B/R CFB Community: Evaluating Your Early College Football Playoff Scenarios

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterSeptember 8, 2021

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 06: Mississippi Rebels running back Snoop Conner (24) celebrates with teammates after rushing for an 11-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game against the Louisville Cardinals on Sept. 6, 2021 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

The sample size is remarkably small, although that doesn't mean we can't overreact to the limited morsels of college football results we have already been served.

Sure, the CFP won't be decided for months.

If you're a member of the selection committee, you have to wait to make that call. You're a professional, and you shouldn't rush to judgement. And, most of all, you have not been able to enjoy the high-end catering at in-person committee meetings just yet.

But we don't have to wait. Plus, we can survive and thrive off a sensible trough of Buffalo wings.

So, let us explore unreasonably early playoff scenarios after a small serving of actual football. B/R readers provided their favorite possibilities, and they went above and beyond, per usual.

Here are their ideas in all their glory.


Lane Kiffin Vs. the Universe

Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

User: @colbytolin

Prediction: Ole Miss defense gets better every week, and that Lane Kiffin offense takes them to the SEC Championship where they win a close one and Ole Miss ends up in the playoffs.

It's a mouthful, but I'm not sure another team—apart from Alabama, which does this seasonally—put more fear into its future opponents than this one did in its initial game.

Ole Miss, playing without head coach Lane Kiffin after a positive COVID-19 test, looked fabulous, beating Louisville 43-24. We expected the offense to be electric, and it was.

Matt Corral looked like a future first-round pick at QB, and the Rebels have plenty of weapons despite losing Elijah Moore to the NFL. But the defense should be the story. Outside a few targeting calls that need to be cleaned up, this group looked wildly improved against the Cardinals.

It's only one game, but this looks like a team you don't want to play.

The schedule is still a monster, though. In less than a month, Ole Miss heads to Alabama. LSU, Auburn, Liberty and Texas A&M are also on the docket.

If Ole Miss plays like it did Monday night, anything is possible. While a playoff run feels like a drastic leap based on one result, it was magical enough to fall down the rabbit hole of scenarios.


The Pac-12's Baby Blue Boost

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

User: @baron1120

Prediction: UCLA will make the final 4.

A few weeks ago, this would have sounded somewhat daring. Not outrageous or idiotic. But bold enough to garner some attention.

Now? It makes a lot of sense. Granted, it's still on the bolder side.

UCLA is 2-0 and one of the darlings of the infant season. A dominant win over Hawai'i was a good start. But a double-digit victory over LSU, which it delivered Saturday, was a different kind of moment.

The Pac-12 looked unimpressive largely top to bottom in Week 1. That could benefit the Bruins if it continues, as they have games against Washington, USC, Utah, Oregon and others.

I like UCLA's chances against any other team in the Pac-12.

We have a long way to go. Also, we don't know how good LSU is yet. But we have seen Chip Kelly's team score points and play more defense than it has of late, and the conference schedule is conducive for a long run.

Sign me up.


Clemson Comes Up Short

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

User: @ctaylor29

Prediction: Clemson will miss the playoffs.

Do me a favor. Look at Clemson's schedule. Just give it a gander.

It is, well, less than optimal.

Now, a lot of that is outside Clemson's control. The Tigers did a wonderful thing by scheduling Georgia, and they lost. The committee should reward them for being bold and scheduling up.

That's fine and dandy. The problem, however, is, there aren't an abundance of resume-building games left.

Florida State, Louisville, Pitt and whatever team comes out of the ACC Coastal will be the "highlights." (I would also like to point out that North Carolina and Miami, two of the favorites in the Coastal, lost.)

Even if Clemson wins out, there is no guarantee it makes the playoff. The schedule is not particularly helpful.

Helping Clemson counter this logic is the fact that it is Clemson—a team with recent playoff success, a quality reputation and a wealth of talent.

But it is a significant uphill climb; there is no other way to shape it.


The Bearcats Crash the Party

Jeff Dean/Associated Press

User: @MarkMeyers

Prediction: Cincinnati beats both Indiana and Notre Dame while going 13-0 to become the CFP 4th seed, then gives Alabama all they can handle in the semifinal to prove they were the right choice over 12-1 Clemson for the final spot.

First, I appreciate the sheer detail in this response. Most are typically eight words max. This, however, is a blueprint for how Cincinnati can crack the playoff, and it's reasonable.

(I would personally hold back on any Alabama declarations for now, but live your life, @MarkMeyers.)

In any event, Clemson's loss opens the doors for many. Sure, it's early. But Cincinnati's remaining schedule measures up to the Tigers', and having a game against Notre Dame could serve as a fine resume boost.

Of course, that assumes Cincinnati wins that matchup and the rest of its games. That is a hefty assumption, but it doesn't mean it's impossible.

The Bearcats handled Miami (OH) as expected, and quarterback Desmond Ridder dazzled with five total touchdowns. That was also somewhat expected.

Playing outside a Power Five conference (for now) will make life difficult on the Bearcats. Perfection is likely required. While demanding, it's all within reach.


Quack, Quack

EUGENE, OREGON - SEPTEMBER 04: Linebacker Justin Flowe #10 and cornerback Dontae Manning #8 of the Oregon Ducks bring down wide receiver Ty Jones #8 of the Fresno State Bulldogs during the third quarter of the game at Autzen Stadium on September 04, 2021
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

User: @KenG

Prediction: Oregon winning it all.

The good news is you don't have to wait long to assess this. The Ducks travel to Ohio State this weekend, and DraftKings has them as a 14.5-point underdog. While the outcome, good or bad, won't be the definitive piece of evidence one way or another, it is a significant moment for this claim.

Another significant moment? Sneaking past Fresno State in Week 1, 31-24. Now, the Bulldogs are not bad. They might actually be decent. But that is a suboptimal place to begin.

The same can be said for the injuries the defense suffered last weekend, headlined by Kayvon Thibodeaux's ankle sprain. It doesn't sound like it's serious, but Oregon will need him for a lengthy run.

When right, the defense could be championship-worthy. The offense might be a different story, although Saturday will tell us plenty.

That said, I still side elsewhere for the playoff and in the conference. And "winning it all" is downright feisty.


Big Dreams and Tan Khakis

Tony Ding/Associated Press

User: @mahill90

Prediction: Michigan will make its CFP debut this year.

Fine, let's get weird.

How does one react to beating Western Michigan handily? By declaring the winning program and head coach perfectly fit for a College Football Playoff run, apparently.

Jim Harbaugh's Michigan did look good. Not otherworldly. Just, well, good.

And to be honest, "good" is plenty for a team that could use a good year. Wolverines QB Cade McNamara played great, they ran the ball well and the defense, at least for this Saturday, looked repaired.

The only real negative—and it's a big one—is that wideout Ronnie Bell injured his knee and will miss the season.

As for the playoff, let's all calm down for a minute.

I love the enthusiasm and hope. I love that you, for whatever reason, have seen enough or want to blindly throw yourself into this prediction. But Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State are still on the schedule.

That last team, in particular, could present a problem. It usually does.


We Have, Officially, Jumped the Purple Shark

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

User: @joemama1102

Prediction: Kansas State goes 12-1 and makes the playoff.

Sure, let's dive deeper.

Kansas State is 1-0, just beat a (former) Pac-12 contender, has a miniaturized battering ram at running back and plays in the right conference for a shocking playoff run.

I am almost certainly being trolled with some of these responses, although I can't help but entertain this.

Also, running back Deuce Vaughn is one of the most interesting (and talented) players in football. If you have not watched him carry the ball, do yourself a favor and do so immediately.

If Week 1 against Stanford was any indication, the Wildcats could have a quality year.

Still, a playoff run won't happen. I would love to be polite and play along, but I simply cannot.  

Again, dream big. I asked for your playoff weirdness, and you certainly delivered and then some.


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