Predicting the final record of the Top 10 teams in Playoff poll
I would have written this last night, but I was too busy laughing at the fact the College Football Playoff selection committee thinks Clemson would finish 3rd in the Big Ten East.
The Tigers, winners of 25 in a row, became the first defending champion to not open in the top 4 of the initial poll the following season.
Oh, the lack of respect.
When did Clemson become UCF? When did the ACC become the AAC? Did Trevor Lawrence enter the transfer portal last week?
And, changing gears, how many top 10 teams does LSU have to beat to impress somebody?
Fortunately, the first Playoff poll means nothing. The committee has never gotten it exactly right out of the gate. It’s hard to believe they did Tuesday night, either. Obviously the field will not be 2 SEC teams and 2 Big Ten teams.
What will it eventually look like?
Let’s break out the trusty Crystal Ball and peer into the future. Here is the predicted final record of the top 10 teams in the 1st Playoff poll. (Sorry, they might have a “path,” but nobody outside the top 10 has a realistic chance to make the Playoff.)
1. Ohio State (13-0)
The Buckeyes only play 1 top 10 team — No. 4 Penn State — and the game is in Columbus. No wonder they look so good, right?
2. LSU (13-0)
I dare say playing Alabama in Tuscaloosa is slightly more difficult than hosting a Penn State team that struggled against Pitt and at 2-loss Iowa. At some point, LSU will end its Alabama curse. This, finally, is the team to do it. But Alabama hasn’t lost a home game since 2015 — the longest span among Power 5 programs. There will be no shame if LSU loses to Alabama and finishes 11-1 or falls to Georgia and finishes 12-1. It still would have the body of work to earn the No. 4 seed.
3. Alabama (11-1)
Predicting a home loss? To LSU? Those are Winter Olympics type occurrences. This is exactly the kind of game where Alabama reminds people who the heck Alabama is. That certainly could happen Saturday. And how could anybody be surprised if it does? But I love chaos. If Alabama loses, unless a lot of other crazy stuff happens, the Tide won’t make the Playoff for the first time in the format’s history.
4. Penn State (11-1)
The Nittany Lions are going to expose Minnesota on Saturday. Assuming they don’t get caught looking ahead the following week against Indiana (PSU is 21-1 all-time in that series), it’ll all come down to their Nov. 23 trip to Columbus.
Ohio State has won 6 of the past 7, but the past 2 games were decided by 1 point.
I’m less optimistic this game will be that close. Penn State’s offense is average and ultimately that’ll be the difference in a double-digit Buckeyes victory. Penn State will have to settle for another top 10 spot.
5. Clemson (13-0)
The Tigers know that 1 loss ends their chance to repeat. Frankly, they have no argument if they lose, either. But they won’t. So they’ll be back in the Playoff to defend their crown. The last program to win back-to-back titles and 3 in 4 years? Alabama in 2009, 2011-12.
6. Georgia (11-2)
Georgia is in the driver’s seat to reach Atlanta for the 3rd consecutive season. Among SEC East teams, only Florida has done that … and not since its 5-year streak ended in 1996.
Playing for its Playoff bid, the Dawgs fall short against LSU, creating the 4th opening for a host of 1-loss teams.
7. Oregon (12-1)
Oregon’s lone blemish? The opening loss against Auburn, which could finish with 3 or 4 losses. The SEC is just a different brand of ball … and that will be enough to keep a 1-loss Pac-12 champ out of the Playoff again.
8. Utah (11-2)
There’s nothing in the Utes’ way of reaching the Pac-12 Championship Game, where they’ll fall to Oregon. But there’s also nothing about their résumé that’s overly impressive. The Utes didn’t schedule a nonconference game against a Power 5 team, and a lone victory over a then-ranked Arizona State isn’t going to cut it.
9. Oklahoma (12-1)
Angry, motivated Jalen is the best Jalen. Will 2 victories over ranked Baylor be enough to overcome the 7-point loss at Kansas State, compared with, say, an Alabama home loss to LSU? The Sooners will be No. 5 or No. 6 and firmly in the hunt entering conference championship weekend.
Could Jalen knock the Tua and the Tide out of the Playoff?
Oh, my. The drama.
10. Florida (10-2)
A quality season, but obviously not a Playoff season.