There were no real surprises as the second week of the College Football Playoff poll was released this week. Alabama was the expected No. 1, followed by Clemson, Notre Dame, and Michigan. Georgia, Oklahoma, LSU, and Washington State round out the top-8.
Realistically, it is down to an eight horse race to get to the finish line. There is no scenario where I can see Clemson and Alabama missing out, even if they lose a game. Their resume, not only this year but in past years, is simply too strong to ignore. Both teams have top defenses and are explosive on offense. I think a lot of us expect these two to play for a National Championship.
Notre Dame, right now, is the team I see most at risk. The Irish are heavy favorites in their remaining games, but quarterback Ian Book is hurt and won’t play this weekend against Florida State. While the Seminoles have struggled mightily in Willie Taggert’s first season, they have the athletes to match up with the Irish. Notre Dame needs good game management out of the quarterback position to avoid an upset.
Michigan is arguably the most intriguing team of the top-4. The Wolverines employ a suffocating defense that is unmatched in the country. In addition, their offense under Shea Patterson is vastly improved, as evidence by the 42 they put up on Penn State in a dominating performance. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Michigan won it all. If they do so, it will be on the strength of a talented, fast, attacking defense, one that is as good as we have seen in years in college football.
It is hard for me to get on Georgia’s bandwagon. After seeing LSU dominated them, then see ‘Bama hand it on LSU, I am having trouble supporting them. The truth is the Bulldogs are getting better, and they are doing so at the right time. While they need some help, there is no doubt they get in if three or four falters. Plus, they are going to get a shot at the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship game.
Oklahoma is in a precarious position. They have a marquee player in Kyler Murray on one of the most explosive offensive teams in the country. However, defensively they can’t stop anybody. Which, of course, is a total surprise for any Sooner team. They have a 48% chance to win out, but probably a zero chance to make the playoff.
LSU being ranked in the top-6 just shows how deep the SEC bias goes. They have two losses, got beat by 29, and can’t move the football on anyone. They have no shot at improving their position, even if they win out.
The Cougars of Washington State is probably the best argument for expanding the playoff. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to play them right now. They have as explosive and innovative of an offense as you will see in college football, and their defense is vastly underrated. Mike Leach is literally the Mad Scientist of college football, but he has Washington State poised to win an outright Pac-12 title. Don’t expect WSU to get in. They just have too much work to do. The fact that LSU is ranked in front of these guys just shows you we need an expanded format.
Essentially, there are three weeks left in the college football season, then we head to conference championship games. A lot can happen between now and then, but don’t expect many changes. Nobody is going to beat Alabama, Clemson, and Michigan. So, if Notre Dame holds serve, you have your college football playoff already set.