(SI)
Is the 2016 College Football Playoff a foregone conclusion? (SI.com)

Conference Championship week has concluded and now the college football committee must make some tough decisions. Which teams will find themselves in the 4 team playoff? Let’s give a brief background of each team that has a chance to make the tournament.

The Case For Alabama:

LM Otero AP
Alabama is the favorite to win the national title in 2016 (LM Otero AP)

This one is easy so let’s keep it simple. Alabama the only power five conference team that is undefeated. Bama also has about 5 first round picks in next years draft on defense alone. This may be Nick Saban’s best Alabama team as for the first time they have a really productive offense led by quarterback Jalen Hurts. Give some credit to offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin as well, he deserves a head coaching job. Roll Tide! Alabama is a sure fire number 1 in the polls.

The Case For Ohio State:

Ohio State is going to get in whether you agree with it or not. Personally, I don’t but that’s just me. The win over Michigan cemented their status as number 2 in the polls, however, I’m not so sure they even deserve to be in the top 4. A 1 point win over 3-9 Michigan State is not a good look. The same could be said for a 4 point win over mediocre Northwestern. Ohio State is a very young team which is a big reason for their inconsistent play. The good news is this team has one of the best coaches in the country with Urban Meyer. An 11-1 record is going to get the Buckeyes in the playoff. A player to watch down the stretch is RB/WR Curtis Samuel who could have a bright NFL future and is definitely the X-Factor for Ohio States success.

The Case For Washington:

Washington is an extremely young team. Head coach Chris Peterson probably didn’t expect this himself or else he wouldn’t have scheduled such a cupcake non-conference schedule (Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State). The Huskies dominated the Pac 12 title game with a 41-10 win over Colorado that will get them into the playoff. Washington to their credit has some explosive perimeter players on both sides of the ball. John Ross is lighting quick and will probably land in the first round as a receiver. Cornerback Sidney Jones and Safety Budda Baker will probably also land somewhere in the first 2 rounds of the draft. Washington also has a productive quarterback in Jake Browning who was named Pac 12 offensive player of the year. In my opinion, Washington wouldn’t make the final four. They aren’t even the best team in their conference but we will get to that later. The Huskies are in with a 12-1 record.

The Case For Clemson:

Ronald Martinez Getty Images
Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is my number one rated quarterback for the 2017 NFL Draft (Ronald Martinez Getty Images)

Clemson probably rounds out the list of teams that will make the playoff. After an underwhelming performance in the ACC title game, Clemson probably slips to 4. Then again this may be the one team that gives Alabama a real game. The Tigers have an experienced quarterback in Deshaun Watson who has been here before coming off a terrific performance in last year’s National Title Game. Let’s face it, Alabama struggles with spread offenses. A Clemson game would be Alabama’s worst nightmare. Did I mention Clemson has a lot of offensive weapons? Mike Williams will be the first receiver drafted next year, tail back Wayne Gallman will probably be taken in the first 3 rounds, and tight end Jordan Leggett is a difference maker on third down and in the red-zone. Clemson doesn’t have the pass rush they had last season, but they still have shut down corner Cordrea Tankersly who will shadow burner Calvin Ridley. An ACC conference title and 12-1 record likely give them the last seed.

Could Penn State Or Michigan Sneak IN?:

CSN
Penn State and Michigan likely find themselves on the outside looking in (CSN)

Let’s just state the obvious; The committee is crippled by records. To be honest I’m not so sure they even watch the games. Bama is undefeated so they get the one seed and the rest of the one-loss teams get 2,3, and 4 seeds. It’s embarrassing! There is no courage by the Selection Committee. Your best bet is to be like Washington and schedule a terrible non-conference schedule.

In my opinion, there is no way Michigan should be left out of the top 4 but that’s the world we live in folks. Jim Harbaugh has rebuilt this program overnight. Michigan is the only team that’s defense rivals Alabama with NFL talent on all 3 levels of the defense. They have it all. Michigan has 2 losses. A one-point road loss to Iowa where they lost their starting quarterback during the game. The other was an overtime road loss to Ohio State where they completely outplayed them and were on the bad end of some horrible officiating. Michigan has two impressive blowout wins to their credit. A 45-28 win over #9 Colorado and 49-10 win over newly crowned Big 10 champion Penn State. Speaking of Penn State….

How in the world can Penn State not be ahead of Ohio State at this point? Head to head win over Ohio State? Check. Big Ten East title over Ohio State and Michigan? Check. Big Ten Conference title game win over Wisconsin? Check. The Selection Committee wants to talk about qualifiers……. I wasn’t always a believer in head coach James Franklin but this Nittany Lions team is better than you think. Tail back Sequan Barkley is probably a 2018 first round running back. Quarterback Trace McSorely has played better than any point during Christian Hackenberg’s rough 2015 campaign. Penn State has outscored opponents 239-60 during their 9 game win streak. It’s time to move them in ahead of Ohio State. Let’s not forget this though folks; The Committee doesn’t let you improve over the course of the season. That brings me to my final point.

What About USC?!?:

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 12: Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans heads off the field after beating the Washington Huskies 24-13 on November 12, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
USC freshman quarterback Sam Darnold could have a national title in his near future (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

USC? Yeah, I said it! While it may say crazy on the surface, it may be more logical than you think. USC has 3 losses which happened in the first 4 weeks of the season. (Again this is college football, you’re not allowed to improve.) The first loss happened to number one Alabama during the first game of the season. Every team in the country is losing that game so don’t put so much stock into it. The other two losses came to Stanford and Utah. What the public doesn’t realize is that USC has been a different team since Freshman sensation Sam Darnold has been inserted as the team’s starting quarterback. Darnold has lost only one game coming in his first career start. (Go figure a freshman gets penalized for losing his first start). Frankly, he is the best quarterback in the conference. The current version of USC is much different than the one in the first four weeks of the season. Just ask sophomore runningback Ronald Jones who has taken off as a future Heisman finalist for next year. There is no question that the Trojans are the most talented team in the Pac 12, it just took some time to put things together. A 26-13 win over #4 Washington proved that, a team that will probably make the tournament. Personally, at this point, I think USC is the 2nd best team in the country. They won’t make the tournament but it’s fun to talk about.