College football’s two previous champions weren’t exactly hoisted atop a pedestal in the preseason.
Florida State blossomed with a freshman quarterback in Jameis Winston in 2013 and Ohio State overcame a string of offseason setbacks a year ago.
It’s an difficult task for one to not envision the 2015-2016 champion as a powerhouse, locked in the first wave of the AP Top 25, but we dig out the probables for the dominos to tumble.
TCU-Playing with a Target on its Back/Big 12 Loopholes
It’s a sham to call Gary Patterson’s 2014 Horned Frogs an underdog, but the high-motor offense leapt on the scene midway through the season, stunning Boomer Sooner and getting road victories at Kansas State and Texas.
What was recently a conference based on spoiling the likes of Oklahoma and the Longhorns, the Frogs return a potent offense and headline as the fan favorites to emerge from the Big 12 in 2015.
It’s just a matter of going undefeated.
The good news? Home games versus Stoops and Briles, potentially the couplet of foes most likely to tally a loss in TCU’s standings.
The bad news? One slip up and TCU’s probability of nabbing a playoff bid decreases. Significantly.
Patterson recently touched on his frustration of not being one of the four in the playoff in 2014 (yes, we’re still discussing the matter), so one loss may be just enough to reenact last season’s outcome.
Cliché as it comes, every Big 12 team will play its “National Championship” when paired with Texas Christian.
Gus Malzahn and War Eagle must be brewing a savvy mix for 2015 as Auburn remains a fan favorite to not only win the SEC but to score a National Championship.
One SEC diehard (Facebook groups at its finest) also predicts the Tigers to supply two 1,000-yard backs along with a 1,000-yard wide-receiver. Your old-fashioned 7,000-yard offense.
Bold, yes, but Auburn’s speed will pose endless fits for any defense in the Southeastern Conference. It’s just a matter of time before War Eagle (or the defense, specifically) slips.
I’m highlighting a five-game stretch for Malzahn and Co. towards the latter end of the schedule when Auburn travels to “trap” games at Kentucky and Arkansas.
They then follow up it with Ole Miss, travel to College Station for Texas A&M, and then get the Dawgs at home. The additional teams failing to make that list: Alabama, Louisville, Mississippi State and LSU.
Auburn wouldn’t have to prove much to the doubters if they manage to slip into the playoff.
Ohio State-Failing to Close Out
The Big 10 doesn’t offer as many potential slip ups as say the Pac-12 or SEC, so Urban Meyer’s position at head coach in a so-called “subpar” conference sets up for a rather prestigious tenure.
How would the Buckeyes fail to win in 2015?
Let’s initially address how Ohio State wouldn’t make the playoffs: personally, I can’t place the vision in my mind.
I adore the bold predictions and the out-of-nowhere statements, but even a lone loss most likely sets the Buckeyes up in contention for the conference championship, so Meyer may have two strikes here.
If Ohio State doesn’t get crowned in 2015, it either stems from looking ahead in the first playoff matchup or being outplayed in the National Championship.
Shying away from using terms such as “cakewalk,” teams like Indiana (away) and Penn State offer sneaky opponents for 2015, but when Ohio State matches up with the big boys, it plays its best.
I respect anyone claiming Urban Meyer won’t break the playoff barrier once more, but I simply cannot.
However, I also believe that 2015 offers a handful of clubs that are capable of ousting the Buckeyes once the season begins.