BearsIllustrated Roundtable 8/13

In our 3rd installment of the BearsIllustrated Roundtable, the staff takes a look at and gives their predictions on this years College Football Playoff, as well as a wildcard team that could shake things up. Also, BearsIllustrated welcomes this weeks guest poster, whom is someone Baylor fans may be familiar with.

In our 3rd installment of the BearsIllustrated Roundtable, the staff takes a look at and gives their predictions on this years College Football Playoff, as well as a wildcard team that could shake things up. Also, BearsIllustrated welcomes this weeks guest poster, whom is someone Baylor fans may be familiar with.

Tim Watkins - Publisher, BearsIllustrated.com

The Easiest way to answer this question would be the SEC Champ, the Pac-12 Champ, the Big 12 Champ and the ACC Champ. However, since you actually want names of those schools, this gets a little trickier. Florida State is the obvious choice as the ACC champ and more than likely, the #1 overall team in the country. The Pac-12 is a tight race between Oregon, UCLA and Stanford. The Bruins have the easiest schedule as they welcome both Stanford and Oregon to LA. Oregon is the best team though, so give me the Ducks for the 2nd spot.

For the SEC, this is a year where they will just have to "settle" for 1 spot. Sorry guys. Alabama is the clear-cut #1 team in that conference, though Auburn and South Carolina are also in the Top 10. The Tide get Auburn at home this year, and they won't play South Carolina (or even 12th ranked Georgia) from the SEC East this year.

The fourth and final spot is the tricky one for Baylor fans, simply because we now actually get to worry about our seat at the table. No longer is the goal simply to get to 6 wins, it is to get to the playoffs. Oklahoma is the favorite though, and I give them the slight nod over the Bears (primarily due to their home field advantage against Baylor).

For a 5th choice, give me UCLA. Their home game schedule works out perfectly, and they have the offense to make some serious noise out west.

Kevin Barrera - Recruiting Analyst, BearsIllustrated.com

With this being the first year of the College Football Playoff, one team that should be penciled in is the Florida State Seminoles. Along with returning Heisman winner Jameis Winston, the Seminoles return a large portion of their 2013 National Championship team. Jimbo Fisher has done an excellent job of filling the cupboard and they are poised, or at least the favorites, to win the 2014 National Championship.

Now with all of that said, the next three teams are going to be somewhat difficult to pick. We already have a representative from the ACC, and while I don't believe the committee will try to pick a team from every conference, I believe there is an opportunity to do that. I don't, however, believe it will. In the SEC, Alabama is the odds on favorite to win the conference again. However, with their struggles in handling the spread against Texas A&M, Auburn, and Oklahoma, I believe they will falter against Auburn. With that said, I believe Auburn will represent the SEC in this years inaugural CFP.

The conference that I believe has the best chance to get two teams in is none other than the PAC 12. One of Oregon, UCLA, and Stanford, could go undefeated, but I also believe that a 1-loss PAC 12 could make it in to the CFP. The team I believe will be the representative in the CFP will be Oregon. And although Oregon has lost a big game the past few years, they return a majority of their team and should win the PAC 12 this year.

The Big 12 will be a tough conference to call and I do believe that a 1-loss Big 12 team does get in. My choice for representative of the Big 12 will be Oklahoma. While I do believe Baylor is just as talented and probably more talented in the end, the game in Norman will be the biggest in college football that weekend. Both OU and Baylor could be highly ranked at that time. Point blank, the winner of this game should be in the CFP barring any other bad losses.

As far as the wildcards, I'm going to go with the loser of the OU/Baylor game and UCLA. UCLA is poised to have a breakout year under HC Jim Mora. With Brett Hundley back, the Bruins could be a force to be reckoned with in the PAC 12. With an early matchup against Texas, UCLA could see themselves garner National attention early.

Shehan Jeyarajah - Contributor, BearsIllustrated.com

Florida State is the defending national champion, and they are well poised to be among the favorites in 2014. The Seminoles return many contributors from their national championship team, especially Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston. They also play toughest opponents Notre Dame, Florida and Clemson all at home.

The Big 12 is a two-team race at the moment between Oklahoma and Baylor. Oklahoma has huge questions on offense while Baylor has big holes on defense, but both are a head above the rest of the league. At the end of the day, Baylor was significantly better than Oklahoma last season, and have questions at less key positions, so I believe Baylor will make the playoff after an undefeated 2014 season.

The Pac-12 is stacked this season. Rather than conference frontrunners Stanford or Oregon winning the Pac 12, UCLA will surprise its way to a 2014 Pac 12 championship. The Bruins will get some early credit by taking care of an overrated Texas team in Austin, and will then get Oregon, USC, Arizona and Stanford at home. Even if it loses to Oregon during the season, that will be enough to win the Pac 12 South.

And my surprise for the 2014 season? No SEC team will make the playoff. Instead, the Pac 12 runner-up Oregon will take the fourth playoff spot. The Ducks always seem to struggle and drop a game they should not have. This year, I see the Ducks running the table in the Pac 12 before losing to the Bruins in the conference title game. With an early game against Michigan State at home to build legitimacy, Oregon will still make the playoff despite a mark on its record.

James Holloway - Contributor, BearsIllustrated.com

The criteria I chose for picking my teams was who I believe has the best chance for an undefeated season, as that would practically reserve you a spot in the playoff. Keeping that in mind, here are my four playoff teams.

Baylor, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State

With four spots for five conferences to fill someone is going to be left out. There are those that think the SEC might put two into the playoffs, I am going the opposite route by leaving them out completely. I believe that the SEC is going to tear itself up from the inside leaving them on the outside looking in.

I obviously have Baylor going undefeated to get into the playoffs, as that is probably the only way they will get in. We all know how the Bears play at home, and I do not see them adding to that total of one home loss in the past three season. The Bears do have to go on the road for some difficult conference games, including OU, Texas, and Iowa State (Crazy stuff happens in Ames), but I believe that they will come out of it unscathed.

Ohio State has to get past Michigan State, who I see taking a step back this year, and probably Nebraska in the championship game. I think that that they have one of the easiest routes to the playoffs, and have a very good chance at going undefeated as well.

Speaking of easy routes, the Florida State Seminoles have four could-be difficult opponents, Oklahoma State, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Florida, but they play them all at home. The Seminoles are probably still the best team in College Football and I do not see a loss on their schedule.

Finally, my last team in the playoffs is Oregon probably has the toughest route of my four picks. They have Stanford, UCLA (probably twice), Washington, and Michigan State on their schedule, but I think they are the best team in the Pac-12 and I think that they come out on top.

My wildcard team is the Kansas State Wildcats, or Snydercats as many people call them. I have learned that you should never underestimate the wizard that is Bill Snyder, and that Kansas State can always do the unexpected. December 6th could easily be the game to decide the Big 12, and depending on the health and momentum of Baylor, Kansas State could easily win that game and the conference. I don't think that is going to happen, as I picked Baylor get into the playoffs, but I do think that the Snydercats come in second in the Big 12.

Peter Pope - Guest Poster, Our Daily Bears Mastermind

Last week on ODB we gave our predictions for how each conference will finish the season, who the CFP teams will be and who will win the national champion. Since making those predictions, I read Stewart Mandel's excellent book The Thinking Fan's Guide to the College Football Playoff and am considering changing my picks, but haven't delved too deeply into the schedules to figure out how my plans would change. It's also entirely possible that recent injury news might alter this prediction also, but I'm under the gun so it stays as-is. I suspect that by next week's podcast I'll have them worked out. So, here are my predictions, in seeded order:

1. Florida State

2. Alabama

3. Michigan State

4. Oregon

Wild Card: Baylor or possibly LSU

National Champion: Florida State

Florida State has probably the easiest path to the CFP of any team, given the overall strength of the ACC. I recently heard the ACC described as Florida State and a "huge middle class" of teams behind them, and I agree with that sentiment. While the Selection Committee stated there will be an increased emphasis on schedule strength, I don't see any way that they leave an undefeated team out of the CFP, unless all Power Five Conference champs go undefeated (which, in my scenario, is impossible since Oregon and Michigan State play each other). In my scenario, though, FSU is the only undefeated team. Alabama has a loss somewhere (possibly at LSU) but wins the SEC title. Michigan State beats Oregon early in the season, but both end up winning their conferences. Since the Committee also stated that they will attempt to avoid rematches if at all possible, as well as place teams in regional proximity to their teams. I'll say FSU and Oregon in the Rose Bowl and Alabama/Michigan State in the Sugar. Florida State takes the National Championship.

Baylor is the Big 12 champion with one loss but is left out of the picture because of strength of schedule. Art Briles and Ian McCaw immediately drop Incarnate Word and work to beef up the nonconference schedule. Though, if the defense continues on the track of improvement its been on since the second half of 2012 and they can get a win in Norman, running the table isn't the most absurd thing I've ever envisioned. Another possible scenario is LSU is left out owing to a home loss to Alabama and therefore not getting the chance to play for the SEC championship, but with a strong argument that they deserve to be in the CFP over Oregon.

The one thing I'm absolutely convinced of is that this season is going to be completely different from any others. I'm really interested to see what happens in the last couple of weeks of November when the Selection Committee releases its first ranking. Will it be in line with the Coaches and AP Polls? I would love to see the mad scramble in those two polls if it isn't. And, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see that happen. Buckle in, folks. It's going to be a fun year.


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