The college football regular season came to a close on Saturday, and with only conference championship games left to determine the College Football Playoff field, we have a pretty good idea of which teams will make the top four. Here are the four teams we think will make the playoff this year:
The Tigers have been a firm No. 1 since the playoff committee started releasing their rankings, and they'll keep that spot as long as they beat North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. They should do that easily behind the play of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who may end up winning the Heisman.
Alabama also has a win-and-in scenario against Florida in the SEC Championship Game. The Tide have been playing as well as anyone since losing to Ole Miss in the third game of the season, and some are even campaigning for them to leapfrog Clemson. That won't happen, but their defense will dominate a Florida team that has scored a combined 55 points in their last four games. Alabama will win in a blowout and easily claim a playoff berth.
Oklahoma ended their season with a dominant 58-23 road win over Oklahoma State, giving them the outright Big 12 title. They've been on fire over the last seven games, winning by an average of 32.6 points per game during that span. The Sooners are the only team that is a lock to make the playoff, but they won't jump Clemson or Alabama without a conference championship game.
#4 Iowa and #5 Michigan State will square off in the Big Ten Championship Game this weekend, which is essentially serving as a College Football Playoff play-in game. The Hawkeyes are undefeated and feel disrespected by the entire country because of their #4 ranking, and I think that will give them the added motivation, energy, and urgency to knock off the surging Spartans.
Ohio State's season is done after beating Michigan 42-13 on Saturday, so while they'll move up into this spot when either Iowa or Michigan State loses, they'll still be on the outside looking in. The Buckeyes are expected to be #6 in this week's rankings following losses by Baylor and Notre Dame, putting them in prime position to sneak into the playoff if Clemson or Alabama falters in their conference title games. However, I don't think that will be the case, keeping the defending champions just outside the top four.
Notre Dame will undoubtedly take a step back after falling to Stanford last weekend, and while their season is done as well, I expect them to move back into the #6 spot. For that to happen, North Carolina has to lose to Clemson AND Stanford has to lose to USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game, along with them leapfrogging the loser of the Big Ten title game. I expect all of those things to happen, but it ultimately doesn't mean much for the Fighting Irish.Back to the NCAA Newsfeed
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