By: Matt Hosler
Since college football is getting to almost the halfway point, I thought it would be a good time to let out my prediction on who makes the playoff this year. While there’s still plenty of football left to be played, I think I have seen enough of the season to finally put out my prediction into who makes it into those four coveted spots come Bowl Season. Yes, there are things that may make me change my mind later in the season, but I think I am likely to stick with these choices. These are in no particular order yet:
Yes, it may seem like an easy choice to make and is not necessarily exciting, but it should be an obvious decision. Alabama has not even had anyone challenge them except themselves. The closest game they have played so far was against #19 (at the time) Ole Miss who has a first round caliber QB in Chad Kelly.
The only other challenger I feel like they have left is #8 Texas A&M. I believe that Alabama will steamroll the luckiest team in NCAA football this year, Tennessee. If the Crimson Tide can avoid a loss to A&M, I think they cruise the rest of their schedule which consists of a no-identity offense in LSU, Mississippi State, Chattanooga (if they lose this game I will pay everyone that reads this $5 each), and Auburn who is not the same as they used to be, but I still expect a close game as usual from the Iron Bowl.
The Tigers are coming for that national championship – I promise you all that. DeShaun Watson is my favorite quarterback this year. I love his game and his desire to win. I truly believe he will be special at the next level and he showed that he always shows up for big games when he put on a great performance against then #3 ranked Louisville. Not just Watson, but I love how this defense can prepare for any situation. They completely shut down the Georgia Tech triple option offense all game and shut down Lamar Jackson for the first half (it is hard to stop an amazing player like that for two halves). They were really able to keep him in the pocket and not let him escape for most the game. This is the type of thing that can win them a championship.
While their schedule still does have a few tests, I am confident in their ability to finish the season undefeated. They play a struggling Florida State, and South Carolina late in the season, but neither should be a problem.
Jim Harbough has completely transformed this program into what it once was. Michigan is back to getting top recruits every year and being a program that is feared throughout all of college football. I truly think this is the year that Ohio State is dethroned as the king of the Big Ten. This is not to say that Ohio State is going to struggle, I just think when it comes down to the battle between these two Titans, the Wolverines will be the ones that prevail. The problem will be trying to stop JT Barrett, but I think Jabrill Peppers and this Michigan defense will be enough to do so.
The rest of their schedule does have Michigan State and Iowa left before the final showdown with Ohio State so if they can roll past these guys, beating Ohio State should be a strong possibility. Either way, a Big Ten team will make the playoff and that final game will be a great coached game.
Last, but not least, I have Washington making the playoff. This last pick was the hardest one for me so far this season. Yes, they are coming off an impressive win against Stanford, but that is not the reason I necessarily chose them. I think they will destroy the rest of their schedule and really it is hard to choose between Houston and Louisville. Houston is currently #6 according to the AP poll after they beat #3 Oklahoma in the first week. While that win was impressive at the time, the longer the season runs, the less impressive it gets as Oklahoma is currently 2-2 and struggling to stay in the top 25. Whereas Louisville just lost for the first time this season and still only has one final challenge left and that is Houston. Really, I think it will come down to these two teams in their final game against each other. One of them will win and move into fifth in the rankings because Washington will have outplayed the rest of their schedule and will take home the Pac-12 title.
The real reason I choose Washington over both Louisville and Houston is because this year will add to the discussion of whether or not to expand the playoff system into 6-8 teams (I think 6 is ideal, one from each conference then basically a wild card, but that is for another column).
(Featured Image:Lloyd, Flickr)