With college football season just a few weeks away, it is time for our yearly season preview. Joining us for this segment is none other than sports magazine veteran Phil Steele. His magazine, Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, is in its 22nd year. His preview of Division 1 NCAA football is considered to be the most accurate in the industry.
Phil tells us who he thinks will be the four teams to make this year’s college football playoff which ultimately decides the national championship. He also clues us in on players to watch, surprise programs and a variety of other topics. You can read some of the highlights and listen to the entire CYInterview below:
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Every year, there are a lot of interesting articles and statistics in Phil Steele’s College Football Preview magazine. This year, one fact that stood out was since 1994, only three teams who were ranked number 1 at the beginning of the college football season have gone on to win the national championship. With that bit of history, perhaps putting in a futures bet on the preseason number 1 team to win the national title is not a good wager, if you happen to be at a Las Vegas sportsbook. Phil is surprised only three teams since 1994 have won the championship that were ranked number 1 to begin the season:
“I would think any other sport, you take the team that’s the preseason favorite to win it all, they’re gonna win it probably half the time. But to do it just three times in that span is almost remarkable.”
The four teams Phil believes will make the college football playoff and play for a shot at the national title are Alabama, Florida State, LSU and Oklahoma. He believes Florida State will meet Alabama in the championship game. He gives us his analysis on why he believes Alabama and Florida State are the best two teams in the country going into the season:
“They [Alabama] have the best defense in the country once again. Offensively, they have my number four rated offensive line, best set of receivers in the country with Calvin Ridley, OJ Howard. … It’s the number three toughest schedule, but I think they’re a team capable of getting back. … They [Florida State] have 17 returning starters this year. They get that game [against Clemson] at home. They’re 11-1 against Clemson in their last 12 home games. And while the road schedule’s not easy, they play teams like Louisville, South Florida, Miami of Florida, none of those teams are top 10 teams. So they have a manageable schedule and I think that you’re gonna see Florida State play up to their talent level this year, win that big game against Clemson, make the playoffs.”
Clemson, Notre Dame, Stanford and Ohio State are Phil’s set of four teams he believes have a chance to make the college football playoff and play for the national title if an unexpected victory were to occur. However, one the teams under the radar is the Houston Cougars. If they beat Oklahoma in their first game of the season and have an undefeated season overall, Houston could be playing for the national title. Mr. Steele explains:
“ Here’s the scenario Houston can make the playoffs, if they upset Oklahoma week one and then Oklahoma goes on and wins the Big 12 as I expect, then Houston runs the table this year and they’d be favored in all the rest of their games with the toughest road test being at Cincinnati, at Memphis and at Navy. If that scenario happens and you have an 11-1 Big 12 Champ in Oklahoma, Houston’s 12-0, the American Champ with a win over Oklahoma, Houston would get the bid [into the playoff] that I’m giving right now to the Big 12 Champ.”
Most college football seasons, we will see one or possibly two non division 1 FCS [Football Championship Subdivision] programs go on the road and upset a division 1 FBS [Football Bowl Subdivision] school. North Dakota State from FCS has won five consecutive national championships. On September 17th, they play Iowa on the road. The non-conference game should be the best matchup between an FCS and FBS school and North Dakota State could very well pull the upset off over Iowa:
“I think when you look at them offensively and defensively [North Dakota State], they’ve got a lot of experience returning from last year. North Dakota State is my favorite to win the FCS and they’ll be fired up for that game. They’ve upset a lot of FBS teams. So I think you’re correct. I do like Iowa this year. I do like Iowa at home. I think they’re a very strong team, but if they don’t play their A game, North Dakota State can get them.”
The first week of the college football season commencing from September 1st to September 5th could arguably be the best set of week 1 games in college football history. A few of the main games on the slate include Alabama and USC, Florida State and Ole Miss, LSU and Wisconsin and Oklahoma and Houston among numerous others. With a committee now deciding the four teams who get to play for the national championship, Phil Steele believes we will continue to see major non conference games like the first weekend of this year’s college football season:
“This is the best opening weekend we’ve ever had as far as marquee teams vs. marquee teams. … There are a lot of premier games and I do think it is one of the benefits of the four team playoff. You know, the four team playoff, you can afford one loss somewhere along the way and still be able to make the playoffs. And if you’ve hyped up your non conference schedule and make it one of those where you’re playing the marquee teams, you do have a better shot of making the playoffs. So I think some of these games were agreed to after the four team playoff was announced. And I just can’t wait to see next year’s schedule because this is getting pretty exciting for a week one slate.”
You can purchase Phil Steele’s college football preview magazine and find all his daily information at his official website www.philsteele.com.
You can follow Phil Steele on Twitter here.
You can email Chris Yandek at ChrisYandek@CYInterview.com
You can follow Chris Yandek on Twitter here.