Predicting the College Football Playoff 1/3 of the Season Through

Asher Hyre, Sports Journalist

First, let’s look at every real playoff contender:

Clemson: This one is easy. Clemson does not play another Top 25 team for the rest of the season, with their toughest game being either at North Carolina this Saturday, or at South Carolina on November 30th. The weak ACC almost guarantees them a playoff spot, and with arguably the best running back in all of FBS in Travis Etienne, two of the best receivers with Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, and stars littered all over on the defensive side of things, Clemson is poised for yet another title run. The only rough spot for the Tigers so far this season is quarterback and Heisman contender, Trevor Lawrence. He has struggled thus far with ball security, already throwing five interceptions through four games. I expect this to improve though, as he only threw four interceptions all of last year as a true freshman. If Lawrence can look like his freshman self, Clemson is the clear favorite to repeat.


Alabama: The Crimson Tide have made the playoff every year, and it’s not looking like that will change this year. Bama’s defense is concerning though, with a slew of players out with injuries, including their two middle linebackers in Joshua McMillon and Dylan Moses. These injuries, along with having to beat LSU, Auburn on the road, and most likely Georgia in the SEC Championship could halt the Tide’s playoff streak, but I believe Alabama is too high-powered on the offensive end. Heisman favorite, Tua Tagovailoa has been outstanding this year, throwing for 17 touchdowns along with zero picks. They have the best receiver in the FBS in Jerry Jeudy, who reminds people of Julio Jones, and have speed there too with Henry Ruggs III and Jaylen Waddle. Najee Harris is turning into the running back everyone thought he would be, totaling four touchdowns and 370 scrimmage yards.


Ohio State: Ohio State has not made the playoff since getting trounced by Clemson 31-0 in 2016, but transfer quarterback Justin Fields, and potential No. 1 overall pick, defensive end Chase Young, has his team eyeing the playoff once again. The Buckeyes are the only team in the FBS to be top 3 in scoring offense, putting up 53.5 PPG, and scoring defense, only allowing 9.0 PPG. Fields has broken numerous school records already, and also became the first quarterback in 20 years to account for six touchdowns in one quarter, last Saturday. JK Dobbins had made himself the clear No. 4 best running back in college, behind Etienne, Georgia’s Deandre Swift, and Wisconsin’s Johnathon Taylor, having 519 scrimmage yards and six total touchdowns through four games. Ohio State’s defense has been dominant, led by potential NFL first rounders Young and corner Jeffrey Okudah. The one concerting thing for the Buckeyes is that they have not played tough competition as of now, with FIU, Cincinnati, Indiana, and Miami (OH). They’re schedule heats up with a primetime game at Nebraska tomorrow, and games against No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 12 Penn State, and of course No. 20 Michigan.


Oklahoma: The Sooners have been to the playoff three times, and with Texas as their only “real” competition for the Big 12 title, they will look for their first taste of success in the playoff once again. OU has had the last two Heisman trophy winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, respectively, and new Alabama transfer QB Jalen Hurts could make it a three-peat. Hurts has completed 80% of his passes so far, and already has 1,273 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns in total. Oklahoma has stars at the wide receiver position, with CeeDee Lamb and Charleston Rambo leading them in receiving yards. Always, the concern for OU is their defense, but with every Big 12 team subpar on the defensive side of the ball, that shouldn’t hinder their playoff hopes.


LSU, Auburn, and Georgia: These two teams have the firepower to make the playoff, but with Alabama looming over them in the SEC, their hopes to make it are low. LSU’s schedule is extremely tough with games against Florida, Auburn, and Alabama, and unless they can win two of those games AND the SEC Championship, they will not make it. Auburn is 7th in the rankings right now after beating Oregon in the first game of the season, but I’m not taking my chances on true freshman quarterback Bo Nix to beat at least three of Florida, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama. As we all know, the CFP has not and most likely will not put a two-loss team in the playoff. Georgia has already defeated Notre Dame in an ugly game last Saturday, but again Alabama stands in their way.


Honorable mentions: Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Texas: Wisconsin’s defense is extremely tough, and last week won in impressive fashion against Michigan, but unless but less they can pull off an upset at Ohio State, or win the Big Ten without having two losses, they could find their way in. The CFP loves Notre Dame for some reason, this is the only reason they could find their way in. Texas has lost to LSU already, but they are very capable at beating Oklahoma in the regular season and the Big 12 championship.


My CFP predictions:

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Ohio State
  4. Oklahoma