Greg Gabriel: Hard to avoid projecting Alabama-Clemson, part III

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Now that we are getting into the middle of October and leaves are turning, we can have a better feel for how conference races and playoff hopes are for several college football teams.

It looks as if we are going to have a repeat of the last two years with Alabama and Clemson fighting it out for the top spot.

Clemson sits atop the ACC with a 6-0 record and a favorable schedule the rest of the way. Their only really tough game is Nov. 4, when they travel to North Carolina State. Sure, they have to play Florida State but as we have seen so far this year, Florida State is down.

Alabama looks much the same. Its schedule isn’t that difficult and the toughest game it may have is against Georgia in the SEC Championship game, assuming Georgia keeps playing at a high level.

The Big 12 looks like the Big 12. There are some good teams but no one who can challenge the elite teams from the other Power 5 Conferences. Oklahoma, who was supposed to be the best in the Big 12, lost at home last week to a very average Iowa State team. Teams like TCU and Oklahoma State will end up beating each other or lose to Oklahoma which means the Big 12 will be on the outside looking in once again.

The Big Ten is getting better but which team is the best? Ohio State is loaded everywhere but at the quarterback position and that just happens to be the most important position. When Ohio State had to throw to beat Oklahoma, they couldn’t get it done.

Penn State looks good now, but they haven’t played anyone yet. They have a trio of tough games coming up against Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State and I seriously doubt they get through those games without at least one loss. Wisconsin is a very good team and always one of the best coached teams around but they don’t have enough elite players to compete against the best teams in the country.

The Pac 12 is much like the Big 12 in that there are some very good teams but they are going to end up beating each other and knocking each other out of contention. USC is the best of the Pac 12 South teams and should make it to the Pac 12 Championship game. In the North, Washington, Washington State and Stanford all have to play each other which means some of those teams will lose some games. Right now, I would guess that the North goes to either Washington or Washington State.

That leaves the independents which really is just Notre Dame. Notre Dame looks good on paper with a 5-1 record but their loss was at home to Georgia. The still have to play North Carolina State, Miami, USC and Stanford, and I feel they will lose at least two of those games.

Notre Dame is solid everywhere but at quarterback. Brandon Wimbush is as good a running quarterback as there is in the country but he really struggles when he has to throw. He is slow to make decisions and has poor accuracy. If the Domer’s need to throw to win some of these upcoming games, they are in big trouble.

If things go as I feel they will, get ready for a third straight Clemson-Alabama National Championship game and if the game were played tomorrow I’d take Clemson!

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