by Eric Fulton
It is hard to believe that the 2016 college football season is here. It only seemed like a month ago that Alabama was celebrating another national championship. Obviously, since then every fan in America has been ready for a new season of college football to start.
2016 will mark the third year of the College Football Playoff system. Through the first two years, the CFP has been something positive for college football. There are more games and matchups that matter in November and December. If a team is in the top four come November when the first College Football Playoff rankings are revealed, there’s pressure for those teams to keep winning. The last two national champions, Ohio State and Alabama, each lost their only games in the season in September and won their remaining games the rest of the way. Recent history has shown that if you lose two games then you lose any shot at winning the national championship.
Before the we kick off the 2016 season, I am going to reveal my top four teams who I think will be in the college football playoff. Once again, the two semifinal matchup will occur on New Year’s Eve (December 31) and the national championship game will take place on January 9th in Tampa, Fla.
These are my top four teams to play for the 2016 College Football National Championship:
The Sooners are major contenders to win the Big XII once again led by quarterback Baker Mayfield. However, the biggest downfall could be the fact they will likely beat a team within their conference twice even though the Big XII just has 10 teams.
2. Ohio State
Coach Urban Meyer will be looking to avenge missing out of last year’s playoff. There is no quarterback controversy in Columbus this year as once again the Buckeyes are the favorite to win the Big Ten.
Could you imagine the SEC being totally shut out of the College Football Playoff? Non-SEC fans would love to see this happen, but I don’t see it. On paper, this appears to be Les Miles’ best team in quite a while. Also having the best running back in college football does not seem to hurt at all. Will the Tigers be able to put it all together in 2016?
4. Florida State
The Seminoles are looking to return as the best team in the ACC. The good thing is that the ACC is getting better and proving it can be compete with the rest of the big boys. Coach Jimbo Fisher will have an experienced group of starters return in a what could shape up to be a really good year in Tallahassee.
Other teams that I believe will make a serious run in 2016:
Alabama- You never want to count out a Nick Saban coached team. However, they won’t have the services of Jake Coker, Derrick Henry and Reggie Ragland. A tough road schedule could prevent the Crimson Tide from defending their national championship.
Tennessee- 2016 could be the year the Volunteers return to the top of the SEC East. Head Coach Butch Jones has seen improvement from his team the first two years. Lead by quarterback Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee is one of the most experienced teams coming back in the SEC East, but they need wins over Florida and Alabama to finally get over the hump.
Oregon – There is not a lot of hype for the Ducks to not only win the Pac-12, but also be a serious contender for the national championship. However, Oregon always finds a way to be in serious contention in the Pac-12.
Houston – If the Cougars beat Oklahoma in week 1, the rest of the schedule sets up very nicely for them. Also Greg Ward, Jr. will be among the dark horse Heisman candidates.
Louisville – Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals will be a serious threat to Clemson/Florida State in the ACC. If they can beat one or both the Tigers and Seminoles, look out.
Clemson – The Tigers are a major player to once again be a serious contender for the National Championship. However, the rest of the ACC is catching up to Dabo Swinney’s team. The ACC race will be very interesting to watch.
Boise State – Seems like the better part of over a decade, the Broncos have been the Cinderella of college football. This year seems to be another case where if they can go undefeated, they could play themselves into a top four seed for the college football playoff.
Notre Dame – Coach Brian Kelly’s Irish is once again a great talk for college football. However, who will start the first game at Texas: DeShon Kizer or Malik Zaire? Once the quarterback situation is resolved, the Irish will be all business as they make noise to get in the final four of college football.