Each Playoff Team's Biggest Upset Threat
The CFP picture is coming into focus each week. Top teams are trying to hold their position in the top four, while everyone else is hoping for a slip up. For a select few, the CFP is a very real possibility.
No one is just going to roll over and give these teams the satisfaction of walking into the playoffs without trouble. Listed are the biggest upset threats to the CFP hopefuls.
No. 1 Clemson Tigers 10-0 (7-0)
Biggest Threat: North Carolina Tarheels-ACC Championship Game
Currently ranked 17th in the CFP rankings, UNC would be the lone ranked team on Clemson’s schedule. UNC hasn't clinched the Coastal division, but with games against lowly Virginia Tech and North Carolina State, the Tar Heels can win the division with a victory over either team.
UNC averages 42 points a game and will be a test for a Tiger’s defense that only lets up 18.1 points per game and only allowed 40-plus points once this season. Clemson’s offense won’t have it easy either; UNC has only allowed 18.8 points per game, with no team scoring more than 31 points on them. The ACC Championship game could have a lot riding on it.
No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide 9-1 (6-1)
Biggest Threat: Florida Gators-SEC Championship Game
Considering Charleston Southern and Auburn will not beat Alabama, the Florida Gators are the only team that has a legitimate shot at beating Alabama, which will lead to an SEC Championship game between the Gators and Tide.
The eighth ranked Gators have one of the best defenses in the country, giving up only 280 total yards per game and 14.5 points per game. They'll need that defense to step up and smother Heisman-candidate Derrick Henry, who is currently second in rushing yards at 1,458.
Florida leaves a lot to be desired on the offensive side of the football, ranked 87th in total yards per game, which will be trouble against a formidable 'Bama defense. In order to win the SEC and most likely a spot in the CFP, Florida will need to play much better than they have the last two weeks and figure things out on offense.
No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes 10-0 (6-0)
Biggest Threat: Michigan Wolverine
The Buckeyes may still be undefeated, but are not seen as the best team in the country. Having faced only one team with a winning record in conference play, Ohio State hasn’t truly been tested. That all changes in the final two weeks of the season when Urban Meyer’s team hosts ninth ranked Michigan State this week. The true upset threat comes next week when Ohio State travels to Ann Arbor to take on No. 12 Michigan.
Ever since J.T Barrett was named starting quarterback, the Buckeyes’ offense has looked the part of defending champs. However, the Wolverines’ defense might be the one to slow them down, having given up only 269 total yards per game. Don't expect Ohio State to be held that low, but do expect Michigan to frustrate Barrett and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 9-1
Biggest Threat: Stanford Cardinal
With no conference affiliation, Notre Dame won’t play a conference championship game. So with two games left on their schedule before the bowl games, teams looking to upset the Irish are few. However, the last game of the year against Stanford means so much to Notre Dame.
Before Stanford lost to Oregon last week, the Notre Dame-Stanford game was pegged as a game that could determine one semi-final spot. The game will probably not have that kind of impact now that Stanford is ranked 11th and more than likely out of the playoff race. Nonetheless, Notre Dame still needs to end their season on a high note against a ranked team before sitting back and waiting for the rest of the pieces to fall. With a convincing win over the Cardinal, Notre Dame might be able to punch their ticket for the CFP.
No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys 10-0 (6-0)
Biggest Threat: Oklahoma Sooners
Both Baylor and Oklahoma are upset threats for the Cowboys, but the Sooners get the nod due to their recent level of play and the stakes of the game. Oklahoma is the most complete team in the Big 12, ranked in the Top 25 in offense and defense. The Cowboys have a good offense, scoring 43 points per game, but their defense gives up chucks of yards and 24.5 points on average. Oklahoma could either stay strong on defense and manhandle the Cowboys, or this game could be a typical Big 12 shootout.
Not only is Oklahoma-Oklahoma State a huge rivalry, it has the potential to determine the Big 12. If Oklahoma wins and both end up with only one loss, we could however see a repeat of last season. The Big 12 Conference named both one-loss TCU and Baylor co-champions last year. Will the Big 12 name co-champions again if it happens? If so, the conference might be left out of the CFP again.
Iowa was left off this list for one reason, they don't play a winning team until the Big 10 Championship game. Neither Purdue nor Nebraska are threats to the Hawkeyes from remaining unbeaten.