3 Teams in and 3 Teams out of the College Football Playoffs

NCAAF Players from Oklahoma, Georgia and Oregon - College Football Playoff Logo

Do you smell that?

No. It’s not your coworker’s 3-day old fish in the office fridge!

It’s that Blacksburg turkey leg!

That Death Valley Jambalaya!

That Buckeye pie!

Oh, and the beer…

Not the morning after Natty Light Dixie Cup stench coming from frat row.

I’m talking about the fresh aroma of the craft brews emanating from the alumni tents.

Do you hear that?

It’s just the beast under your bed…

Forgive me. I’ve been to a lot of Hokie football games.

Can you tell I’m excited about college football?

Now are you with me?

Okay, good.

Just making sure.

Many of us are already anticipating a rematch in the National Title Game with the Clemson Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

There are several other powerhouse schools and I’m sure a few other notable squads that would firmly disagree with such a presumptive sentiment.

You already know former Alabama star quarterback Jalen Hurts and head coach Lincoln Riley down in Norman, Oklahoma are cooking up something special. The Sooners have the potential to put up even more outrageous numbers than we have seen from them in recent years.

Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines appear to have their best team since the former 49er head coach has donned the headset.

According to ESPN, Michigan is 8x more likely to make it to the Final Four than the team that always keeps them out of it, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Oregon Ducks have the potential #1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft under center in QB Justin Herbert.

Whether or not their schedule will be strong enough is yet to be determined but a week one victory in the not so neutral location of Arlington, Texas opposite the SEC powerhouse Auburn Tigers would be a tremendous start.

Speaking of the SEC, they are pretty solid this year.

Shocking, I know. Georgia has a 39% chance at the playoffs and LSU is sitting at about a 1 out of 3.

Florida already has a W, albeit an ugly one. That defensive line, though.

Penn State has better odds than Ohio State and the Texas Longhorns could be a super sleeper.

BetOnline has some yes/no betting odds on several teams making the college football playoffs.

I wanted to do it a little different today and give you my 3 best picks according to value as well as dismiss 3 schools with a “no” bet.

Why 3 and not 4 teams?

I think we all know Clemson is in. ESPN has them at 84% to make the playoffs and their odds are at (-550).

3 NCAAF Teams Out the Playoffs

Alabama Crimson Tide Logo

Alabama Crimson Tide (+250)

Say what?

I know. This is a bit of a stretch but the Crimson Tide was very close to not making the college football playoffs last year.

The Georgia Bulldogs had ‘em!

Georgia had a 14 point lead with a little over three minutes to go in the third when Tua Tagovailoa hit Eric Waddle in stride on the Tide’s signature shallow crossing route. He was able to turn the corner and the momentum of the game as well.

Kirby Smart and Jake Fromm have had 9 full months to let that loss ferment in their gut and would love nothing more than to spoil Bama’s attempts at some revenge of their own.

If and likely when the Tide makes it to the SEC Championship game and Georgia is standing across from them, I foresee an unfocused team failing to defend their conference title.


Looking ahead to Clemson…

Also, their defensive team captain who has been signed with them since the 8th grade just tore his ACL.

They are potentially down another starting linebacker to a season-ending knee injury as well.

Yes, Tua will be better and Jerry Jeudy may be the best player in college football but it only takes one late-season loss to knock a team out of playoff contention.

They have to travel to College Station and play a likely improved group in the Texas A&M Aggies.

The Tide will, fortunately, host the LSU Tigers but travel to Starkville to play Mississippi State, and not to mention the Iron Bowl will be in Auburn this year.

They could still do it but the recent loss of Junior linebacker Dylan Moses, the leader of the defense, has me concerned.

Ohio State Buckeyes Logo

Ohio State Buckeyes (-270)

With several resurgent schools in the Big Ten this season as well as Jim Harbaugh’s best chance yet to smash the rival Buckeyes and essentially save his job, it’s very hard to bet on Ohio State.

Oh, and they lost their head coach Urban Meyer. He was pretty good at his job.

They have a first-year starting quarterback in Justin Fields as well, although I believe replacing the head coach will prove much more arduous than throwing a new guy on the QB carousel.

Ohio State’s first big test of the 2019 season will come in late September when they travel to Lincoln for a showdown with the Scott Frost-led ever-improving Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Quarterback Adrian Martinez isn’t a true freshman any longer. If he can live up to the hype while keeping his emotions under control, we could have a good ole fashioned Big Ten shootout on our hands.

Wait, what?

23-20 Huskers?

They probably beat Nebraska but the schedule does not let up in the slightest.

Please Note:

Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and then finishing up the regular season in back-to-back weeks versus Penn State and Michigan…

Those are 6 games I could see them possibly losing and it only takes one.

Interesting numbers here I spotted-

The NCAAF betting sites have them (+175) to win the conference and Michigan right on their tail at (+200).

Then, I check over at the ESPN predictor model and Michigan is at 42% compared to the Buckeyes at 5%.

With or without the predictor model, I don’t see the Buckeyes beating all of these teams this year. I think they will lose 2-3 games.

Michigan Wolverines Logo

Michigan Wolverines (-300)

But you said…

I said Michigan has their best chance since the hiring of Jim Harbaugh to beat Ohio State this season. That doesn’t mean they are going to do it.

The Big Ten conference is really good.

Michigan has to play a lot of the same teams as Ohio State. Iowa, who won the previous meeting of these two teams, is also on the schedule.

Michigan State is looking for revenge and the worst part about all of this is Harbaugh and the Wolverines have to wait until the end of the regular season to play Ohio State.

It’s like that every year, yes, but it’s all Jim Harbaugh is hearing from the media. I’m sure the boosters if not his bosses are already in his ear echoing that sentiment.

I think they have the best team in the conference this year but there are too many good teams set to play spoiler for me to pick the Wolverines to go undefeated.

Oh, and there’s also Notre Dame. They will get them at home but it is still going to be close. I imagine the betting line not being more than 3 points in either direction.

Sorry, Blue.

3 NCAAF Teams In the Playoffs

Oklahoma Sooners Logo

Oklahoma Sooners (+180)

The last two years in Norman, we have seen two surprise Heisman winners and two trips to the college football playoffs.

That’s pretty good for head coach Lincoln Riley in just his SECOND season as head coach!

He was the offensive coordinator in Norman under former head coach Bob Stoops since the 2015 season, but what he has done as chief headset wearer is tremendous.

Many would regard him as the greatest offensive mind in college football.

It’s hard to disagree.

When I read that he was formerly the offensive coordinator at East Carolina University, it brought back some bad memories as a Virginia Tech fan.

He had some wars with VT defensive coordinator Bud Foster who is in his last year with the Hokies, sniff sniff. Respect. I remember the Pirates always playing us tough and then it was easy.

I never knew why until now. Lincoln Riley left.

I wish I could be talking about the Hokies right now but that’s not even close to a conversation I want to have this season…

Yes, Oklahoma!

Jalen Hurts, man!

You have to respect his decision to leave Alabama and one can’t help but love the guy’s story.

He stuck it out last year for his coach and teammates. He was needed to help bring them back from behind against Georgia to win the SEC Championship, and he did it.

He hasn’t proven himself to be the passer that Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray was but his poise and championship experience can’t be questioned.

Not surprisingly, the defensive side of the ball that is the major concern for the Sooners in 2019. They are pretty much rebuilding it from the ground up.

That’s where The Grinch comes in.

Oklahoma was able to snatch Alex Grinch from the Ohio State Buckeyes when the Urban Meyer exit syndrome hit the program.

If he can get things going for the D as quickly as Lincoln did for the offense, Clemson could have a legitimate threat.

I don’t think he will have to, though, as that offense has yet to show any signs of slowing.

Their schedule is super light with Texas being their toughest game of the year and a regular season-ending showdown with the Cowboys on rivalry weekend is a test as well.

This could work for them or against them but the two top teams from the Big Ten could have a couple of losses apiece.

I like the plus money here for the Sooners to make it 4 out of 5 years in the playoffs.

Georgia Bulldogs Logo

Georgia Bulldogs (+120)

Hey, more plus money!

I like Georgia this year.

Jake Fromm has been under the radar this offseason.

With all the talk of Tua versus Trevor Lawrence and all of the high-profile transfers including the aforementioned Jalen Hurts, the incoming Junior quarterback has his throwing arm cocked and ready for a surprise blindside hook to the chin to those ignoring him.

Last season, he improved on what was already an outstanding freshman year going from a 62% completion percentage up to 67%.

He also threw for 6 more touchdowns and 1 less interception in 1 fewer game played.

Running back De’Andre Swift’s production increased exponentially as the season progressed and will be highly motivated to put up big numbers this year in preparation for a potential career in the NFL.

They will have to travel to Auburn but get Notre Dame, South Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Texas A&M in Athens.

There’s, of course, the annual World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party opposite the Gators but Florida did not look very strong in their opener last week versus Miami.

It’s not an easy schedule but it’s about as favorable as it can get.

Even with one loss, if they defeat Alabama in Atlanta, the Dawgs are goin’ dancin’!

Oregon Ducks Logo

Oregon Ducks (+800)

I’m loving the value here. A Pac-12 team making the playoffs isn’t likely but with the potential #1 pick in the NFL draft being protected by the best offensive line in the country…

I don’t know…

ESPN is giving them a 15% chance. That equals out to (+567), so there’s some value there.

I really like Justin Herbert and you never know; he could have a decent-sized chip on his broad shoulders due to all the heavenly Mr. perfect praise being laid upon “Sunshine” Lawrence in Death Valley.

If the Big Ten beats up on themselves and/or the Big 12 proves weak, there could be a slot for a Pac-12 school.

Earlier, I said Clemson is in. We can pretty much bank on that. They are number 1 right now, the defending champs, and their schedule is cake.

The SEC Champ undoubtedly gets the next spot.

That leaves possibly Notre Dame if they can navigate a vicious schedule which I don’t believe they will.

The Big 12 doesn’t look particularly beastly so if Oklahoma and Texas split the regular season and Championship matchups like they did last year, you would think an undefeated Oregon squad has a strong argument.

How good is Oregon, though?

Well, we are going to find out this weekend in Texas when they beat Auburn….Cough, cough.

Calling it now.

Look, the Ducks have 5 NFL offensive linemen starting right now. They are returning 14 OTHER starters from last year. That’s 19 total!

The key is the Auburn game. If they win that, confidence is high to enter enemy territory against not only Washington but USC as well.

Hey, the line is (+800) for a reason. The other bets will keep us in the positive. This one’s going to buy the “kids” a PS4.

In Conclusion

I’m psyched, y’all!

Yes, I said y’all and Go Hokies!

They are going to need all the support they can get this year.

We can’t lose to UVA again.

It’s only supposed to happen once every two decades.

So, 3 in and 3 out.

Clemson is in along with the Dawgs and probably the Heisman hopeful Hurts-led Sooners.

I think the well-rounded Big Ten and all the potential bad weather will wreak havoc on many of their games and the two best teams will have (-2s) on their record.

Notre Dame will regress slightly.

Bama will probably be there but I give them about a 55-60% chance. Their line of (-300) denotes a 75% probability.

It would be pretty cool to see Oregon get back there even though I’m an East coast guy, we could use a bit more balance. More than anything, the (+800) is sweet, and I would love to see Justin Herbert versus Trevor Lawrence in the Championship even if Clemson smashes them.

Enjoy the smells and the sounds of college football, y’all!

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Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.