We are six weeks into the college football season and it has already been year filled with surprises. Texas is back, Auburn and Michigan State has disappointed, and the two starting quarterbacks from the national championship last year have been benched. The 2018 season will be filled with plenty of great games down the stretch run. There is still a lot to happen this year, but here are my college football playoff picks midway through the season.
Win and your in
1. Alabama- Coming off yet another national championship, it seems imminent that Alabama will soon return to the playoff for the fifth straight year. Alabama has dominated everyone in their path this year lead by sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa is also the consensus leader for the Heisman trophy as he has thrown just 25 incompletions, and has thrown for 18 touchdowns with no interceptions. Although Alabama has yet to face a true threat, they have challenging games against LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn coming up. Alabama’s offense and defense have been up to par the first six weeks, as they appear to be the team to beat early on.
2. Ohio State- Ohio State comes in at number two having played one of the toughest schedules in college football so far. They beat a tough TCU team in Dallas on a neutral field, and also took down Penn State in happy valley, one of the toughest environments to play in. They are lead by a Heisman candidate quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and have one of the most prolific offenses in college football. However, their defense has struggled all year at preventing big plays. Even Oregon State has gashed OSU’s defense for huge gains. Ohio State is also missing their top defensive player, Nick Bosa, until early November, but the hardest stretch of their schedule is over. As long as OSU can defeat their rival Michigan for the seventh straight time look for Ohio State to make a return to the playoffs.
3. Notre Dame- Notre Dame has really impressed to start the 2018 season. Sitting at 6-0, half of their wins have came against ranked opponents. The return of Dexter Williams has really sparked the Notre Dame offense the last two weeks, rushing for 339 yards and four touchdowns in just two games. Another huge move for Notre Dame was when they benched Brandon Wimbush for Ian Book. Book has taken this team to the next level, completing 73% of his passes for 887 yards and 9 touchdowns to just one interception. Notre Dame has an extremely favorable schedule ahead of them, as long as they avoid a slip up, they could find their way into the playoff.
4. Clemson- As unimpressive as Clemson has looked at times, I still have them making the playoff because of their extremely weak schedule. They have not played a ranked team yet, and are scheduled to just face one all season. If they can beat NC State this week, the Tigers can easily finish this season 12-0. Benching Kelly Bryant in favor of Trevor Lawrence was a strong move by Dabo Swinney. This move will pay off as long as Trevor can stay healthy. He suffered an injury during the first half of the Syracuse game, but returned the following week. Although Clemson has struggled to put it all together this year I believe they will still make the playoffs lead by a great coach, Dabo Swinney, and a strong defense.
Just on the outside
5. Georgia- Georgia currently sits at 6-0 and ranked number two in the country; however, they have one of the toughest remaining schedules. They still have to play at LSU and Kentucky, and verse Florida and Auburn. This does not even include their potential matchup against Alabama in the SEC championship game. I just see too many losses on their schedule for Georgia to return to the playoff.
6. Washington– If the Pac-12 does not want to be left out of the playoff yet again, Washington is their only hope. They suffered an early loss to Auburn, but will have enough big games to get themselves back in the conversation. Their toughest remaining game will be played this weekend in Eugene against Oregon. Even if Washington finishes as a one loss conference champion, they still might need help to find their way into the playoff.
7. West Virginia– Currently undefeated, West Virginia still controls their own destiny. Lead by their potent offense and Heisman candidate Will Grier, they can score with anybody. They have huge games at Texas and against Oklahoma remaining, if they remain undefeated and win the Big 12 they could very well be in the playoff.
Might need some help
8. Penn State- Penn state will be routing for chaos down the stretch as they will likely not have a shot to win their conference. But, if they can finish 11-1 with their only loss coming to Ohio State, who knows?
9. Texas– Texas just came off their biggest win in a long time, defeating Oklahoma in a shootout. However, I am not quite sold on this Texas team yet and the Big 12 in general. Unless they prove otherwise, I doubt Texas will be making the playoffs.
10. Michigan- Michigan has turned it around since their opening week loss to Notre Dame, which turned out to not look so bad. They have several challenging games left and can still prove themselves to be playoff worthy down the stretch. If Harbaugh can win his first Big 10 title, Michigan still has a chance at making the playoff.
11. UCF- Dating back to last season, UCF has won 18 games in a row. Unfortunately, it is still a long shot that the committee would insert a non-power five team into the playoff, but with a little help they could possibly make a run
12. Oklahoma- Oklahoma’s defense looked extremely unimpressive last Saturday as they continually allowed Texas to march up and down the field. Even if they find a way to win the conference, Oklahoma might still need help to make the playoff.
Could still make it, but it’s doubtful
18. Miami (FL)
20. NC State