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State of the Nation: College Football Playoff Predictions

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Here It Is. My Pre-Season College Football Playoff Predictions

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Playoff Predictions

4. Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia is coming off an SEC Championship and a trip to the national title game where they lost in heart-breaking fashion to Alabama. Georgia lost a lot on both sides of the ball including Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Javon Wims, Isaiah Wynn, Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter.

It’s a lot to bounce back from. They only have five returning starters on defense. On offense, DeAndre Swift is expected to carry the workload in the backfield and will be complimented by freshman five-stars Zamir White and James Cook and sophomore Elijah Holyfield. There is a new wave of backs that are expected to pick up right where the last group left off.

Jake Fromm was electric as a freshman in 2017, totaling over 2600 yards and 24 TDs through the air. Those numbers should be the standard for Fromm as the Bulldogs have eight wide-outs returning with starting experience. However, many “experts” are saying true freshman QB Justin Fields is actually a better option for the Dawgs and could eventually beat out Fromm as the starting quarterback.

Georgia is favored in every game in 2018 and a battle of 12-0 Georgia and Alabama teams in the SEC Championship would likely send both teams to the playoffs, unless somebody gets absolutely embarrassed.

Notable Games: 10/13 @ LSU, 10/27 vs. Florida (Jacksonville), 11/10 @ Auburn, 11/24 vs. Georgia Tech

3. Wisconsin Badgers

The Badgers have a three-year starter at quarterback in Alex Hornibrook, a running back that came 23 yards short of 2000 on the season in potential Heisman Trophy Winner Jonathan Taylor, the best offensive line in all of college football and one of the top group of linebackers in the country featuring seniors Ryan Connelly and T.J. Edwards (combined 22 TFL in ‘17). The experience returning for the 13-win Badgers cannot be over-looked.

A lot will be said about their schedule again as the Badgers open up the year with Western Kentucky, New Mexico and BYU before getting into B1G play. The soft out-of-conference schedule may hurt their credibility down the stretch, but they still have to go to Iowa, Michigan and Penn State. I would say that alone makes their schedule much more difficult than it was a year ago. If they can get to Ohio State in the B1G Championship again, it is not crazy to think they could beat them this time around and make the playoffs. I clearly believe that is exactly what is going to happen.

Notable Games: 9/22 @ Iowa, 10/6 vs. Nebraska, 10/13 @ Michigan, 11/10 @ Penn State

2. Clemson Tigers

Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant and Christian Wilkins. Do I need to say much more? The Tigers defensive line features four guys that will likely go in the first round of the NFL Draft barring any unforeseen circumstances. If nothing else goes right for Clemson in 2018, that defensive line alone will get them through an ACC schedule virtually unharmed.

QB Kelly Bryant is being pushed by true freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence for the starting job. I would expect both Bryant and Lawrence to see snaps against Furman in their opener and then have an established starter by the time they travel to Aggieland and take on Texas A&M in Week 2.

Regardless, the quarterback taking snaps for the Tigers will have an overabundance of talent, starting at the running back group. Travis Etienne returns alongside Tavien Feaster to create one of the best groups of running backs in the ACC behind a line lead by Second Team All-American LT Mitch Hyatt.

Hunter Renfrow is back for for his senior year in college to lead a young corps of receivers in sophomores Amari Rodgers and the 6’4 Tee Higgins. I would go “all-in” on Clemson being one of the final four teams standing at the end of the 2018 season.

Notable Games: 9/8 @ Texas A&M, 10/20 vs. NC State, 10/27 @ Florida State, 11/24 vs. South Carolina

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

The reigning National Champions have to be the clear favorites again in 2018. Alabama’s biggest off-season/Fall camp issue is a competition at quarterback featuring Jalen Hurts, who has lead the Tide to back-to-back National Championship games and Tua Tagovailoa, who actually won the National Championship game for them last year. What a problem to have, right? Whoever is under center will be protected by an offensive line that lost just one starter from a year ago and a running back group that features Damien Harris and Najee Harris. The defense has just three returning starters, but has that ever stopped Alabama? The recruiting machine keeps on re-loading on top-end talent. Look out for Mack Wilson, Dylan Moses, Raekwon Davis, Isaiah Buggs and Anfernee Jennings to become the next great generation of Alabama defensive players.

It is easy to say that Alabama will run the table and go 12-0, but they have lost at least one SEC game in eight of the last nine seasons. They host TAMU, Mississippi St. and Auburn and travel to play Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU. I can’t say with any sort of confidence that Alabama will lose any of those games, but Ole Miss has never been kind to the Tide.

Despite any advantage any team (Clemson) may have on Alabama on paper, they do not have Nick Saban. As long as he is the in charge of football at Alabama, they will be my favorites to hoist the CFP National Championship Trophy when it is all said and done.

Notable Games: 9/1 vs. Louisville (Orlando), 9/15 @ Ole Miss, 11/3 @ LSU, 11/22 vs. Auburn

Below I have the links to all the previous rankings of the rest of State of the Nation’s Top 25: