10 Teams Built for College Football Playoff Era
The 2014 season will mark the heavily anticipated debut of the College Football Playoff.
Unlike the controversial BCS system, the CFP will allow four teams to compete for the national title each year. The four teams will be chosen annually by an elected selection committee.
But as is always the case, some teams will benefit more from this system than others.
Join B/R as we take a look at the 10 teams who are most built for success in the CFP.
With players such as Tyler Gaffney, Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy departing, it’s hard to expect the Cardinal to really contend for a national title.
However, the same was said about the team’s prospects after quarterback Andrew Luck graduated in 2011. Instead, Stanford responded by winning 12 games, the Pac-12 title and topping Wisconsin, 20-14, in the Rose Bowl the next year.
Head coach David Shaw has proven he has what it takes to lead the team to success even against all odds.
With another solid recruiting class coming in next season, the Cardinal should be one of the teams to watch out for in 2014. After winning two consecutive Pac-12 titles, expect the team to be favorites for the conference crown yet again.
As the Bears closed in on an undefeated season in 2013, the team found it difficult to find support for a berth into the BCS National Championship Game.
The fact that Baylor began the season unranked certainly worked against the team. Not to mention, the overall belief that the Big 12 had taken a step in the wrong direction.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter, as the Bears fell to Oklahoma State later in the season.
Regardless, head coach Art Briles will return quarterback Bryce Petty along with other key contributors in 2014. The team also has a solid recruiting class coming in next season.
The days where Baylor wasn’t taken seriously are long gone. Now, with more opportunities for teams to prove their right to be in the national title game, the Bears are in prime position to strike.
The Tigers are poised to make some noise in the next couple of years.
In what was largely considered a down season, the team still managed to win 10 games. That includes three wins over Top 25 opponents and an Outback Bowl victory against Iowa.
Furthermore, LSU has posted four consecutive 10-win seasons and seven in the last nine years.
Throw in another top-notch recruiting class—No. 7-ranked class in 2014, led by No. 1 overall prospect Leonard Fournette—and the Tigers should be competing for several years.
Head coach Les Miles never fails to get LSU up to the challenge. Don’t expect the College Football Playoff to be any different.
If it wasn’t for Auburn’s improbable run to the BCS National Championship Game, the Spartans would have easily been college football’s biggest surprise in 2013.
A year after winning just seven games, Michigan State went through the Big Ten schedule unscathed, topping undefeated Ohio State in the conference title game. To cap it all off, the team then defeated Stanford to capture the Rose Bowl.
It was an extraordinary season for Mark Dantonio and his squad.
Although much of the defense is leaving, the Spartans will be returning quarterback Connor Cook and running back Jeremy Langford. That should be enough to make the team at least a top contender for next year’s Big Ten title.
Then again, who even figured Michigan State could possibly win 13 games this season?
As long as Dantonio is in charge, expect big things from the Spartans.
Whether the Sooners have the talent or not, head coach Bob Stoops always seems to have the answer.
During his 15 years in Norman, Stoops has led Oklahoma to 12 10-win seasons and made nine BCS bowl appearances. Furthermore, the team finished in the Top 10 of the end-of-season polls nine times.
More impressively, since Stoops’ inaugural season back in 1999, the Sooners haven’t won fewer than eight games.
Following the team’s shocking upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, expectations are the highest they’ve been in quite some time.
Starting quarterback Trevor Knight is only going to be a sophomore and the defense is returning every single one of its front seven. Not to mention, Oklahoma is set to bring in another solid recruiting class, led by 5-star running back Joe Mixon.
Believe it or not, the Sooners could be even more successful during the College Football Playoff era.
After finishing the regular season 12-0, all the Buckeyes heard was how they didn’t deserve a shot to play for the BCS title. More specifically, all they heard was how weak the Big Ten was.
Although strength of schedule will be a large factor in the College Football Playoff, that still doesn’t change the fact that an undefeated Big Ten champion will most likely be given one of the four spots.
That’s a big advantage for Ohio State. Especially since the team will be a contender for the conference title year in and year out.
That conquest will be aided by returning several key players, including quarterback Braxton Miller. Not to mention, head coach Urban Meyer has flexed his recruiting muscle, currently holding the No. 2-ranked class for 2014, including a whopping 15 4-star recruits.
This is a program that knows what it takes to win on an annual basis.
Even with three different head coaches, the Ducks have managed to win on a consistent basis.
Since 2008, the team has posted six consecutive 10-win seasons. In that same time, Oregon has won three Pac-12 titles and made four appearances in BCS bowls, including the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.
With starting quarterback Marcus Mariota returning, the Ducks are poised to make a splash in 2014. And given the team’s ability to bring in top talent year after year, it goes without saying that Oregon will be an annual contender for the College Football Playoff, let alone the Pac-12 title.
Regardless of who may be coaching and who may be playing, this is a team you should always look out for.
The Tigers may be disappointed in how the 2013 season wound up, but they have to be optimistic about the future.
In just his first season at the helm, head coach Gus Malzahn turned around a squad that won just three games the previous year. More specifically, he led Auburn to within minutes of an improbable BCS title.
Given that Malzahn accomplished his success with the majority of players from a season ago, it only goes to show how much of an impact a head coach can have.
Not surprisingly, the Tigers success has also boosted interest from recruits. The school currently has the No. 8-ranked class for 2014.
As long as Malzahn is strolling the sidelines, Auburn is a sure bet to be competing for the College Football Playoff.
Don’t be fooled by the Crimson Tide’s poor finish in 2013.
Head coach Nick Saban will have his squad competing for the College Football Playoff year in and year out.
Although Auburn fell short of increasing the SEC’s national title streak to eight, there’s no doubt that the conference reigns supreme in college football. That was made apparent by the SEC sending an impressive 10 teams to bowl games this season, winning seven of them.
Not to mention, even after losing to the Tigers in its season finale, Alabama was still ranked No. 3 heading into the bowl season. If the College Football Playoff was in effect last season, the Tide more than likely would have captured one of the four spots.
Furthermore, even with the loss of quarterback AJ McCarron and several other key playmakers to the NFL, Alabama still has a lot of talent returning. It certainly helps that the team currently has the No. 1-ranked recruiting class for 2014 with 24 commitments, including four 5-star prospects.
Saban knows what it takes to win, whether it’s the BCS or the College Football Playoff.
If the Seminoles proved one thing in 2013, it’s that the team is more than ready to compete for the long haul.
Next season, the team will be returning redshirt freshman quarterback and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston along with several other key playmakers from both sides of the ball. Not to mention, Florida State currently has the No. 3 recruiting class for 2014.
The overall strength of the ACC has been brought into question over the years. However, the conference fared rather well in the BCS bowls.
Aside from the Seminoles success over an SEC team—winners of the previous seven BCS titles—Clemson also defeated Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. Heck, even Duke put forth a valiant effort to top Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A bowl.
All in all, head coach Jimbo Fisher has done a great job in building a Florida State football team that can play anybody at anytime.
It would be a shock to not see this team making an appearance in the inaugural College Football Playoff.