by: Spencer Bergholtz
Only four teams can make it into the NCAA’s football playoff to be crowned the national champions. Here are four teams with the best chance to do so.
Ohio State Buckeyes:
The defending National Champions still have Urban Meyer, the best coach in college football and are on a 20-game winning streak that began back in week three of the 2014 season. The Buckeyes came out of the gates hot with a highlight reel filled victory on opening night at Virginia Tech. Ohio State hasn’t looked back since, sitting atop the Big 10 Conference at 7-0 along with Michigan State.
Ohio State won the National Championship last year on the back of their third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones. They steam rolled over the two top teams in the country in Alabama and Oregon. However, they have been playing musical quarterbacks the past couple of weeks. Even though the Buckeyes are undefeated thus far, Jones’s play has been very disappointing aside from opening night. Luckily for Meyer and the Buckeyes their roster is extremely deep and they have J.T. Barrett, a Heisman Trophy frontrunner quarterback last season which got cut short due to a fractured ankle. He has looked much better than Jones every time he has came into the game, stats and results wise. Look for Ohio State to only beat teams by more now with Barrett in the starting lineup opposed to Jones.
Top NFL prospect Joey Bosa is their defensive end and has made it brutal all season long on opposing teams to score. He has the best footwork on the line at all times, to go along with a variety of moves he uses to get by offensive lineman. Opposite of Bosa on defensive end is Tyquan Lewis, a future professional who has been a monster with 5.5 sacks and 32 total tackles just seven games in.
Starting running back Ezekiel Elliot has been near untouchable in his junior year campaign, rushing for at least 100 yards in every game and scoring 11 touchdowns. The receiving core has been sensational as well, led by Michael Thomas who has hauled in 433 yards and five touchdowns. Former quarterback Braxton Miller has lit it up at wide receiver with 225 yards and three touchdowns. The Buckeyes third option Jalin Marshall is also playing well totaling 284 yards to go with two touchdowns. Expect to see Ohio State come January.
Louisiana State Tigers:
LSU has played phenomenally so far in the toughest conference in all of college football, the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The Tigers are the only remaining undefeated team in the entire conference and have already beaten up on three ranked teams. LSU has outscored their opponents by a total score of 224-138.
LSU’s extremely gifted feature running back Leonard Fournette is leading the mid-season polls for the Heisman Trophy this season. He has run wild for 1,213 yards and 14 touchdowns only six games in. Fournette looks like a man amongst boys out there as he has ran over every opponent with ease this season and is on pace for the LSU rushing yards and total touchdowns record.
Starting quarterback Brandon Harris has played flawlessly under center. Harris has thrown for 816 yards, six touchdowns and most importantly zero interceptions. His go-to target through the air has been stud wide receiver Malachi Dupre, accounting for 311 of Harris’s 816 yards thrown and has caught four touchdowns. Second-option wide receiver in Travin Dural has chipped in his share of offense with 19 receptions for 294 yards and a touchdown.
If LSU’s defense, led by defensive captain and starting linebacker Deion Jones, can continue to hold their own, they should be able to win the rest of their games. With all of the offensive firepower they have behind the historic running talent Fournette, LSU is going to be hard to slow down.
Baylor feels like they got the short end of the stick last season when they were denied an invitation to first ever four team college football playoffs due to their weak schedule. The whole Baylor organization’s pride was rubbed the wrong way and are out for revenge this season against whoever is put in front of them.
No one in college football can put points up on the scoreboard like Baylor can. The Bears have put up at least 50 points in every game and less than 60 just once. Baylor is averaging a ridiculous 720 yards per game and has a total of 383 points after six games of play, leading the nation in almost every offensive category.
Baylor’s quarterback, Seth Russell, is in his first season of starting after backing up and learning under Bryce Petty for two seasons. The waiting game has paid off immensely for Russell. He has aired it out for 1,907 yards and a nation leading 27 touchdown passes despite playing one less game than the rest of the contenders.
This repellant offensive attack is led by standout wide receiver Corey Coleman, with 877 receiving yards and atop the nation with 16 touchdowns. The speedster wide receiver Jay Lee has been a bright spot of this Tigers offense as well, he has 494 yards with six touchdowns. As far as the ground game goes, Shock Linwood has ran the football with serious purpose in his third season with this offense, rushing for 803 yards and eight touchdowns.
If Baylor’s playmakers continue to dominate week in and week out they will be tough to outscore.
Clemson is playing in the ACC, the easiest conference this season compared to the teams listed above. It is just a two-car race for the ACC championship between Florida State and Clemson. The Tigers are hungrier than ever this season after getting blown off the field the past couple of season by the Florida State Seminoles.
On the defensive side of the ball, two star defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd lead the way for Clemson combining for eight sacks and 53 total tackles. Both of them display superior strength and quickness off the ball at this level, leaving opponents helpless to run the football. Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley has played excellent football this year now that he finally gets the start every week. Tankersley was considered the best backup cornerback in the country last year and one of the top special teams players. He has 19 tackles and two interceptions so far this season.
The Tigers starting quarterback, Deshaun Watson, has been exceptional for the Tigers this season. He keeps opposing defenses on their toes all game long as a dual threat quarterback with his ability to run and throw the football. Watson has completed over 68 percent of his passes, has thrown for 1,410 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has loved to scramble too, totaling 234 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. Wayne Gallman has run the football extremely effectively for the Tigers, taking his 106 carries for 584 yards and five touchdowns. Their top wide receiver Artavis Scott has also gone off for them with standout numbers of 39 receptions, 443 yards and four touchdowns. Three times the amount of receptions as the guy in second, Jordan Leggett. Leggett has been huge for Clemson though and has made the most of his 15 receptions, finding a way to convert them into five touchdowns.