STORY BY CHRISTIAN PHILLIPS
TMN’s Christian Phillips previews his choices for who should make the College Football Playoff, while also breaking down how the teams could fall.
With the first look at the 2018-2019 NCAA Division I College Football Playoff rankings tonight, it’s time to start answering the toughest questions.
Who’s been the best team week in and week out? And who has the best strength of schedule and quality wins against ranked opponents?
Week Nine of the College Football Season was the last look the committee will get before they reveal who is in the top four this evening for their first rankings.
The Alabama Crimson Tide will be the favorites for most of the committee members for the simple fact that they have been putting on a clinic against their opponents. Tua Tagovailoa has transformed the Alabama offense into something more special than Jaylen Hurts could ever do.
The athleticism that Tagovailoa brings is off the charts and it is making defensive coordinators scramble around for solutions. If the Tide can keep their momentum and roll through the rest of the year, there is no doubt in my mind that they won’t be left out, even with one loss.
Alabama takes on LSU this Saturday, which will be Tagovailoa’s first real challenge of the season. LSU is currently ranked number four in the AP and will potentially keep that spot on Tuesday’s rankings.
The big question that hovers over the heads of Alabama critics is what if Alabama loses and LSU wins out? Well, that is pretty simple. LSU will move on to play in the SEC conference championship and their chances of clinching a top-four spot will be greater than Alabama’s.
The only way Alabama could reach the Playoff with that scenario is if chaos ensues with a handful of other teams. But, many individuals still value the Tide greater over teams like Oklahoma and Ohio State, so there is still a chance that even if Oklahoma and Ohio State win out, Alabama will punch their ticket over them.
Win out and they are in:
Oklahoma, Clemson and Notre Dame are automatic locks into the playoffs if they win out.
Oklahoma has a clear shot at making it for the second year in a row.
Last year they suffered a heartbreaking loss against Georgia in double overtime, which capped off Baker Mayfield’s college career. (UGA 54 – OU 48). Kyler Murray has this OU offense flying and the defense is improving after an embarrassing outing versus Texas three weeks ago.
Clemson was stagnant against Alabama in the semifinal game in 2017 with the final result ending in a 24-6 loss for the Tigers, sending Dabo Swinney back to the drawing board. The Clemson faithful are hopeful that their true-freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence can bring another title home.
Notre Dame has no room for error and one loss could have the Fighting Irish on the outside looking in. If they can keep up the offensive efficiency when it comes to running the ball, I see no reason why they shouldn’t be in.
Could a two-loss team make the CFP:
Texas was might have been eliminated from playoff contention with their second loss against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, but I wouldn’t count them out just yet. The Longhorns are in a three-way tie with Oklahoma and West Virginia, but they still hold most of the control with their head to head win over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry.
The Sooners and Longhorns could meet again in the Big 12 conference championship. If the Longhorns win, I would consider them getting in over a one loss Notre Dame because their resume is a lot stronger when it comes to quality wins.
Penn State is a stretch, but they are another potential team with two losses that could reach the College Football Playoff. They have a close loss against Ohio State and Michigan State and both losses came by a combined total of five points. The Nittany Lions have a tough matchup against the Michigan Wolverines this Saturday and a win would be huge for them going forward.
Penn State needs Michigan and Ohio State to suffer one other conference loss to make this possible. These odds aren’t great, but November has been a time where crazy things tend to happen.
Tune into ESPN tonight at 6:00 p.m. central time to find out where the teams and their seedings fall in the first installment of the playoff rankings.
Phillips’ Mock College Football Playoff Top 25
- Notre Dame College football playoff (1-4)
- Georgia Outside looking in (5-6)
- Washington St.
- Ohio St.
- West Virginia
- Penn St.
- Boston College
- Fresno State
- Iowa St.
- Oklahoma St.