Sooners and Spartans back from the dead
A last minute victory by Michigan State and poor play from Notre Dame have opened the door for long shot playoff contenders. Alabama and Clemson seem to be the two best teams in the country by a wide margin. After that, things get interesting. Iowa is undefeated but does not have the look of a true contender. Michigan State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Florida all have one loss. The field could not be more wide open heading into rivalry week.
Here are our picks for the most likely teams to reach the second annual college football playoffs:
FCS foe Charleston Southern was no match for the well-oiled machine that is the Alabama Crimson Tide. The 56-6 thrashing was a practice run for the Tide who will travel to arch rival Auburn on Saturday and play for a spot in the SEC title game. The Iron Bowl is always an emotionally charged season finale, and Auburn would like nothing more than to spoil their rival’s playoff hopes. A 10-1 Florida team awaits Alabama, if they should reach the SEC title game. The winner of that matchup is a sure bet to be selected for the second annual playoff.
The Tigers cruised to an easy win over Wake Forest last Saturday. Their last contest of the regular season is a home game against floundering in-state rival South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been dead in the water since head coach Steve Spurrier left the team and are huge underdogs against Clemson. An under the radar 10-1 North Carolina team waits for Clemson in the ACC title game. UNC is good, but they have not played the same quality opponents as Clemson and will have a tough time keeping the game competitive.
— ESPN (@espn) November 25, 2015
- Michigan State
The Spartans were underdogs in their visit to Ohio State last week, and that was before it was announced that star quarterback Connor Cook would miss the game. Shilique Calhoun and the rest of the fearsome Michigan State defense buckled down, held Ohio State to 14 points, and escaped Columbus with an improbable victory. If Sparty beats Penn State on Saturday, they will finish the regular season 11-1 and be guaranteed a spot in the Big Ten title game against the undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes. Michigan State has a strong resume with wins over Oregon, Michigan, and Ohio State, and if they win the Big Ten title, they will reach the postseason.
A week five loss to a beleaguered Texas team was supposed to kill Oklahoma’s playoff hopes. Instead, the Sooners have ran the table and after back to back wins over TCU and Baylor, they are in a great position to secure a playoff spot. On Saturday, Oklahoma will travel to 11th ranked Oklahoma State for Bedlam, the annual season ending match up between the in-state rivals. Defeating three straight top 25 teams to end the season would force the selection committee to look at Oklahoma over both the Pac-12 champion and Notre Dame. The Sooners control their own destiny, but they had better be prepared for the hostility and energy that waits for them in Stillwater.
If Michigan State loses Saturday and Ohio beats both Michigan and Iowa, could they sneak back into playoff contention? If both teams end the season 11-1, does Oklahoma or Notre Dame have a better playoff resume? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4