Alabama and Clemson, the two teams that treated us to a thrilling college football championship game less than 7 months ago, are among the teams favored to make the NCAAF playoffs in the 2016-17 college football season. That, of course, isn’t much of a surprise, given the way the Crimson Tide has dominated the NCAA Football lines over the past decade and Clemson’s solid group of returning starters led by 2015 Heisman Trophy Finalist QB Deshaun Watson. Besides these two teams, which other schools are worthy of your consideration in the 2016-17 College Football Picks? Read on as we take you through our select favorite, smart and longshot picks.
Here’s a Closer Look At The 2016 College Football Free Picks For 4-Team Playoff
Best Favorite Picks to Make the 2016-17 NCAA Football Playoffs
Alabama Crimson Tide
Despite the tough competition in the SEC, Alabama has established itself as the team to beat in the conference, so it comes as no surprise that they Alabama Crimson Tide are favored to clinch the 30th conference title in the school’s history. More notably, Alabama has made the playoffs in each of the two seasons since the four-team College Football Playoff (CFP) was introduced in 2014. With Nick Saban still in charge of the team and Bama returning a good number of starters to offer leadership to the Tide’s No.1 recruiting class of 2016, it be sacrilegious not to start this list of favorites with Alabama’s name.
While there are many good teams in the league to consider for this spot, very few can match up to what the Tigers bring on the table. Quarterback Deshaun Watson, locked and loaded with another year of experience under his belt, should be as solid as ever after he threw for over 4,000 yards and ran for over 1,000 last season. Meanwhile, the 2016 recruiting class that focused heavily on the defense should help in filling the gaps left by some of Clemson’s key defensive contributors from last year. Add that to Clemson’s stellar coaching in Dabo Swinney, another national championship run should be in the books for the Tigers, who were the lone Power Five Conference team to finish the 2015 regular season with an unbeaten record.
Best Smart Picks to Make the 2016-17 NCAA Football Playoffs
Though the Cardinal did not make the playoffs last season (or even the year before that); their dominance over their Pac-12 rivals should put them in a good position to make a maiden CFP appearance. For starters, the Cardinal cruised to a 12-2 campaign last year, barely having any trouble in their Pac 12 title-clinching feat. In addition, Stanford is returning 11 starters—including the dynamic Christian McCaffrey, who is arguably the best returning running back in the FBS. As long as the defense holds up its end of the bargain, Stanford should be due for its third Pac-12 title in four years and a very likely appearance in the playoffs.
Ohio State Buckeyes
After making the playoffs in 2014 and going all the way to lift the inaugural CFP title, the Tide narrowly missed out on a second-straight appearance in the playoffs after finishing behind Connor Cook and the Spartans in the Big Ten standings. With Cook now in the NFL and OU having the most balanced team plus the best QB in the conference, normalcy should resume with the Bucks returning to the top of the Big Ten and contending for a playoff spot in the process.
Best Longshot Picks to Make the 2016-17 NCAAF Football Playoffs
Ole Miss Rebels
The Rebels bring with them a stellar reputation of being the lone FBS team to beat Alabama in each of the last two straight seasons. Having such a pedigree, plus one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Chad Kelly, and a damn good defense to take care of things on the other side of the field; the Rebels should have a legitimate shot at the SEC title. And if they somehow manage to lift the SEC crown, it should automatically come with a chance at the playoffs, as has been the case for the SEC winner in each of the last two seasons.
Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles, in spite of entering 2015 as a rebuilding team, played a solid 10-win season and hanged tough in their 3 losses. With several returning starters on both sides of the ball (meaning more maturity and experience for the players), the Noles could easily get back to the top of the ACC conference, especially if the offense can build more big game players around 2016 Heisman Trophy and ACC Player of the Year contender Dalvin Cook. Not to mention, the schedule in 2016 is very favorable for FSU, including a potential conference-deciding home game vs. Clemson; something that should favor the Seminoles who could easily finish as one-loss or even undefeated ACC Champs.