2017 CFB Predictions: The Playoffs
Posted By:Jeremy Timmerman - Macon, GA Tags:
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So now that I've predicted the five major conferences, I've got it down to six contenders.
Yes, that's right. Five major conferences, five champions, and only one loose end coming in the form of Louisville. I have the Cardinals finishing the regular season at 11-1 with their only loss coming to Florida State, which would keep them out of the ACC Championship Game. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they also have an fairly weak schedule this year, and without a conference championship, they're the easiest contender to eliminate.
That leaves us with the five champions: Florida State (13-0), Oklahoma State (12-1), Michigan (12-1), USC (12-1) and Alabama (12-1). Obviously, it's easy to go ahead and put Florida State in the playoffs. Not only are they an undefeated major conference champion, but after starting the season ranked No. 3, the Seminoles would have wins over Louisville, Clemson, Bama, Florida and Miami, all of whom could easily be in the top 10 or 15 at season's end.
So now we're down to three spots and four one-loss conference champions, and it's pretty clear which one will have an edge to get in: Alabama. The Crimson Tide are the only team to be in all three playoff fields so far, and their resume would be great again this season. They won't fall far with a close loss to FSU in Week 1, so I'd expect they get in at No. 2.
The next most likely of these champions to get in the playoff is Southern Cal, mainly due to preseason rankings and scheduling. The Trojans start the season No. 4, and their loss in my projections comes to ranked Washington State relatively early in the season. When USC caps off their season with a win over fellow top 10 team Washington in the Pac-12 title game, it likely locks up a playoff slot.
So who gets that last spot in the field: Michigan or Oklahoma State? The resumes are similar in many ways. Oklahoma State begins the season ranked No. 10, one spot ahead of Michigan at 11. The two teams' losses come in the same week in my projections, and neither is a bad loss, with Michigan falling to Penn State and Oklahoma State losing to Texas. Both teams have a handful of quality wins, and where Michigan has an advantage in its non-conference schedule, Oklahoma State would have the edge of avenging that loss to Texas by winning in the Big 12 title game.
My choice in this situation would be Oklahoma State because I am more impressed by their slate of conference wins - Texas (in a rematch), West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas State. Plus, I think the Cowboys will have a better chance of competing in the playoffs. But that's not my prediction of who will get the slot. I think the playoff committee would absolutely side with Michigan, citing a stronger non-conference slate, but in reality it'll be about the big-name program.
So that's my Final Four:
And now we watch how it really plays out.
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