NCAA Playoff Outlook
The NCAA college football season just completed week 7. We are now far enough into the season to have a clear picture of who is in the hunt for the playoffs and who isn’t. Remember, just the top 4 ranked teams in the NCAA make the playoffs every year. Some experts could argue that any team in the top 20 or 25 has a legitimate shot at the tournament. While this is true, there are certainly teams that have a much better shot than others. Obviously, teams that are currently undefeated have the best chance.
It is important to understand that teams that are in one of the power conferences have the best shot at making the playoffs if they are undefeated. The highest rated conference in the NCAA is the SEC, and its best team is the University of Alabama. They have been walking all over teams lately and are currently the clear cut favorite for the NCAA championship. Barring any disaster, they should make it to the playoffs.
The same goes for Ohio State, Michigan, and Clemson. These three teams also control their destiny when it comes to the FBS playoffs. Ohio State and Michigan face off during the last week of the season. That game will essentially be a playoff game for both teams in their quest for a title. Other undefeated teams not ranked in the top 3 are Washington, Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Baylor. There is enough time left in the season for some of these teams to face off and had others a season-ending loss.
Thanks to the advent of the NCAA playoffs, a regular season loss isn’t the death knell that it used to be for many’s teams seasons. The strongest one-loss team so far is Louisville. Their only loss came at the hands of an undefeated division rival, Clemson. If they win out, they could face the Tigers in the conference championship for a shot at the playoffs. The University of Houston’s football program has come on strong the last couple of seasons. They also only have one loss and could be a dark horse candidate for the playoffs.
Dark Horse Candidates
Some schools that play in smaller conferences have an outside shot at making the top 4. Boise State seems to be undefeated every year but is hampered by their weaker conference schedule. If enough teams lose and they remain undefeated they could make it in, though. Their strong reputation from past seasons should help them. Big 12 mainstay Oklahoma has a couple of losses but plays a tough enough schedule that they could get in if enough things go their way.
Honestly, there are still too many undefeated teams this early in the season to have a clear cut picture of the playoff outlook. Obviously, any team that is ranked in the top 4 right now that wins out will get an invite. Anyone who has watched a lot of college football over the last few years understands that this is unlikely. The unpredictability of college football is what makes it so exciting. Let’s just sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of this NCAA football season.