Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Alabama had a thrilling comeback to win yet another title. It included putting in a freshman quarterback, who hadn’t played a meaningful snap all season long. The game just goes to show that college football is unique and great. While the 2017 season is now over it is time to look ahead to the 2018 season. Here is the early college football top 25 for the 2018 season:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

While they always lose talent to the NFL, Alabama can replace it. Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa will lead the offense alongside any of the talented running backs that decide to return to school. Najee Harris found some daylight in the title game and will also be back. The defense will lose a lot more talent to the NFL, but they always step up. A lot of players got experience this season due to injuries.

2. Clemson Tigers

Clemson made a third straight College Football Playoff and will compete for another next season. Kelly Bryant and the talented running backs will be back. Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow need to make their decisions still, but Clemson can replace them. The defense always reloads and will at the very least have stud defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to build around.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

J.K. Dobbins (Photo by cleveland.com)

J.T. Barrett may be leaving, but Dwayne Haskins looked good in relief against Michigan. Add him with J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and the majority of the offensive line returning and it has the makings of a good offense. The defense will still have Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones, which will help make up a good defensive line.

4. Washington Huskies

The Huskies had a young team this season that saw them replace a lot of NFL talent on defense. Jake Browning should return to school to lead the team at quarterback. Myles Gaskin and Dante Pettis could both be lost to the NFL, but if Gaskin elects to return to school, the offense will be solid. The majority of the defense will return, but will have to fill holes left by Vita Vea and some very good linebackers.

5. Miami Hurricanes

Is Malik Rosier the answer at quarterback? Only time will tell. The Hurricanes should have him, Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards back to make plays. They do lose a lot on the offensive line, but should be able to replace it. Miami should also get most of their defense back, which includes a great back seven of talented linebackers and a good secondary.

6. Michigan State Spartans

L.J. Scott decided to return to school, giving Michigan State almost all their starters back for next year. After winning ten games this season, they should be expected to compete even more next season. Brian Lewerke is a dual-threat that is expected to improve this offseason. The defense was very young and should also get a lot better next season.

7. Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs just played in the National Championship, but are going to lose a lot of talent, especially on their defense. They could lose up to nine or ten players from the defense, which will not be easy to replace. Georgia has some playmakers on offense returning in Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift and Riley Ridley. Most of their offensive line also returns.

8. Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin got a huge win when linebacker T.J. Edwards said he was returning for his senior season. He will give the defense some stability, as they lose a lot this offseason. The offense will be expected to pick up the slack, as Jonathan Taylor had a fantastic freshman season and most of his offensive line will return. The question is: How well can Alex Hornibrook play?

9. Oklahoma Sooners

Lincoln Riley did a fantastic job in his first year as head coach, but now has to move on without Baker Mayfield. Kyler Murray was a highly-touted recruit that Riley can mold. Freshman running back Rodney Anderson also returns after having a great season and Rose Bowl. Add those two to wide receiver “Hollywood” Brown and the offense should be set. Defensively, some talent will move on, but the offense is the strength of the team.

10. Virginia Tech Hokies

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Josh Jackson (Photo by cjonline.com)

Josh Jackson had a fantastic freshman season that resulted in nine wins. His progression is what carries this ranking. Travon McMillan and Cam Phillips, his two offensive weapons at running back and wide receiver, are gone. Young receivers will need to step up and they will also need to replace a few offensive linemen. The Hokies will return about six or seven starters on defense, but will need to replace some NFL-level talent.

11. Penn State Nittany Lions 

Saquon Barkley is gone, but Trace McSorley is back again. He will now have to be the focal point of the offense with a new offensive coordinator. Most of the offensive line returns, but a lot of new faces will have to step up on defense, as they had a lot of seniors getting significant playing time.

12. Auburn Tigers

The Tigers had a great season that resulted with them playing in the Cotton Bowl. Auburn gets quarterback Jarrett Stidham back, while Kerryon Johnson is leaving for the NFL. They will lose some quality players on defense, but will get the majority back for 2018.

13. Stanford Cardinal

Bryce Love is likely going to the NFL. The good news for Stanford is they can seemingly plug in a lot of running backs into their system to be productive. K.J. Costello also showed some flashes of being a very good quarterback. They lose more than half of their defense to seniors, but the returning players are solid.

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Both Josh Adams and Equanimeous St. are trying to make it at the next level. Losing Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson deals a significant blow to the offense of Notre Dame. They still have some good offensive linemen, running backs and wide receivers who will step up next season. That only leaves the matter of quarterback. Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush will battle it out in the offseason for the starting role. The seniors leaving the defense will leave a mark, but a lot of players returning have gotten significant playing time due to injuries over the previous few seasons.

15. Boise State Broncos

Boise State has a chance to be in the national spotlight again this year, after fading in the past few seasons. Quarterback Brett Rypien and running back Alexander Mattison return, which should help keep the offense rolling. Losing wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and some offensive linemen will hurt, but they will manage. The defense is young and pretty much all returning next season, meaning they should be dominant.

16. LSU Tigers

The Tigers will have to replace a lot of their offense, but they have some talented recruits waiting to take the team to the next level. Myles Brennan looks to take over at quarterback after seeing action in six games this season. He was a highly-touted recruit that should be able to make plays with another year under his belt. A lot of good players from LSU’s defense will be missing as well, so they’re recruits will need to step up.

17. Michigan Wolverines

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Shea Patterson (Photo by freep.com)

Michigan won the Shea Patterson sweepstakes and the quarterback transfer from Ole Miss. Brandon Peters also showed potential at the position this season. They’ll need skill position players to step up next season. Donovan Peoples-Jones is in store for a big year at wide receiver if the quarterback play is good enough. The defense returns most of its key players. A player to watch is linebacker Devin Bush, who is one of the best in the country.

18. USC Trojans

Sam Darnold helped lead USC back to prominence, but now he is gone. Gone too are running back Ronald Jones and wide receiver Deontay Burnett. Two offensive linemen also graduate, so they will have some big shoes to fill in Los Angeles. A lot of their players on the defensive side of the ball will be testing the NFL Draft waters, so sophomore corner Jack Jones will have to step up and be a leader.

19. West Virginia Mountaineers

Will Grier had a great season for West Virginia and has decided to return to school. With most of his weapons back, Grier should have the Mountaineers in good position to have one of the best offenses in the country once again. While the defense isn’t the strength of the team, a lot of returning players will be good to work with.

20. Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic hit a home run when they hired Lane Kiffin. He took a team that was supposed to be very bad and made them a conference championship team. Running back Devin Singletary was one of the most productive running backs in the country this season and will be back for his junior year. A young defense should also improve as a lot more people hop on the “Lane Train”.

21. Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder is back for another season. They won nine games in 2016 and eight games this season with young teams. Now, with a bunch of veterans, the Wildcats are looking to compete more in the Big 12. Wide receiver Byron Pringle will be asked to do a lot for this team, but they will mainly try to run the football. If D.J. Reed decides to return at corner, it should be another solid year for the Wildcats.

22. Northwestern Wildcats

They won ten games this season and will be back for more next season. While their career leading rusher, Justin Jackson, is graduating, they seem to believe freshman Jeremy Larkin can be a workhorse back in his sophomore year. Quarterback Clayton Thorson is also back for next season, but is recovering from a torn ACL in the Music City Bowl. Freshman linebacker Paddy Fisher looks like he will be on of their all-time greats.

23. Florida State Seminoles

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Deondre Francois (photo by gridironnow.com)

Willie Taggart did a good job of turning around Oregon in his one season in Eugene. He is a solid coach who will get some talent returning. With Deondre Francois back at quarterback, Cam Akers at running back and a lot of good receivers, they should be solid on offense. The offensive line has struggled in the last few years, they are young and shold improve. A lot might need to be replaced on defense, but they have recruited well.

24. Mississippi State Bulldogs

If Nick Fitzgerald can recover from a gruesome leg injury, the Bulldogs have the makings of a good team. They get most of their team back, which is encouraging, but Dan Mullen left for Florida. Joe Moorehead will try to make Mississippi State’s offense a lot better, just like he did at Penn State.

25. Texas A&M Aggies

Jimbo Fisher is a great haul for Texas A&M. He will have to work with quarterbacks Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel, but they can be successful. Trayveon Willliams returns at running back, along with a lot of the offensive line, but they will have to replace Christian Kirk. A lot of their best defensive players will be playing on Sundays next year, so Fisher has a little bit of work cut out for him on that side of the ball.

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

The two best programs in college football the past two seasons are Alabama and Clemson. They produce great players and play in the biggest games. There are a lot of players from this game that will be stars in the NFL. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB

Fitzpatrick has experience at both corner and safety for Alabama, but will fit in better as a safety in the NFL. He has gotten playing time since his freshman season at Alabama and is now a junior. In his three seasons he has 163 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, nine interceptions, 23 passes defended and one forced fumble.

At 6’1″ and 201 pounds, Fitzpatrick has good enough size for the NFL at either position he has played. He likely won’t have to wait long to hear his name called.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Calvin Ridley, WR

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

Calvin Ridley (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

Ridley is one of the best receivers in the draft class, if not the best. He has continued to put up numbers, despite not always having the greatest quarterback play. At Alabama, he has 2,710 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. His best season was his freshman year with Blake Sims at quarterback.

He is 6’1″ and 190 pounds and will need to add some play strength to beat his man off the line of scrimmage. If he isn’t the first wide receiver drafted, Ridley will be shortly after.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Da’Ron Payne, DT

Payne doesn’t have the production of a lot of other prospects, but is asked to do something completely different for Alabama. He is a freakish athlete who takes on multiple blockers and helps stop the run well. He has 94 total tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks in his time at Alabama.

At 6’2″ and 308 pounds, Payne has good size for an interior defensive lineman. He plays nose tackle in Alabama’s 3-4, but can also play defensive tackle in the 4-3 system.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Other notable Alabama prospects: RB Damien Harris (2nd round-4th round), RB Bo Scarbrough (4th round-6th round), G/C Ross Pierschbacher (3rd round-5th round), C Lester Cotton (5th round-7th round), C Bradley Bozeman (3rd round-5th round), DE Da’Shawn Hand (6th round-undrafted free agent), LB Rashaan Evans (3rd round-4th round), LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (3rd round-5th round), CB Anthony Averett (3rd round-5th round), CB Tony Brown (4th round-6th round), S Ronnie Harrison (1st round-2nd round)

Clemson Tigers

Clelin Ferrell, DE

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

Clelin Ferrell (Photo by independentmail.com)

Ferrell has been the leading sack-man on the Tigers’ defense this season. That is impressive due to how much talent they have on their roster. In his two years of playing time at Clemson, Ferrell has 106 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks.

At 6’5″ and 265 pounds which is good size for a defensive end in the NFL. He will have to battle some fellow teammates for positioning in the draft class.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Austin Bryant, DE

Bryant is the other half of a great sack tandem of defensive ends. He has 7.5 sacks on the season to make it tough on opposing quarterbacks. In his career, he has 82 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. He has some inconsistency, as some games he will have multiple sacks and some he will have none, but NFL teams can work with that.

He also has solid size at 6’4″ and 265 pounds. The junior could go back to Clemson and work on his consistency, but he already has enough tape to be drafted early in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Christian Wilkins, DT

Wilkins is a leader for Clemson and one of the best defensive tackles in the country. The junior was a big part of the National Championship team last year. He has 133 total tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in his career. Wilkins has shown the ability to rush the passer from the interior, which is appealing to NFL teams.

He is 6’4″ and 310 pounds, which makes his best fit as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Wilkins will be one of the first interior defensive linemen selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Other notable Clemson prospects: WR Deon Cain (3rd round-5th round), WR Hunter Renfrow (5th round-7th round), OT Mitch Hyatt (2nd round-4th round), LB Kendall Joseph (3rd round-5th round), CB Mark Fields (2nd round-4th round), S Van Smith (4th round-6th round)

 

2018 Sugar Bowl preview

The Sugar Bowl features a rematch of the last two National Championship Games. Clemson and Alabama will be fighting for the right to go to a third straight National Championship. While some are upset this game isn’t happening for a title, it will be a great matchup of familiar foes. Here is the 2018 Sugar Bowl preview:

4 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

2018 Sugar Bowl preview

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Photo by youtube.com)

Alabama lost one game to Auburn and had to watch the SEC Championship Game from home. They were still able to get into the College Football Playoff despite not playing in the final week. Their best wins are over Fresno State, LSU and Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide aren’t just happy to be here, they are in it to win it.

The offense scores 39.1 points per game and is based off of the running game. They rank eighth in the country with 265.3 rushing yards per game. Damien Harris is the leading running back with 110 carries for 906 yards and 11 touchdowns. His backup, Bo Scarbrough, has added 549 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is a dual-threat who has 768 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Hurts isn’t the greatest passer, but has protected the football. He has thrown for 1,940 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception on the season. They have one receiver that produces a lot in Calvin Ridley. Ridley has 896 receiving yards and three touchdown catches.

They have the best scoring defense in the country that allows 11.5 points per game. They are first in rush defense and sixth in pass defense. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the best players in college football. He has 52 total tackles six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception and six passes defended.

1 Clemson Tigers (12-1)

2018 Sugar Bowl preview

Kelly Bryant (Photo by ncaa.com)

The Tigers are the ACC Champions and number one seed in the College Football Playoff. They lost on the road to a bad Syracuse team, but didn’t have their quarterback, Kelly Bryant, for the entire game. Clemson beat nine bowl eligible teams with their best wins coming over Miami, Virginia Tech and Auburn.

Offensively, they scored 35.4 points per game. Their run offense isn’t as good as Alabama’s, but is still solid at 204.1 rushing yards per game. Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster have split carries and done well. Etienne has 744 rushing yards, while Feaser has 659. Bryant is also a threat to run from the quarterback position with 646 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

Bryant is efficient in his passing at 67.4% completion. He has 2,678 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. Three receivers do a lot of damage for the Tigers. Deon Cain leads the team 659 with receiving yards and six touchdowns. Hunter Renfrow leads the team with 55 catches and to go with it, has 571 yards. Ray-Ray McCloud has 502 receiving yards and one touchdown.

The Tigers have the second best scoring defense in the country at 12.8 points per game. They rank 12th against the run and seventh against the pass. Clemson has the most sacks per game at 3.38 this season and are led by the likes of Austin Bryant (7.5 sacks) and Clelin Ferrell (8.5 sacks).

Prediction

While Alabama looks better statistically, Clemson has played the tougher schedule and has still gotten to the College Football Playoff as the number one seed. The defensive line will pressure Hurts and make it hard to throw the ball. Alabama will be one dimensional with the run game, which is easier to stop. Bryant is mobile and can throw, which has caused problems for Alabama’s defense in the past. With all this, Clemson should be able to edge out a win.

Clemson Tigers 34 Alabama Crimson Tide 29

College Football Playoff Bracketology 12/3/17

The season is over and all that is left is for the committee selecting the teams for the College Football Playoff (CFP). Here is how the committee should rank the teams in their final rankings of the season:

In the playoff:

1. Clemson Tigers (13-0)

The Tigers won the ACC yet again. This time they beat Miami to secure the ACC crown. They were ranked first last week by the committee and that shouldn’t change in the final rankings.

Clemson has a great resume and beat nine teams who are playing in bowls this winter. The loss to Syracuse happened when Kelly Bryant wasn’t healthy and didn’t play the full game. If the Tigers aren’t ranked first by the committee it would be a surprise.

2. Oklahoma Sooners (12-1)

Oklahoma locked up a spot in the CFP with their 41-17 win over TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game. Winning would’ve been enough, but they really put their stamp on this game and proved to the committee that they belong in the CFP.

The Sooners have the one blemish on their record that came at the hands of Iowa State. Their resume is great outside the loss. They beat Ohio State, Oklahoma State and TCU twice. With the second best strength of record at the completion of their game, Oklahoma doesn’t have much to worry about.

Can the Sooners’ defense step up in the College Football Playoff?

3. Georgia Bulldogs (12-1)

Georgia avenged their only loss of the season with a big win in the SEC Championship over Auburn. This was a play-in game for the CFP, so Georgia is in.

The Bulldogs tested themselves with a game at Notre Dame and passed the test. Adding that game to their wins over Mississipi State and Auburn, along with the fact that they are the SEC Champions, puts them in the CFP.

Georgia finally has the chance to play for a national title, but what can they do now that they have the chance?

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)

College Football Playoff Bracketology

J.T. Barrett (Photo by espn.com)

Ohio State was able to hold on in the Big Ten Championship and beat Wisconsin 27-21. The Buckeyes will now be hoping their resume looks better to the committee than Alabama’s does.

The Buckeyes have a lot of solid wins, which puts them in the conversation to be in the CFP. They beat Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Michigan. Three of these teams will be in or around the top 15 in the CFP committee’s final rankings. Alabama will have one team beat near the top 15, being LSU. I’ll take Ohio State beating three top 15 teams over, Albama’s possible one.

A Big Ten Championship is nice, but the Buckeyes feel they deserve to make the CFP.

First four out:

5. Auburn Tigers (10-3)

The Tigers lost in the SEC Championship Game. They would have been in had they won, but since they didn’t they will have to settle for a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Auburn lost three games, all coming to good teams, but was the only team to beat Alabama. They also beat Mississippi State and Auburn in their first meeting. At the end of the day, Auburn was in the position they wanted to be in at the end of the season, but failed to execute.

6. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

College football playoff bracketology

Nick Saban (Photo by usatoday.com)

Alabama was the only team with realistic CFP chances that was idle this weekend. The Crimson Tide will be hoping that their metrics and resume can get them into the playoff.

The strength of record was sixth in the country heading into the weekend, but likely will drop when all the metrics are updated. They beat LSU, Mississippi State and Fresno State for solid wins, but other than that their resume isn’t great. They failed to beat an elite team all season (unless LSU is considered elite) and are paying for it now.

Had Florida State been as good as expected the resume might have had the necessary boost to get Alabama in the CFP.

7. Wisconsin Badgers (12-1)

Wisconsin lost in the Big Ten Championship and lost their chance to play in the CFP. It was a well fought game, but they ultimately fell short.

The Badgers didn’t play a great schedule, which meant they had no room for error this year. Wins over Northwestern and Michigan are nice, but won’t get anyone in the playoff without a conference championship.

It isn’t what Wisconsin fans wanted, but the team will still get to play in a big time bowl game.

8. USC Trojans (11-2)

USC won the Pac-12 Championship over Stanford in a 31-28 win. It’s a too little too late for the Trojans, but they have secured a second straight New Year’s Six bowl.

The Trojans beat Stanford twice and Arizona for their best wins of the season. Their losses to Washington State and Notre Dame aren’t bad, but they haven’t beaten enough good teams to warrant a higher ranking than this.

Next four out:

9. Miami Hurricanes (10-2)

Miami got off to a slow start against Clemson and were never able to recover in the ACC Championship Game. They had a great season, but came up just short of the CFP. A New Year’s Six Bowl game is not a bad result for Mark Richt in his second season.

The Hurricanes successfully beat Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, but were unable to accrue any other great victories. The loss at Pittsburgh, who didn’t qualify for a bowl game, really hurt Miami’s chances. If they were undefeated heading into the ACC Championship Game, they may have been able to afford a loss.

Mark Richt has started to bring the “U” back, but they haven’t gotten all the way back.

10. UCF Golden Knights (12-0)

UCF completed the undefeated record heading into the bowl games. They beat Memphis in a double overtime thriller 62-55 to win the AAC Championship.

It’s a shame that UCF, isn’t getting more recognition for the CFP, but they did lock up a chance to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game. Their two wins over Memphis are great and they also beat a Power 5 conference team in Maryland. If their game against Georgia Tech wasn’t cancelled due to a hurricane, they would’ve gotten much more love from the committee.

Scott Frost is reportedly out, so how will UCF respond in their big bowl game?

11. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

Penn State did not play this weekend, but drop in the rankings as a result of other teams winning conference championships.

The Nittany Lions only have two solid wins, one over Michigan and one coming at the expense of Northwestern. They lost in both games in which they had a chance to really impress the committee. Had they beaten Ohio State and/or Michigan State, they would rightfully be in the CFP talk. They’ll have to settle for a New Year’s Six bowl.

Might we see another Penn State vs. USC matchup?

12. Washington Huskies (10-2)

Like Penn State, the Huskies didn’t play anyone this week. They benefit from teams losing in conference championship games though.

The Huskies couldn’t put it all together this season against good competition. Their best wins were over Fresno State and Washington State, but had a horrid schedule outside of those games.

Washington will also have to settle for a New Year’s Six bowl game.

 

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Five things we learned from conference championship week

Teams are preparing for bowl season or for next season depending on how their season finished. Heading into bowl games, more coaching carousel drama, here is what we learned:

1. Oklahoma locks up CFP, Baker Mayfield locks up the Heisman

Conference Championship week

Baker Mayfield (usatoday.com)

Oklahoma dominated in the Big 12 Championship, beating TCU 41-17. The Sooners were ranked third in the most recent College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings, so this win virtually locks up their CFP spot. With a record of 12-1 and a Big 12 Championship at hand, Oklahoma will be watching the selection show just to see who they are playing in the first round of the CFP.

On top of the Sooners winning the Big 12, their quarterback, Baker Mayfield, has cemented himself as the Heisman winner. In the Big 12 Championship Game, he threw for 243 yards and four touchdowns. With over 4,000 yards passing and 40 total touchdowns on the season, Mayfield is the obvious choice.

2. UCF has completed a great turnaround, but lose coach

Scott Frost was announced as the new head coach of the UCF Golden Knights after the 2015 season. UCF had just gone 0-12 and needed a lot of work. In his first season as head coach, Frost led the team to a 6-7 record, which included an appearance in the Cure Bowl. It was a great start to the turnaround, but Frost wasn’t done yet.

This season, UCF was not favored to win the conference, with teams like USF and Houston stealing the headlines. They were expected to take another step forward, however. They surprised everyone and ripped off 12 wins (one was cancelled due to a hurricane) and won the AAC Championship. The Golden Knights have earned the right to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl. The complete turnaround has been completed.

Unfortunately for UCF, Frost has reportedly taken the job at Nebraska. While it is a bittersweet moment for the Golden Knights, I don’t think they would trade the undefeated season and AAC Championship.

3. Georgia fans can relax….for now

Conference Championship week

D’Andre Swift (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

Georgia has been a team that looks like a contender early in the season, but nearly always blows it. The administration fired Mark Richt for his failures to compete at the highest levels. They hired Kirby Smart, who in his second season, has led the Bulldogs to a SEC Championship and the chance to win the whole thing.

The Bulldogs will be in the CFP and will be waiting to see how they play. They may have overcome the thought that they would choke, but they have to prepare for more big games if they want to win it all. Their wins over Auburn and at Notre Dame prove they can play with anyone in the country.

4. Clemson is battle tested

Clemson has put together another great season. They won the ACC Championship Game and are going to be in the CFP. Can the Tigers repeat as champs?

While the Tigers did lose to Syracuse, they beat a lot of good football teams this year. They won nine games against bowl eligible teams, including big wins over Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Virginia Tech and N.C. State. There were questions to start the season about Clemson, but they have answered most of those questions.

Does anyone want to play Clemson in the first round of the CFP?

5. J.T. Barrett is one of the toughest players of all time

J.T. Barrett re-aggravated a knee injury against Michigan and had to exit the game. Dwayne Haskins Jr. was able to take over and lead the team to victory. Barrett had surgery on his knee on the day after the Michigan game and was questionable to play in the Big Ten Championship.

He was able to start and play the whole game against Wisconsin. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but he once again got the job done and led the Buckeyes to victory. He had 271 total yards and three touchdowns while playing so banged up. While he may not go down as one of the greatest players in the history of Ohio State, he certainly is one of the toughest.

 

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College football conference championship week picks

Conference championship week is here, which means less games to pick. Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger pick their conference champions and more!

Away Home Location Rob Joe
#12 Stanford #10 USC Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA Stanford USC
#20 Memphis #14 UCF Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Akron Toledo Ford Field, Detroit, MI Toledo Toledo
North Texas Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL FAU FAU
UMass Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL FIU FIU
Louisiana Monroe Florida State Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL FSU FSU
#11 TCU #3 Oklahoma AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Oklahoma Oklahoma
Georgia Southern Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC Georgia Southern Georgia Southern
Idaho Georgia State Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA Georgia St Georgia St.
Louisiana Appalachian State Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, NC App St App St
#6 Georgia #2 Auburn Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA Auburn Auburn
South Alabama New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM USA USA
Troy Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Troy Troy
#25 Fresno State Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
#7 Miami #1 Clemson Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC Clemson Clemson
#8 Ohio State #4 Wisconsin Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN Ohio St Ohio State
Gameday Guest Picker (Charlotte) Michael Jordan Ray Lewis

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Five things to watch for in conference championship week

College football is winding down, but before bowl season comes, conference championships are left. With so much good football this weekend, here are five things to watch:

1. Two great defenses going at it in Atlanta

Conference Championship Week

Jarrett Stidham (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

Georgia and Auburn get a chance to play again in the SEC Championship. It’s not often that a rivalry game ends up happening in the conference championship games, but this one should be exciting. Both teams will be going at it hard to try and clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff (CFP).

The Bulldogs have the fifth best scoring defense in the country and are hoping they can do more to stop Auburn this time around. Georgia allowed 40 points, which is by far the most they have allowed all season. Their front seven is going to need to step up to stop a potent rushing attack. They have the talent, with NFL-bound players like Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter, but they didn’t step up last time.

Auburn ranks ninth in scoring defense. The Tigers run the football and play good defense, much like Georgia, which is usually a good recipe to win a lot of games. They have given up 27 points twice, but that is the most they have allowed in a game all season. For this matchup, they will be tasked with stopping all of Georgia’s great running backs. They should be able to continue doing what they have been doing.

Get ready for yet another defensive and physical game in the SEC Championship.

2. Can Miami dethrone Clemson?

Miami and Clemson meet in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday night. While Clemson’s resume is very impressive, Miami’s leaves a lot to be desired. At the end of the day though, if Miami can win, they are in the CFP.

Clemson is battle-tested, having faced eight teams that will likely get bowl invites. They did lose a game to Syracuse, but their quarterback, Kelly Bryant, wasn’t 100% healthy and had to leave the game. The Tigers have so many other good wins that they have still put themselves in a good position to make the CFP.

The Hurricanes have been one of the best stories in college football this season. Mark Richt has started the process of bringing the “U” mentality back to Coral Gables. They do have a loss to a lackluster Pitt team they suffered this past week, but the main thing that is concerning is their wins. Their wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, which were good wins at the time, look a lot worse now that Notre Dame lost again and the Hokies nearly dropped out of the rankings. To compound some of their concerns, they pulled their starting quarterback, Malik Rosier, near the end of the game against Pitt.

Miami will be the underdog in this game, but usually that’s how it works until the top dog is knocked off.

3. Wisconsin’s perfect season on the line

Conference Championship Week

Jonathan Taylor (Photo by dailycardinal.com)

Wisconsin is another team that has been criticized for not playing a very difficult schedule. They are undefeated and now will get their chance to prove to the world, and more importantly the committee, that they can beat a good team. Ohio State still has a chance to make the CFP, with some help, so a lot is at stake here.

The Badgers need to win to make the CFP, just like every other team playing this weekend. They haven’t played any premier teams and are doubted by a lot of people. Wisconsin can run the ball and play defense like most years. In what should be a low-scoring game, Jonathan Taylor will need to make big plays in the running game to set up Alex Hornibrook in good situations to throw the ball downfield. If Taylor can’t, Wisconsin will not be able to move the football.

Ohio State has been up and down all season. Their inconsistencies are in all three phases of the game. There are a lot of questions surrounding this team, especially after J.T. Barrett went down with an injury against Michigan. Dwayne Haskins came in and made some good throws to help keep Ohio State in this position. No matter who the quarterback is, the Buckeyes are favored and should be able to run the ball well.

Another conference championship game that should be low-scoring, the Big Ten Championship Game, will ultimately let everyone know if Wisconsin is for real or not?

4. Oklahoma’s potent offense vs. TCU’s balanced team

The Oklahoma Sooners and TCU Horned Frogs will have a rematch in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Big 12 moved to a championship game to get a better chance of having a team in the CFP, but this year it can backfire on them if TCU pulls off an upset.

Oklahoma will have Baker Mayfield for the full game this weekend, and he won’t disappoint. The Sooners’ offense has scored 45.3 points per game, with the fewest in a single game being 29. There will be fireworks when Mayfield and the offense take the field. He is still trying to pad his stats to win the Heisman Trophy, but already has over 4,000 yards passing.

TCU, on the other hand, has a top ten defense and a top 30 offense in terms of points allowed and points scored. Their offense won’t be explosive, but will take what the Oklahoma defense gives them. The defense will be tasked with slowing down Mayfield, something they failed to do in the first meeting.

The only question that remains is: Can TCU play spoiler for the whole Big 12 conference?

5. Offense, offense and more offense in the AAC Championship Game

The AAC Championship Game is going to be one of the more entertaining games to watch this weekend. Not only will the winner likely go to a New Year’s Six bowl game, but it will have a lot of offense and scoring along the way.

UCF is undefeated, and quite honestly, should be way higher up in the CFP standings. They have the highest scoring offense in the country, averaging 47.6 points per game. McKenzie Milton has been able to spread the ball around from his quarterback position, to get the Golden Knights to such a good standing. It’s only Scott Frost’s second year and he is already playing in the league title game with a lot on the line.

Memphis has lost only one game, coming at the hands of UCF. While the offense is only the fourth best in terms of scoring, they probably have bigger stars than UCF. Riley Ferguson has thrown for 3,500 yards in just 11 games. His top receiver, Anthony Miller, has made so many highlight plays and has 1,212 receiving yards. Look for Ferguson and Miller to connect a lot in this game.

 

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Five things we learned in college football week 13

For most teams, the college football regular season has wrapped up and conference championships are coming. It may be late in the season, but something can be learned from every game of college football. Here are five things we learned from week 13’s action:

1. Alabama still doesn’t have any great wins

Alabama lost their rivalry game with Auburn and will be in misery for about a year. The Crimson Tide are out of the SEC Championship Game and don’t control their own destiny for the College Football Playoff. Losing to Auburn also makes them very vulnerable to the committee, because they don’t have many great wins this season.

Saban’s squad was able to beat Florida State in a highly anticipated season opener, but the Seminoles ended up struggling this season. Alabama beat LSU and Mississippi State, both of which are solid wins, but not great. The Crimson Tide had their chance against Auburn, but were unable to get the job done. Now they are at the mercy of the CFP committee.

2. J.T. Barrett is a legend and will have a story to tell

College football week 13

J.T. Barrett (Photo by sportingnews.com)

J.T. Barrett started his fourth straight game for Ohio State against Michigan. Although he has had to leave two of these games due to injury, Barrett has been able to go 4-0 as a starting quarterback in one of the biggest rivalries in sports. He may get criticized a lot, but going 4-0 as a starting quarterback has never happened in this rivalry. Barrett also has plenty of records and memories to keep his legacy in tact, even if there are a lot of haters.

Interestingly enough, Barrett had to leave the game against Michigan due to a re-aggravated knee injury. While most fans thought Barrett was hurt during the game, he actually disturbed his injury when warming up. Reportedly, a cameraman ran into Barrett right before kickoff. Barrett was tough enough to gut it out for over two quarters, but was unable to complete the game. Luckily, Ohio State has Dwayne Haskins as a backup, who made some key throws down the stretch to win the game for the Buckeyes.

3. Coaching Changes already in motion

This is the point of the season that always has coaching changes, so that new coaches can come in and start recruiting. Some coaches have already been fired and need to be replaced with one such opening already being resolved.

Jim Mora was fired and recently replaced by Chip Kelly at UCLA. Arkansas didn’t even let Bret Bielema leave the field before firing him. Mike Riley had one of the worst seasons in Nebraska history and won’t be returning. With Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Oregon State searching for coaches, there should be an active coaching carousel. Kevin Sumlin, as usual, is also rumored to be fired which opens up yet another power five job.

4. Baker Mayfield can pencil in his name for the Heisman

college football week 13

Baker Mayfield (Photo by usatoday.com)

Baker Mayfield sat out the first drive, which lasted all of two plays, due to suspension against West Virginia. He made obscene gestures and had some choice words for the Kansas Jayhawks after they refused to shake his hand before the game. While some people have said they won’t choose him as their Heisman winner, he has had the best season in college football and deserves it.

In the game against West Virginia, Mayfield went 14-17 for 281 yards and three touchdowns to add to his impressive season. With over 4,000 passing yards, some key wins and a likely CFP appearance, Mayfield is clearly the guy that should be voted as this year’s Heisman.

5. Clemson has the best CFP resume

Clemson was able to win comfortably over South Carolina to finish the regular season at 11-1. While some people will complain about their loss to a bad Syracuse team, they still have the best case to be the number one team in the CFP rankings.

The Tigers beat four different eight win teams on the road: Louisville, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and N.C. State. On top of these good wins, Clemson also beat Auburn, who now is going to be in the CFP top four. With wins over Wake Forest, Boston College and Florida State, Clemson has literally had a schedule littered with bowl eligible teams.

 

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College Football Playoff bracketology 11/26/17

Conference championship games are set. There is still a lot of different scenarios that can happen, which will make the next week in football, on the field and off, fun to watch. Here are how the teams should be ranked after rivalry week (rankings of opponents are based off last week’s CFP rankings):

Playoff teams

1. Clemson Tigers (11-1)

College football bracketology

Kelly Bryant (Photo by greenvilleonline.com)

The Tigers beat yet another ranked team, South Carolina, to finish the regular season 11-1. With other teams ahead of them losing, they move up to the top spot of these rankings.

Clemson has beaten so many quality teams this season it is almost impossible to keep them out of the top spot. Their win against Auburn looks really good after the Tigers were able to beat Alabama. With other wins over Louisville, Virginia Tech, N.C. State and South Carolina, Clemson is sitting pretty entering the ACC Championship Game. The knock on them is their loss to Syracuse, but because they didn’t have their starting quarterback healthy for the game, the committee gives them a slight pass.

Ultimately, if Clemson wins in the ACC Championship Game, they are in.

This week: vs. 2 Miami Hurricanes

2. Oklahoma Sooners (11-1)

Baker Mayfield was suspended for two plays, but it didn’t matter. Oklahoma outscored another Big 12 team in West Virginia. They too benefit from teams ahead of them losing and are now in a great spot.

Oklahoma has big wins over TCU, Oklahoma State and Ohio State, making their resume really impressive. The loss to Iowa State isn’t that bad. With so many wins over great teams, including over a top ten team in Ohio State, Oklahoma controls their own destiny.

There haven’t been too many upsets in conference championships during the CFP era, but Oklahoma needs to stay focused against a tough opponent.

This week: vs. 12 TCU Horned Frogs

3. Auburn Tigers (10-2)

Auburn knocked off a number one team for the second time this season when they beat Alabama by 12. The Tigers played a physical and defensive game to beat Alabama and will get one more chance to prove what they can do to the committee.

The Tigers have beaten Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi State for a list of really good wins. They do have two losses, to Clemson and LSU, but the wins make up for it. At this point the committee can’t put Alabama or Georgia over them, so by virtue of winning their tough games, they are in the CFP slot at three.

They get a rematch in the SEC Championship Game to solidify their spot in the CFP.

This week: vs. 7 Georgia Bulldogs

4. Wisconsin Badgers (12-0)

The Badgers finished off the regular season undefeated after destroying their rival Minnesota. They may not have played the toughest schedule, but they are undefeated in a power conference, so they should be ranked within the top four this week.

Wisconsin’s big wins are over Northwestern and Michigan. Northwestern has won nine game on the season, while Michigan has won eight. Neither are great wins, but both are solid.

They will need to have their biggest game of the season, but if the Badgers win the Big Ten Championship, they are in the playoff.

This week: vs. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes

Next four out

5. Georgia Bulldogs (11-1)

Georgia didn’t have any trouble with their rival, Georgia Tech, and finished the season at 11-1. They get to move up the rankings slightly, but will need to win the SEC Championship Game to make the CFP.

The win at Notre Dame really helps them, as well as their win over Mississippi State. While they did get blown out by Auburn, they get a chance at revenge against them in the SEC Championship Game.

Basically, if Georgia wins, they are in.

This week: vs. 6 Auburn Tigers

6. Miami Hurricanes (10-1)

In a Friday noon game that was easy to lose in the shuffle of the holiday weekend, Miami lost a road game to Pitt. This was a game they couldn’t get the offense going and suffered their first loss of the season because of it.

Miami blew Notre Dame out and also had a big win over Virginia Tech. They were not able to play a full 12 game schedule due to all of the hurricanes this fall, which hurts them, but only minimally. The Hurricanes lost to Pitt, who is not a good football team. The good news is that they still control their own destiny.

Can the “U” come all the way back and win an ACC Championship Game with so much at stake?

This week: vs. 3 Clemson Tigers

7. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

Alabama is out of the SEC Championship race after losing to Auburn. It was their first loss of the season, but their offense couldn’t get much done against a stifling Tigers’ defense.

Even though it is their first loss, they have to wait and see how other teams do next weekend to see if they can make the CFP. They have solid wins over LSU and Mississippi State, but have yet to beat an elite team. Their hope is that they can squeeze into the CFP, but they will need help.

The wait and see approach is never fun, but that’s all Alabama fans can do right now.

This week: N/A

8. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2)

College football playoff bracketology

Dwayne Haskins Jr. (Photo by thelantern.com)

The Buckeyes got the win in their big rivalry game over Michigan. They finished with 10 wins in the regular season and now get to play Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.

The loss to Iowa hurts, while losing to Oklahoma is a little more understandable. For good wins, the Buckeyes bring their wins over Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan to the table.

If they beat Wisconsin, Ohio State will have a shot at the CFP.

This week: vs. 5 Wisconsin Badgers

Next four out

9. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

Penn State beat Maryland this week to finish off a second straight double digit win season. This win will solidify their spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game, but they will not be able to make the CFP.

Their two losses are to Ohio State and Michigan State, but they don’t have many good wins. Their best wins are over Iowa and Michigan, so their resume will not be good enough.

A New Year’s Six Bowl is not a bad finish, but Penn State fans had higher hopes.

This week: N/A

10. USC Trojans (10-2)

USC finished their season a week early and got to watch all of the football unfold this week. They already have 10 wins and qualified for the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The Trojans lost to Notre Dame and Washington State. Those teams are both of good quality, but the wins haven’t made up for the losses. Arizona and Stanford are their best wins and that isn’t good enough to make the CFP. The only way they have a chance is if the committee goes crazy and thinks that the PAC-12 Champion deserves to be in.

They get to try to avenge one of their losses in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but it is likely too little, too late.

This week: vs. 17 Washington Huskies

11. TCU Horned Frogs (10-2)

TCU gets to play in the Big 12 Championship Game as a result of their win over Baylor this week. The Horned Frogs pulled away late to secure the victory.

Unfortunately, even if they win the Big 12 Championship Game over Oklahoma, they likely won’t get in. They do have good wins over Oklahoma State and West Virginia. The losses to Oklahoma and Iowa State aren’t bad, but the resume isn’t good enough to get them in the CFP.

Can the Horned Frogs be the spoiler for Oklahoma’s CFP chances?

This week: vs. 4 Oklahoma Sooners

12. UCF Golden Knights (11-0)

College football playoff bracketology

Shaquem Griffin (Photo by yahoo.com)

The Golden Knights finally find their way to the top 12 after defeating rival USF to finish the season off undefeated. They did lose the opportunity to play 12 games due to a hurricane, but are undefeated nonetheless.

UCF has beaten Memphis and USF who are both quality teams. They also beat a power five team in Maryland. The hurricane canceled a game against Georgia Tech that could have helped their resume, even though the Yellow Jackets are below .500. Their wins over Memphis and USF are better than they’ll ever get credit for, but they don’t play quality teams every week in the AAC.

They play Memphis in the AAC Championship Game this week, which should once again bolster their case to move up the rankings. With other teams losing ahead of them, they could get close to the CFP top four, but will likely be a handful of spots short.

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College Football Playoff bracketology 11/19/17

This week of the season was not very eventful with a bunch of cupcakes on the schedule. The bad games this week will prep college football fans for a great rivalry week that has a lot of good matchups. Here are how the teams rank before the big weekend:

Playoff teams

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)

College football bracketology

Jalen Hurts (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Alabama won big over Mercer (FCS) this weekend. It was an easy game, in which Alabama even held out some of their players as a precaution. Hopefully they are at their best for rivalry week.

The wins over LSU, Mississippi State and Texas A&M are solid, but Alabama lacks a big win. Still though, with the undefeated record, the Crimson Tide will stay in the top spot in the rankings.

Rivalry week is here and Alabama has a chance for a great win over Auburn.

This week: at 6 Auburn Tigers

2. Clemson Tigers (10-1)

The Tigers didn’t have a problem with The Citadel (FCS). Clemson rolled 61-3. They look primed for big things in the next few weeks.

Clemson has some of the most impressive wins in college football, especially their win over Auburn. Their victories over Louisville, Virginia Tech and N.C. State also add to their good resume and help them stay in the second spot.

They will have a small test against South Carolina on rivalry week.

This week: at South Carolina Gamecocks

3. Miami Hurricanes (10-0)

Miami is one of the few teams that played a decent team this week. Although they trailed Virginia for much of the game, they scored 30 unanswered points to run away with the game. They played like they did before the last two weeks, which is up and down with the level of their competition, for most of the time against Virginia.

The Hurricanes have jumped up to this spot in the rankings and will stay here because of their performances in recent weeks. Wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame aren’t quite as impressive as the wins Clemson has overall. They should still feel confident though, as they will get to play Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.

Unfortunately Miami doesn’t play one of its biggest rivals this week, but they should be able to get the win to stay undefeated.

This week: at Pittsburgh Panthers

4. Oklahoma Sooners (10-1)

Oklahoma had a conference game this week, but it was still an easy game, as they played Kansas. While there was a lot of extra-curricular activity, the important thing is that Oklahoma won 41-3.

With good wins over Ohio State, Oklahoma State and TCU, Oklahoma is in a good position. They are already in the Big 12 Championship Game and if they win out, they will be in the CFP.

The Sooners will get a tough game this week, albeit not against a rival.

This week: vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

First four out

5. Wisconsin Badgers (11-0)

The committee decided to put the Badgers at number five last week, so they will likely be ranked at five again. This week Wisconsin got a win over a decent Michigan team. Michigan has a good defense, but really shouldn’t have been ranked in the top 25.

Beating Michigan still gives Wisconsin another solid win, but it won’t be enough to get into the top four, yet. The wins over Iowa and Northwestern are nice, but if Wisconsin wants to make the CFP, they will need to beat a really good team.

The Badgers’ rival is Minnesota, so they will likely go into the Big Ten Championship undefeated.

This week: at Minnesota Golden Gophers

6. Auburn Tigers (9-2)

College football playoff bracketology

Kerryon Johnson (Photo by al.com)

Auburn started slow against UL Monroe, but picked it up and ended up winning 42-14. This sets up another great Iron Bowl that will have CFP implications.

The Tigers have big wins over Georgia and Mississippi State. Their losses to LSU and Clemson aren’t that bad either. If Auburn wins out, they will be a CFP team.

If the Tigers can win this week, they will be rewarded with a chance to play Georgia again in the SEC Championship.

This week: vs. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

7. Georgia Bulldogs (10-1)

The Bulldogs bounced back from their loss to Auburn very well by beating Kentucky 42-13. Kentucky is a solid win for Georgia, but ultimately the important thing is that they won, as they still control their own destiny.

Georgia’s wins over Notre Dame and Mississippi State are both good. The loss to Auburn is something they will want to avenge if possible. If they win their rivalry game and the SEC Championship Game, they are in the CFP.

Can Georgia shut down Georgia Tech’s triple option this week?

This week: at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-2)

Notre Dame won a tough game over Navy this week to stay in the top ten. While it was one of the tougher games that a top ten team faced, the Fighting Irish should’ve played better.

Wins over Michigan State, USC and N.C. State have kept Notre Dame this high in the rankings. It will be hard for the Fighting Irish to make the CFP, but not totally impossible.

Bryce Love and Stanford are on the schedule for the last week of the season, so Notre Dame better be ready for a physical game.

This week: at 22 Stanford Cardinal

Next four out

9. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-2)

College football playoff bracketology

Urban Meyer (Photo by newsok.com)

It has been an up and down season for Ohio State, but this week they destroyed Illinois. With the win they kept their small CFP hopes alive.

The Buckeyes have beaten Michigan State and Penn State for some really good wins. The two losses are holding them back. If they can win out, which includes a victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, Ohio State will be very close to the cutting line, one way or another.

The big game is this weekend for Ohio State. Throw records aside for how big of a rivalry game this is. Ohio State hasn’t struggled with Michigan much in the 21st century, but anything can happen.

This week: at 24 Michigan Wolverines

10. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2)

Penn State beat Nebraska pretty easily this weekend. The Nittany Lions are pretty much out of the CFP picture, but getting another ten win season is nice.

James Franklin has to hope for absolute disaster and chaos to happen to make the CFP. It would take some upsets in the final week of the regular season and some during conference championship week to make it even slightly possible. All Penn State can do is win this week and then wait and see where the chips fall.

Ten wins should be the expectation when they take on Maryland this weekend.

This week: at Maryland Terrapins

11. USC Trojans (10-2)

The Trojans finished off their regular season with a win over rival UCLA. They get a nice week off to prepare for the Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC probably has a better chance of making the CFP than some teams ahead of them (Notre Dame, Penn State). It all depends on how they play in the Pac-12 Championship Game and if the teams above them hold to form. They are rooting for Washington State to win the Apple Cup, so they can play them in the Pac-12 Championship for another solid win.

A week off before a conference championship is unique, but can USC make the most of it and win the Pac-12?

This week: Bye

12. TCU Horned Frogs (9-2)

TCU was able to beat Texas Tech pretty easily, despite not having quarterback Kenny Hill. If they can beat Baylor in the final week, they will get a chance to play in the Big 12 Championship Game.

The Horned Frogs need some help to make it into the CFP. Beating Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game would be a nice start, but it will not be enough on its own. It will likely take: USC losing in the Pac-12 Championship, Ohio State winning the Big 10 and much more to go their way.

They should be focusing on what they can control and winning the Big 12 would be a great feat for TCU.

This week: vs. Baylor Bears

 

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