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Bowl Predictions 2015: CFP Projections Following Initial Poll Release

Published by Bleacher Report on Wed, 04 Nov 2015

Commence the outrage.The selection committee released the initial College Football Playoff poll Tuesday, and there were a number of surprises. The undefeated, defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes found themselves at No. 3. Alabama is No. 4 despite a loss and zero wins over a Top 15 team, while undefeated Michigan State, Baylor and TCU are all on the outside looking in if the playoffs started today.Here is a look at the complete rankings:Remember, this is just the first poll, and the rankings are incredibly fluid, as the committee proved last year when the Buckeyes worked their way up to the title after starting No. 16 in the first College Football Playoff poll.There are a number of marquee games that will impact the playoff picture far more than this first batch of rankings.Ohio State and Michigan State still play each other, and the winner will likely play Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. The SEC still features a number of marquee showdowns, including Saturdays clash between LSU and Alabama and the conference title game between Florida and the eventual West champion. Plus, the Big 12 let everyone know how back-loaded its schedule is this year:With so much still to be decided, here is a look at an early playoff prediction following this first poll.No. 1 Ohio State BuckeyesOhio State boasts arguably more talent than anyone else in the nation. In fact, Bleacher Reports Matt Miller had five Buckeyes in the first round of his mock draft, and the argument can be made for as many as seven or eight in those initial 32 picks.That talent will shine through as the season progresses.Some would argue the defending national champions should be No. 1 until another team knocks them off, but Ohio State is No. 3 in the initial rankings. That is largely a product of the schedule, but it will have opportunities against Michigan State and Michigan late in the season and then Iowa in the conference title game if it takes care of business.The Buckeyes will win those marquee games in the final three weeks and make a profound late statement to the committee. Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatchdeclared the defending champions have nothing to worry about if they keep winning:The title will once again run through the Scarlet and Gray.No. 2 Clemson TigersIf Clemson knocks off Florida State Saturday, Tigers fans should book their tickets to the College Football Playoff.Dabo Swinneys team already beat Notre Dame and a talented Appalachian State squad and survived tricky contests at North Carolina State and at Louisville. The heavy lifting is mostly done if the Tigers get by Florida State, and that game is at home. Whats more, Dalvin Cook and Everett Golson did not play in the Seminoles last game with injury concerns and could be limited in Saturdays contest.The Tigers will watch Ohio State leapfrog them because of the late quality wins on the Buckeyes schedule, but they are still safely in the playoffs.No. 3 Alabama Crimson TideLet this sink in, everyonethe SEC champion is getting into the playoffs. Just accept it and enjoy the football. The selection committee made it clear it views the league as the best conference in the country with two teams in the Top Four and six in the Top 25 of Tuesdays poll.Just like last year, that champion will be the Crimson Tide. They already have a solid nonconference win over Wisconsin and victories at Georgia and at Texas A&M on the resume. In terms of whats ahead, the LSU clash is at home Saturday, and Auburn looks nowhere near the top-notch team many expected before the season started.The Crimson Tide will win out behind the powerful running of Derrick Henry and a stingy defense and represent the SEC in the College Football Playoff once again.No. 4 Baylor BearsBaylor was left on the outside looking in last season, but that wont be the case in 2015. The Bears dont have any quality wins of note yet, but they still have showdowns with Oklahoma, undefeated Oklahoma State and undefeated TCU on the remaining schedule.Dont mistake the lack of quality wins for the lack of talent when it comes to Baylor. The Bears are averaging a ridiculous 61.1 points per game this season, which is 12.2 points more than the next-closest team.Even though quarterback Seth Russell is injured, wide receiver Corey Coleman and running back Shock Linwood are among the best players in the nation and will keep the offense rolling in the signal-callers absence.Coach Art Briles was not afraid to discuss the overflowing amount of talent on the roster, per Chris Low of ESPN.com:I've told the players that my only anxiousness comes from making sure we fulfill what we're capable of. You don't get many chances to bowl a 300 game. I don't want to bowl a 294 and almost be there. I want to be there. That's my anxiety because we're good.It's the best team we've had in my eight years here, and I don't think it's even close.This is the best team in the Big 12, and it will roll through the back-loaded schedule. Thats enough for a playoff berth this season.
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