyer’s team has dominated their schedule, with the exception of their 20-13 hiccup at home when they barely beat Northern Illinois, and they have put up more than 34 points in all but that one game. Their defense is solid and the Buckeyes should be a perfect 10-0 going into the last two weeks of the season for their back-to-back dates with Michigan’s finest. On November 21st they will host Michigan State and then the following week close out the regular season at the University of Michigan. These final two games will decide which of these three teams will make the college football playoffs.
Lone Star Lunacy
At the end of the season, the second spot will belong to either the Baylor Bears or the TCU Horned Frogs, and that will be decided on November 27th when the two meet in Texas. The rest of their schedule is not going to matter, as the 6-0 Bears should be 10-0 by that time, unless they somehow stumble against either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State in the two weeks prior, and the Horned Frogs should be 11-0 for this marquee match-up, unless they falter to either of the same teams. The Bears have not scored less than 56 points this season and even in games where they have allowed over 30 points, they have still won by three touchdowns. The Horned Frogs have scored over 45 points in their last 6 games and their defense is getting it done too. Baylor and TCU is going to be a great game, and both teams are likely deserving of making the playoffs, however one team will loose this game, and a loss that late in the season will drop them out of the top 4.
LSU has been impressive this season with wins against Florida, Auburn and Mississippi State. One of the few big Universities to open their season playing back-to-back ranked teams, the Tigers are tested and have proved victorious. Led by running back sensation Leonard Fournette, there isn’t a more exciting team in the SEC this season, except perhaps the University of Alabama, who they will meet in Tuscaloosa on November 7th. The best game in the conference, this season and possibly the NCAA, will result in one of these high profile teams landing inside the final four. The Crimson Tide hit a speed bump in week three when they lost a shoot-out at home against Ole Miss 43-37, but have answered with road wins against top-ten ranked teams Georgia and Texas A&M by a combined 46 points. Sure, Alabama and LSU will each have three more games after this, but it still seems most likely that the winner of this game gets their ticket stamped to the playoffs right then and there.
Clemson is sitting in a good position right now, and likely face the best schedule to get to the playoffs. They have already beat Notre Dame and will play their only other legitimate threat to their undefeated season on November 7th when they host the Florida State Seminoles. FSU has not faced a ranked opponent yet, but will when they take the trip to Clemson, before finishing up at home against Florida. For the Tigers, a win against FSU should give them enough to be right on the doorstep of the final four. With the best teams in the SEC, Big-10 and Big-12 beating each other up next month, Clemson could slide in the back door and land in the fourth spot.
Wild West Wackiness
Utah is an interesting wild card in this playoff race, as they currently sit at third in AP poll with a perfect 6-0 record with victories over Michigan, Oregon (by 42 points) and California. They still have road games at USC and Arizona and a home game against UCLA, but with the way they have been scoring, a perfect 12-0 season gets them in the playoffs.
Stanford, Notre Dame, Iowa and Oklahoma State remain outside of the top eight, but not by much. Win wins at USC and UCLA, they are in a good position to turn some heads if they can finish their season with wins at Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish meanwhile shook off their 2-point loss to Clemson with back-to-back wins, and still have three ranked teams ahead on their schedule.
Oklahoma State is a perfect 6-0, but face the toughest schedule ahead of any team listed above. They also face the most to gain as well, by hosting TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma, all ranked in the top 25. If they can somehow run the table, and knock off the Big 12’s elite, they are deserving of a playoff spot.
It is way too early to predict who will be in the college football playoffs, and the best way to approach it, is to kickback and watch it all unfold. With games such as Alabama and LSU, TCU and Baylor and Ohio State and Michigan State still to play, the rankings will be changing constantly over the next two months. This is exactly what the NCAA had in mind with the playoff system, and it is making for must-see Saturday football from now until the end of November.
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