Mid-Season College Football Playoff Prediction – Halfway through the season, who are the new playoff teams to watch for?
With about five weeks left in the college football regular season, it is time to start really looking at teams that could potentially make a push for the College Football Playoffs. There are still a good number of teams undefeated, but that doesn’t mean much at this point (in fact, there is the potential of an undefeated team being jumped for a one loss team). With the playoff committee not just looking at record but strength of schedule and performance, there are many factors at play for fans betting on college football.
Probably the easiest way to look at this is by conference, so lets start with the ACC. Basically, for the ACC it is Clemson or bust. The team is undefeated, playing extremely well. However, the ACC is a pretty dismal conference. Clemson does have an excellent out of conference win against Notre Dame, so that is a plus. If Clemson wins out, they will be in. If they finish with one loss, they’re out. It’s as simple as that.
Now, the Pac 12. The Pac 12 doesn’t have a single undefeated team left now that Utah went down. That leaves the conference wide open. The team playing the best right now is Stanford. Outside of one loss to a good Northwestern team on the road, Stanford is probably the best team in the conference. A possible playoff spot is likely going to come down to Utah and Stanford. Utah has a good out of conference win against Michigan (a team that realistically is two plays away from being the top team in the country), so that stands out, but they were completely blown out by a dysfunctional USC team. It comes down to these two teams, but don’t be completely surprised if the Pac 12 is left out.
The SEC is not going to be left out. It’s pretty straightforward. Unless the top team has two losses, they’ll be in it. Alabama is right up there with Stanford as the best 1 loss team and LSU is undefeated, although if they play a good defense that can shut down the run game, LSU is likely in trouble. If either LSU or Alabama wins out, they are likely in.
The Big XII probably needs to look for new management and bring in two more conference teams. Any two. Bring in Houston and Boise State or something. Without a conference championship game, the league is in trouble, because they automatically have one less game than almost everyone else. Baylor and TCU have great offenses, but they are playing elevated high school teams. When it comes to a high flying offense against a top of the line defense, the defense almost always wins. Plus, Baylor is now without their starting QB for the season. If one wins out they will probably be in, but a single loss eliminates the teams.
The Big 10 has three undefeated teams. Let’s face it, Iowa doesn’t have a chance. They could probably go undefeated and be left out. They have played nobody, and even a Big Ten title game win would give them one quality opponent. They play nobody in the top half of the conference. There’s Michigan State at 8-0, and somehow escaping almost every week. You can only play with fire for so long, but if they don’t win this year, they won’t have another shot for a while (to put it into perspective, this is Coach Dantonion’s best MSU team, and they are a fluke better than Michigan’s Harbaugh’s likely worst team). Most likely it will be Ohio State going to the playoffs.