|Phil Steele Blog • September 29, 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 for all the updated stats each week. During the season, I work any where 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 Tuesday 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 and this is not where I would have the teams ranked if I was an AP Voter. With that said as we enter October, here are my current 4 teams to make the playoff.
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
The preseason number one Ohio State Buckeyes still have the best shot of making the playoffs despite their recent struggles. They only have road games at Indiana, Rutgers, Illinois and a very potentially dangerous final game at Michigan. 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 number one throughout the year
If Alabama defeats Georgia this weekend they will be favored in the rest of their games. I think there is a good shot that LSU could upset Ole Miss on the road. If Alabama defeats LSU, then Mississippi no longer holds the head-to-head tie breaker as it would be a three-way tie at the top. Winning the SEC is of the up most importance so getting past Ole Miss is Alabama's biggest hurdle besides this weeks game at Georgia and their own game versus LSU.
Georgia does have road trips at Tennessee and Georgia Tech but neither of those appear as imposing as they did two weeks ago. A Georgia victory over Alabama will show that they are a complete team, have a solid defense, one of the best offensive lines in the country, running back Chubb in the backfield, and a suddenly extremely accurate Grayson Lambert at QB. I feel Georgia would be favored in all the rest of their games
Since the first half of the SMU game, Baylors defense is looking solid and they of course have a potent offense leading the nation in yards per play. They have a key game against Oklahoma at home while they do have to play both Oklahoma State and TCU on the road. The Frogs defense is so beat up Baylor is figured to be the favorites in that game. They are playing with a chip on their shoulder and could very well be favored in the rest of their games.
I have heard many analysts breaking down the best team in the Pac 12 and because USC has one loss they are discounting them. I still feel USC is the number one team in the Pac 12. They have to play both Oregon and Notre Dame on the road but this team is capable of handling those obstacles. They have a veteran quarterback in Cody Kessler and some of the most dynamic playmakers available at running back and wide receiver, plus a solid offensive line. They face Notre Dame in October which means the weather should be nice. Despite their loss to Stanford I still think USC makes the playoffs this year.
Just outside the mix
Provided Notre Dame can get past Clemson and beat USC at home they would take the Trojans spot in my final four the week after the game.
If the Frogs defense can get healthy they still get Baylor at home. That is a must as they're missing way too many projected starters on defense
The Tigers still have road trips to Alabama and Mississippi on deck but are capable of running the table and they are a complete team.
At the start of the year I said having Alabama and Auburn, a pair of top five teams both on the road, was a daunting task. They handled the Alabama hurdle and that Auburn road trip doesn't look as tough. They get LSU at home and could very well be favored in the rest of their games.
The Spartans victory over Oregon doesn't look as good after what Utah did to the Ducks in Eugene. Michigan State has not looked as impressive as I thought they would so far this year. They will be favored in all of their games with the exception of Ohio State and should they start playing up to their talent level they would be a legitimate national title contender
I know the Bruins are unbeaten and USC has a loss but I am concerned with the 3 key defensive players they have lost for the season. They also have road trips to Stanford and USC on deck.
They are flying well under the radar but could be favored in all their games this year. They could start climbing up soon.
The Utes have beaten a solid Michigan team and not too many teams travel to Autzen Stadium and whip the Ducks, 62-20. Utah and Stanford are the two most physical teams in the Pac 12. They travel to USC on Oct 24th and could take over my Pac 12 top spot with a win there.
If Clemson can pull off a win vs. Notre Dame this week you will see them rise in this list.
The Sooners are lying under the weeds right now which is right where Stoops prefers them. Oklahom still has a tough road trip to Baylor, but get TCU at home.
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