The College Football Playoff is upon us. In case you have been in a coma the past year, there will be a four team playoff selected by a selection committee. There does not seem to be any real criteria other than 13 opinions mixed in with a little campaigning and whining (Jim Delany, I am looking your way).
I have a feeling that the SEC will not get two teams in for the inaugural year because the committee doesn't want backlash and criticism in the first year. Personally, I ABHOR the idea of a committee over computers because of the human element and the small sample size. But I digress...
Here are the likely candidates for the Final Four.
Florida State - Let's face it. There is only one team from this conference that has a chance to go to the playoff. The schedule is pretty smooth sailing for the Seminoles.
Games To Watch: Aug. 30 Oklahoma St (Arlington, TX), Sep. 20 Clemson, Oct. 18 Notre Dame, Oct. 30 at Louisville, Nov. 29 Florida
ACC Wild Cards:
Clemson, Louisville – both these teams lost a mass of talent and would probably have to go undefeated. For the Tigers, that would include beating FSU, UGA, and South Carolina. Ain't gonna happen.
Ohio State – the first eight games of the Buckeyes schedule are a joke (at Navy, Virginia Tech, Kent State, Cincinnati, at Maryland, Rutgers, at Penn State, Illinois). Things get real on November 8th when they travel to E. Lansing, Michigan.
Games To Watch: Nov. 8 at Michigan State, Nov. 29 Michigan. (No Nebraska or Wisconsin)
Michigan State – The Spartans are my pick to win the Big 10 but a certain out of conference road game could keep them out of the 4-team playoff.
Games To Watch: Sep. 13 at Oregon, Oct. 4 Nebraska, Oct. 25 Michigan, Nov. 8 Ohio State
BIG TEN Wild Cards: Nebraska, Wisconsin – longshots at best.
Oklahoma – It's a bit of a down year in the conference which could hurt a one-loss team's chance. The Sooners return several starters and should win the Big 12 title [Note: no conference championship game played].
Games To Watch: Sep. 13 Tennessee, Oct. 11 vs. Texas (Dallas, TX), Nov. 8 Baylor, Dec. 6 Oklahoma State
BIG 12 Wild Cards: Baylor – the Bears will probably have to win 'em all which means wins at Texas, at Oklahoma, and a home game vs. Oklahoma State. They are currently a media darling.
Oregon – The Ducks return almost everyone on offense (including quarterback
Games To Watch: Sep. 6 Michigan State, Oct. 11 at UCLA, Nov. 1 Stanford
UCLA – Quarterback Brett Hundley is back and even with the departure of linebacker
Games To Watch: Sep. 13 Texas (Arlington, TX), Sep. 25 at Arizona State, Oct. 11 Oregon, Nov. 22 Southern Cal, Nov. 29 Stanford.
Stanford – The Cardinal loss 4 offensive linemen and the top two rushers. Another media darling that could sway votes.
Games To Watch: Sep. 6 Southern Cal, Oct. 4 at Notre Dame, Oct. 18 at Arizona State, Nov. 1 at Oregon, Nov. 28 at UCLA
PAC-12 Wild Cards: none
Alabama – Despite another year of talent lost to the NFL, the Crimson Tide will reload.
Games To Watch: ALL OF THEM!
Top Games: Sep. 20 Florida, Oct. 4 at Ole Miss, Nov. 8 at LSU, Nov. 15 Mississippi State, Nov. 29 - Auburn
Auburn – A Gus Malzahn team is a dangerous team but they have a tough schedule eerily similar to Bama's 2010 schedule.
Games To Watch: Sep. 18 at Kansas State, Oct. 4 LSU, Oct. 11 at Mississippi State, Oct. 25 South Carolina, Nov. 1 at Ole Miss, Nov. 15 at Georgia, Nov. 29 at Alabama
SEC Wild Cards:
South Carolina, Georgia, LSU
POWER 5 BUSTERS?
Notre Dame is playing a partial ACC schedule: at FSU, Syracuse in East Rutherford, NJ, with Louisville and North Carolina in South Bend. The Irish also host Michigan and Stanford, face Purdue in Indianapolis, and travel to Arizona State and Southern Cal. Add in the loss of four starters to academic fraud and they will not go undefeated.
UCF – The Knights return practically everyone from a very good defense but with QB Blake Bortles gone, it's going to be tough. They will need to go 12-0 and win decisively.
Games To Watch: Aug. 30 Penn State (Dublin, Ireland), Sep. 13 at Missouri, Oct. 9 Brigham Young
Florida State - Okie State, Clemson, and Louisville are all down. They get Clemson, Notre Dame, and Florida at home. Va Tech might be the favorite in the other ACC division. Cake walk for the 'Noles.
Alabama - The toughest back-to-back games on consecutive weeks are at LSU and MSU. Florida and Auburn travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium. UGA or SC in the SEC Championship Game.
Oregon - The Quacks miss Arizona State and So Cal. They could win the Pac-12 but if they lose to Michigan State and get in the Final 4 and Sparty does not, oh mercy, the howling.
Oklahoma - Tennessee, K-State, and Baylor at home and no Conference Championship game sets things up nicely for the Sooners.
* Bubble Teams - Michigan State, Auburn