A look at some teams other than Ohio State who could challenge for a place in the College Football Playoff:
It would be dangerous to count the Crimson Tide out of the national championship picture any season.
Sure, they lost standouts like receiver Amari Cooper and will have a first-year quarterback. But Nick Saban has won two national championship with first-year starters at QB and Alabama’s offensive line and defensive front seven remain formidable.
For a team that lost five games last season, Auburn is being mentioned a lot as a possibility to go to the College Football Playoff.
Quarterback Jeremy Johnson is a highly regarded passer and freshman Roc Thomas and junior college transfer Javon Robinson are expected to continue Auburn’s tradition of being strong in the running game. The defense could improve with former Florida head coach Will Muschamp’s hiring as defensive coordinator.
The Spartans should be favored in every game before going to Ohio State on Nov. 21. Quarterback Connor Cook and an offensive line that could challenge OSU’s as the best in the Big Ten could make MSU dangerous. But their path to the playoffs would be blocked by a loss at Ohio State.
The Horned Frogs are one of the teams that thought they deserved a spot in the College Football Playoff last year instead of Ohio State. Trevone Boykin (3,901 yards passing, 707 yards rushing) leads an explosive offense.
The Bears topped the NCAA total offense statistics last season when they averaged 581.5 yards a game. Baylor coach Art Briles was vocal about his displeasure about being left out of the College Football Playoff, so that could possibly be some motivation for his team this year.
The Ducks’ star was dimmed a bit by Ohio State’s dominating 42-20 win in the national championship game so they might be a little overlooked as a national championship contender.
Quarterback Cody Kessler is the main reason the Trojans are a contender to reach the postseason. He completed a school-record 69.7 percent of his passes in 2014.
The Irish have a tough schedule and a first-year starter at quarterback, Malik Zaire. But he has a veteran offensive line in front of him and they’re solid on defense.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or at @Lima_Naveau.