What the CFB Playoff WILL Look Like
By The Rex Factor
The first-ever college football playoff conducted last season had to be deemed a wild success by almost everyone associated with the sport. There are four teams that get included, and the one that was deemed most controversial (fourth-seed Ohio State, getting in over Big XII champions Baylor and Texas Christian) was the team that ended up winning both games and the title.
In the first set of rankings that came out last fall, Mississippi State was the No. 1 ranked team. The Bulldogs ended up losing three times after that. Ohio State was ranked 16th. Plainly put, the arguing and complaining that accompany each of the five releases before the final one is largely irrelevant. Arguments can be made for an against up to 16 (see last year) sides having a chance at this point, but in reality, things usually tend to sort themselves out on the inclusion into the last four.
With that said, here’s who I see will be standing when the final rankings come out on Dec. 6. PS – I promise you that no one else in the world came up with these four schools!
1. Ohio State. The Buckeyes have largely been sleepwalking through this regular season and have not really been in position to lose, despite a few narrow wins. Their biggest two tests are coming in the form of Michigan State and Michigan, and then likely Iowa in the Big 10 Championship game. I don’t see any losses coming there.
2. Baylor. The Bears face the best three teams on their schedule in successive weeks starting Saturday when they host Oklahoma. They also travel to Oklahoma State and TCU in a seven-day span later and then end with a tricky home game against Texas at home on the last weekend of the season. I think the Bears are the best team in the country outside of Alabama and will get a chance to prove it over the next four weeks.
3. Utah. The Utes finish with two home games against UCLA and Colorado after this weekend’s trip to Arizona. The Pac-12 title game will be against Stanford. The Utes have beaten the Cardinal in each of the last two seasons, and this is Kyle Whittingham’s best team yet. Not asking for too much from UU to progress from its current No. 10 slot.
4. North Carolina. I dare you to find someone else who has the Tar Heels included in the last four. I’ll explain below how they are going to skyrocket past 20 other teams ahead of them in the coming month. On the field, they get Miami at home this weekend in their last home game. Then UNC goes to Virginia Tech and NC State to close out the regular season. Larry Fedora’s team will be favored in both of those games (and I am comfortable laying a likely short number) and then will get top-ranked Clemson in the ACC Championship game, where I am calling for the upset on Dec. 5.
Here’s who I see losing from here on out, falling out of their current slot in the rankings:
1. Clemson – The aforementioned banana peel will come in the name of UNC.
2. Alabama – The Crimson Tide will lose outright this weekend to Mississippi State, and will win the SEC West/SEC title over Florida with two losses. The SEC will get shut out of the playoffs, and cries for change will be heard long and wide, especially in the boisterous southeast.
4. Notre Dame – The Irish are in a deserved spot thanks to their ability to conquer a pretty tough schedule, especially away from South Bend. The second loss of the season will come in the season finale Nov. 28 against Stanford, and knock Notre Dame out of the playoff picture.
5. Iowa – The Hawkeyes will lose to Ohio State in the Big 10 title game.
7. Stanford – The Cardinal will lose to Utah in the Pac 12 title game.
8. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys are undefeated now, but could still potentially lose three times down the stretch.
9. LSU – The Tigers will be back in the SEC race after this weekend, in control of their own destiny – until they lose at Ole Miss next weekend. The Rebels will be coming off a bye.
11. Florida – The Gators will lose to Alabama in the SEC title game.
12. Oklahoma – The Sooners will lose Saturday to Baylor.
13. Michigan State – The Spartans will lose at Ohio State on Nov. 21.
14. Michigan – The Wolverines will lose at home to Ohio State on Nov. 28.
15. TCU – The Horned Frogs will lose twice down the stretch.
16. Florida State – The Seminoles won’t lose again, but North Carolina will jump them in the rankings by winning the conference title.
17. Mississippi State – The Bulldogs will lose at Arkansas after shocking Alabama this weekend.
18. Northwestern – The Wildcats will win out, but get jumped by North Carolina.
19. UCLA – The Bruins will lose at Utah on Nov. 21.
20. Navy – The Middies will lose at Houston on Nov. 27.
21. Memphis – The Tigers will lose at Houston this weekend.
22. Temple – The Owls will lose to Memphis at home Nov. 21.
24. Houston – The Cougars won’t lose, and will be left on the outside looking in despite going 13-0.
25. Wisconsin – The Badgers will lose to Northwestern next weekend at home.
The Rex Factor has been handicapping college football for more than 20 years and considers it to be his strongest sport consistently, year-in and year-out. Before becoming a professional handicapper, he has covered football teams as a sportswriter in four different conferences.
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