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Sunday Hangover: College Football Contenders vs Pretenders

Who REALLY has a shot at the CFB title?

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Media Day
Who has a shot at the Big Beer Tap?
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

An old proverb goes “hope springs eternal”. In the case of college football, there needs an annexation to that phrase of “until you lose.”

The fun thing for college football fans is that during the preseason, everyone is undefeated. For some delusionals, everyone is in the running for the Big Beer Tap Trophy at this time as well. But let’s get real. That’s just isn’t true. There are Contenders, Pretenders, and a whole bunch of Participation Awards.


There may come a day when some non-Power 5 team might grow a pair and schedule up in order to better their program. Taking the route of UCF of playing and beating one P5 team a year is not going to get them in any 4-team playoff. Schedule four P5s and defeat them all and we’ll talk. Since UCF is not brave enough to take Robert Frost’s advice of taking the path less traveled, perhaps another more daring team would. Start out with playing, for example, UNC, Indiana, Ole Miss and Wazzu. Win those games and that program will get noticed. Do it on a regular basis and maybe Rece Davis will call your team’s name during the first Sunday in December. Until then, all non-P5 teams are basically eliminated from the Championship. But maybe they can still have a nice day running around on the grass.


That leaves the 65 teams of the Power 5 conferences, plus Notre Dame, to fight this thing out. (No, not BYU or any other independent.)



1. Clemson


Everybody else. This is one weak-ass conference. Only one other team is ranked and it... Syracuse at #22. There is no way any other ACC team runs the table or even goes 11-1. The Orangemen could come close but an inevitable four touchdown loss to Clemson will not be enough to sneak into the 4th seed.

ACC Lite


2. Notre Dame - If the Irish can beat UGA, it may be smooth sailing. They can lose to the Dawgs and still get in the playoffs, but that means winning at Michigan (doable).

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Colorado vs Washington Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports



No PAC-12 teams are ranked in the Top 10 of either preseason poll. That says a good amount about the faith in teams from that league. The possibility of two teams out of the PAC in the playoff is near impossible. One team out of this flailing conference, even an undefeated one, might not happen either.

3. Oregon - An unbeaten Ducks team could make the playoff. However, their hopes could end with a loss to Auburn next Saturday - especially if the Tigers go on to win 7 or 8 games as everyone is expecting.


Washington - UW’s non-conference games against Eastern Washington, BYU, and Hawaii are not impressing anyone. They will need a good deal of teams from other conferences to lose and lose big.

Utah - Same story with the Utes. Their OOC games are BYU, N.Illinois, and Idaho State. Plus, the miss Oregon during the regular season.



5. Oklahoma - The Sooners play Houston and UCLA in non-conference play - which is not terribly impressive - but they already have the cachet of being a power team. However, they can’t be beating Texas Tech or K-State by a field goal. OU will need to have convincing wins. They can afford one loss but it better be a close one to a good team. Amirite, Ohio State?

6. Texas - Are they truly back? We’ll find out against LSU Sept 7. They will also have to beat Oklahoma, probably twice (B12CG).


The rest. Iowa State should have a pretty good team but they will have to run the table pretty convincingly, including a game with Iowa Sept. 14.



7. Ohio State - Despite the parting ways with Urban Meyer and installation of rookie coach Ryan Day, the Buckeyes are loaded. The returning players still feel the sting of their blowout loss to Purdue that kept them out of the last playoff. Their OOC is pretty lame (FAU, Cincy, Miami-OH), so they probably have to go undefeated.

8. Michigan - It is put up or shut up time for Jim Harbaugh. They are at Penn State and at Wisconsin but get Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State at home.


Penn State - They have too many holes to fill, including quarterbacks Trace McSorley, Tommy Stevens (transfer to Miss. State), running back Miles Sanders and their top two receivers. An OOC slate of Idaho, Buffalo and Pitt is not setting any hearts aflutter.

Wisconsin - Tailback Jonathan Taylor led the nation in rushing with 2,194 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2018. However, quarterback Alex Hornibrook transferred to FSU and just five senior starters on the depth chart. The Badgers open the season in precarious fashion at South Florida.



9. Alabama

10. Georgia - Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they host Notre Dame and Texas A&M. Both Florida (Jacksonville) and @ Auburn are road blocks to be concerned about as well.

11. LSU - It could happen. probably won’t but it could. Winning at Texas will go a long way towards legitimizing this team. The Tigers will have a four game stretch of Florida, @ Mississippi State, Auburn, and @ Alabama to contend with.


Texas A&M - The Aggies play @ No. 1 Clemson, 2 Alabama, @ 3 Georgia, and @ 6 LSU. There is no way they get through that docket unscathed.

Florida - The Gators cleared their first hurdle Saturday night but looked bad doing it. Feleipe Franks is not taking this team anywhere grand. They still have Auburn, @ LSU, UGA (Jax), and @ Mizzou to get through.

The Final Four

Could some team not listed among the eleven above come out of nowhere and make the 4-team playoff? Maybe but probably not.

My picks:

  • Clemson
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Ohio State

Give us your picks in the Comments section below.