Besides the obvious top contenders for the College Football Playoff, which five teams are the next-best candidates to be in the tournament?
5 Top College Football Playoff Contenders (Besides The Obvious)
You know who the main players are in the race to get to the College Football Playoff.
The average doorknob on the street can tell you that Alabama is the favorite to get there and win it all, and of course, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State – even with the issues – are right there among the four schools most likely to make it to the CFP.
The preseason odds to win the College Football Playoff National Championship are: Alabama at 19/10, Clemson at 3/1, Georgia at 9/1, Ohio State at 10/1, and Washington checks in at 12/1.
But to get in, a team has to – most likely – 1) win a conference championship and 2) do it by going unbeaten or finish with one loss to be assured of a spot. Even for the biggest of big boys, that’s not easy.
Let’s say there are a few missteps along the way by a few of the favorites. If it’s not four of those five getting the nod to be in the tournament, which schools are the ones with the best chances of getting the call?
Here are the five who should be deep in the mix until the very end. Don’t be surprised when at least one of them shocks the world.
5. West Virginia Mountaineers
Preseason Odds To Win The CFP National Title: 100/1
– West Virginia Preview
Is this going to be one of the four most talented teams in college football?
Not even close.
But the Big 12 appears to be the easiest of the Power Five conferences going into the season, and there’s just enough juice in the non-conference slate to give the Mountaineers a break with the committee when it comes time to rank.
Tennessee might not be anything amazing quite yet, but it’s still Tennessee – it’s a restaurant quality program with a big name. That’s the opener, and a few weeks later there’s a date at North Carolina State. It’s not like playing Clemson or Miami, but again, it’s a real game against a real team on the road.
In Big 12 play, the Mountaineers only play four road games, and none of them are against Oklahoma or TCU, going to Texas Tech, Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State – that’s manageable.
If they can get through the non-conference part unscathed, there’s a realistic path – Kansas State, at Texas Tech, Kansas, at Iowa State, Baylor – to be 8-0 going into November. Do that, go 3-1 in the final month with at Texas, TCU, at Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma on the schedule, get into the Big 12 Championship, win it, get into the CFP.
With Will Grier the league’s best returning quarterback, armed with a loaded receiving corps, and helped by a good enough defense to get by, the team is in place to come up with a massive year.
But it’s West Virginia. It can’t get to the CFP, right?
It might seem like ancient history, but the 2007 team under Rich Rodriguez would’ve played in the BCS Championship – LSU caught a break of all breaks – if it didn’t gag against Pitt in the regular season finale.
The 2005 Big East champion team went 10-1 and would’ve made it into a CFP had there been one at the time, and to go a million years back, the 1988 Major Harris-led team went unbeaten in the regular season and lost the to Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl for the national title.
This year, with this team, it really might be possible if Grier stays healthy.