The college football season is still four months away, but Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson are already locks to make the College Football Playoff.
It’s early May and it’s that time of the calendar when spring football would have just wrapped up, spring games would have been held and fans would have had a chance to see their favorite players, coaches inside their favorite football stadium. That didn’t happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s not going to stop us from talking about college football and the season ahead. I’m already locked in with three of the four teams who will make the College Football Playoff.
Wait? How can you already have three locks for the College Football Playoff in early May?
It’s because these three teams are so far and above the next best teams in their conference that they are mortal locks to win their league and make the four-team field. The only suspense will be who the fourth team is that completes the field.
That’s right, the drama is already largely taken out of the upcoming college football season, and hopefully, we have a full and uninterrupted season, and it would be great if fans can be in the stands.
I’m already locking in the Alabama Crimson Tide, Ohio State Buckeyes and Clemson Tigers to make the College Football Playoff. I’ll be shocked if one of these teams doesn’t make the field and if they do miss, it’ll be a result of a number of significant and catastrophic injuries.
As I’m not one who likes to look at the worst-case scenario of things, I’m not going to factor in “what if Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields is out for the season” because that’s negative and there’s too much negativity in the world and in the online space as it is.
So why are Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson locks in May?
The SEC champion has a 93 percent chance, the Big Ten champ has a 91 percent chance and the ACC champion has an 82 percent chance to make the College Football Playoff, according to ESPN’s playoff predictor.
Alabama is the favorite to win the SEC with LSU taking a big step back after losing Joe Burrow and 13 other draft picks from the national champions. Georgia and Florida in the SEC East may make things interesting in the SEC Championship Game, but the Crimson Tide is so much better across the board than whoever emerges out of the SEC East. Regardless if it’s veteran Mac Jones or freshman Bryce Young at quarterback, Alabama is winning the SEC and making the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State is the favorite to win the Big Ten and get back to the College Football Playoff. Michigan isn’t a contender until they show they can beat the rival Buckeyes. Penn State is an intriguing team with some talent and Wisconsin could be the best team in the Big Ten West. That said, I don’t think either is up to the task of slowing Fields and the Buckeyes who may be the preseason No. 1 team.
And then there’s Clemson. We already know the ACC is a one-team league for the moment and no team has a roster and coaching staff that can pull off an upset of the Tigers. There may be some close calls and Clemson can’t sleepwalk through the first half of the season as they did last year. But I feel most confident in Clemson getting back to the playoff than Alabama or Ohio State because of the conference they are in. No one is beating Clemson in the ACC. The only teams that are capable of beating Clemson are either Alabama and Ohio State in a playoff setting.
The most likely playoff is Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Wisconsin, according to the ESPN playoff predictor. That has a five percent chance of that combination realizing their playoff futures.
The Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson triumvirate combinations have a 23 percent chance of making the playoff together. If you’re like me, you’re ready to make a wager that this trio runs the table and gets to the four-team playoff.
As has been the case for most of the playoff era, the race for the No. 4 spot will be where the majority of the drama and the debates come from.
Will it be Oklahoma or Texas out of the Big 12 to earn that spot? How about Oregon out of the Pac-12? Perhaps it’s Wisconsin or Georgia giving the Big Ten or SEC a second team in? Or perhaps an outsider like UCF crashes the party, which would be about a one percent chance of happening.
Are you willing to go as far as I am and lock in Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson in the College Football Playoff? If not, who do you think will be the outliers that knock this powerful threesome out?