Hello friends! Steve Cook here, and if you’re a casual college football fan you’ve come to the right place. Today we’re talking about teams that actually have a chance to make the College Football Playoff halfway into the season. We know there are a lot of college football teams and it’s tough to keep track of what matters & what doesn’t. If the team is mentioned here, they matter. If they aren’t, they don’t matter. Pretty simple, right? Let’s go!
Alabama is still the favorite here and looks as good as they usually do, but the meat of their schedule starts this Saturday in Knoxville when they play Tennessee. Then they host Texas A&M and go to LSU in games against good teams that often give them fits. If they survive this stretch, they’ll probably be in the playoff. I mean, they could lose to Auburn or lose the SEC championship game…but probably not.
Watch out for Texas A&M though. The Aggies are 6-0 for the first time since 1994 and will have a bye week to plan for the Crimson Tide while Bama plays the Vols. If A&M beats Alabama, their schedule shapes up well for them to go undefeated and win the SEC West & maybe more.
Tennessee is the second-most fun to watch team in college football and I hope you’ve seen a couple of their games. If you have, you understand why college football is so great. They could run into problems if they lose to Alabama & Florida doesn’t make up their game with LSU…if Florida doesn’t lose in the SEC again they’ll be the East champions. Vol fans’ best hope for a Florida SEC loss is either the Cocktail Party with Georgia on October 29 or their trip to Arkansas the week after. I must admit I’m somewhat biased towards Tennessee as their games are super fun and a lot of my Preds Twitter peeps are Tennessee fans.
Given all that I should probably include Florida as a playoff possibility, but it’s tough to get excited about a team that beat Vandy by 7.
Ohio State might have a bunch of inexperienced kids, but fortunately they’ve had a pretty easy schedule so far (except that trip to Oklahoma, which was very impressive) and have run roughshod over most of their opponents while getting some reps. The tough part’s coming up…they’re at Wisconsin this week and still have games coming up with Nebraska, Michigan State & Michigan. Like Alabama though, I have faith in the Buckeyes to get it done.
If they don’t, Michigan looks primed to benefit. They don’t play Nebraska and their two remaining tests are Michigan State & Ohio State. Is anybody surprised that Jim Harbaugh has turned this program back into what they used to be in two seasons? They shouldn’t be.
Nebraska is 5-0, but they really haven’t played anybody of note. (Sorry Dustin, but you know I’m right.) A trip to Wisconsin on October 29 followed by a trip to Ohio State the next week will tell the story of their season.
Speaking of Wisconsin, they get a chance to beat Ohio State this week and put everybody on notice. They’re the choice to take the Big 10 West if Nebraska doesn’t. There’s also Iowa, but they lost to North Dakota State and there ain’t no way the selection committee will take a team that lost to North Dakota State. Not gonna happen even if they win the Big 10 Championship Game somehow.
The clear-cut favorite in the ACC is still Clemson. They allegedly got out to a slow start but have done nothing but take care of business, including a win over Louisville in one of the most exciting games of the season. Their trip to Tallahassee on October 29 will be their main test, the rest of the games look like a piece of cake quite frankly.
Which is bad news for a Louisville team hanging on by a thread and hoping for two Clemson losses to give them the ACC Atlantic title. A narrow loss in Clemson has pundits declaring that the Cards still have a chance to sneak into the playoff if they win out. And they’ll still definitely be worth watching because Lamar Jackson is the most exciting player in college football. Unfortunately Louisville’s visit to Houston on November 17 has taken a hit in prestige due to Houston’s loss to Navy over the weekend ending their playoff chances. Louisville is on the outside looking in unless a ton of teams lose.
Over in the Coastal Division you should keep an eye on Virginia Tech. The Hokies are performing well under Justin Fuente, embarrassing North Carolina this week & getting themselves noticed. That Tennessee loss at Bristol Motor Speedway wouldn’t hurt them any if they were to run the table & win the ACC Championship Game.
Miami just had a narrow loss to Florida State, but they’ve got games coming up with UNC & VT to prove their mettle & get some good wins. If they do that, make the title game & win it they’d be in. Florida State will not be in no matter what because they lost to Louisville by the score of 63-20. You can’t lose to anybody by the score of 63-20 and get in a playoff.
There’s one Pac 12 team left that can get in the playoff, and it’s Washington. The Huskies have run over everybody in their path in impressive fashion, including Stanford & Oregon the last two weeks by a combined score of 114-27. Their games at Utah & Cal on October 29 & November 5 will be tests, and that Apple Cup matchup with Mike Leach’s Washington State team could be interesting. If they survive all that & take the Pac 12 title, they’re in easy. I don’t see a road for anybody else in this conference, which could leave a slot open.
It’s even tougher to find a team worthy of a playoff spot in the Big XII, but that’s kind of on purpose because they try to backload their schedule. But they still got nothing. Baylor is undefeated but has played nobody. They usually don’t. Their road games at Texas, Oklahoma & West Virginia will determine their fate. And even if they win those, it won’t be an impressive 12-0. Frankly, the Big XII should be hoping these guys lose because the last thing they need is this dumpster fire of an athletic program & university as their standard-bearer.
Oklahoma is in an interesting spot. They’ve lost to Houston & Ohio State. Would have been nice if Houston hadn’t lost, but that can still be spun as a good loss if they run the Big XII table & beat Baylor & West Virginia. BTW, I’m not listing the Mountaineers here because they’ve played 4 games and beat nobody of note. Their big win so far is BYU by 3. They need to do more to impress me. TCU is 4-2 and have losses against the two good teams they’ve played. They beat Kansas by 1 point. They can beat Baylor & West Virginia. Nothing here screams PLAYOFF TEAM to me.
Group of 5? Nope. Houston was their best chance and they lost. Boise State can go undefeated but they’re not playing anybody that could impress anybody. Notre Dame’s having a bad year so the independents are out too. So you only have to pay attention to the teams I bolded in this article.