The College Football Playoff selection committee is releasing their first top 25 rankings on Tuesday, with plenty uncertainty as to who the top four teams in the nation will be.
With the college football season proving that anything can happen, it is almost impossible to figure out who the top four teams in the nation will be come January. This Saturday helped give some clarity for now, but many questions still remain.
The top two teams in the nation come out of the Southeastern Conference (SEC): the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs. Alabama came in as the preseason favorite once again, behind coaching legend Nick Saban’s ferocious defense and the return of offensive stars Jalen Hurts and Bo Scarborough.
Anyone who has played the Tide this year has had a terrible time, beating six of their eight opponents this season by at least a 20-point margin. If the Tide can keep their undefeated record into the SEC championship game, there is a high chance you will see them in the playoff in January. Fans either love Alabama or hate them, but either way it’s important to appreciate the success they have had for the past decade as a staple of college football.
The Georgia Bulldogs have dominated the SEC out of nowhere with many not believing they would have an opportunity to make the playoff. Having an undefeated record as well, the Bulldogs have proved that they are one of the powerhouses in the SEC and the nation behind stellar play from quarterback Jake Fromm, and strong running from star running back Nick Chubb. Georgia has dominated the competition in the SEC and has the best path to the SEC championship game.
With both Alabama and Georgia in different divisions in the SEC, it is almost a lock to say we will see the two powerhouse programs duke it out in the SEC championship game, potentially the game to determine who will be in the college football playoff, and who will fall short.
When I look at the last two spots, it starts to get a little difficult with many teams still holding potential to take those spots. One that has a good chance at being in the top four is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has one of the best resumes to prove to the committee that they belong. Notre Dame’s only loss of the season was a 20-19 nail biter with Georgia, which in the committee’s eyes should not be a bad loss. Notre Dame has beaten three top 25 teams by double digit margins, and still faces two tough teams in Miami and Stanford, to prove that Notre Dame has had the best wins compared to anyone else in the nation. If Notre Dame is not third in the first poll come Tuesday, the committee better have a great excuse ready because this team belongs in the conversation.
The fourth spot is where it gets really tricky. The team I believe to take the spot are the Ohio State Buckeyes after a thrilling victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday. This puts Ohio State back in the conversation as one of the top teams in the Big Ten conference, and shows the growth the team has had since their week two loss to Oklahoma.
Other one loss teams with legitimate shots at taking that fourth spot are the Clemson Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners. Both post strong resumes, with chances to have conference championship wins by the end of the season. Oklahoma plays Oklahoma State this coming Saturday, and a win for either team can show the committee why they belong in the top four.
A dark horse team to watch out for are the Wisconsin Badgers of the Big Ten conference. Posting an undefeated record on the season so far, they have a good chance to have an easy path to finish the season with no losses and a chance to play in the Big Ten championship. The only argument not to include them would be having no wins against teams in the top 25, but having a chance to play in a conference championship could change some minds within the playoff committee.
Expect a lot of change within these four before bowl season hits in December, but most of all enjoy the parody of the great teams college football has to offer this season with many great games still to come.
Chris Deremer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org