Predicting the 2014 College Football Playoff
It seems like only yesterday that the college football season got underway, but we are close to the midway point already. Teams have disappointed and have failed to meet expectations, but for the majority, the season has been predictable.
Florida State is still the top team, despite being underwhelming. Oregon and Oklahoma are at the Noles’ heels after several impressive wins and of course Alabama and Auburn are right in the thick of things.
However, only two of the above teams will make the new college football playoff. Alabama, Auburn and Oregon will all fall short of making the playoff. However, Florida State and Oklahoma will hold on and make it in.
Two very surprising teams nobody will see coming will make up the rest of the field. Georgia and Michigan State will join the Seminoles and Sooners in the college football playoff. I know you think I’m crazy, but here are the facts.
Florida State – The Good News: They play in one of the easiest conferences in college football, the ACC. They have already passed their toughest test so far, Clemson, without Heisman trophy-winner Jameis Winston. They play only one more ranked team in ninth-ranked Notre Dame the rest of the year.
The Bad News: One loss and they’re done. With a couple of strong teams in the SEC and PAC-12, a one-loss ACC team will most likely not make the playoff. They play Notre Dame in two weeks, but they get them at home. It should be a very winnable game and they finish their conference schedule against teams such as Virginia, Lousiville, Miami (FL) and SEC disappointment Florida.
Oklahoma – The Good News: They are arguably the most impressive team in college football right now. They dominated an improved Tennessee team that took Georgia to the wire and last week, they put on an offensive clinic against West Virginia, the same West Virginia that took Alabama to the wire. They also play their toughest remaining games at home.
The Bad News: They have a tough remaining schedule and with one loss, they will be done, similar to Florida State. They travel to TCU this week, which should show more of where they are at and they have the Red River Rivalry against Texas the following week. Texas has been down this year under first-year head coach Charlie Strong, but it’s a rivalry game and anything can happen.
They then have a huge test against seventh-ranked Baylor Nov. 8, but again, they get them at home and Oklahoma is a ridiculous 89-5 at home since Bob Stoops has been head coach. If they drop a game now though, they will need a miracle to get back into contention for a playoff spot since the Big 12 no longer has a championship game.
Michigan State – The Good News: They play in the Big 10 and that should be argument enough. The Big 10 as a whole is off to an embarrassing start, especially with Ohio State falling off the map and the Spartans getting whacked by Oregon. However, they host Nebraska this week and if they get past them, they only play one more ranked team at home, Ohio State, the rest of the season.
They also did the one thing you can do early on in a season – lose. You can lose in the college football world, but you can only lose once and it needs to be early. If you lose, lose early and the Spartans did when they traveled to hostile Oregon.
The Bad News: They did not pass their only test, facing Oregon. Oregon jumped out early in the game, but the Spartans climbed back and took the lead going into halftime. However, they did not score a point in the second half as the Ducks poured it on late. If the game was in East Lansing or at a neutral site it would be different, but it wasn’t and they lost by a big margin. They will need to blow out Nebraska and Ohio State to jump ahead in the rankings.
Georgia – The Good News: They easily have the best-case scenario out of any SEC team. That might sound crazy, but consider this: Georgia plays Missouri, Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Auburn. Only Missouri and Auburn present any real threat.
They miss out on some of the tougher teams out of the SEC West like Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Meanwhile, the SEC West favorites, Auburn and Alabama, have to not only play each other, but also play all of the other teams, which are ranked.
It will be very rare and unlikely for an SEC West team to come out of that gauntlet without more than one loss. Georgia also lost early in the year like Michigan State, giving them enough time to catch back up in the polls if they run the table and win the SEC.
The Bad News: They have not passed the eyeball test and have not looked so good. They lost to a two-loss South Carolina team and barely squeaked out a win against Tennessee this past week.
Georgia will have to improve over the next few weeks if they hope to beat Florida and Auburn later in October and November. They have leaned heavily on running back Todd Gurley so far. Georgia will need to have quarterback Hutson Mason step up and win them a game or two on his arm if they hope to make it in the playoff.
However, Florida has looked mediocre and they get Auburn at home, with Auburn likely coming off a war against Texas A&M the week before.
It is certainly still early in the season with conference play just starting to take off, but look for these four schools to be the last ones remaining when it comes time for the first ever College Football Playoff.