College Football Playoff Wide Open After Eventful Week 3
Before the season started, only a handful of college football teams were considered legitimate title contenders. Three weeks into the campaign, that line is blurred.
Some heavyweights have suffered defeat early, while others have emerged out of nowhere, seemingly ready to take the CFP by storm. That leaves plenty of questions to be answered as we gear up for conference play.
We know the final 12 weeks of the season will reveal a lot more than the first three have.
Several presumed title contenders have already fallen, leaving no margin for error the rest of the way. Among those is the Alabama Crimson Tide, who dropped a heartbreaking defeat at home to the Texas Longhorns. That loss precipitated a change at quarterback, amplifying the concerns around Alabama’s title chances.
A two-loss team has never made the playoffs, ensuring one of Alabama or the LSU Tigers misses out on the semi-final. LSU fell out of the top five following an opening-week loss. With these teams scheduled to meet in Week 10, it’s a virtual lock that at least one will be playing in a meaningless bowl game come December.
Likewise, the Clemson Tigers fell out of the top 25 altogether following a Week 1 loss to the Duke Blue Devils. The Tigers entered the campaign ranked ninth in the country, a level they are unlikely to reach again this year.
ACC and Big 12 Contenders
Conference play will reveal much about the ACC and Big 12 teams who hope to be included in the national semi-final. Seven ACC and five Big 12 teams are undefeated through the season’s first three weeks. More impressively, six of those programs are ranked in the top 20 heading into Week 4.
If any schools emerge unscathed from conference play, they could receive an automatic bid into the playoffs. But as we’ve seen in years past, chaos reigns supreme.
Some of the shine is starting to wear off the two-time defending National Champions. The Georgia Bulldogs were pushed to the brink in Week 3, needing to mount a second-half comeback against the lowly South Carolina Gamecocks. With most of the heavy lifting coming later in the season, the Bulldogs could be another Goliath to fall, albeit at a much worse time.
Georgia wasn’t the only program to get a wake-up call on Saturday. The third-ranked Florida State Seminoles barely escaped Alumni Hill with their perfect record intact. The Boston College Eagles scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, failing on a two-point conversion which could have changed the Seminoles’ fate. FSU has to run the ACC gauntlet, starting with a Week 4 road matchup against Clemson. Florida State’s championship aspirations could be grounded before they get a chance to take off.
Big Ten Breakthrough
Defense wins championships, they say, and that’s a characteristic the Big Ten has in spades. The Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes have been mainstays in the CFP over the past few seasons. This could be the year it all comes together for the Wolverines, as their imposing defense has allowed just 16 points through the first three games of the season.
Return of the Pac-12
It’s been a minute since a Pac-12 school made the playoffs. The Washington Huskies were the last team to be included, earning the fourth seed in the 2016-17 campaign. That trend will likely come to an end in 2022-23.
The Pac-12 features more top-25 teams than any other conference, with eight schools nationally ranked. Among those are the USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks, and Huskies, all of whom sit in the top ten. Time will tell which program performs best, but expect at least one to make this year’s semi-final.
There appears to be parity across all conferences for the first time since its inception. That’s reflected in the futures market, which features ten teams priced at +2500 or lower.
The odds among the top contenders will only decrease as the season progresses. If diversified futures portfolios are your preferred strategy, buy now to extract maximum value.
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