I’m confident your national champion resides somewhere on this page among the 9 teams listed. There’s not going to be a Coastal Carolina type champion in college football, which may make things less fun, but still interesting and debatable.
In our search for national title contenders I’ll use the odds from VegasInsider.com and lay out the case for (or against) the teams, but first a couple of assumptions:
- Only 0 or 1 loss teams make the playoffs.
- Schedule matters. LSU may be better than Tennessee head to head, but they won’t necessarily end up with a better record, for example.
- I’m not saying the teams I eliminate won’t make the playoffs, they could. The object is to eliminate teams that won’t win the title one by one.
The contenders and odds:
Alabama – 7/1
Clemson – 8/1
Ohio State – 15/2
Michigan – 12/1
LSU – 12/1
Oklahoma – 12/1
Florida State – 16/1
Tennessee – 16/1
Notre Dame – 20/1
First Teams Eliminated
Phil Steele thinks LSU is a great value at 12/1, but I think he’s nuts. Not because the Bengal Tigers won’t be good, they return 17 starters, but take a peek at the schedule: Wisconsin, at Auburn, at Florida,Ole Miss, Bama, at Arkansas and at Texas A&M. The ESPN FPI has the Tigers favored in every game and gives the Tigers a 5.2% chance of winning out. I’m not buying it, not even 5.2% worth. Despite the presence of Leonard Fournette, a shaky quarterback and questionable coaching will doom LSUs hope for a title.
Clemson fans are getting a kick out of the love for Oklahoma after the last two years Sooner kickings. Neither of those mean OU won’t be a good team in 2016, but are reasons for caution. A bigger reason for caution is the schedule: If the Sooners make it through game 1 (Houston, neutral site in Houston), they still face Ohio State, at TCU, Texas (neutral), Baylor (who knows), a tricky trip to West Virginia and Oklahoma State. As with LSU, ESPN FPI favors the Sooners in every game and gives Stoops team a 16.9% chance of winning out, which is important because of no Big 12 Championship Game. I’m betting the Sooners don’t run the table and if they make the playoff will again be defeated in the first game.
Michigan will likely be 7-0 when they visit East Lansing on October 22. Two weeks after that they travel to Iowa and two weeks after that they travel to Columbus. The Wolverines won’t win their division and won’t make the playoff.
Tennessee is another team that ESPNs FPI says should win them all, but only gives a 4.5% chance of winning out. Tennessee’s schedule is light up front, but then there’s a four week stretch of Florida, at Georgia, at Texas A&M and Alabama (no bye in those four weeks). Perhaps if there was a bye week in there, but that’s a tough stretch and with an unproven team in the crunch it’s impossible to give the Vols the benefit of the doubt. And, oh yeah, if they win the East that means they are likely to get a rematch with Bama or meet up with LSU and I’m betting that neither will work out well for Tennessee.
We’ve eliminated 4 teams that have 20/1 or better odds per Vegas. In part 2, I’ll dig into the final 5 and make the case for a long shot.
Will LSU make the CFB Playoff?
— Seldom Used Reserve (@seldomusedrsrv) July 14, 2016