Why These Teams Will or Won’t Make the 2018 College Football Playoff

Posted by Jordan Walters on Thursday,August 10, 2017 10:25, EDT in

If you want to make the College Football Playoff, history has shown us you don’t necessarily have to win your conference title but you must be a Power 5 team with only a single defeat (or none) on your resume. No two-loss team has made the playoff and that’s not likely in 2017. Here are four big-name schools with their betting odds to make the playoff (just make it not win it).

Why These Teams Will or Won’t Make the 2018 College Football Playoff

Wisconsin Badgers

After winning 21 games in Paul Chryst’s first two seasons as coach, the Badgers are going to be much the same: a very good team with a chance to be great. No Ohio State and Penn State — and playing Michigan at home — means Wisconsin could be favored in every regular-season game.

One big question is at tailback after losing Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale. Bradrick Shaw returns after impressing over the final half of last year, Pittsburgh transfer Chris James becomes eligible this season, Taiwan Deal is healthy again and a graduate transfer from Pitt, Rachid Ibrahim, made his way to Madison for the sole purpose of contributing in 2017.

While Shaw and James are competing to exit camp as the Badgers’ No. 1 guy, the competition for playing time extends throughout. UW running backs coach John Settle: “I think right now, five (Chris James) probably gives you the best chance of going out and starting the game and being effective.” Wisconsin might be unbeaten during the regular season, but I don’t see it beating an Ohio State or Penn State in the Big Ten title game. No on playoff.

College Football Playoff Odds to Make Playoffs: +700

Michigan Wolverines

I believe this team is hugely overrated with the fewest returning starters in the country. Sure, they have Coach Jim Harbaugh and nine wins is reasonable. But Michigan expects more under Harbaugh, especially as the program’s two major droughts (Big Ten title and beating Ohio State) linger. We still don’t know the starting QB.

First-year coordinator Pep Hamilton isn’t ready to give an update on the competition between “several” quarterbacks to become Michigan’s starter on Sept. 2 in its season opener against Florida. Every year that Harbaugh has coached at Michigan, his program has had a competition for its starting quarterback job.

Shane Morris vs. Jake Rudock in 2015. Wilton Speight vs. John O’Korn in 2016. Speight won it last year and returns, so I expect him to win it. Michigan could go 10-2 but it won’t reach the playoff or even win the Big Ten East thanks to losses at Penn State and home to Ohio State.

College Football Playoff Odds to Make Playoffs: +500

LSU Tigers

The Tigers have one of the best running backs in the country in Derrius Guice and one of the best defensive players in Arden Key. But at quarterback? Meh.
That’s going to be Purdue transfer Danny Etling, and what is a program like LSU doing using a transfer from lousy Purdue? Etling was the primary starter last year, playing through a back injury.

No doubt his passing stats could have been better – a 59.5 completion percentage, 2,123 passing yards (193 per game), 11 TDs and five interceptions. But Etling remained the starter over a healthy Brandon Harris, because he rarely put his offense in jeopardy with bad decisions. As the season progressed, though, so did his back pain. Harris has since transferred.

Is LSU a safe betting pick to make the 2018 College Football Playoff?

The new offense under coordinator Matt Canada is set for the quarterback to distribute the ball to multiple players. Learning how to operate within that offense has been the other task for Etling as he keeps a focus on fundamentals.

“I like how we can facilitate the ball to so many different guys,” he said. “Not one guy can only hurt you. It’s a lot of different ways to get our playmakers the ball. That’s what we’re going to keep doing.”

I love this team’s talent but it’s going to likely lose at least twice among these games: at Florida, at Alabama, at Tennessee. No playoff.

College Football Playoff Odds to Make Playoffs: +400

Florida State Seminoles

The Noles have it all, one of the best defensive units in the country, maybe the best secondary, and a Heisman candidate in QB Deondre Francois. Florida State is returning 20 starters from last year’s team that went 10-3. Head coach Jimbo Fisher is expecting this group to be a lot more mature than they were
a year ago.

“We’ll find out more when the games start but from a preparation standpoint and an urgency standpoint I think they've really grown,” said Fisher. “I think the guys understand how important every offseason workout is. How important every spring practice was. How important every fall practice is. I think as you get older you understand once you go through that cycle and getting prepared is such a big factor for how well you play.”

However, FSU picked the wrong year to open the season against No. 1 Alabama. The game will be Fisher’s first as a head coach against close friend and former boss Nick Saban. Alabama and FSU have the two winningest programs in the country since 2010.

I don’t see FSU winning that and it could also lose vs. Miami, vs. Louisville, at Clemson or at Florida. Too tough a schedule. No playoff.

College Football Playoff Odds to Make Playoffs: +140