College Football Playoff: Why each final four team will, won't win it all
The College Football Playoff is set. The Selection Committee announced Sunday that Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma are the four best teams in the country and they will play for the national championship.
Each of these four teams is now looking toward the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl on Dec. 29, as Alabama will face Oklahoma in Miami while Clemson and Notre Dame square off in Dallas. The winners advance to Santa Clara, Calif., on Jan. 7 for the national title game.
With the playoff field set, we asked the Rivals.com experts that cover each team why their school will and will not win the national championship.
Current team recruiting ranking: 1
Why they will win the national championship: "Not only will the Crimson Tide be making their fifth straight trip to the College Football Playoff, they will be doing so with perhaps the best team Nick Saban has ever assembled.
"Led by Heisman favorite Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama now has a dynamic offense to pair with its punishing defense. The Crimson Tide breezed through its regular-season schedule, becoming the first team since Yale in 1888 to beat its first 12 opponents by 20 points or more. This week, Alabama proved it can carry over that success against a top-tier opponent as it defeated Georgia in the SEC championship." – Tony Tsoukalas, BamaInsider.com
Why they won't win the national championship: "No team has ever completed a 15-0 season. While Alabama might be on the verge of making history this year, it still has plenty of challenges remaining. One of those will be avoiding a slew of possible distractions over the next month.
"In the past, Saban has done a good job of making sure his players avoid the 'rat poison' divvied out by the media. However, with a slew of potential awards and praise headed their way, it will be important that Alabama players remain focused on the task at hand." – Tsoukalas
Current team recruiting ranking: 3
Why they will win the national championship: ”Because they have a great defensive line that's been here before, and because they have a sensational freshman quarterback. While everyone has been talking about Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray and now Jalen Hurts, Trevor Lawrence has been steadily improving and looks like a veteran now compared to when he took over as the starter in late September.” – Larry Williams, TigerIllustrated.com
Why they won't win the national championship: ”While this team still has a bunch of guys who were around two years ago when Clemson knocked off Alabama in Tampa, it also has a lot of young faces on offense. Given that this team hasn't been tested since Syracuse pushed the Tigers to the edge on Sept. 29, what does that mean come playoff time in a fourth-quarter game against comparable competition? The eye-opening defensive lapses against South Carolina remain a concern, as do some offensive sputters in two of the last three games against mediocre competition.” – Williams
3. NOTRE DAME
Current team recruiting ranking: 10
Why they will win the national championship: “Pro Football Focus has ranked the Notre Dame pass rush as one of the best in the nation all season. If Notre Dame is going to win it all, it will start up front. The Irish front four will harass opposing quarterbacks all game long like it did against Michigan, Stanford, Syracuse and Florida State. That will result in turnovers that set up the offense for easy points.
“On offense, the Irish will win it if the offensive line can give quarterback Ian Book time to throw, and the junior quarterback rewards them with accurate throws and good decisions. If Book starts off hot it will open up the ground game, and running back Dexter Williams will be able to gash the opposition. When the Irish are balanced on offense they are very hard to defend.” – Bryan Driskell, BlueandGold.com
Why they won't win the national championship: “The reasons Notre Dame won’t win it all are the exact opposite of why they will win it. If Notre Dame’s front four can’t dominate the way it did during the regular season and if Book struggles in the first half like he has much of the season the Irish will have a hard time keeping up with the explosive offenses it will face in the playoffs.” –Driskell
Current team recruiting ranking: 9
Why they will win the national championship: “In this era of college football, as much as the mantra is constantly about defense and has been in this sport for decades the reality is the game is moving to a more offensive-minded version of itself. And with that you get teams like Oklahoma that while lopsided in the way they do things, they are so productive offensively that they can beat any team on the right day. I completely understand why Oklahoma wouldn't be the favorite walking into a playoff but at the same time with an offense as dynamic as theirs is, there's absolutely no team in the country they aren't capable of beating on the right day.” – Josh McCuistion, SoonerScoop.com
Why they won't win the national championship: “This one is equally easy, Oklahoma's defense will keep it from winning a national championship. It's not that the unit has to be dominant when it lines up with Oklahoma's offense but it does need to be semi-functional. While it showed some semblance of that against Texas, and in various other times throughout the season, it's very hard to imagine that being a consistent factor in the chase for a national championship.” – McCuistion