The inaugural College Football Playoff is fast approaching, and it’s becoming even more likely that our Hoyas’ resume will not impress the selection committee enough to propel Georgetown into the top four. That said, college football fans on the Hilltop still need rooting interests for the Playoff, so here’s a primer on why you should root for each of the contenders.
#1 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Perennial cellar-dwellers within the SEC, Mississippi State’s run to #1 has shocked the college football world. For a program with such a long history and such a spirited fanbase, the Bulldogs have only won one SEC championship and zero national championships. This year could finally be the year that Mississippi State breaks through and wins it all, under the leadership of dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott, whom Alabama coach Nick Saban, according to reporter Cecil Hurt, recently said “reminds you of (former Florida quarterback Tim) Tebow in a lot of ways, but is also a very good passer.” Aside from the blatant shade thrown at Tim Tebow, Saban’s quote serves to reinforce Prescott’s role in commanding one of the nation’s most exciting offences. If you are a fan of underdogs and dynamic quarterbacks, MSU could be your team.
#2 Oregon Ducks
Much to the Bulldogs antithesis, the Oregon Ducks have been firmly in the national title race every year for seemingly the last decade, but they have yet to win it all, having come particularly close in 2011, when they lost in the national championship game. Like previous years, the Ducks are highly ranked, and their path to success this year is the same as it has always been: a high-powered offence. This year’s model is spearheaded by electrifying quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has had a near-perfect season statistically. Those rooting for the Ducks are rooting for both the fulfillment of years of dreams left just out of reach and a super fun offense.
#3 Florida State Seminoles
As defending National Champions, the Seminoles have been in the spotlight all season. They have played with a target on their backs throughout the year and have gotten each team’s best game. While not dominating the teams on their schedule, which is admittedly significantly weaker than that of their fellow contenders, Florida State has been battle-tested, having to battle back against double digit deficits several times this season. It has become clear that Florida State, from top to bottom, has the most complete roster in the nation, led by reigning Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston. Fans of solid, well-rounded teams ought to support the Seminoles.
#4 TCU Horned Frogs
To the surprise of many, the Horned Frogs have rolled through the Big 12 on the way to an 8-1 record. Led by one of the nation’s most exciting players, acrobatic quarterback Trevone Boykin, TCU’s offense is averaging nearly 50 points per game. Boykin has gone from a virtually unknown player to a Heisman dark horse and has propelled TCU into the spotlight. TCU’s remaining games are very winnable, which may seem like a blessing, but it means that they have no further chance to build upon their resume, so their Playoff hopes are entirely dependent upon how other teams fare. If you want to experience they playoff drama in the most nerve-wracking fashion, with your team’s hopes out of their hands, I’d suggest hopping on the TCU bandwagon.
#5 Alabama Crimson Tide
The success of Alabama in recent years can largely be attributed to their domineering mastermind. Head coach Nick Saban, as the nation’s premier recruiter, shapes his teams as he sees best, which typically leads to power-running offenses and dominant defenses. This year, however, the Crimson Tide have looked less formulaic, as their offense has been largely pass-first and is led by talented but inexperienced quarterback Blake Sims. Their defense, while having been largely untested this season, is second in points allowed this season and looks to retain their trademark dominance. If you like to watch traditional powers succeed, Alabama is the team for you.
#6 Arizona State Sun Devils
On September 25, the Sun Devils were blown out at home by UCLA, losing 62-27. It appeared that their playoff hopes were over, seeing that it would be nearly impossible to overcome a 35-point loss in the eyes of the selection committee. Since then, with quite a few upsets across the nation, and some impressive wins, including dominating Notre Dame, the Sun Devils have snuck back into the Playoff conversation with a very balanced squad. Fans of teams beating the odds and overcoming adversity should root for the Sun Devils to win at Arizona and then knock off Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship Game to propel them into the Playoff.
#7 Baylor Bears
The Bears play a similar brand of football as their instate conference rivals TCU, but where TCU’s offense runs through the dual-threat abilities of Boykin, the Baylor attack is directed by head coach and offensive guru Art Briles. Briles’ up-tempo spread offense allows for quarterback Bryce Petty and the Bears to score points in a hurry, and that’s just what they did in their matchup against TCU, scoring 24 points in the final 10 minutes to erase a 21 point deficit. If having the ability to score a flurry of points excites you, Baylor may be your team.