The college football season is rapidly winding down. Before the season ends, we will crown a national champion. The path to a national champion begins on November 5th with the first College Football Playoff Selection Show. This is our first look at who the committee likes and who is on the short end of the stick. Every fan and expert have their opinion on who should be in. Below we will see who I believe should be in and who is on the outside looking in.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The number one ranking goes to the Alabama Crimson Tide. They are the most consistent team since the playoff started and are coached by, arguably, the greatest coach ever, Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide also have a dynamic quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa, although battling an ankle injury, is a front runner for the Heisman Trophy. Complementing the offense is another suffocating defensive performance by Alabama.
The Crimson Tide control their own destiny towards the playoff. Alabama has LSU, Mississippi State, Western Carolina, and Auburn remaining on their schedule. The Crimson Tide can very much win all their remaining games. If Alabama finishes 12-0, they will be in the College Football Playoff (CFP). It does not matter what happens in the SEC Championship. Even if they slip up and finish 11-1, there is still a high possibility of getting in as an at-large. Nick Saban and company hope to complete their revenge tour with a 2019 National Championship
Number two ranked team is Alabama’s rival, the LSU Tigers. The Tigers may be the top ranked team in the polls, but they have not sustained success. This counts against LSU, but they have taken the college football landscape by storm in 2019. Coach Ed Orgeron has done a phenomenal job bringing LSU back to prominence. The Tigers have always been carried by a dominating defense. This year, quarterback Joe Burrow took the next step and turned the LSU offense around. Burrow, like Tagovailoa, is in the Heisman conversation in 2019.
LSU has Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Texas A&M left on the schedule. The Tigers are in good shape to run the table and finish 12-0. This puts LSU in the same boat as Alabama. If they win out and finish undefeated, it does not matter what happens in the SEC Championship; they will be in the playoff. Like Alabama also, if LSU finishes 11-1 the possibility is high they will get in as an at-large. LSU has not tasted this type of success since 2011. The Tigers hope to write a happy ending to this storybook 2019.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Coming in at number three are the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes have another season of success, despite having a new head coach. They are also led by their Heisman hopeful quarterback, Justin Fields. Ohio State has been in the running the last two years but have seen a terrible road loss crush their dreams. Two years ago, it was Iowa and last year it was Purdue. Ohio State might escape the road upset, but still have a tough two games left on their schedule.
In addition to Maryland and Rutgers, the Buckeyes also play Penn State and Michigan. Ohio State has dominated both Penn State and Michigan. If the Buckeyes run the table, they still might need to win their conference championship game. A one loss LSU or Alabama might have a better resume than a 1 loss Ohio State team. Ohio State, by far has the toughest schedule of the top four teams right now. Five seasons ago, the Buckeyes won the first ever CFP. Now, they want to bring another championship back to Columbus.
Rounding out our first College Football Playoff standing is the defending national champions, the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers have not missed a beat from last season. They are still running through their fellow ACC competitors. Despite only defeating North Carolina by one, the Tigers have gotten better week in and week out. Heisman candidate Trevor Lawrence struggled early but has grown as we have gone along. The Tigers find themselves two games away from running through the ACC undefeated once again.
Clemson has NC State and Wake Forest remaining inside the conference. The Tigers close out the year against rival South Carolina. The Tigers should be able to finish the regular season 12-0. No matter who wins the ACC Coastal Division, Clemson should be able to win that game too. I do not see a scenario where Clemson is not in the playoff come December. Coach Dabo Swinney dethroned the king, Nick Saban, last year. Following that beat down, Swinney hopes to take his place on the college football dynasty throne. Clemson hopes to close out 2019 with their third national title in four years.
Rest of Field
On the outside looking in you have Penn State, Georgia, Oregon, Utah, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Minnesota. All of these teams can get to the playoff if they win out and win their conference championship. Penn State will play Minnesota this week and then plays Ohio State in week 11. If the Nittany Lions can win both those games, they stand in good shape to be in the final four. Georgia needs to close out the SEC East and then win the SEC in December. If the Bulldogs do that, they will be in the field. Oregon and Utah are on a collision course for the Pac-12 Championship. The winner of the Pac-12 needs some help, but they put themselves in a position to be considered for the College Football Playoff. Baylor and Oklahoma meet on the gridiron in two weeks. For Baylor, they can afford a loss and still be alive for the playoff due to the Big 12 championship game. A loss by Oklahoma eliminates them from contention with their second loss on the season.
All seven teams need help before the end of the season. However, if you take care of your business you make the committee’s job harder. If these seven teams find some way to be conference champions, does that eliminate the at-large bids? With the playoff under some controversy, I would love to see chaos ensue. The CFP picture will become clear within the next few games. Let’s see who can separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
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