We're still a few weeks away from the final results from the College Football Playoff committee, but if the current top four make it, it would arguably be the best crop of teams we've had in the playoff era. But who's the best of the best?
The Crimson Tide have been the clear front runners since Tua Tagovailoa zipped a championship-winning pass in last year's title game, and there's no reason to dial back those expectations now. Alabama has been dominant, with an offense that ranks first in efficiency and a defense that ranks No. 2. Sure, the offense struggled a bit against Mississippi State's stellar pass rush, and yes, the Tide were tied with The Citadel at halftime last week, but that's just enough rat poison antidote to keep Nick Saban happy.
It seems inevitable we're headed for a Clemson-Bama Part IV, and there's good reason to think the Tigers can even the series. For one, Clemson's defensive line is as good as it gets nationally, and if Alabama found yards hard to come by against Mississippi State, the Tigers represent an even bigger challenge. And while Tagovailoa has altered Alabama's offensive prowess, so, too, has Trevor Lawrence at Clemson. Whether the freshman QB can do his best Deshaun Watson impression in a big game remains to be seen, but he offers a dynamic presence that Clemson didn't have in last year's Sugar Bowl loss.
Why is everyone discounting the Irish? After all Notre Dame has the season's best win (hi, Michigan!), and with Ian Book at QB, the Irish have only gotten better since then. Book is completing 73 percent of his throws this year -- second-best nationally -- and is more than capable of facing down any of the three elite defenses he might run across and counter with death by a thousand short throws. Meanwhile the defense has as many first-half takeaways (seven) as touchdowns allowed this year, and has been playing its best football in recent weeks.
The best defense, front to back, of the four teams at the top of the rankings likely belongs to Michigan. Don Brown's unit has been exceptional this season, with Chase Winovich & Co. dominating up front, Devin Bush proving to be one of the top linebackers in the country and Lavert Hill and the secondary leading the nation in yards-per-pass allowed (4.90). The offense has been the bigger question mark, but Shea Patterson has experience against Alabama and won't be intimidated, and the Wolverines are desperate for revenge against the Irish, which held off a late Michigan comeback attempt in Week 1.
So of those four who would you pick to win it all if the playoff started tomorrow?
Who would be your pick if the playoff began tomorrow?— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 19, 2018
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