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One Of These Eight Teams Will Win The National Championship


In any given year there are a handful of teams, maybe ten total, that have a realistic shot of being able to play for a National Championship in college football. Those ten teams are almost always pulled from a pool of around twenty programs. It takes a lot to go right. It takes several years of recruiting at a high level, it takes veteran leadership at key positions, it takes at least a single unit on a team being able to dominate games (usually the defensive line) and most importantly it takes a favorable schedule. Taking all of that into account, there are Eight teams this season that have a realistic shot at making the playoffs, and winning both games.


The Perennials - Alabama and Clemson. Both Alabama and Clemson are going into this season with some question marks in their lineups. Departures along both teams defensive lines are cause for concern. Clemson’s defense, in fact, looks like it will have some stumbles due to youth and inexperience. While Alabama’s defense has more veteran leadership they do not have a dominating lineman returning and took some losses throughout their defense which should be difficult to replace. Clemson’s schedule is much easier than Alabama’s but Nick Saban and company seem to make it into the playoffs regardless of their record. These two teams are a fairly safe bet to make it to the playoffs this year although I would take the field (from the other teams in this article) if I were a betting man. This could be a two loss season for Alabama so nothing is guaranteed for them.


The Usual Suspects - Georgia and Oklahoma. Georgia has made the last two playoffs and came close to beating Alabama in the finals two seasons ago. Oklahoma seems to keep churning out great seasons for their quarterbacks. Jalen Hurts looks ready to lead the Sooners back to the promised land, where they will likely not have the defense to keep up with the other playoff teams. Georgia has the elite quarterback, offensive skill players, offensive line, and defensive depth to play defeat anyone in the country. They also have a very difficult schedule and a history of coming up short. As good as Georgia is, I’m not sure they’ll be in the playoffs this season. If they do I would expect them to be the most complete team there.


The Great Big Ten Hopes - Michigan and Ohio State. Everyone seems to be jumping on the Harbaugh bandwagon, and his hiring of a more modern offensive coordinator should be celebrated, but Michigan is quite possibly in the right place at the right time. Nebraska is probably still a year or two away from peaking, Penn State is rebuilding and Ohio State just changed coaches and is expected to have a down year. On paper the Wolverines are the best team in the Big Ten and should win the division easily. Things rarely unfold that nicely though and hiccups are expected. Ohio State, on the other hand, has a highly rated freshman transfer at quarterback and zero expectations. This is the kind of situation that a good coach can take advantage of (see Gus Malzahn in 2013.) The Buckeyes have recruited at a high enough level that a new message with some creativity in play calling should catch a lot of their opponents off guard and lead to some victories for the team. I would expect one of these teams to be the 5th team when selection time comes, but if I had to pick one to make the playoffs it would be Ohio State.


The Wildcards - Oregon and Auburn. What’s neat about this tier is that they are week 1 opponents. Should Oregon win they will have accrued the biggest regular season win the Pac-12 has seen since the playoff era began. If Auburn wins they will have a win against the first of six or seven games against top ten teams, including Georgia and Alabama. Oregon will not only need to win this game but likely win the Pac -12 with no more losses. Any loss weakens their chances as a one loss team from the SEC or Big Ten would likely get in over a one loss Pac-12 team. Auburn will need to keep winning games against top ten teams, although the LSU, Florida, and Texas A&M games are not as important. Ending the season with home victories against Georgia and Alabama and a win in the SEC Championship game would get Auburn in the playoffs with two losses, something no other team is likely to accomplish this season. It’s a long shot for Auburn to survive this year but they have recruited very well over the last few seasons, have what should be the best defensive line in the country, and an offensive line with five seniors starting. They also close the season with two winnable games at home. If Auburn is a good enough team to navigate their schedule and make the playoffs then they would be the favorites to win the playoffs in my mind. But they have a long way to go before we worry about that.


 Here are my estimations of each teams chances to make the playoffs and the finals.



Makes Playoffs

Makes Finals
















Ohio State











Just missed the Cut: Texas, LSU, Notre Dame

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