After a crazy weekend, it’s time to evaluate which teams have a chance to make the College Football Playoff. Let’s start by eliminating the teams that have zero shot to make it, even if they win out.
That leaves us with the following teams:
NC State – 6-1
Things looked bleak after the early season loss to South Carolina. Since then, NC State has won every game and that includes beating Florida State on the road, and beating Louisville by two touchdowns. It’s hard for me to really judge the Wolfpack at this point. The loss to SC looked bad initially, but now the Gamecocks are on track for an 8-4 finish. Additionally, the win at Florida State looked good at the time, but FSU struggled with Wake Forest and Duke. Three of their last five games are on the road, and feature contests at Notre Dame and home against Clemson. NC State’s defense has been incredible, but I’m more impressed with the play from Ryan Finley, who has yet to throw an interception.
Why NC State gets in:
Finley is good enough to pick apart Notre Dame’s defense and give Clemson real problems. We’ve also seen how vulnerable Clemson is without Kelly Bryant. Even if Bryant plays, NC State has enough talent on defense to beat the Tigers.
Why NC State doesn’t get in:
Even if they get through the next two games, they have to travel to Boston College and Wake Forest. Both of those programs are capable of an upset, and the Wolfpack can’t afford a loss.
Clemson – 6-1
This past week was a rough one for Tiger fans. Kelly Bryant out and a loss on the road to an average (but interesting) program. Now, you have to face a Georgia Tech team that’s two points away from being undefeated. Honestly, I don’t understand why everyone freaks out after one loss. Put everything in perspective. Syracuse is a weird place to play; it’s a dome in upstate New York. The game was on a Friday night. It was the biggest game of the year for Syracuse. I could keep going. Despite the loss, Clemson is still a top five team in my eyes. Say it out loud. Clemson has beaten three top 15 teams, two of which were on the road. Penn State, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Miami haven’t even played one top 15 team.
Why Clemson gets in:
Let’s face it, this team is still just as talented as it was before the loss to Syracuse. Kelly Bryant hasn’t suffered an injury that effects his throwing motion. Lastly, Vegas will have the Tigers favored in every remaining game.
Why Clemson doesn’t get in:
They can’t drop any more games and a road trip to NC State still looms, along with ACC championship.
Miami – 5-0
I’m just going to throw this out there. At the beginning of the season, on my podcast, I predicted Miami would reach the playoffs. So far, so good. The Hurricanes are undefeated and lead the country in points scored in the 4th quarter.
At the start of the season, there were two big reasons why I liked Miami. 1. They returned 15 starters from last season and that would make them great late in games (experience provides identity, identity wins games. Check Clemson last year). 2. Their schedule. Every game is winnable and their two toughest games are at home.
Why Miami gets in:
Four of the last six games are at home, with two road games being at UNC and Pitt. Vegas likely will have the Hurricanes favored in every game, and a win against VT will go a long way.
Why Miami doesn’t get in:
As good as things look, this team isn’t great at anything statistically. That seems slightly concerning, considering the weak schedule to date.
Virginia – 5-1
Six weeks ago, I would have laughed if you told me that UVA would be 5-1 to this point and in the hunt for the Coastal division. Last week, we discussed how good this UVA defense is and that continued at UNC. Brandon Harris was 7-of-18 and threw three picks against the Hoos. This team lives and dies by their defense, and they don’t face an even above-average offense until their final two games, Miami and Virginia Tech.
Why UVA gets in:
Their next four games are incredibly winnable, and they get the Hokies in Charlottesville. This defense keeps them in games, and constantly gives the offense opportunities by forcing turnovers.
Why UVA doesn’t get in:
They really haven’t played a good opponent yet. To this point, I’m not sure if they’ve even played a bowl team. On top of that, I don’t believe they will be favored in any of their final four games. One loss and the Hoos’ are out.
Virginia Tech – 5-1
Bud Foster is at again. The Hokies are allowing a mere 16 points per game and rank 23rd nationally in total defense. At the start of the season, it looked like the toughest part of this schedule was at the beginning of the season. Now, we’re at the halfway point, and they still have to face Miami, GT and UVA…all on the road. My question for Virginia Tech, can Josh Jackson deliver in big games? He looked great against West Virginia but he struggled with Clemson and has thrown four interceptions in his last three games.
Why Virginia Tech gets in:
Defense. Defense. Defense. They don’t play an offense that I believe is comparable to the talent at the hands of Bud Foster.
Why Virginia Tech doesn’t get in:
Josh Jackson’s youth. He’s a great talent but his inexperience has really showed in these past couple of contests. Miami is an experienced team, and has a talented secondary. That could give Jackson real problems.
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