18 for ’18: 18 key offseason topics: No. 1, which four teams will make the College Football Playoff, and who’ll be that hard-luck fifth team sitting just on the outside?
18 for ’18: No. 1, The College Football Playoff Teams, And The One That’ll Be Left Out
18 for ’18 Offseason Topics
18: Power 5 Coach Hot Seat Rankings
17: Power 5 Projected Win Totals & Swing Games
16. Best Longshot National Championship Teams
15. Group of 5 vs. Power 5 Upset Alerts
14. Every Power Five Team’s Letdown Game
13. Breakout QBs You Need To Know
12. Already Great Players About To Explode
11. Every Power Five’s Sleeper Team
10. Five Key Returning Injured Stars
9. Top Make Or Break QB Battles
8. Crazy Predictions That Might Be Right
7. Group of Five Teams In CFP Hunt
6. Possible Power Five Disappointments
5. Possible Power Five Surprises
4. Ranking The Group of Five Conferences
3. Ranking The Power Five Conferences
2. Ranking The Top Heisman Candidates
We have yet to be truly surprised in the first four years of the College Football Playoff.
There might have been a few controversies – like Alabama getting in last season and Ohio State the year before despite not winning their respective divisions – but it’s not like a Purdue or Duke has found its way into the big four.
Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon. and Washington. That’s it. Nine schools have occupied the 16 available College Football Playoff spots.
This year’s run to Arlington and Miami on December 29th, and ultimately to Santa Clara on January 7th, looks to be a potential powerhouse invitational.
If the last four years have taught us anything, getting into the CFP is about 1) having an amazing team that 2) doesn’t lose more than one game and 3) has the right schedule.
Or, just be Alabama and you’ll catch the mother of all breaks last season and … sorry. The Crimson Tide picked the right time to finally wake up, and it … but I digress.
Win your Power Five conference championship with one loss, or go unbeaten, and you’re in. As history proves, there won’t be five unbeaten or one-loss P5 conference champs, so for the big leagues, you know what you have to do.
For 2017 UCF, 2016 Western Michigan, and all the Group of Fivers, go unbeaten, and hope for one, big, giant, sloppy mess among the Power Five leagues. And then, when none of that matters, enjoy your spot in the New Year’s Six bowl.
So forgive the chalkiness of this top five, but again, that’s been the deal so far. The All-Curveball College Football Playoff picks are coming later.
But there can only be four, and that fifth team that’s going to be left out of the joy will be the …
5. Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are loaded again for another amazing run, and they’ll be among the four best teams in college football, but the problem might just be the two-loss barrier that no team has cracked so far to get into the CFP.
On talent alone, Georgia deserves to be considered the preseason No. 1, or 1A, or 1B next to some of the other big boys. However, it has to start over at linebacker, has to replace the NFL running back tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and has just enough key losses in other positions to be annoying.
They’ll be in the thick of the chase all season long, but it’ll likely come down to the SEC Championship for one of those four spots. So give the Dawgs this caveat for the fifth spot; the winner in Atlanta will be in, and they’ll at least be playing for the trip.
Why They’ll Get Into The College Football Playoff
This is going to be one of the four best teams in college football. If the College Football Playoff committee is going by talent, and which teams are the best, there’s no need to play the season. Georgia is going to be just that good.
The two-loss CFP ceiling is destined to be broken, and almost was last year. If Auburn had beaten Georgia in the SEC title game, the Tigers would’ve been in and the Bulldogs would’ve been out.
But Georgia should be good enough to get to the SEC Championship unbeaten. Do that, and it’s almost a guaranteed lock to make it two years in a row.
Why They’ll Miss Out On The College Football Playoff
The SEC East isn’t going to be so blessed miserable this year.
That’s not to say Georgia wouldn’t have rolled through last year’s division schedule no matter what, but in 2017 …
Florida … bad and boring.
Tennessee … bad and weird.
Missouri … bad and couldn’t beat a good team.
Vanderbilt … bad and Vanderbilt.
South Carolina was solid, but it’ll be better this year, and that’s an issue.
The schedule isn’t horrible – Georgia Tech is the only worrisome non-conference game – but with road games at South Carolina and LSU, and with Florida stronger and Auburn to deal with, lose once, and then there won’t be any margin for error.
What’s Really Going To Happen?
Georgia will lose once along the way. Just watch out for that South Carolina game to open up the SEC season.
Unlike 2017 Alabama, the Bulldogs won’t catch the mega-break of not having to go to the SEC Championship. At 11-1, they’d be in. At 11-2 with an SEC title game loss to the Crimson Tide, they’re out.