College Football Playoff: Our Team’s Picks for “Who’s In”

They’re not college football experts, but the guys on our content team love the game as much as anyone. And like many of you, each has a strong hunch about which of the game’s top teams will be left standing come Sunday evening, when the four teams to compete in the College Football Playoff are announced.

Kyle Oland:

1. Ohio State. Justin Fields is the real deal, and the Buckeyes haven’t missed a beat in their first year sans Urban Meyer. Can Wisconsin beat Ohio State on Saturday? Sure, but not likely. Ohio State gets a spot.

2. Clemson. In the words of Dabo Swinney, “They don’t want us in it.” Well, Dabo, I want you and your Tigers in the Playoff, and I’d bet the farm Clemson steamrolls Virginia and finishes up an undefeated regular season. Clemson gets a spot.

3. LSU. Remember the LSU teams of yesteryear? You know, the ones that couldn’t complete a pass farther than five yards? Those days of offensive ineptitude have been a distant memory since Jake Burrow started slinging the pigskin with Cajun-bred Ed Orgeron shouting “Geaux Tigers!” at every opportunity. Sorry, Georgia. I don’t think you have it in you to send Orgeron and his boys back to the Bayou with a loss. LSU gets a spot.

4. Utah. Here’s where the fun begins. It’s looking like the fourth spot comes down to Utah and Oklahoma. Call me crazy, but I want some new blood this year, and that blood is the dark red of the Utah Utes. What’s a Ute? I don’t know, but I do know this: Utah will claim the final spot after they take down the Oregon Ducks on Friday night.

Semifinal Matchups: Ohio State vs. Utah, Clemson vs. LSU

Semifinal Winners: Ohio State, Clemson

National Champion: Clemson


Jim Maggio:

No. 1 Ohio State (vs. Wisconsin) and No. 3 Clemson (vs. Virginia) look like slam-dunk picks to advance past their conference games. I don’t think Georgia will have the offense to hang with No. 2 LSU, and with Bulldog WR George Pickens being suspended for the first half of the SEC Championship, an offense with an already-depleted receiving corps takes a major hit that they won’t be able to overcome.

That will open the No. 4 spot for either No. 5 Utah or No. 6 Oklahoma, assuming each gets by Oregon and Baylor. I think they will, in which case Utah would naturally claim the fourth spot, right?

Not so fast.

Utah would be more deserving, but the College Football Playoff committee and ESPN want ratings, ratings, ratings. Jalen Hurts in the playoffs = instant ratings. Fair or not, I’ve got a gut feeling that Oklahoma leapfrogs Utah to claim the final spot.

Semifinal Matchups: Ohio State vs. Oklahoma, LSU vs. Clemson

Semifinal Winners: Ohio State, Clemson

National Champion: Ohio State


David Williams:

1. Ohio State. Holy Jumpin. Ohio State is the best team in the country, and it’s not even close. Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins form a one-two punch the likes of which most teams have never seen.

2. LSU. I love Joe Burrow and Coach O. Watching this year’s LSU team compared to years past is eye opening, going from a ground-and-pound effort to their modern-day air raid offense. The Tigers are a force to be reckoned with. 

3. Clemson. The other Tiger that no one seems to be talking about. Trevor Lawrence hasn’t lost a game as a starting quarterback since he played my high school in the playoffs. Clemson gets a spot and will make some noise. 

4. Utah. The Pac-12 finally gets its spot in the College Football Playoff. Georgia is going to lose to LSU, and that leaves the door open for the Utes. The Utes, led by running back Zack Moss, get the fourth spot after knocking off Oregon in their conference championship.

Semifinal Matchups: Ohio State vs. Utah, LSU vs. Clemson

Semifinal Winners: Ohio State, Clemson

National Champion: Ohio State