It’s been the college football offseason for almost 60 hours now, so it’s about time we finally got around to predicting next season’s College Football Playoff.
The first rendition of the new format was a monumental success. The TV ratings were through the roof, but more importantly a champion was determined on the field through tournament play. Assuming the committee doesn’t cave to public pressure and change the playoff to six or eight or 68 teams by next season, here are the laughably early predictions for next season’s playoff participants.
4. USC Trojans
Oh look, it’s the Trojans with high expectations entering the season again. The last time the country was this optimistic about USC, it was preseason no. 1 in the nation in 2013 behind the surprise return of Matt Barkley. The Trojans finished 7-6 that year.
Next season should be different, though. For one, USC starts getting its scholarships back and will begin to address the dire lack of depth the past few seasons due to the sanctions. Furthermore, Cody Kessler, the most underrated quarterback in the nation this year, returns poised for a monster season. Also back are a trio receivers including Adoree’ Jackson, who comes off a spectacular season in which he played on both sides of the ball. The added depth should allow him to focus on making jaw-dropping jukes on the offensive side in 2015.
3. Clemson Tigers
It seems like you could count on one hand the times an upperclassmen touched the ball for Clemson this season outside of Cole Stoudt, who spent the better part of the year as freshman Deshaun Watson’s backup. In addition to Watson, who could be the ACC’s leading Heisman contender, the Tigers will have playmakers everywhere on offense. Artavis Scott returns at receiver and will once again be a threat to take every catch to the house in 2015. Wayne Gallman will lead a deep group of running backs and should go for well over 1,000 yards if he stays healthy.
Clemson has won at least ten games in four-straight seasons now. With the roster Dabo Swinney has returning, 2015 is the year it will go from contender to competing for the national championship.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
Well the quarterback position shouldn’t be a problem. Or will it? No matter how you look at the bevy of talent returning for the Buckeyes, it’s hard to see them falling off their national-title pace in 2015. Remember, 2015 was supposed the year Ohio State contended for a national championship. Urban Meyer was just a little ahead of schedule and won it this year too for good measure.
The expectations will be through the roof with Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, and Ezekiel Elliott all potentially coming back. Is it too early to start the repeat hype?
1. TCU Horned Frogs
The snubbed Frogs get their revenge! TCU was one of the first teams left out of the playoff this year after being ranked no. 3 heading into the final weekend. However, 2014 was just the beginning for Gary Patterson and his band of underclassmen.
Trevone Boykin, the dual-threat quarterback who was a Heisman contender in 2014 , returns and will have plenty of options at receiver as well. The TCU defense was criminally underrated, but it remains Coach Patterson’s pride and should be far better than the underrated 2014 edition. With a chip on its shoulder from day one this year given its playoff absence, the Horned Frogs will be the best team in the country in 2015.