May 27, 2024

TNJN’s Week 9 College Football Playoff picks

With the college football season more than halfway over with, TNJN’s College Football Playoff committee reveals its first set of selections.

Logo by Rob Heller.

The College Football Playoff committee won’t gather and reveal its first selection of the nation’s four best teams until November, but with most teams playing seven games already, the playoff picture is getting clearer by the week.

Here are TNJN’s first College Football Playoff rankings.

1) Alabama Crimson Tide

No surprise here. The defending champions are not only picking up where they left off last season, but they’re arguably Nick Saban’s best team to date. After dismantling USC by 46 points to open the season, the Crimson Tide have embarked on a brutal road schedule — at Ole Miss, at Arkansas and at Tennessee — and are still 8-0 (5-0 SEC) on the season. Their latest achievement came at home against the sixth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies in an easy 19-point victory. What makes this version of Alabama so special is that they’re dominating college football with a true freshman quarterback and they’ve scored a non-offensive touchdown in every game this season.

Resumé: Wins vs USC, at Ole Miss, at Arkansas, at Tennessee and vs Texas A&M

What’s next: Bye week,

2) Michigan Wolverines

Jim Harbaugh has Michigan soaring high in only his second season at Ann Arbor. The Wolverines are winning by an average of 38.6 points per game. Take away the seven-point win over Wisconsin and that number shoots up to 43.8 points per game. Although Michigan has arguably the weakest resumé of the four playoff teams, it passes the eye test for many. The offense isn’t flashy, but it gets the job done. Meanwhile, the defense has had little trouble shutting down opposing offenses all season. Led by the versatile Jabrill Peppers and an immovable defensive line, the Wolverines top the nation in total defense (207 yards per game), points allowed per game (10 points per game) and passing defense (111 yards per game).

Resumé: Wins vs Colorado, Wisconsin

What’s next: at Michigan State

3) Washington Huskies

Last season, Washington finished 7-6. Now, the Huskies are a legitimate championship contender. Credit that to Chris Petersen, who turned Boise State into a BCS buster before taking his talents to Seattle. Also credit the Huskies for possessing the perfect formula to succeed in the Pac-12: Quarterback play and defense. Quarterback Jake Browning has thrown 26 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions on the season. The defense also ranks first in the Pac-12 in numerous categories, including total defense, points allowed per game and sacks.

Resumé: Wins vs Stanford, at Oregon

What’s next: at Utah

4) Clemson Tigers

Clemson hasn’t run through its schedule like many expected heading into the season. After nearly toppling Alabama in the National Championship last season, the Tigers have struggled to put away multiple teams, but are still 7-0 (4-0 ACC) on the season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t having a Heisman-caliber season after being one of the favorite to win the award during the offseason, but after struggling with accuracy during the first few games, Watson has since discovered his rhythm.

Resumé: Wins at Auburn and vs Louisville

What’s next: at Florida State

On the outside looking in

5) Louisville Cardinals 

What needs to happen: Louisville’s path to the playoff is complicated. Assuming the Cardinals win out, the simplest path to the CFP would be if Clemson dropped two games. If the Tigers avoid two losses, then losses by Washington and the winner of Ohio State-Michigan in the Big Ten Championship would give Louisville a fighting chance.

6) Ohio State Buckeyes 

What needs to happen: Despite the stunning loss in Happy Valley, the Buckeyes still control their own destiny. If they manage to win out, they’ll be an easy selection for the committee. Remember, this is a team with wins at Wisconsin and at Oklahoma already on its resumé. A loss at Happy Valley during a white out doesn’t derail Ohio State’s chances.

 

Voters

David Bradford: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Washington, 4) Louisville, 5) Clemson, 6) Ohio State

Chase Carder: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Clemson, 4) Washington, 5) Louisville, 6) Ohio State

Robert Hughes: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Washington, 4) Clemson, 5) Louisville, 6) Ohio State

Jonathan Johnson: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Washington, 4) Clemson, 5) Ohio State, 6) Louisville

Dominic LoBianco: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Clemson, 4) Washington, 5) Louisville, 6) Ohio State

Ben McKee: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Washington, 4) Clemson, 5) Louisville, 6) Ohio State

Nathan Odom: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Washington, 4) Clemson, 5) Louisville, 6) Ohio State

Quinn Pilkey: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Clemson, 4) Washington, 5) Texas A&M, 6) Louisville

Matt Raymond: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Clemson, 4) Washington, 5) West Virginia, 6) Ohio State

Danielle Whaley: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Clemson, 4) Louisville, 5) Washington, 6) Nebraska

David Wilson: 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Washington, 4) Clemson, 5) Nebraska, 6) Louisville

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Rob Heller

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