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College football season has arrived, CFP predictions

The Morant

We had to wait an extra week this year, but that makes it all the more worth it as college football kicks off today.

It is one of the most exciting sports, where the unexpected becomes a reality and catches our eyes every Saturday night. Fans are in for yet another crazy season in the second year of the College Football Playoff.

There is a first time for everything in college football and on Aug. 23, 2015, it was the first time in the history of the Associated Press Top 25 poll (31 years) that the reigning national champion was voted No. 1 unanimously. The defending champ, (Ohio State), also happens to play in the Big Ten.

Now with the pressure on to perform, it raises the question of who are the contenders and the pretenders for the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship.

The contenders usually come in the form of the power five conferences — Big Ten, ACC, SEC, PAC-12 and Big 12 — with a Cinderella-like Boise State sometimes having different plans. Notre Dame is also a name thrown around every year because of the prestige of the program, although they are independent of a conference. I do not see any Cinderellas crashing the party this year.

The Big Ten is much weaker this season than years past, but they still have contenders with the likes of No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes, No. 5 Michigan State Spartans and No. 20 Wisconsin Badgers as the only teams ranked in the AP Top 25. The Nov. 21 matchup of the Spartans at the Buckeyes may determine who makes the College Football playoff representing the Big Ten. I believe Ohio State will remain undefeated this whole season — stay at the top and win the conference championship — especially if they name their starting quarterback JT Barrett over Cardale Jones.

This season the ACC, who had Florida State in the CFP last season and won the championship the year before, is slated to be overlooked and for good reason, as it is the weakest it has been in years. Florida State lost great players, like No. 1 NFL draft pick Jameis Winston, for a second consecutive season. Clemson can be a threat thanks to a great head coach in Dabo Sweeney, but their defense still has many question marks. There won’t be any threats coming out of the ACC this season.

The SEC is the best conference in all of college football with its level of competitiveness unmatched. 

They have eight teams ranked in the AP Top 25 to start the season. The conference is a free for all as far as who will be SEC Champion. Upsets can happen anytime, like when Ole Miss shockingly upset Alabama last season, but even with that loss, Alabama still made it to the playoffs because of their other solid wins and their win in the SEC Championship. 

There is no doubt an SEC team will be in the College Football Playoff this season and it is a good bet that it will be Alabama who starts the season at No. 3. Although No. 6 Auburn is ranked high, I foresee at least three losses in their schedule this season. The winner of the SEC Championship will automatically get a playoff spot. No. 9 Georgia has the best chance to make the game and play Alabama. They would be my best bet to pull the upset and go instead of Alabama.

The PAC-12 is substantially stronger this season than last year, with the revival of the University of South California (USC) who hopes to return to glory after years of struggling since the NCAA sanctions were handed down. I think they can do it this season, but they’ll have competition from the likes of No. 7 Oregon, No. 13 UCLA, No. 15 Arizona State, No. 21 Stanford and No. 22 Arizona.

The Big 12 has the two best offensive teams in the country in No. 2 TCU and No. 4 Baylor. It was an offensive outburst last season when Baylor came back from 21 points down to win 61-58. However, due to the fact that the Big 12 has no Championship game, both teams were spurned a chance to make the first ever College Football Playoff. Even knowing that, the committee failed the league not installing a championship game for a second consecutive season, which can come back to bite them in the butt. But I believe that TCU led by Heisman hopeful, Trevone Boykin, will succeed in earning a spot in the College Football Playoff, but most college football fans have Nov. 27 circled on our calendars when these teams face off.

To recap, the four teams I have making the College Football Playoffs are No. 1 Ohio State, No. 3 Alabama, No, 8 USC, and No. 2 TCU for this season.

Buckle up and get ready for yet another wild ride of College Football.

Ryan Moran is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and economics. His column, “The Morant,” runs on alternate Fridays.

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