Football journalist Lindsey Prather details which teams are making it to the postseason.
Following an absolute bloodbath in the rankings these last few weeks, the race for the College Football Playoff is looking narrower and narrower. The rankings are beginning to pan out, with obvious favorites running alongside some spectacular busts. That being said, here are some of the teams that are most likely to make the playoff, should the chips fall in their favor.
I’m beating a dead horse here, but looking at Alabama’s schedule, they are extremely likely to make the playoff. They’re a team of reasonable capability, with a relatively easy schedule; nonetheless, they face off against #4 ranked LSU on Nov. 3. After playing only one ranked team this entire season, LSU will most likely give them the challenge they need to legitimize their inevitable playoff spot. This game is one to watch closely, as there are playoff repercussions for both teams, and holding onto a top-four ranking in the late games of the season is vital for maintaining postseason hopes. Despite my wildest hopes, Alabama is as close as I will get to claiming a rock-solid pick for the College Football Playoff.
Clemson is, admittedly, another safe bet for the playoff; their biggest games are behind them. Their greatest challenge will be avoiding any implosions during the final weeks of the season, as well as keeping their playmakers healthy to preserve their odds in the playoff. After witnessing Ohio State’s spectacular collapse against Purdue, I truly believe an upset could be lurking in Clemson’s future if they get complacent. Following their stumbles at the beginning of the season, their defense is ranked #1 in the country in efficiency, and their QB play has shown steady improvement. All in all, Clemson only has to avoid beating themselves.
It seems like Notre Dame ends up in the playoff conversation every year, shortly before crashing out of the rankings or being placed into a random bowl game. Sporting the most impressive record against ranked opponents, they have soundly defeated Michigan (ranked #5) and Stanford (ranked #24). Their most difficult game left on their schedule will be Syracuse, a team that nearly pulled off a win against Clemson on Sept. 29. Notre Dame is currently in an excellent position, needing only to keep a handle on the rest of their schedule and root for teams that they’ve defeated to do well to maintain their strength of schedule.
As for the final spot, there are currently several teams that are desperately climbing the rankings in an attempt to reach it. Most find themselves in similar situations. Oklahoma has played well following their loss to Texas, but they have to survive their remaining conference schedule and the Big XII championship game. Michigan is another long shot, due to their loss to Notre Dame and the chance of being spoiled by their remaining schedule. LSU needs to beat Alabama and continue to win in order to be considered. The first playoff rankings will be released soon, and then the real fight begins as teams clamor for the top four.