There’s not a lot of evidence that I’m particularly good at picking the playoff teams. Maybe no one is, but my track record isn’t great. Last year I apparently picked Michigan, Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State.
FSU got derailed early by injuries and Francois wasn’t as good as I expected. Michigan was a solid pick but they had a pair of narrow losses late and also some bad luck with injuries. Oregon was a disaster, I have no idea what I was thinking there. No one is going to give me credit for picking Alabama…
Anyways, here’s my best guess for this season:
- USC Trojans
- Auburn Tigers
- Florida State Seminoles
- Wisconsin Badgers
The Trojans are the team I feel most confident in but they have a really tough scheduling draw because the Pac-12 looks quite strong this year. They’ll face Stanford in week two, Texas the following week, and then Notre Dame in the middle of their conference schedule all before the Pac-12 title game.
All that said, they can afford to drop a game and still make it in.
I’m rolling with Auburn simply because they’ve figured out their defense of late, are always loaded with talent on that side, and have a bruising offense with a potentially lethal passing game now to boot. Perhaps Stidham doesn’t deserve my trust but since these picks are likely to be wrong anyways I’ll pick Auburn to be extra explosive this season and win out in a tough SEC.
Alabama is the runner-up there but I’m curious to see how the passing game looks in year two with a revamped offensive staff and the defensive turnover they are facing is considerable. They just graduated the best DL they’ve ever had in bulk and although they’ll surely be great again it’ll hard to be THAT good again on defense. Anyways, even if they are they’ve still proven vulnerable to good passing attacks and there are more of those this year in the SEC.
I’m taking another chance on Florida State, in part because Derwin James is back this season and the defense is going to be really salty. Francois needs to improve, but that seems reasonable enough for a redshirt sophomore. Their run game will likely be great again regardless and the passing game won’t be worse. That all starts to add up to form an impressive looking team.
Wisconsin is not going to be one of the best four teams in the nation but they may be 12-1 and Big 10 champions. If they can beat Michigan and then win the Big 10 title game they’ll be hard to keep out, unless Ohio State is left out of the Big 10 title game again but has a playoff resume. Overall I’m selling on Ohio State because of the defensive turnover, tough schedule, and my questions about how quickly the offensive tweaks will take.
I like USC to win it all. I’m pretty sure the passing game is going to be deadly and that defense returns a lot of pieces as well as DC Clancy Pendergast with another offseason to teach the intricacies of his system to them.