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.