This time of year, everyone is looking for a reason why their team will make the College Football Playoff.
But the folks over at Sports Illustrated have found at least one reason why some of the top teams in college football won’t be playing in the biggest games at the end of the season.
Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and Ole Miss all have their flaws and all rank in the top 20 of Sports Illustrated’s top 25.
For the Crimson Tide, it’s a lack of experience at both the running back and quarterback position. Jake Coker and Derrick Henry, key cogs on last year’s national championship team, are both gone. Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts are vying to replace Coker. Running backs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris will try to replace the former Heisman Trophy winner.
For LSU, it comes down to quarterback play. Brandon Harris was named Preseason Third Team All-SEC, but he certainly struggled last year. In games against Alabama and Texas A&M last year, Harris completed only 13 passes. If the Tigers are going to make a run at a national championship, it will need Harris to play well in LSU’s biggest games.
Tennessee needs to show improvement in close games if it is going to break through under Butch Jones. The Volunteers blew a double digit leads against Florida and Oklahoma last season. The Volunteers also need to show they can win against Florida and Alabama. The Volunteers haven’t beaten Alabama since Nick Saban arrived. Florida last lost to Tennessee in 2004.
The reason Georgia won’t make it to the playoff isn’t because of its quarterback issues. Sports Illustrated says it’s because of the losses on defense. Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd were both taken in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft. While head coach Kirby Smart made his mark on defense at Alabama, that unit may struggle in his first year in Athens.
For Ole Miss, it’s the possibility of an NCAA bowl ban as well as questions about the team’s front seven. The Rebels lost talented defensive end Robert Nkemdiche to the NFL. Ole Miss also has to numerous starters on the offensive line.
Only time will tell if these teams will make it to the College Football Playoff.