As college football moved on to week eight yesterday, the season is officially at its midway point. This season has been filled with twists and turns that no one expected at the beginning of the year. Whether it is upsets, teams that have performed better than expected or teams that have not lived up to expectations, this college football season has been unpredictable. I expect the rest of the 2015 season to be just as unpredictable.
The Associated Press (AP) top five currently includes Ohio State, Baylor, Utah, TCU and LSU. Although the rankings say that these teams have been the best in 2015, I expect the top five to fluctuate as the season is at its midway point.
Ohio State is currently the number one team in the nation, according to the AP poll, but I have my doubts about the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes are currently 7-0, but they have survived scares against weak opponents such as Northern Illinois and Indiana. I don’t see Ohio State advancing to the College Football Playoff this season, as they still have not played the Michigan schools.
Michigan State has just as good of a chance, or better, to make the College Football Playoff as Ohio State. The Spartans have not been impressive this season, as they have had many scares against weak teams such as Purdue and Rutgers, but they did play well last Saturday. They defeated a solid Michigan team on the road on a game-winning touchdown.
The Big 12 is interesting right now, as there are two teams from the conference in the AP top five: Baylor and TCU. The Bears and Horned Frogs will play against each other on Nov. 27. The game will be played at TCU in Fort Worth, which should give TCU an advantage. The winner of this game will likely go to the College Football Playoff, unless a team like Oklahoma or Oklahoma State defeats them, which would make it hard for a Big 12 team to make the College Football Playoff.
The SEC, which is well regarded as the best conference in college football, still has a few teams fighting for a playoff spot. Although the SEC is likely the best conference, there is a chance that the SEC could not qualify for the College Football Playoff. The main two teams in playoff contention in the SEC are Alabama and LSU. LSU is ranked fifth in the nation in the AP poll, as they are undefeated and a surprise team this season. The Tigers had an impressive win on Saturday, when they defeated SEC East leader Florida 35-28.
Another team in the SEC looking to qualify for the College Football Playoff is Alabama. The Crimson Tide suffered an early season loss to Ole Miss, but have been lights out ever since. The Tide have defeated solid opponents Georgia and Texas A&M by wide margins. The playoff team from the SEC will likely be determined by the LSU vs. Alabama game on Nov. 7. I think the Tide will escape with a win because LSU is a good matchup for Alabama, as Alabama’s defensive strength is stopping the run, which LSU is very good at. LSU running back Leonard Fournette is the Heisman front runner, but I think the Tide run defense will neutralize his production. If the Tide end up winning the game, SEC doomsday could occur, but the Big Ten will likely beat themselves up, which would result in an SEC team squeaking in the playoff.
Other playoff contenders include Utah and Clemson, who have performed surprisingly well this season. Although Utah is ranked third in the AP poll, they have played the best this season, as they have defeated tough opponents such as Michigan, Oregon, California and Arizona State. Quarterback Travis Wilson and running back Devontae Booker are both Heisman contenders for the Utes, as they have both had great seasons. While Utah still does have to play tough opponents such as USC and UCLA, I think there is a fair chance that the Utes win out.
Clemson is another team that has exceeded expectations this season, as they were seen as overrated going into the season. The Tigers have outlasted tough opponents such as Louisville and Notre Dame to prove their legitimacy. There is a very good chance that Clemson wins the remainder of their games because they play an easy schedule. The only remaining test for the Tigers is the game against fellow undefeated team Florida State, which could have playoff implications.
College Football Playoff prediction:
Cotton Bowl (Semifinal One):
1. Baylor vs. 4. Alabama
Orange Bowl (Semifinal Two):
2. Utah vs. 3. Clemson