With this college football season approaching rapidly, it’s time to begin to think about what teams will be playoff contenders. As many know, the Big Ten and Pac-12 canceled their seasons about a month ago due to coronavirus concerns. With those two conferences out of the picture, a couple of playoff spots will likely open up to different teams that have not been in the playoffs over the past few seasons. The most impactful teams that were eliminated as their conferences canceled their seasons were Oregon, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Four of those five teams were on a list of the 8 teams most likely to make the playoffs this season. Ohio State had a 63.8% chance, Wisconsin had a 33.5% chance, Penn State had a 23.2% chance, and Oregon had a 22.4% chance. The four other teams that made up the list of eight were Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU. Those four teams have been very consistent playoff contenders over the past few seasons and are likely to see their playoff chances shoot up this coming season. With those four teams now locked in as the most likely playoff teams, it’s time to pick out a couple of ” edge of the line” teams. There are many teams that could be considered for the 2 edge of the line spots. Four teams that could be recognized as suitors for those spots are Florida, Notre Dame, Auburn, and Oklahoma. Based solely on preseason predictions, the two teams that are most likely to fill those spots are the Florida Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners.
To begin the discussion, we will focus on the number one most likely playoff team, the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers have not only made the national championship for the last 2 seasons but have also made the playoffs for the last 5 years. The Tigers will look to keep their streak going this season and should not have any problem in doing so with the many factors that will likely contribute to their success. Since the Big Ten and Pac-12 are no longer playing this season, many teams that would normally be tough teams to outplay are no longer a concern. On top of the lack of competition, the Tigers have last year’s Heisman candidate, Trevor Lawrence returning to play his sophomore year while also seeking out the AFCA National Championship trophy. To top all of that off, the Tigers have the third easiest schedule in the ACC. All in all, it would not be surprising to see the Tigers go undefeated this season and appear in the National Championship.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The second team that is thought to be a serious playoff contender this season is Alabama Crimson Tide. Similar to the Clemson Tigers, Alabama has been very consistent as far as making the playoffs. Alabama has managed to make the playoffs in five of their past six seasons while winning the championship twice. Although Alabama is listed as one of the top teams to make the playoffs this season, they will have a little bit more trouble than recognized, considering that they lost their star quarterback, Tua Tugavialoa to the Miami Dolphins. Despite the loss of Tagovailoa being a big hit to their offense, Alabama has the second-best high school QB in the nation, Bryce Young looking to make history this upcoming season. With all things considered, the Alabama Crimson Tide can be considered one of the most feared teams this season and they are likely to be a contender right up there with Clemson.
Georgia Bulldogs & LSU Tigers
As we enter the final two playoff spots, we will take a look at the Georgia Bulldogs and the LSU Tigers. Both of these teams could arguably be named the best team in the SEC as they both have displayed greatness over the past few seasons. For starters, the Georgia Bulldogs, although talented, have been known to come up just short of the playoffs over and over again. The Bulldogs have only made the playoffs once in the last six seasons and ended up losing in a brutal OT game against Alabama with the national championship title on the line. Despite losing both their number 1 QB and running back to the NFL, the Bulldogs will look to make the playoffs this season. As mentioned before, both the Big Ten and Pac-12 will not be playing this season which should significantly help teams such as Georgia. With a similar problem to the Bulldogs, the LSU Tigers will have to fight to get into the playoffs this year while lacking former Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow, both their top running back and top receiver, and a ton of defensive talent. With all of these key pieces to last year’s National Championship team now in the NFL, it may be questioned why LSU is even considered one of the top teams to make the playoffs. To begin with, you can never doubt a former championship team as well as their extremely knowledgeable coach. Although the Tigers lost a good bit of talent over the offseason, they still have many talented players as well as an abundance of top-ranked prospects. Knowing LSU’s head coach Ed Orgeron’s ability to develop prospects into Stars, the LSU Tiger should have no problem comparing this coming season to last year’s impressive season. In conclusion, both the Georgia Bulldogs and LSU Tigers are extremely talented teams who could allow for the SEC alone, to have three teams in the playoffs this coming season.
The first “edge of the line” team that could find themselves in the playoffs this season are the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners are a very proven team, as they have made the playoffs in the last 3 Seasons. The Sooners did lose a lot of talent over the offseason, but that should not impact their playoff chances too much considering that they still made the playoffs last season after losing Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray to the NFL in 2018. Something that could very well benefit the Sooners playoff chances is the fact that they have the 4th easiest schedule in the Big 12. With only one top 15 ranked opponent slated on their schedule, the Sooners will likely breeze through this season and find themselves to be fighting for a playoff spot with a few other teams.
The final team that can be considered for a college football playoff spot is the Florida Gators. The Gators have a very talented group of players as well as a top coach in Dan Mullen. The Gators have lost minimal talent over the offseason and have the easiest schedule in the SEC. Despite sharing the SEC with three of the top teams in college football, the Gators will look to compete this season at a whole new level, allowing them to make the college football playoffs for the first time since they were created in 2014. The Gators have a potential Star Quarterback in Kyle Trask, who showed specks of greatness last season while filling in for injured quarterback, Feleipe Franks. The outcome of the Florida Gators season could be great, but only time will tell. To sum things up, the Florida Gators are an extremely gifted team that could compete in the college football playoffs this season if they bring their best game to the field.
With all of the most likely playoff teams being laid out, it’s time to recap on who is destined for greatness this season. The six teams that will look to contend for the national championship title this season are the Clemson Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, the Georgia Bulldogs, the LSU Tigers, the Oklahoma Sooners, and the Florida Gators. All 6 teams have the potential to be great this season based on incoming talent, the strength of their schedules, and the level of their coaching. As the college football season will begin in less than a week, these teams will prepare to play their best football and fight it out for four extremely respected spots in the college football playoffs. With that in mind, the only question that remains is, “Who will prove themselves this season?”. I guess all that can be said to that is, history will show…