By: Denery Noone
What will the college football landscape look like a year from now? Denery is here to tell you.
The 2016 College Football Playoff was a tale of two stories. The Semifinals were highly disappointing. First, the decision to have the games on New Year's Eve was the worst decision the committee and College Football have made in a long time. There should be no question why the ratings went down greatly from last years playoff, which was on New Years Day, and it is clear that that policy needs to be changed. Fortunately for most College Football fans that were unable to see the games because of New Year's Eve festivities, they were both uneventful to say the least. However, Monday night's championship game made up for the shortcomings of the semifinal in a big way. Now that the offseason is upon us, we look toward the 2016 season, and who I believe will be the team's most likely to be competing in the next year’s College Football Playoff.
1. Clemson Tigers
After a heartbreaking loss in Monday night’s championship game, Clemson has absolutely no reason to hang their head. In 2015-2016, Clemson was a young inexperienced team with incredible talent, great coaching, and a phenomenal Sophomore quarterback. Well guess what, Deshaun Watson is coming back next year and so will the Clemson Tigers. Right now, this team is the clear favorite to return to the Playoff and actually come out on top next year. Watson was absolutely dominant all year, making jaw-dropping plays that will definitely translate on Sundays. Watson was the first quarterback in College Football history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season. He made the Alabama front-seven, that is probably the best of all time, look average. Clemson is possibly returning up to 9 offensive starters, including Wayne Gallman, Artavis Scott, and National Championship breakout performer Hunter Renfrow. The sky's the limit for this Clemson team.
2. Stanford Cardinal
Yes, they are losing Kevin Hogan, but the Heisman favorite Christian McCaffrey is coming back. McCaffrey cancels out every single personnell loss that Stanford will suffer going into next season. He is truly the closest thing College Football has seen to the USC version of Reggie Bush since, well, Reggie Bush. McCaffrey rushed for 2019 yards and received for 645 yards. He even broke Barry Sanders all-purpose yards record of 3,250 yards, and he became the first ever player in Rose Bowl history to rush and receive for 100 yards…. as a Sophomore. Regardless of who this team loses, they will be able to replace it under the great leadership of David Shaw, along with the fact that McCaffrey has a great shot at the Heisman and much more heading into next season.
3. Oklahoma Sooners
As you can see, there is a trend in this top four, and it is the teams that are returning their superstars are making their way in. This is definitely the case for Oklahoma, as superstar quarterback and Heisman snub Baker Mayfield is returning to the team next season. Mayfield stormed onto the scene this year in a big way, throwing for 3600 yards, 36 touchdowns and only 7 touchdowns, while rushing for 405 yards and 7 touchdowns. Mayfield tore it up, and I expect him to do the exact same thing next year against a very weak Big 12. Also Samaje Perine, their stud running back is only a sophomore, and will be back as well. Look for Oklahoma to cruise through the Big 12 next season and find themselves back in the Playoff.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, with a great coach and a very good quarterback, you will always have a chance. Yes, I know that Ohio State is losing a lot, specifically with Ezekiel Elliott, Braxton Miller, Joey Bosa, and Michael Thomas. However, J.T. Barrett is returning, which is crucial for the Buckeyes, and they have a top-10 recruiting class, including the brother of Joey Bosa, 5-Star defensive lineman Nick Bosa. Barrett is going to have a big year in a conference where almost every team besides Michigan is getting worse.
Outside Looking In:
5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
They will have an interesting decision to make between Kizer and Zaire at quarterback, but either option is more than formidable. They are losing Jaylon Smith, Will Fuller, and C. J. Prosise, but they are returning Torii Hunter Jr., Corey Robinson, and Tarean Folston. They will have another strong year and will be in contention.
6. Alabama Crimson Tide
They are losing a ton, specifically Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. However, if there is anything that Nick Saban and Alabama does, it is replace talent quickly. This team will run the table in the SEC next year and will be right back next year, competing for a spot in the playoff.
7. Michigan Wolverines
Year one of the Harbaugh regime was a huge success, but year two will be even better. They have the fourth best recruiting class in the nation, and they are returning Jabrill Peppers. However, I think the best thing for this team is the loss of Jake Rudock. Rudock did enough this year to win some games, but replacing him will be huge for this team. Ohio State and Michigan will be neck and neck chasing the Big 10 title, and I’m sure it will come down to that late November matchup in Columbus next season.