|Phil Steele Blog • October 21, 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.
The preseason No.1 Ohio State Buckeyes still have the best shot of making the playoffs despite their struggles this year. They only have road games at Rutgers, 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 should remain No.1 throughout the year.
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. While LSU is undefeated and in a lot of folks final four right now, Alabama gets that game at home. The Tide will be favored in every game the rest of the way and with that defense, might just be the best team in the FBS right now. There is no doubt a one loss Alabama team makes the playoffs.
I am a voter in the Super 16 Poll for the FWAA and in that poll I currently have Baylor #1. They are playing the best ball of any team in the country and just blow out their opponents each week. If they were to play TCU THIS WEEK at a neutral site, I would favor the Bears by a TD. The reason I have TCU in my final four is that they get that key game against Baylor at home and catch Baylor in the middle of a hellacious November schedule and traveling on a short week. TCU’s injury plagued defense will either have the injured players back or the young guys they have filling in right now will all be experienced by week 12 of the season. Boykin vs Russell is a Heisman playoff battle as well.
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 and he and Barry’s son run behind one of the top OL’s in the country. The defense is not as strong as past Stanford editions, but is still solid and last week gave up 2 long garbage drives to UCLA when leading 56-21, which hurt their stats. They have a veteran senior QB in Kevin Hogan, one of the best head coaches in the country, and their only remaining road trips are at Wash St and Colorado. I see them winning the Pac 12 title and making the playoffs.
Just outside the mix:
Playing the best of any team in the country and capable of handling their tough November schedule. Almost had them in the final 4 (see TCU writeup).
During my preseason radio tour, I kept pointing out that LSU was my #2 surprise team and that I expected it to be a titanic showdown when they traveled to Alabama at the start of November. They just need to win there to jump into that final 4 spot and are one of the top teams in the country.
They will be favored in every game the rest of the season and have looked better each week. 532 yards vs Boston College is impressive.
The Spartans put that chip back on their shoulder last week and had a 20-10 FD edge at Michigan. They need to pull an upset in Columbus to get to the final 4.
They are flying well under the radar, which is a lot different than last year. They will keep doing so until their showdown with Clemson.
No one has a better resume in the country right now and if you vote them No.1 based on that, than I have no problem with them drawing first place votes. If they beat USC on the road this week they would be favored in each of the last 5 games.
They will be favored in the rest of their regular season games and if they knock off an Ohio St or Mich St in the Big Ten title game, they will make the playoffs.
The Irish still have a decent shot despite the fact they cannot claim a conference title. They need Clemson to lose and most likely need some upsets to happen so there is a champ or two that has 2 conference losses. A win over Stanford and then Stanford winning the Pac 12 would put them in over the Pac 12 champ.
OKLAHOMA STThey have not played to the level I thought they would yet this year but they do host Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma in November and if they finish unbeaten they will be in the playoffs.
The Gators were impressive at LSU and if they get past Georgia next week will find themselves in the SEC title game where they are one win away from making the playoffs.
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