As the college football season winds down, the playoff race heats up for the teams that are still in the mix. My rankings include 4 teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, leaving out Iowa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, and more...for now.
Clemson surpassed Ohio St. for the top spot in the latest college football rankings following a 23-13 defeat of the now #17 Florida St Seminoles. The ACC Atlantic Division Champions impressed me with their resilience, coming back from a 10-6 deficit at the half. Their defense continues to be stifling, holding opponents to a national-best 260.8 yards per game, and they continue to get production from DaShaun Watson, who has thrown for 2,233 yards and 21 TD's this season. A balanced offense and defense, paired with upcoming games against Syracuse (3-6), Wake Forest (3-6), and South Carolina (3-6), I don't see Clemson having any trouble securing the #1 seed come playoff time.
The #2 Crimson Tide are the only newcomers to my list from a few weeks ago, and it sure looks as if they're here to stay. They took care of then #9 LSU 30-16 on Saturday night, with the defense holding Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette to a minuscule 31 yards on 19 carries! On the other hand, Alabama tailback Derrick Henry had a monster performance, rushing for 210 yards and 3 TD's and completely out-shining Fournette in a week where Henry flew well under the radar. A strong ground game complimented by a stout defensive line should bring the Tide to Atlanta for the SEC Championship and then the playoff. The only way I see them being stopped along the way is by a loss to a struggling Auburn who will undoubtedly come to play for the Iron Bowl.
Baylor escaped a close one with a 31-24 victory over Kansas St this past Thursday. Despite what many thought leading up to the game, the offense didn't skip a beat in Jarred Stidham's first start, with Stidham throwing for 419 yards and 3 TD's, two of which were caught by star receiver Corey Coleman. Coleman has been a huge contributor for an offense that leads the nation in both yards per game (665.6) and points per game (57.4). If anything slows down this high-octane Baylor team, it'll be the defense, which ranks 62nd in the country in rushing yards allowed per game (164.6) and 63rd in passing yards per game (223.8).
4. Ohio St
The only reason the Buckeyes are still in my top 4 is their 22-game win streak and the fact that they're undefeated. I'm almost positive that they'll lose to #14 Michigan St and #15 Michigan, who ranks second in total defense for the nation and is allowing only 240 yards per game. The lack of leadership from the quarterback position concerns me, and with JT Barrett's character being questioned due to his recent DUI and one-game suspension and Cardale Jones's shaky on-field play, Ohio St could be bumped out of my Top 4 within 2 weeks.
How it will go:
#1 Clemson d. #4 Ohio St, 35-21
#2 Alabama d. #3 Baylor, 28-23
#2 Alabama d. #1 Clemson, 38-35
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