College football landscape looks more top-heavy than ever in 2020
Jeff Griffith (@Jeff_Griffith21)
October 9, 2020
I always get really annoyed by the people who are against the expansion of the College Football Playoff for reasons like these:
It’s always a blowout. We want MORE of these games?
It’s pretty much always the same teams anyway.
There’s a general point of view throughout a lot of the college football community and fan base that the addition of more teams would just be an exercise in futility. It’d be fun to see them get there, but they’re just going to be there for show.
Usually, I emphatically disagree, for a number of reasons. But I’m not going to outline those today.
Because today, I agree.
I agree, specifically, in the context of what I’ve seen in 2020. I’ve been trying very hard to figure out what I really think of the holistic college football landscape, and after four weeks of play, I’ve finally landed on it.
This year, more than any other, there are really only four or five great teams. Let’s talk about them.
No. 1 Clemson is obvious. The Tigers ran away from Wake Forest on the road, and just ousted Virginia by a hefty margin. They’ve yet to pull off the kind of 52-0 public embarrassment we’re used to in Clemson’s ACC, but something tells me they’re about to expose an overrated Miami side this weekend. We’ll get to the ‘Canes in a minute.
No. 2 Alabama is obvious. The Crimson Tide own pretty dominant wins over two solid SEC opponents; the first was just Vanderbilt, but last week, ‘Bama went wire-to-wire against then-No. 13Texas A&M in what can only be described as a classic Alabama SEC win, by a final of 52-24.
Third, I’m going to lump in Ohio State (AP No. 6); they’ve yet to play a game, but all signs point to the Buckeyes being just as good, if not better, than last year. Justin Fields is arguably the most electric player in the country, and you just know he’s hungry after this offseason.
After that, I’ll give you No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Florida. Maybe. I’ve seen legitimate flaws in both — flaws that, to me, put them in a second tier below the previously-mentioned top three — and greatly question their ability to compete on the biggest stage this season. But they look the part of a playoff spot contender, so far, despite Florida’s defense being close to non-existent, and Georgia’s offense being largely the same.
But from there, I look at the remainder of the AP poll’s top portion and I’m just confused. This is what we’ve got?
Notre Dame is No. 5. Are the Irish even going to play another game? And if they do, are they going to be the same team that held off Duke — a Duke team that has since dropped three straight, two of which in blowout fashion, against middling ACC teams — by just two scores at home? Next.
Miami is No. 7. What? Look, I’m not one to let one game muddle my opinion of a team, but I’m not sure how much confidence I have in a team that held a three-point second-half lead against UAB. Give me Clemson by at least 20 this weekend in primetime against the Hurricanes.
And then at No. 8, we have North Carolina? Are you serious? The Tar Heels didn’t even remotely begin to pull away from a bottom-three ACC team (Syracuse) until the fourth quarter in week one, and just barely eked out a win over Boston College.
Look, I know these resumes aren’t bad, and I’m finding minute flaws in every team. They’re all undefeated, and that’s nothing to scoff at! But we’re talking about finding teams who can compete with the real playoff contenders. And, I’m just going to blunt, these teams can’t.
I’ll admit, Penn State and Oregon could make me look stupid. Both are talented, both have yet to kick off, and both already sit among the AP Top 12.
But when you look at the rest of the country, can you really be all that impressed? Oklahoma? Texas? Auburn? LSU?
I’m rambling at this point, and probably being a little too cynical against these second-, third- and fourth-tier teams. But with what I’ve seen so far, I’ll believe it when I see it that there’s a legitimate fourth team to make the playoff interesting, let alone a fifth or sixth that can contribute to the expanded playoff argument.
In the words of Robert California from NBC’s The Office: “Winners, prove me right. Losers, prove me wrong.”