The College Football Playoff typically surrounds the same several teams.
Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Georgia are familiar customers to the CFP, but is there any value in taking teams not part of the ‘Top 5?’
Here are two dark horses that can make a fair case for the College Football Playoffs this coming season.
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We have been waiting for A&M to take the next step towards title contention under Jimbo Fisher, and even though the team is going under some cosmetic changes with the loss of quarterback Kellen Mond, this might be the year.
The Aggies will likely turn to dynamic quarterback Haynes King, who was a top five dual threat QB in the 2020 class. Further, Fisher will need to replace four starters on the offensive line, but will be anchored by second team all-SEC player Dan Moore.
The team will have Isaiah Spiller back as well as explosive back Devon Achane to help King in the backfield and both are a threat to break 100 yards per game.
On defense, the team brings back nine starters and have their third straight top 10 recruiting class. With depth on both sides of the ball, A&M has the talent in place to fill the losses on both sides of the ball.
What is driving me to this price is the schedule. The Aggies non conference schedule is more than manageable with the only Power 5 matchup against Colorado and they play host to Alabama at College Station.
If the Aggies are able to get over the hump and knock off the Tide, they are in the driver’s seat in the SEC West.
The next challenge would be the final week of the regular season when the Aggies have to go to Death Valley to take on LSU, who should be improved in 2021.
There is a lot to like from King and the offense, while the defense was rock solid last year and brings back most key contributors. There is a path towards contention for the Aggies if Alabama stumbles in College Station.
Oregon is the trendy pick to make a run in the PAC-12, but Utah is the team hiding in plain sight.
The team landed transfer Charlie Brewer, who was the quarterback of the 11-1 regular season Baylor team in 2019. He will join a roster that brings back much of the same roster that got some much needed experience in a transition year in 2020.
The offensive line that has started 99 games combined will protect Brewer and coach Kyle Whittingham added two former four star transfers at the skill positions.
T.J. Pledger will likely start at RB after rushing for nearly five yards at Oklahoma and former UCLA and OU receiver Theo Howard will start at wide receiver.
On defense, the Utes will likely return to their 2019 ways when they were PAC-12 runners up. Nine starters are back after just two came back for 2020.
Devin Lloyd is the captain of the defense, who had 48 tackles in five games last season en route to a second-team All-American season.
The defensive line allowed under four yards per carry in 2020 despite losing three NFL players, and all are set to return in 2021. This unit will be improved and dangerous.
The key matchup of the regular season will go down when Oregon comes to Salt Lake City on November 20th.
The team needs to navigate back-to-back road games at BYU and San Diego State, but the schedule and talent is there for Utah to return to the PAC-12 title game with an undefeated record. A win there, and it’ll be tough to keep them out at the College Football Playoff.
It’s a long shot but this price should be closer to 60-1.