Football season is still months away, but it is never too early to look ahead to the College Football Playoff. Today, the staff of AllClemson.com give you our way-too-early predictions for the 2020 CFP.
Jason Priester: Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon
Clemson and Ohio State will be the two best teams in the land next season and seem to be on a collision course as Ryan Day and the Buckeyes feel they have unfinished business with the Tigers. With Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne leading the way, along with a revamped defensive front, Clemson will be the toughest out in the nation. No way Alabama misses out two straight seasons. Whether it is Bryce Young or Mac Jones leading the way at QB, the Tide return to the playoff. Oregon lost a lot from last year's Pac-12 title team, but they have recruited very well in recent years, and with Tyler Shough taking over for Justin Herbert at QB, they will break through and finally get back to the playoff.
Brad Senkiw: Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Oklahoma
Are these the four best teams? Maybe so, maybe not. Oklahoma proved last year it didn't need to be that good to get there, and maybe that keeps them out. But all four have clear, defined paths to the playoff, and until something drastically changes in the hierarchy of the sport, there's no reason to go anything but chalk when making picks. Sure, LSU was a little bit of an outlier, but that was because we didn't realize Joe Burrow was capable of throwing 60 TD passes and Joe Brady can flat-out coach. The Tigers were still a top-10 team preseason. All four of these squads will be the same in 2020. They have the best coaches combined with good enough quarterbacks to get them there. And history has proved that if they win their conference championships (in Alabama's case, it didn't have to in 2017) they reach the final four. Sorry, Pac-12, it's still not your turn.
Christopher Hall: Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Florida
For the past few years, it’s seemed like we were destined for a Clemson-Alabama showdown in the postseason and that could once again be the case this season. Clemson is a lock for the playoff, returning a quarterback-running back duo that could both be top-ten picks in the 2021 NFL draft in Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Alabama remains loaded with talent and will be on a mission to return to the playoff after being shutout last year. Ohio State is also a strong contender as Justin Fields continues to make Georgia look silly for letting him slip away from Athens. J.K. Dobbins won’t be flying out of the backfield as a Buckeye but that shouldn’t be a problem for Ryan Day out in Columbus as he returns to the playoff for the second straight season. After a solid 11-2 mark in 2019, could the Gators to be a dark horse for this year’s playoff? They have some key pieces to make a run especially if they can get past the annual showdown in Jacksonville.
Travis Boland: Clemson, Ohio State, Utah, Baylor
It's all about quarterbacks in college football, and Clemson and Ohio State return the two best in Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. Both teams will need to replace some offensive weapons (Tee Higgins for the Tigers and J.K. Dobbins for the Buckeyes). The other two teams are literally a toss-up between a number of SEC, Big 12 and possible Pac-12 schools. Throw them in a hat, pick two and you could make a case for any of them so I will go off the reservation with Utah and Baylor. The Utes schedule sets up perfectly (no Stanford or Oregon and Southern Cal at home). Plus, what better way to extend the "Chicken Curse" but to have a former South Carolina quarterback (Jake Bentley) transfer only to make the College Football Playoff. Baylor returns quarterback Charlie Brewer from a team that was potentially one game from making the playoff a year ago, plus...I like Bears.
Zach Lentz: Ohio State, Georgia, Oregon, Clemson
Let's go ahead and get the two obvious picks out the way. Clemson welcomes the Ohio State Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff— also known as the "Clemson Invitational"—for their fourth appearance and two more teams making their second appearance: the Georgia Bulldogs and Oregon Ducks. Georgia continues Alabama's two-year hiatus from the playoff after Kirby and Co. knock off the Auburn Tigers (you read that right) in the SEC Championship game. Oregon replaces Justin Herbert with sophomore Tyler Shough, but a loaded roster that is filled with weapons on offense and defense gives the Ducks a chance to make their second appearance in the CFP.