Rivalry Week has come and gone and that means that the regular season is now over for college football. Now all that is left is the conference championship games – and then we will know which four teams will be in with a chance of winning the College Football Playoff National Championship game in Inglewood, California in January.
Alabama started the season as the favorites with many pundits and a lot of the NCAAF best bets backed the Crimson Tide to be victorious. The famous old school is still in with a chance of making the final four, but there are other teams that have come through to stake a claim this year. Here are five of the main challengers for the championship.
1. Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs went all the way last year and beat Alabama to claim their first national championship since the format was changed in 2014. This year the team has been just as dominant, going undefeated in the SEC and it now faces the LSU Tigers in the conference championship game.
The rivalry week win over Georgia Tech was not a classic – and the Bulldogs started slowly. But this is a team that has not allowed more than 22 points in any game this season and has more regularly kept opponents to two or fewer touchdowns. It feels as though we could well have a repeat champion this season.
2. TCU Horned Frogs
TCU is the one school on this list that non-college football fans might not recognize. But the Horned Frogs have enjoyed an incredible regular season, going 12-0 and are now just one game away from a chance at the national championship. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1939.
TCU faces Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game now and will look to last week’s huge win over Iowa State for inspiration. It was a completely dominant display by the Texan school and there is a real feeling that this team can do well in the playoffs with Sonny Dykes in charge of things.
3. Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines announced themselves as potential champions last week with a win over Ohio State. It is a result that could end the Buckeyes’ chances and made everyone sit up and take notice of Michigan. It also gave the team a 12-0 record for the first time since 1997.
Next up is Purdue in the Big Ten championship game and there will not be too many people expecting a Boilermakers victory. If quarterback J.J. McCarthy can team up with his receivers the way he did against Ohio State then things will get very exciting ahead of the final four decision.
4. USC Trojans
Caleb Williams showed everyone how he thought his season has gone in the win against Notre Dame last weekend, dropping a Heisman Trophy pose after connecting for another four touchdowns in the game. That’s 44 for the season now – and he will backed to add a few more in the Pac-21 championship game against Utah in Vegas.
The win against the Fighting Irish finished a regular season at 11-1, just a year after enduring a 4-8 record. Williams seems on course to pick up that Heisman Trophy and it might not be the only success this season. USC looks the real deal and could challenge Georgia for top honors too.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes
Alabama is still regarded by some as a team still in with a chance of making the cut for the playoffs. But this has not been a good year for the Crimson Tide who finished 10-2. The Buckeyes might still be in contention themselves, but that loss to Michigan has severely hurt them.
Now there is no Big Ten championship game and C.J. Stroud has probably missed out in the race for the Heisman. It was the first time that Ohio State had lost at home to Michigan in over 20 years and now it is hoping beyond hope for a USC loss for any chance of a shot at the national championship.