2018 College Football Playoff Preview

cfp-previewThere is really one major story as the College Football Playoff begins as the haves are taking on the have-nots.

That is essentially true although the have-nots don’t play their role very well aside from the fact that they haven’t won a National Championship in decades.

The story evolves from the fact that the two of these teams are in an extremely familiar position as they have been the two best teams in the NCAA for years.

Alabama has been the most dominant team in the history of the NCAA as the only team to be involved in every College Football Playoff taking two of the four National titles in that time.

Before the playoff, the Tide won three total BCS National titles for a total of five titles in the last decade.

No program has been as good for as long as the Tide have been under Nick Saban and for the fifth straight year they give themselves a chance to play for the title.

On the other side of the bracket is the Clemson Tigers who haven’t been as good for as long but are beginning to build their own dynasty.

Under Dabo Swinney, the Tigers built themselves a competitive program and in the CFP have consistently given the Tide problems.

In 2016 and 2017 the Tigers were the team to take on the Tide and shocked the world in 2016 when they took home the National title.

The Tide got revenge a year later in the title game and a year after that in the semi-finals.

They, like the Tide, held their spot near the top of the rankings throughout the season and also like the Tide never seemed to really be challenged.

They walked through the ACC schedule and took home their fourth straight ACC title giving them the chance to take their second title in three years.

There is no doubt that these are the two best programs in the country as they have not only proven it this year but multiple years.

They are the kings of the playoff and so no matter who gets put against them there will always be a David versus Goliath storyline.

That happens even if the teams playing them have some special history of their own to lean on as they head into the playoff.

Oklahoma has been here before as they have always been that team sitting on the edge with a chance to get in.

In the last four years, the Sooners have been in the playoff twice but both times were shut down in the semi-finals.

Their high-flying offence led by Heisman winner Kyler Murray is fun to watch but against teams built on a defense-first mindset, they have struggled.

That is what they face in the Orange Bowl against the Tide who now also bring their own high-flying offence as long as Tua Tagovailoa is healthy enough to play.

The Sooners are one of the few traditional programs that have been around longer than most and so they are by no means a small program.

Still, when taking on the Saban-led Tide they will be the underdogs hoping to prove that Big 12 football has a shot in the playoff.

It isn’t often that the team on the other side plays an underdog as one of the most recognizable programs in the country and the world.

Notre Dame is one of the most legendary programs in the NCAA and they are the only school with an exclusive TV deal with a major network.

Putting them in the underdog slot is a hard sell but when talking about the playoff the Irish fit the bill.football-sidebar

They haven’t won a national title since 1988 and the last chance they had ended terribly when they lost to Alabama 42-14 in the 2013 BCS National Championship.

That loss has put this program in a place that they rarely are, a team with great history but almost nothing else.

It has made things a little tough for them as they have no chance of making the CFP without an undefeated season thanks largely due to the fact that they are proudly without a conference.

This year brought that undefeated season in a schedule that is usually better than the top teams.

Whether or not this team can make up for their 2013 embarrassment remains to be seen but they will look to save face against the Tigers in the Cotton Bowl.

This is for a lot more than just a title as the Irish need to show that they still belong if they want to be considered in future playoff rankings.

They take on a tough test as a more well-rounded team without any one standout player or position.

Ian Book has led the team well since taking over partway through the season but he is going to be challenged by a defensive line that could be one of the greatest ever assembled.

Notre Dame and Oklahoma are not used to being the underdogs as they are storied programs with plenty of national titles.

Yet they both find themselves in that rare position with not many thinking that either will make the national championship.

If they can it will be a big surprise and a fun final but the two best teams of the CFP era are going to have something to say about it first.

cfp-prediction

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