The College Football Playoff is one of the most exciting tournaments in sports. Four teams (and likely more in a few years) clash on the grandest stages in college football for a chance at immortality, winning the National Championship.
Mostly similar faces have dominated the CFP picture since its inception, and there’s a chance the 2021 field is identical to recent seasons. Though nothing is ever guaranteed in college football, a platform of excitement, passion, and healthy surprises.
College Football Playoff contenders on the outside looking in
Besides running into Alabama in Week 4 and Georgia before Halloween, Florida is a potential 10-win team. Plenty of defensive talent will return to carry this team while Emory Jones proves himself under center. Quarterback inconsistencies could drive them down the top 25 and the SEC, but the Gators will hang around.
A light conference schedule will benefit Wisconsin, giving them at least nine-win potential. Notre Dame is a roadblock, though, and Iowa and opening against Penn State are challenges. If the storm is weathered, the Badgers will have a breakthrough.
The Notre Dame game could make or break how far Cincinnati goes in early October. Even if it’s their only loss, it will set them back, but a win at least pushes the Bearcats up and in range of a New Year’s Six Bowl game.
7. Texas A&M
Jimbo Fisher has a quarterback battle to handle, the results of which could determine how far this team goes. This is a talented group, however, and in an always-loaded SEC, Texas A&M will make noise and push to be the conference’s second College Football Playoff team.
6. North Carolina
North Carolina is not without losses on both sides of the ball, including Michael Carter II being selected by the New York Jets. However, it’s possible the Tar Heels start the season as high as 7-0. The schedule is tougher in the second half, but there should be enough momentum to aim towards the top 10, especially with Heisman trophy candidate Sam Howell leading the way. Plus, an overall not-so-imposing ACC should help them.
JT Daniels looked exceptional in four games after coming off a torn ACL at USC. The job is his, but much of this team’s success is on his shoulders, especially to establish passing weapons without George Pickens.
A season opener against Clemson doesn’t work in Georgia’s favor, either. Yet, win or lose, the upside is high because the rest of the schedule doesn’t feature Alabama, Florida, or Texas A&M. The Bulldogs may just stumble early enough to kick themselves out of the race, but the upside is as high as a perfect regular season if they defeat the Tigers on Sept. 4.