College Football Playoff Forecast

Posted: September 9, 2014 in General, NCAAF
Tags: , , , , ,

By Jesse Granger

This is the first entry in what will be a weekly post.  Every Tuesday, I will pick the four teams that I feel deserve to be in the inaugural College Football Playoff as of that week.  These picks are based on what the teams have accomplished to this point, and are not projecting future outcomes.

With that said, let the controversy begin.

College Football Playoff Teams

  1. Oregon Ducks (2-0) AP #2, Coaches #4

With less than five minutes to go in the third quarter on Saturday, the Ducks trailed Michigan State 27-18, and it appeared Oregon had met its yearly matchup nightmare. Teams with a strong defense accompanied by a power running attack have given Oregon fits. Usually it’s a November meeting with Stanford.

But from that point on the Ducks’ high-octane offense reeled off 28 straight points, leaving the Spartans dazed and confused.  It was easily the most impressive win by any team in this young 2014 season, and vaults Oregon to the top of the rankings. Oregon not only knocked off a top-10 team, but outlasted one of the most physical teams in the nation, which was originally thought as its kryptonite.

Marcus Mariota is the best player in college football, and freshman running back Royce Freeman appears to be the physical back the Ducks have sorely missed in tough games.  The defense is as fast as ever, and the schedule is favorable.

They likely won’t be tested again until Oct. 11 when they take a trip to the Rose Bowl to face No. 12 UCLA.  The Ducks’ chance at one of the four spots in the playoff will come down to Nov. 1 when they welcome No. 15 Stanford to Autzen Stadium.

 

  1. Georgia Bulldogs (1-0) AP #6, Coaches #6

I’ve already strayed from the beaten path with this pick, and it only goes further into the woods from here.  The Bulldogs have only played one game through two weeks but it was one of the most impressive performances of the opening slate.

Georgia’s 45-21 dismantling of then No. 16 Clemson not only boosted the Dogs’ resume, but also greatly damaged the reputation of one of defending champion Florida State’s few credible opponents.

Todd Gurley is as advertised – the most dynamic player on the field – averaging 13.2 yards per carry on way to a 198-yard day including four total touchdowns.

In week two, Georgia didn’t face a football team, which puts them on par with the rest of the SEC – What would a blog entry from me be without a shot at SEC non-conference scheduling?  Looking forward, the Bulldogs have as easy of an SEC schedule as you will see.  They avoid Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU, and will host Auburn on Nov. 15.

 

  1. LSU (2-0) AP #10, Coaches #9

Obviously it’s unlikely that both LSU and Georgia will get into the playoff, as the SEC Championship game would likely be an elimination game if it came down to that.

But this list is about what the teams have accomplished to this point, and the Tiger’s week one come-from-behind win over then No. 14 Wisconsin remains one of the best wins of the season.  The LSU offense sputtered out of the gate, but has looked better than serviceable since.

The Tigers own the NCAA’s most frightening running back duo with Kenny Hilliard and Leonard Fournette running roughshod over defenses.  That will be their bread and butter, but in order to stay in this spot they will need sizeable improvements from sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings – who has been efficient thus far.

LSU thrashed Sam Houston 56-0 this week, and the next three weeks shouldn’t look much different, when they welcome UL Monroe, Mississippi State and New Mexico State to Death Valley.  They will get their fair share of challenges in time.  Four of their final seven opponents are currently ranked in the top 15.

 

  1. USC (2-0) AP #9, Coaches #10

The Trojans of old have officially arrived.  No more are the days of NCAA bans and mediocre football in downtown Los Angeles.  Steve Sarkisian has Cody Kessler looking like a Heisman candidate at quarterback, and USC’s defense – stock piled with NFL talent – is ranked has been stingy early.

Most importantly, the Trojans already have a signature win and we’re only two weeks into the season. It wasn’t pretty, and they were outgained by over 100 yards, but USC outlasted Stanford 13-10 in a hostile environment.

None of the teams currently ranked in the top five – other than Oregon – have a win anywhere near as impressive as that, and the Trojans are well deserving of the final playoff spot, at least for now.

Just Missed The Cut

Texas A&M (2-0) AP #7, Coaches #8

The Aggies opening day 52-28 blowout of the Gamecocks was as shocking as it was impressive, but that has lost some of its luster since South Carolina’s uninspiring week two performance against Eastern Carolina.  If Kenny Hill continues this play, Texas A&M won’t find themselves on the outside looking in for long.

Virginia Tech (2-0) AP #17, Coaches #19

The Hokies haven’t looked overly impressive, but their 35-21 win over the Buckeyes in the Horse Shoe is a massive win.  If Braxton Miller had participated in that contest, Virginia Tech would be in the top four.

Notre Dame (2-0) AP #11, Coaches #11

With the return of quarterback Everett Golson, the Irish look a lot more like the 2012 national runner-ups than last year’s disappointment.  The 31-0 shutout of Michigan was an eye-opener, but Notre Dame has a gauntlet awaiting.  Five ranked teams with North Carolina, Navy and Northwestern sandwiched in between makes up one of college football’s toughest roads to the College Football.

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Comments
  1. Bill says:

    Go Hokies!!

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