College Football Playoff Predictions: Newcomers Fill Top Four

We're only three weeks into the college football season and true playoff contenders are already starting to emerge from the pack, while other hyped preseason favorites (looking at you, Auburn), have quickly fallen by the wayside. With that in mind, who can we expect to see playing for the national championship at the end of the season?


1) Ohio State Buckeyes

Say what you will about the Buckeyes' narrow victory over Northern Illinois, this team is still the most talented in the country - by far - and play a ridiculously easy schedule. It doesn't matter whether Cardale Jones or JT Barrett lines up under center for Ohio State, they have the ability all over the field to do whatever it takes to beat the opposition and ride into the playoff without a blemish.

2) Ole Miss Rebels

Ole Miss' fabled recruiting class of 2013 - head coach Hugh Freeze's first as head coach of the Rebels - are all now juniors, and that mix of talent and experience shows up in a big way on the playing field. Quarterback transfer Chad Kelly has been the perfect dual threat for this offense, and their "Landshark" defense is still the best in the country. Surviving the SEC will be tough, but they already beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa - you'd be smart not to bet against these guys.

3) TCU Horned Frogs

Despite racking up a 3-0 record, TCU has dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 in the polls, and they aren't happy about it. Quarterback Trevone Boykin is still a bonafide Heisman candidate, and they have a favorable conference schedule. If they can stay undefeated by knocking off Oklahom and Baylor to end the season, TCU will find redemption after narrowly missing out on the playoff last year.

4) UCLA Bruins

True freshman quarterback Josh Rosen has been everything UCLA could have possibly hoped for, and this team looks poised to do some major damage in the Pac-12. While every other conference contender has been fading already (USC, Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State have all lost already), the Bruins have just been getting stronger. Watch out for them late in the season as Rosen gets more experience under his belt.


5) Clemson Tigers

At least one conference is inevitably going to be left out of the playoff, and this year it will Clemson and the ACC. The Tigers looked extremely vulnerable on the road against a bad Louisville team, and you have to think that won't bode well for them going forward against teams like Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Miami, or Florida State. They won't come out of those games unscathed, and in a weak ACC, it will keep the Tigers out of the playoff. 

6) LSU Tigers

With Auburn no longer being a contender in the SEC West and Alabama's major question marks in their secondary and at quarterback, LSU looks like they're going to be the second-best team in the conference behind the legs of running back Leonard Fournette. The Tigers lack of a passing attack will hurt them against good teams and keep them from winning the conference, but Fournette's dominance and the strength of their defense will keep them at the top of the polls all season.

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Related Topics: UCLA Bruins, College Football, NCAA Football, College Football Playoff, Ohio State Buckeyes, TCU Horned Frogs, Ole Miss Rebels