|Phil Steele Blog • November 11, 2015|
Phil Steele's Projected Final 4
I am very proud that my magazine was the most accurate in 2014, the most accurate the last 3 years, the most accurate the last 5 years, last 10 years, last 17 years, etc. I do not stop working on football once the magazine comes out. Check out the team pages on philsteele.com (Here) for all the updated stats each week. During the season, I work anywhere from 100-104 hours a week on football including a 21 hour Saturday. I have 12 TV’s that I watch, taking in the action all day long. I go thru every box score and play by play for each game. With that said, each week I will have a blog where I project my final 4 for the playoffs.
In my magazine, my top 40 is based on where I think the teams will FINISH, not where I would rank them at the start of the year. This is NOT where I would have the teams ranked currently if I was an AP Voter, it is where I feel the teams will finish this year. With that said, here are my current 4 teams to make the playoff.
Before I give you the teams I would like to give you the 4 conferences that control their own destiny. I know that Notre Dame is #4 in the current rankings but they do not control their own destiny. If a Big Ten team is Undefeated (Ohio St or Iowa) they are in. If a Big 12 team is Undefeated (Baylor or Oklahoma St) they are in. If Clemson is Undefeated, they are in. If the SEC champ has one loss, they are in. Those 4 conferences all control their own destiny but the good news for the Pac 12 and Notre Dame is that there are ALWAYS upsets these last few weeks.
The preseason No.1 Ohio State Buckeyes only have road games at Illinois and arch rival Michigan left. They get to host Michigan State. Ohio State still figures to be at least a touchdown favorite in every single game and favored in the Big Ten title game and I expect them to win out. If they win out, they are in.
The Tide has the best defense in the country, one of the best offensive lines, RB Derrick Henry, and an improving QB in Jake Coker. Alabama just dominated LSU and should be a TD plus favorite in all their remaining games. I expect them to win out and if they do, they are in the playoffs and despite their one loss could even end up the top seed.
The Tigers are unbeaten and #1 in the committee’s rankings. They have a solid defense and QB Deshun Watson. They should win the rest of their games with road trips to Syracuse and South Carolina and a home game vs Wake Forest. They will be a TD plus favorite against whatever team the Coastal tosses up against them. I have Clemson written in pen in my playoff bracket.
Yes, Stanford has a loss, but they continue to get better by the week. Christian McCaffrey has a shot at breaking Barry Sanders record for all purpose yards in a season. The defense is young and is getting more exp’d and improving by the week. They have a veteran senior QB in Kevin Hogan, one of the best head coaches in the country, and their final 3 games are all at home (Oregon, California, Notre Dame). They do need BOTH Oklahoma St and Baylor to lose a game down the stretch.
Just outside the mix: (Teams below are listed in Alphabetical order, not by rank)
The Bears offense will be just fine with Stidham at QB and the defense is good by Big 12 standards. They do play the toughest schedule of any team in the country in the final 5 weeks and that road game at TCU will be tough. If they win out they are in and will have deserved it.
The Gators were not impressive last week but if they win out and that would include a win over Bama or LSU in the SEC title game, they will be in the playoffs.
Who cares about style points? If Iowa wins out including a win over Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, they will be in the playoffs.
LSU would be in the playoffs if they win out and Alabama loses once. That possibility exists.
The Spartans have a shot if they win out as they would be the Big Ten champs. They could use Oregon to rebound and win the Pac 12 North and Pac 12 overall as they beat them earlier this year.
The Irish are currently #4 in the rankings. They could really use Stanford to win the Pac 12 and if that happens and the Irish win at Stanford, they could claim a “conference championship.” They still need for either the ACC, Big 12 or Big Ten to finish with a champ with one loss to get there.
The Sooners are currently the #2 team in the country in my computers ratings and if they win out that would include wins AT Baylor, AT Oklahoma St and home vs TCU. I still think at that point they would lose out to a one loss SEC and one loss Pac 12 champ, but who’s to say there will be a one loss Pac 12 champ?
They get Oklahoma and Baylor at home and if they win out they are in the playoffs. They showed they are capable, already upsetting TCU so I do not discount their chances.
The Frogs hopes took a big hit and they need some help. First they must win out and then have a two loss Pac 12 champ and for Notre Dame to lose another game. That situation has a decent shot of happening.
UTAHUtah has the same shot as Stanford at getting in. If they win out they would have a lot of impressive wins under their belt.
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