The last year of the four team playoff season is already a heated debate.

Early season College Football Playoff Prediction

Two weeks of the College Football Season is in the books! Within the first two weeks, there have been major upsets, statement games and clashes of the College Football Titans. After two weeks of tape, it’s irrationally fun to overreact and start talking about which teams will be making the College Football Playoff that is still three months away. Florida State and Texas already have huge wins on their playoff profile. Colorado is a great story that will keep people glued in each week. It’s going to get wild out west in the PAC-12’s final season. There is still a lot of football to be played and things can change quickly. So let my playoff committee speculation begin!

Sugar Bowl (Playoff Semi-final) #1 Texas Longhorns vs. #4 Penn State Nittany Lions

Why Texas is the #1 overall Seed: The Texas Longhorns currently have the best overall win in this young season. It’s has been 19 years since the Alabama Crimson Tide lost by double digits at home. Texas didn’t just win that game. They dominated in the trenches and Quinn Ewers showed the world why he was the top rated Quarterback in his class. The Longhorn skill position players match up well with some of the best groups in the country. Unless Texas really trips up against Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry or against Kansas State in early November, the Longhorns should be undefeated heading into the Big 12 Title game.

The Longhorns’ win over Alabama was huge for their playoff chances.

Why Penn State got the #4 seed over Ohio State and Michigan: Penn State has exceeded early season expectations with Drew Allar at Quarterback. It was easy to see that he could lean heavily on the potent rushing attack to get comfortable in James Franklin’s offense. Plus Linebacker Curtis Jacobs has looked like the next great linebacker to come out of Penn State. Penn State will still have to beat both Ohio State and Michigan this season. After two weeks of tape, that challenge doesn’t seem as daunting as it did in August. Ohio State’s offense has looked clunky at times with Kyle McCord. The defense is improved but there are still some questions that remain. Penn State has Ohio State on the ropes in 2022 before blowing the game. As for Wolverines, they’ve looked exactly like the same playoff team from the past two years. They’ve dominated lesser competition and Blake Corum has recovered nicely from his injury in 2022. But Penn State still remembers that game last year in Ann Arbor. These teams are very similar and there is a good chance Penn State gets revenge in Happy Valley.

Kaytron Allen has been a beast for Nittany Lions.

Rose Bowl (Play-off Semi-final) #2 Georgia Bulldogs vs #3 Florida State Seminoles

Why Georgia is almost a sure-fire bet to make the playoffs: Look at the Georgia Bulldogs’ schedule. Georgia only has two top 25 teams on their schedule for the rest of the season in Ole Miss and Tennessee. Those games are in back to back weeks in November, but are really the only time Georgia will be tested. Georgia fans will be quick to remind you that they lost Oklahoma from this year’s schedule, but it only puts the Bulldogs in a tougher spot. Lose one game and you could be celebrating New Year’s Day at home. It’s hard to imagine a way for the Playoff committee to completely leave out the SEC from the playoff, but with what we’ve seen in two weeks raises some questions about the conference in 2023. Georgia should run the table because they have more talent than anyone else, but watchout if Georgia suffers a regular season loss in the first time in over 1,000 days.

Carson Beck has been picking up where Stetson Bennett left off.

Why the Florida State hype is worth buying: Florida State still has three tough games on their schedule. Clemson may be down but it’s still difficult to go into Death Valley and win. If Florida State passes the Clemson test in similar fashion as the LSU game, then Florida State will have an argument as the best team in the country. They still have bumps along the way in two upstarts in Miami and Duke, but all of the big time challenges are done for Jordan Travis and the Seminoles by that point. Florida State has a great path to the playoff and look like one of the nation’s best teams.

Excitement is everywhere for the Seminoles after beating LSU.

Just outside the playoff but in the picture

#5- The winner of the Ohio State/Michigan Game: This one is pretty obvious. Both Michigan and Ohio State would be in line for a playoff spot if they got past Penn State. While both teams got into the playoff in 2022, that’s not a likely scenario in 2023. That would make the winner of The Game in Ann Arbor the default team to make the playoff. Michigan has looked very strong while playing lesser competition to start the season. Blake Corum and JJ McCarthy have just pick up Ohio State’s offense has looked clunky at times as they break in a new quarterback in Kyle McCord. If Michigan beats Penn State, they should be undefeated when Thanksgiving weekend rolls around. Ohio State has a tough schedule with a trip to South Bend on the slate, but if they get past the Irish and Penn State, they too will be undefeated by the time they travel north on I-75. That makes the Game an unofficial play-in game.

The Game is now a playoff play-in.

#6 USC Trojans: Lincoln Riley’s offense has been fantastic. Caleb Williams reminds us weekly why he won the Heisman last season. There are still questions about the defense and the Men of Troy will have to navigate the dangers of the PAC-12. USC has looked like one of the best teams in the country but they will need to win games when it matters most. One loss won’t keep the out of the playoffs but two losses is possible with their schedule. If they make the playoff, they would easily be the most battled tested team in the field.

If the defense improves for USC, the Trojans can be a playoff contender.

#7 Washington Huskies: How about this crazy scenario: Washington loses in the regular season at USC and then beats the Trojans in the Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Title? Both teams would beknown for their electric offense. Michael Pinnix Jr. has an argument that he is the best quarterback in College Football. He could easily wind up in New York for the Heisman. The Huskies have a tough schedule and can’t afford to have a let down game, but Washington has the offensive firepower to get the entire country buzzing about their potential in the playoff. But if that scenario is true, could the PAC-12 get two teams in the playoff field? It’s not as outrageous as people would think.

A Heisman could be in the cards for Michael Pinnix Jr.

#8 Tennessee Volunteers: Tennessee has a difficult road to make the playoff. But even with that, it’s been impressive on how the Vols have just continued last seasons offensive magic. Joe Milton now looks like the Quarterback, he was supposed to be coming out of high school. And the running game has been better than last year early on. But trips to Alabama and Kentucky remain on the schedule. Those will be tough. The season may come down to the matchup with Georgia in November in Neyland Stadium. To be the man, you got to beat the man. For Tennessee to make the playoff, they have to go through the back to back defending champs. That’s a lot to ask.

Joe Milton has the Tennessee offense cruising.

#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Sam Hartman has been a fantastic pick up in the transfer portal for the Fighting Irish. He has been lights out in three games for the offense. Tests still remain with Ohio State coming to town in week 4 and USC visiting South Bend in the middle of October. Then they have to visit Clemson, which could be very dangerous if their season already has two or three losses. Notre Dame could be viewed as their championship for the season. Still, Marcus Freeman has been insanely successful in his short time in South Bend and the future is very bright. Notre Dame could give the committee a whole world of problems if they win out and get into the top 4. At that point, I recommend the committee selling tickets to watch them debate who’s in that top 4. That would be must see tv.

Sam Hartman has been the best player to come out of the transfer portal this year.

Playoff rankings will be updated weekly.

About SHappel

Hosts The Irrational Confidence Podcast with Fresh.

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