Stanford has rebounded from a dreadful start to the season, and become one of the most feared teams in College Football due to its well-rounded play. Many college football insiders have compared Stanford's run to that of Ohio State last year that also had an early season loss, and rebounded into a national power.
So that leads to the questions: What do the Cardinal need to do to make the College Playoffs and what are their chances?
Here is what needs to happen for the Cardinal to make it into the Playoffs:
- They have to win out, and in convincing fashion. There are too many top tier teams that may only have one loss that will argue a tougher schedule and better record. The Cardinal will have a difficult road against several tough teams during the last stretch of the season, and will need to put on a display of power for the national audience to see.
- The Cardinal will need a little help. Right now, there are still 11 teams that are undefeated, with 8 of those teams realistically having a chance to get into the Final Four for the College Playoffs. Ohio State and Michigan State face each other on November 21st that will have national title implications, as the winner of this will more likely face Iowa in the Big 10 title game. The top four teams in the Big 12 (Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, and OSU) will slug it out to end their conference season that will surely see a few of these teams with multiple losses on their resume. There are also three teams with one loss that also could tangle for a playoff spot due to their national standing. So basically, the Cardinal have to hope that these teams take each other out of the equation for the Cardinal to slip into one of the final spots.
Here are the teams vying for one of the four available spots in the College Playoffs this season and their chances of survival:
Teams that are looking good for a possible spot in the playoffs
Even though the Buckeyes have not played at a stellar level all season, and have been plagued with off-field distractions; this team is just too talented on both sides of the ball not to make it into the Playoffs. The only issue that may hold the Buckeyes back is their issues under center as Cardale Jones has been up and down all season, and the looming suspension of J.T. Barrett has thrown a monkey-wrench into Coach Urban Meyer's plans. Picking the QB for the stretch run may determine if the Buckeyes will make a repeat appearance in the College Playoffs.
The Tigers have had a magical run this season, and really have only one roadblock in their path to possibly running the table this season. Clemson does have a quality victory over Notre Dame, and if they can take out Florida State next week, they have a great chance of being undefeated going into the College Playoffs.
Leonard Fournette has led the Tigers to its undefeated record, and its best chance at the College Playoff this season. LSU will face its toughest opponent of the season when they visit the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa next week; if the Tigers can overcome this huge challenge, they surely will be a frontrunner for the SEC crown and spot in the Playoffs.
Teams that need a little help to get into the Playoffs
The Crimson Tide had one slip up this season with their loss to Ole Miss, but has looked dominant is recent weeks. Alabama is a perennial favorite out of the SEC as they consistently have churned out solid teams over the last decade. If the Crimson Tide can soundly defeat LSU on Saturday, and run the table, they will definitely have a spot in the Final Four.
Trevone Boykin has put the Horned Frogs on his back and carried TCU this season. The Horned Frogs stared defeat in the face, and survived on several occasions, and are going into their peak season as the favorite to survive the Big 12 purge. However, the only item that may hold TCU back is that there is a good chance that they may lose one or two games towards the end of the season, and their conference schedule may not be enough to get them over other 1 loss teams.
The Spartans have played well enough this season to pull out a few games, but they have a difficult stretch down the end of the season, and may not have enough firepower to overcome Ohio State. QB Connor Cook has been special, and brought the Spartans to the precipice; but the Spartans do not have much of a running game, and injuries may finally take its toll towards the end of the season.
The Baylor Bears have been awesome this season, and put up eye popping offensive numbers; but when QB Seth Russell was lost for the season, the chances for the Baylor Bears surviving the last few games undefeated decreased dramatically. Baylor still has a talented offense, but an un-experienced QB against the best of the Big 12 calculates into a long shot for the Bears to make the Playoffs.
The Hawkeyes have the best chance at running the table, but will be a considerable underdog when going into the BIG 10 Title game. The Hawkeyes have not played very difficult competition this season, and do not have a quality victory over a ranked opponent. Iowa will need to run the table, and take out Ohio State or Michigan State in the Big 10 Title game to secure their spot.
The only other team to have a chance at the College Football Playoffs are the Utah Utes who have played well all season against top competition. The Utes, much like Stanford, will need to run the table, and win each game in strong fashion to convince the voters that they belong.
The teams that need a lot of help to get into the Playoffs
Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Florida
Oklahoma State is still undefeated, but has not had one victory over a ranked opponent. They will be considerable underdogs going into the stretch run in the Big 12. Florida has played well under new coach Jim McElwain, and will be the favorite to win the SEC East title, but will have to face either LSU or Alabama in the Title game that may prove to be too much for the Gators. Notre Dame has won some big games, but they have to travel for 3 of their last 4 games, including a season ending trip to Stanford that may just prove too much for the Fighting Irish to o