Let us start with the fact that the College Football Playoff itself is flawed, as is the selection process. There are not enough teams participating to justify the moniker of “national champion”, and the committee that chooses the teams is neither transparent nor objective enough in its deliberations.
That being said, the first rankings of 2019 are being released on Tuesday, October 30, and it’s sure to be another round of hype, misguidedness, and money. The CFP would love to stack itself with teams from the South, because that’s where the money is in college football. Unlike the college basketball’s March Madness, all major conference winners are not guaranteed a spot in the CFP, and that alone disqualifies it from legitimacy in the eyes of anyone with an ounce of impartiality in their veins.
So forget what is announced today and imagine a world where eight teams make the CFP, including all Power 5 conference title winners, at least one league champ from the other smaller groups, and a few wild-card teams that played well all season but didn’t win their conference. That is the best thing to do, for now, and who knows if/when college football will ever join the modern world.
Here would be our picks for the eight-team scrum and our reasons for it, right now (in alphabetical order):
Alabama (projected SEC champ): The Crimson Tide look very strong right now as they head into a Week 10 matchup at LSU, which could help decide the fate of the SEC West Division, and thus, the SEC. Right now, ‘Bama controls its own destiny, of course. If ‘Bama wins out, though, it effectively eliminates all other SEC teams from consideration.
Clemson (projected ACC champ): The conference is not very strong, which helps the Tigers get into the CFP without a lot of debate. But it does not tell us much about how the team will perform once it gets there.
Michigan (projected B1G champ): The Wolverines really don’t have any signature wins, since its “big” victories this year have against three-loss teams. Michigan lost its only truly important game, on the road to the team right below.
Notre Dame (wild card): The Fighting Irish have dominated the three ranked teams they’ve played so far in 2018, and nothing left on the schedule is going to derail Notre Dame from reaching its first CFP.
Ohio State (wild card): The Buckeyes always seem to shoot themselves in the foot one way or another on the way to the B1G title game. Remember that Ohio State controls its own destiny and hosts Michigan on November 24. The last time the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes on the road was back in 2000.
Oklahoma (projected Big XII champ): The Sooners play at West Virginia on November 23, which is the toughest test left on the schedule. Like Clemson, Oklahoma hasn’t played a tough schedule. Oh, and then there’s the conference title game, too, where the Sooners could have to beat the Mountaineers again.
UCF (projected AAC champ): Will the Knights really deserve a spot in the CFP if they go undefeated? Sure. Will they do much with the opportunity? Who knows? The schedule has been very soft, but win ’em all, and you deserve your shot. Period.
Washington State (projected Pac-12 champ): The Cougars are the only Pac-12 team with a legit shot at the CFP, as they sit on a 7-1 record. Three of the final four games are at home, where WSU has not lost since the 2016 Apple Cup. Keep that in mind, too.
Obviously, it’s early, and a lot is going to change in November, as de facto elimination games are played in each conference. But this is where things would stand right now, if the CFP had any integrity (or a soul, for that matter).
Stay tuned for weekly analysis as the college football seasons draws closer to its flawed end.