We know the CFP rankings, but which team will land at No. 4 at the end of the year?
Could Minnesota get in with a loss?
Is Joe Burrow really a lock for the Heisman?
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If we assume that the highest-ranked teams from each conference (LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, Oregon and Oklahoma) and Alabama win out, I believe that Oklahoma gets in as the No. 4 seed. That's why I had the Sooners in the playoff in my latest bowls projection.
Granted, of those six teams, Oklahoma is least likely to get the job done. The Sooners play at No. 13 Baylor this weekend, finish the regular season at rival No. 22 Oklahoma State, have a potentially tricky home game against TCU in between and then would face either No. 13 Baylor or No. 19 Texas on a neutral field for the Big 12 title. They should be favored in all four games, but any one of those could result in a loss.
But the difficulty of that schedule is why I think they would jump all the way from No. 10 to No. 4, leapfrogging both Oregon and Alabama, each of which would finish the season with just one win over a current CFP Top 25 team (Alabama at Auburn; Oregon vs. Utah in Pac-12 championship). The Sooners would have four such victories.
That said, they deserve to be ranked no better than No. 10 at the moment. That defense has been nothing short of awful for the past two weeks, allowing a combined 89 points against the not-exactly-elite offenses of Kansas State and Iowa State. Moreover, the Sooners only have one win over an already bowl-eligible team (Texas). At least Oregon has three such wins, and at least Utah has one of the best defenses in the nation.
I've already answered the CFP Final Four part, but the Burrow question is intriguing.
Vegas certainly thinks Burrow is close to a lock, listing him at -700, per Caesars Sportsbook. The next-closest challengers are Justin Fields and Jalen Hurts, both at +700. That means a $100 bet on Fields or Hurts would pay out $700 if he wins. To win $700 on Burrow at this point, you would have to bet $4,900. So, he is effectively 49 times more likely to win the Heisman than the next-closest candidates.
But we've been here before.
Tua Tagovailoa wasn't quite this far ahead of Kyler Murray last November, but he was the overwhelming favorite heading into conference championship week. He suffered an injury while posting a dud against an elite Georgia defense, Murray put on yet another incredible performance against a lackluster Big 12 defense, and that was that.
Why couldn't the same thing happen this year?
Burrow has been incredible and would be the near-unanimous winner if the vote was held today, but there's potential for a tough finish between the regular-season finale against Texas A&M and the SEC championship against Georgia.
Meanwhile, Fields and Hurts are merely leading the two highest-scoring offenses in the nation with a combined total of 51 passing touchdowns, 25 rushing touchdowns and only five interceptions. They'll need Burrow to shoot himself in the foot a little bit to fully get back into the race, but it wouldn't take a complete meltdown to make this an interesting debate again. So, no, he's not quite a lock.
It all depends on what happens elsewhere, but yes, that's probably what it's going to take for Minnesota.
If the Golden Gophers finish 13-0, they'll get in, likely behind LSU but ahead of Clemson as the No. 2 seed.
If they go 12-1, though, it'll probably depend on whether that includes a Big Ten championship.
A loss to either No. 14 Wisconsin or No. 20 Iowa wouldn't be the end of the world, provided they defeat the other one before knocking off No. 2 Ohio State in the conference title game.
Say what you will about their overall strength of schedule, but it would be hard to argue against a one-loss conference champion with wins over Ohio State and Penn State. They would have to at least be ranked ahead of Ohio State, right? So unless we're seriously going to consider putting Alabama in ahead of a one-loss Big Ten champion again, edging out the Buckeyes should be enough to get Minnesota in.
If the Gophers instead win these next three games before losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, the selection committee would probably side with a 12-1 Pac-12 champ or a 12-1 Oklahoma, if either exists.
One caveat to note: Regardless of which path it takes, a 12-1 Minnesota would definitely finish behind a 13-0 Baylor, even though no one seems to be legitimately considering the possibility of the Bears running the table.
Also note that we still have four more weeks for incomprehensible upsets to happen. Clemson should beat South Carolina, but Georgia should have, too. Both Big 12 contenders could lose games. Maybe the Pac-12 plays its way out of the conversation with a couple of upsets, as well. So while a 12-1 Minnesota might end up on the wrong side of the bubble if everyone else holds serve, it wouldn't take much chaos for the Golden Gophers to comfortably get in with a loss.
Without even knowing which juniors decide to stay or go, I think it's already safe to say that next year's crop of quarterbacks will be better.
That's not intended as a slight against Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts and others, but Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields were two of the highest-rated recruits in 247Sports history, regardless of position. And considering they have a combined record of 30-0 as starting quarterbacks in college, I'm thinking that high praise was justified.
Barring injury, they are probably going to go No. 1 and No. 2 in 2021. Can't imagine that's the case with this year's class, given Tagovailoa's ankle injuries and Burrow's late arrival as a fifth-year senior. Teams at the top of the upcoming draft are likely going to be talking themselves out of taking a quarterback at No. 1, while next year's worst teams are going to get Godfather-level trade offers for Lawrence or Fields.
If Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason and Jordan Love all go pro, maybe you could argue that the sheer depth of this year's class makes it a better one. That's a darn fine top seven, while the third-best option in 2021 is probably a toss-up between Kellen Mond, Sam Ehlinger and maybe Brock Purdy. But I would take two franchise QBs instead of a list of seven guys who might pan out as starters.
First of all, let's make sure we're not pretending that Hurts went from chopped liver to filet mignon.
He was one Hunter Renfrow "rub route" away from winning a national championship as a freshman. And though he was replaced at quarterback during the second half of the title game the following year, Hurts led the Crimson Tide to that point with 25 touchdowns (17 passing; eight rushing) against just one interception.
Hurts has always been good. He wouldn't have started as a true freshman at Alabama if he wasn't.
He has simply benefited from playing a much more favorable schedule in a system designed by one of the most brilliant minds in football.
It's no accident that [Oklahoma QB] is going to finish top four in the Heisman voting for a fifth consecutive year. The combination of Lincoln Riley's playbook and the general awfulness of Big 12 defenses has made mobile quarterbacks completely unstoppable in Norman.
If Texas A&M's Kellen Mond or Wake Forest's Jamie Newman transferred to the Sooners this summer, he would immediately join Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields as the three-way co-favorites for the 2020 Heisman. Even if they don't acquire a new veteran, soon-to-be redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler would be no worse than a top-10 preseason candidate for the Heisman. That's just where we're at with Oklahoma football at this point.
Perhaps that's oversimplifying and underappreciating how good Hurts has been, but it's no big surprise that he and the Sooners are in the Heisman and CFP races.
Kerry Miller covers college football and men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.