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10 teams most likely to reach the College Football Playoff

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  By Grey Papke  |  Last updated 8/27/18

The college football season is upon us, and expectations vary per team. Only a select few programs have a realistic shot of reaching the College Football Playoff. For some schools, it will be a disappointing season if they don’t achieve that goal.

There are a dozen or so teams that will really believe they have the team and the favorable climate they need to challenge for the playoff, but only four teams can actually make it in. Here are ten that will have the best chance of doing just that.

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

10) Michigan

With three full offseasons of recruiting under his belt, Jim Harbaugh should finally have the team he needs to contend for the playoffs. Shea Patterson, the newly minted starting quarterback, looks set to be the final piece of that puzzle. The Wolverines are deep everywhere and boast one of the nation’s best defensive players in Rashan Gary. They do have to face Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State on the road, but if they come through that with one loss and a Big Ten title, they should have the resume to qualify. There is also little doubt that the pressure is on Harbaugh to turn it around.

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

9) Auburn

Auburn certainly could have been in the playoff last year, but the Tigers failed to defeat Georgia for a second time and ultimately lost to UCF in the Peach Bowl. A repeat performance may be tougher in 2018 but still doable. Jarrett Stidham is an excellent quarterback, Ryan Davis is a great target for him to throw to and they should boast one of the country’s better defenses. On paper, they have all the weapons. They might just have to win the Iron Bowl away from home this season, though, which won’t be easy.

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

8) Penn State

The Nittany Lions will suffer after the loss of Saquon Barkley, because it’s impossible for them not to. On paper, this is not one of the country’s four best teams, but they do have one of the better quarterbacks in Trace McSorley. There is one major factor working in their favor: the schedule. Three of Penn State’s four toughest opponents — Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin — will have to visit Happy Valley, with the Nittany Lions needing to weather a trip to Ann Arbor against Michigan. That favorable schedule could have them firmly in the conversation at season’s end.

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Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

7) Oklahoma

Kyler Murray should take up Baker Mayfield’s mantle at quarterback, making the Sooners prohibitive Big 12 favorites. The defense will need to improve and the offense can’t drop off too far, but both of those are very plausible outcomes. Oklahoma is still heavy on talent and the early favorite in a power conference. That’s enough to make you a playoff contender. The Sooners will have to face TCU and West Virginia on the road, but if they win both, an unbeaten regular season is a real possibility.

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

6) Miami

The Hurricanes must settle the quarterback situation one way or another, be it Malik Rosier, N’Kosi Perry or maybe even Jarren Williams. If that happens, the rest of the offense is good enough and the defense stout enough to make them contenders. Their ACC schedule is fairly forgiving, and there’s no reason to believe that they won’t be favored to make the title game out of the ACC Coastal, likely against Clemson. That could well be a playoff to get into the playoff. An early test against LSU should say a lot about where they are.

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

5) Washington

The Huskies could have made the playoff last year, but an inexplicable loss to Arizona State hamstrung them before they could really get close. Avoid strange slip-ups like that and the Huskies are a prohibitive Pac-12 favorite. Jake Browning is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, and under Chris Petersen they’ve been pretty strong defensively, which should continue in 2018. They’ll have an early chance to prove their credentials with a home test against Auburn, but the rest of their schedule is certainly beatable given their talent level. If enough SEC teams slip up, they’ll like their chances.

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

4) Georgia

The other favorite out of the SEC, the Bulldogs certainly beat expectations in 2017. Nobody will be overlooking them this year. Jake Fromm has an exceptional group of receivers to throw to, led by senior Terry Godwin. The defense might not be quite as good as it was last year but still good enough to keep them in any game. If they can beat Auburn at home on Nov. 10 and avoid any other shocks elsewhere, an Alabama-Georgia SEC title game looks inevitable.

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

3) Ohio State

Off-field turmoil in the program is the wild-card here, but Urban Meyer is looking likely to both keep his job and coach the bulk of the season, rightly or wrongly. Meyer has always recruited well, and this year’s roster is loaded with top players. There will be an adjustment process under new quarterback Dwayne Haskins and a young defense, but the offense is deep and experienced and the roster is loaded with talent. They have to trek to Penn State and Michigan State and play TCU in Dallas, but they’re so good it might not make any difference.

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Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

2) Clemson

Dabo Swinney has turned this program into a machine, and the Tigers look like the class of the ACC once again. There is a real chance that they will have the best defense in the nation, certainly on a defensive line that features three top-tier players in Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell. Kelly Bryant is not quite as elite of a quarterback as they might like, but highly touted freshman Trevor Lawrence is waiting if he slips up. If anyone in the ACC Atlantic beats Clemson this year, it will be an upset. A fourth consecutive CFP appearance is well within reach.

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

1) Alabama

This actually won’t be Nick Saban’s best Alabama team ever, but it still has the potential to be plenty good enough to win a national title, such are the standards he’s set. The Crimson Tide remain outstanding in the trenches and at the skill positions, though the secondary will be rebuilding on the fly. Tua Tagovailoa looks like the front-runner to win the quarterback job and will be challenged over a full season, but he will have plenty of weapons. They will be tested by Georgia and Auburn in the SEC, but they should still be favored in every game they play, and they’re still coached by Nick Saban. As the Bulldogs found out last year, knocking the Crimson Tide off their perch is a very tall order indeed.

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Best odds to win the 2019 College Football Playoff

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QUIZ: Name every college football national champion since 1950

Updated April 25, 2018  |  Total tries: 2114  |  Average Score: 74.4 out of 86  (87%)   

Since 1950, there have been 85 consensus college football national champions. How many can you name in eight minutes? 

Good luck!

CLUE: YEAR

Score:
0/86

Time:
8:00

2017

 

Alabama

2016

 

Clemson

2015

 

Alabama

2014

 

Ohio State

2013

 

Florida State

2012

 

Alabama

2011

 

Alabama

2010

 

Auburn

2009

 

Alabama

2008

 

Florida

2007

 

LSU

2006

 

Florida

2005

 

Texas

2004*

*vacated

USC

2003

 

USC

2003

 

LSU

2002

 

Ohio State

2001

 

Miami

2000

 

Oklahoma

1999

 

Florida State

1998

 

Tennessee

1997

 

Nebraska

1997

 

Michigan

1996

 

Florida

1995

 

Nebraska

1994

 

Nebraska

1993

 

Florida State

1992

 

Alabama

1991

 

Washington

1991

 

Miami

1990

 

Georgia Tech

1990

 

Colorado

1989

 

Miami

1988

 

Notre Dame

1987

 

Miami

1986

 

Penn State

1985

 

Oklahoma

1984

 

BYU

1983

 

Miami

1982

 

Penn State

1981

 

Clemson

1980

 

Georgia

1979

 

Alabama

1978

 

USC

1978

 

Alabama

1977

 

Notre Dame

1976

 

Pittsburgh

1975

 

Oklahoma

1974

 

USC

1974

 

Oklahoma

1973

 

Notre Dame

1973

 

Alabama

1972

 

USC

1971

 

Nebraska

1970

 

Texas

1970

 

Ohio State

1970

 

Nebraska

1969

 

Texas

1968

 

Ohio State

1967

 

USC

1966

 

Notre Dame

1966

 

Michigan State

1965

 

Michigan State

1965

 

Alabama

1964

 

Notre Dame

1964

 

Arkansas

1964

 

Alabama

1963

 

Texas

1962

 

USC

1961

 

Ohio State

1961

 

Alabama

1960

 

Ole Miss

1960

 

Minnesota

1959

 

Syracuse

1958

 

LSU

1958

 

Iowa

1957

 

Ohio State

1957

 

Auburn

1956

 

Oklahoma

1955

 

Oklahoma

1954

 

UCLA

1954

 

Ohio State

1953

 

Maryland

1952

 

Michigan State

1951

 

Tennessee

1950

 

Oklahoma

0
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Tuesday, 11 December 2018