We are at the midway point in this abbreviated college football season and the College Football Playoffs are really not that far away. As of this week, there are several teams remaining that are unbeaten and that includes perennial powers Clemson and Alabama. With that scenario, it could be that there will be no one-loss teams to make the playoffs. That remains to be seen. One of the biggest games of the year takes place in South Bend on November 7th when third-ranked Notre Dame hosts top-ranked Clemson. If that game remains close no matter which team wins, the loser may still have a shot at the playoffs because they're both that good.
While Alabama has really struggled stopping anybody from scoring, the Tide has perhaps its best offense ever under Nick Saban.
I'm not sure that will be enough to win a national title, however. Ohio State is also very good, but since the Big Ten joined the COVID party so late, it may not be fair to include the Buckeyes if they finish unbeaten. Oklahoma State is also sporting an unblemished record and, other than Oklahoma in the past few seasons, Big 12 teams have not been taken seriously.
Then there is Michigan. The chances of the Wolverines finishing unscathed is slim because they have a tough schedule ahead including a date with Ohio State late in the year. If the winner of that game finishes unbeaten, they at least have a shot at making the playoffs. In the Pac-Ten only Oregon has any shot and right now the Ducks are 0-0 and still waiting for their initial game of the year. Welcome to COVID reality.
With all that said, here is a look at my much-too-early playoff predictions and let me preface it by saying I do not envy the playoff selection committee at all.
1. Clemson - The Tigers offense and defense are both ranked in the top five nationally in efficiency which proves just how good they are. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the leading Heisman Trophy Candidate along with his running back Travis Ettiene. If the Tigers beat Notre Dame they may not lose again.
2. Alabama - The Crimson Tide's offense, like Clemson's, is averaging 50 points per game, but 'Bama's defense is having trouble stopping folks. Even Ole Miss scored at will against the Tide. But, if they finish unbeaten, they'll be in the playoffs.
3. Ohio State - The Buckeyes have to be unbeaten to make the playoffs in my humble opinion. After all, an eight game schedule when teams from the SEC and ACC are playing 10 games, puts Big Ten teams at a disadvantage. Of course, the Buckeyes have to get past Penn State this weekend.
4. Wisconsin, Notre Dame, BYU or take your pick. This is where it gets really dicey. Of course, we're still a month away from the first playoff poll of the year from the selection committee. Stay tuned. It's going to get really interesting.
Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org