Preseason Projection: Florida State, Alabama among four to qualify for College Football Playoff

Stanford head coach David Shaw hopes to get his Cardinal into the playoff. (Photo: SportsSouthwest.com)

Stanford head coach David Shaw hopes to get his Cardinal into the playoff. (Photo: SportsSouthwest.com)

Daniel Evans has ranked among f the nation’s top bracketologists in predicting which 68 teams will make the NCAA Tournament over the last decade, and now he’s trying his hand at projecting the college football playoff. 

With the college football season kicking off tomorrow, below is my best guess at the four teams that will qualify for the college football playoff.

Each week I will have change my predictions as upsets occur and unexpected teams rise to the top.

Florida State: The Seminoles will likely be compared to their 2013 season when a soft schedule allowed the nation’s best team to win every regular season game by 14 points or more. The 2014 schedule isn’t  much tougher, but at least it provides potential out of conference tests  against Oklahoma State and a much healthier Florida. A road game at Louisville on the eve of Halloween is also a tad spooky, as well as a home contest against Notre Dame, who figures to improve on last season’s mediocre campaign. I see Florida State losing a game but winning the ACC and making the playoff anyways.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide will get more benefit of the doubt than any team in the country when it comes to forgiving a regular season loss. If you don’t believe me, take a look at how last season ended. Alabama lost its last two games of the season and moved up in the rankings from the final poll of 2013 to the preseason poll of 2014. Oklahoma, a team that gave Alabama fits in the Sugar Bowl, is even ranked behind the Crimson Tide. I’m okay with that, because it’s what happens when a team has as much talent and has won as many national titles as Alabama has under Nick Saban, but I think it’s important to keep in mind as the season plays out. I think Alabama has to lose twice to not make the playoff, or an extenuating circumstance has to take place like four other teams going undefeated or the Crimson Tide losing to a team it shouldn’t.

Oklahoma: Although many are, I’m still not on the Trevor Knight bandwagon and won’t be unless he can back up his performance in the Sugar Bowl last year. However, Oklahoma’s schedule is too manageable to ignore. The Sooners only road games are at Tulsa, at TCU, at Iowa State and at Texas Tech. Texas is still not expected to be a title contender and Oklahoma State and Tennssee are expected  to be down. If Oklahoma can win against Baylor in Stillwater in early November, I like the Sooners chances of being in the playoff.

Stanford: The schedule does not set up well for the Cardinal so this prediction is more about believing in what Jim Harbaugh and now David Shaw have built at Stanford. In order to win the Pac 12, Stanford will have to navigate a schedule that includes road games at Washington, at Notre Dame, at Arizona State, at Oregon, at California and at UCLA. Plus, the Cardinal play USC and Oregon State at home. The Pac 12 is going to be tough, but somebody from the conference is likely to maneuver their way through with one loss or less. Oregon is a good pick for this spot and so is Michigan State, but one of those teams will be all but out of the running after week two when they play each other in Eugene.

CFBplayoff_PRESEASON

Big Board: Geno Smith Quickly Rising On Draft Boards

Below is Daniel Evans big board for the 2012 NFL Draft. Matt Barkley is still No. 1, but the story is West Virginia’s Geno Smith. Smith has jumped from off the board in the preseason to nearly the top of it.

1. QB Matt Barkley

Barkley has not had the senior season that many expected thus far, but he still makes NFL scouts drool. He has a big arm, has played in a NFL offense, and is going to be taken early in the 2013 NFL Draft.

2. QB Geno Smith

Geno Smith isn’t this high on most draft boards yet, but he is clearly a big arm guy that is starting to entice scouts. He may end up winning the Heisman Trophy and then going in the top ten of the NFL Draft (or higher).

3. LB Jarvis Jones

Jones has been so impressive early in this college football season that many publications are listing him as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

 4. CB DeMarcus Milliner

Alabama’s top cornerback is flying up draft boards right now. He was very impressive against Ole Miss on Saturday night.

5. DE Barkevious Mingo

Mingo has not done anything to slide down draft boards this season. Right now he looks like the top defensive end prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft.

6. LB Manti Te’o

T’eo has had a tough season off the field, but has been instrumental for the Irish defense. 

7. DT Johnathan Hankins

Hankins is a gigantic defensive tackle that could become the run stopper that NFL scouts dream about finding in the draft.        

8. CB Johnathan Banks

I think at this point Banks is the player that most NFL scouts are underrating. He makes big plays when he gets his hands on the football and he seems to always be near the ball. 

9. DE Bjoern Werner

Werner is leading the nation in sacks five weeks in. He has been one of the most impressive players in the country and is flying up draft boards.

10. DT Johnathan Jenkins

Like his counterpart, Hankins from Ohio State, Jenkins is a massive body that can shut down an opponent’s entire running game.

11. DE Sam Montgomery

LSU’s other defensive end is rated slightly lower than Mingo, but still figures to be a top 15 pick in the draft. Teams see him as a guy that can work in any defense.

12. DT Star Lotulelei

Scouts rave about Lotulelei because he is super impressive on video tape. His biggest challenge might be the other three defensive tackles in this draft. All have the talent to be top five picks.

13. OT Luke Joeckel

Joeckel is the first offensive tackle on the big board, although this position is typically where you see quick risers. Joeckel is described by most as a guy with great technique.        

14. C/G Barrett Jones

I feel like eventually scouts will wake up and realize that Jones’ versatility to play three offensive line positions with hardly any issues is a huge plus. NFL lineman are moved around constantly due to injuries.          

15. WR Justin Hunter

Before the season, I had Hunter on my big board. He isn’t 100% back from his ACL injury, but his potential is through the roof.

16. CB David Amerson

Amerson was picked on by Tyler Bray in N. C. State’s opening game, but his talent shines through one underwhelming performance.

17. G Chance Warmack

Warmack is one of the best offensive lineman in the country. He is looking more and more like a first round pick.

18. WR Keenan Allen

Some scouts believe Allen is the top receiver prospect in the draft. I’ll take Hunter, who has bigger upside, although Allen has better collegiate production so far.

19. DE Corey Lemonier

Auburn has been terrible this season, but Corey Lemonier has been one of the bright spots. He is a fantastic speed rusher that has a skillset that translates well at the NFL level.         

20. DE Alex Okafor

Okafor already has four sacks this season on a Texas defense that has been relatively underwhelming thus far.

21. DT Kawaan Short

Short has looked like a first round pick since midway through 2011 and he has continued to impress this year. He played really well against Notre Dame.

22. WR Robert Woods

Woods has all the talent in the world, although his teammate Marquise Lee is the better pro prospect.

23. S Eric Reid

Reid continues to look like the top safety prospect for the draft.

24. RB Marcus Lattimore

The South Carolina running back is fully back from his ACL injury. No other running back available runs with the power he does. He can truly carry a workload.

25. RB Le’Veon Bell

Bell is a lot like Lattimore, except he is carrying an entire offense right now. Bell does not have a passing game to take pressure off of him like Lattimore does at times with Connor Shaw.

 

Power 16: Week 5 Rankings Show Little Movement at the Top

RANK COMMENT
1 Although the Crimson Tide did not dominate Ole Miss, Nick Saban’s team did feel what it was like to trail in a game for the first time all season (for 15 whole seconds).
2 Just like last week, Oregon struggled for a half. Washington State played well but the Ducks are on a mission. One thing to watch: DeAnthony Thomas has to touch the ball more early in games for Oregon.
3 The ‘Noles did not roll South Florida, but they did end up with a double digit win. Florida State’s defense was impressive, but we should all remember that the Bulls fell to Ball State last week. 
4 Kansas State was idle this week after knocking off Oklahoma in Norman last weekend. The Wildcats take on Kansas next week. Their in state rivals probably will not provide much competition for Collin Klein & Co.
5 LSU always seems to fool around with teams the Tigers should destroy. Auburn and Towson are great examples of that, but knowing that should we punish Les Miles’ team for doing what they always seem to do? A trip to Florida emerges as gigantic this weekend.
6 Georgia was lucky to survive a game Tennessee team in Athens on Saturday. If not for Tyler Bray’s late fumble, the Bulldogs could have been in overtime. Instead, Georgia is 4-0 and ready to face 4-0 South Carolina in Columbia.
7 The first half wasn’t pretty (trailed 17-7 at halftime) but eventually Steve Spurrier’s offense woke up against Kentucky. If the Gamecocks were busy looking ahead to Georgia, I don’t blame them. Kentucky is one of the most inept offenses ever.
8 Florida was off this week after beating Kentucky 38-0 last week. The Gators take on LSU in Gainesville on Saturday afternoon. A Florida win would change expectations for this team that seemed to be forgotten about by most preseason publications.
9 Notre Dame was off this weekend after back to back wins over Michigan State and Michigan. Although the Irish’s wins do not look as good as they might have in the preseason, Notre Dame is at least beating good teams. This weekend the Irish take on Miami, who is surprisingly 4-1.
10 Geno Smith is clearly the Heisman frontrunner with 20 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions, but I refuse to move up a team that gave up 63 points to Baylor. 
11 Texas showed toughness that it has lacked in recent years with a big come from behind victory in Stillwater on Saturday night. Now, David Ash and the Longhorns host West Virginia in a huge Big 12 battle.
12   Oregon State’s three wins: UCLA, Wisconsin, and Arizona are among the best three wins any team in the country has this season. 
13   It is a shame that Urban Meyer’s team cannot play for a Big Ten championship, because five weeks into the season it is pretty clear the Buckeyes are the conference’s best team.
 14   Clemson struggled for a while at Boston College, but eventually the offense took over and pulled away from the pesky Eagles. Next week, the Tigers take on a Georgia Tech team that just fell to Middle Tennessee.
 15   I don’t want to move Stanford down too low for its loss to Washington, but the offense looked terrible. It makes it almost hard to believe that this team was able to beat USC.
 16   The Trojans might be in for a tough battle on Thursday at Utah, who will have a fiesty crowd on hand for the primetime battle with the Trojans. All of a sudden games against Washington, UCLA, and Notre Dame look tougher than they did three weeks ago.

Bowl Projections Week 5: Louisiana Tech in a BCS Game?

I know what you’re thinking: This guy must be a little crazy.

Maybe I am.

I have Louisiana Tech going to a BCS bowl in my week five college football bowl projections. I know, it sounds stupid, but I can explain.  The official BCS rules state that a non-BCS team like Boise State or Louisiana Tech  will receive an automatic berth into a BCS game if:

  • It is ranked in the top 12, or
  • Ranked in the top 16 and higher than at least one BCS conference champion.

Well, the BCS standings aren’t out yet, but Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com is already projecting the BCS standings and he is usually pretty good at it. He has Louisiana Tech at No. 32, meaning the Bulldogs need to cut their position in half by the end of the season to get into the spot it needs to even be considered. I understand that, but look at where Palm has each BCS conference’s highest rated team:

Is it a realistic possibility for Louisiana Tech to play in a BCS game?

1. SEC (Alabama)
2. Pac 12 (Oregon)
4. ACC (Florida State)
8. Big 12 (Kansas State)
17. Big Ten (Michigan State)
19. Big East (Louisville)

The Big Ten and Big East are terrible. The ACC isn’t much better. After Florida State in the ACC, Clemson is the highest rated ACC team at No. 15. Virginia Tech, the team most likely to win the other division is at No. 35. It’s not inconceivable to think the Hokies could win the ACC, considering they do it most years. Virginia Tech would certainly rise if that happened, but would they be above a 12-0 Louisiana Tech team? Remember, Virginia Tech just lost to Pittsburgh, who lost badly to Youngstown State (a FCS school). Meanwhile, Louisville is the highest ranked team in the Big East.  Rutgers is right behind at No. 22. What happens if neither one of those teams wins that conference? That is very likely because the Big East is full of mediocre teams. Flip a coin to pick a winner there. The Big Ten’s best team cannot play in the postseason (Ohio State) and plays its best qualifying team (Michigan State) this weekend. In other words, the Buckeyes can really hurt the conference’s BCS appearance with a win this weekend because the Buckeyes do not qualify for the poll. A loss by Michigan State would drop the Spartans and lower the Big Ten’s already abysmal rankings in the BCS, increasing Louisiana Tech’s chances of earning a BCS spot.

To sum this all up, if Louisiana Tech finishes 12-0, I think the Bulldogs have a fantastic shot at being ranked in the top 16. They would have to win at Texas A&M in that span and this team already has a 52-24 win over Illinois of the Big Ten on its resume. I also believe they will be ranked above the Big East or Big Ten champions, making them eligible. Ohio could screw this up by running the table and being impressive and qualifying the same way or the Bulldogs could lose due to playing a tough schedule, but the team that causes the biggest threat to messing this up is Boise State. The Broncos have a loss, but still could qualify by being in the top 16 and being the highest ranked non-automatic qualifying team ahead of a BCS champion.

For now, I’ll go with the bold prediction and put Louisiana Tech in a BCS game. Remember, the WAC is dissolving after this year. The Bulldogs could sent it out with a bang that absolutely nobody sees coming.

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP
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ROSE BOWL
ORANGE BOWL
SUGAR BOWL
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BBVA COMPASS
COTTON
TICKETCITY
OUTBACK
GATOR
CAPITAL ONE
SUN
MUSIC CITY
LIBERTY
CHIC FIL A
PINSTRIPE
KRAFT FIGHT
BUF. WILD WINGS
ARMED FORCES
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LITTLE CEASARS
HAWAII
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POINTSETTIA
NEW MEXICO
IDAHO POTATO
ALAMO

 

CFS Computer Rankings: Week 4

The BCS Standings aren’t released until week 8 of the college football season. After doing my first ever set of computer rankings, I found out why.

Although computer rankings are supposed to objectively rank college football teams, clearly, after just four weeks, there simply isn’t enough data at this point to get a very accurate ranking of teams. No, computers don’t lie. But there is no substitute for actually watching games, which is why the BCS relies on two human polls for a more complete picture of the college football landscape.

It’s pretty clear from just looking at this computer poll that it is far from perfect. Oregon State is not the best team in the country. Iowa State is far from a top ten team. Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Ohio don’t belong in the top 25. And even though USC and Oklahoma have struggled, they aren’t that bad.

The point of doing this wasn’t to really determine who the top 25 teams in the country are. No computer can do that ever, let alone in the first four weeks. And at this point, it’s still pretty unclear who the top 25 teams are to any human as well. We’ll know more in the coming weeks, and this ranking will become more accurate.
1. Oregon State
2. Texas
3. Notre Dame
4. Florida State
5. Florida
6. Alabama
7. Kansas State
8. Stanford
9. Iowa State
10. Georgia
11. Michigan State
12. LSU
13. Texas Tech
14. Ohio
15. Mississippi State
16. Baylor
17. Oregon
18. Cincinnati
19. Louisiana Tech
20. Oklahoma State
21. UCLA
22. South Carolina
23. West Virginia
24. San Jose State
25. Texas A&M
26. Arizona
27. TCU
28. Louisville
29. Ohio State
30. Clemson
31. Boise State
32. Wisconsin
33. Oklahoma
34. Tennessee
35. Arizona State
36. Nebraska
37. Rutgers
38. Miami
39. USC
40. Western Kentucky
41. Northwestern
42. Michigan
43. Washington
44. Virginia Tech
45. Purdue
46. Louisiana Monroe