Seven weeks of upsets, Covid-19 outbreaks, and empty stadiums have come and gone through the 2020-2021 College Football season.
Three out of the five Power-Five conferences are well into their seasons. The Pac-12 and the Big-10 conference are currently scheduled to begin their seasons on Nov. 7 and Oct. 24, respectively.
Even though plenty of contenders that have not begun their seasons, including Ohio State, Penn State, and Oregon, playoff contenders are emerging across the three active Power-Five conferences.
Though the first playoff rankings will not be released until Nov. 24, here are the four teams that have built strong cases as favorites so far.
- Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0)
Alabama barely avoided a Saban-less bout with Georgia, after his positive COVID test last Wednesday was deemed a false positive. In turn, the Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 41-24 on Saturday.
Junior quarterback Mac Jones came into the role of QB1 with big shoes to fill from Tua Tagovailoa. So far, he has been able to effectively lead the Crimson Tide offense, throwing for 380 YPG. They will have to fix some holes on the defensive side of the ball, which were made evident after giving up 48 points in a win against Ole Miss.
- Clemson Tigers (5-0)
The Clemson Tigers are putting themselves in a good position to make it to their sixth consecutive playoff appearance. Many attribute their success in reaching the playoffs to the weakness of the ACC in recent years. This year, however, the ACC features #5 North Carolina and #4 Notre Dame. The Tigers will have to play Notre Dame on Nov. 7 on the road.
The Clemson offense is once again loaded with returning stars. Heisman candidate quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s final season has started off well. He has thrown an astounding 309 yards per game and has already thrown 10 touchdowns this season. The Tigers are currently outscoring their opponents 242-60. Senior running back Travis Ettiene has also begun his final season off well, rushing for 87 YPG and five touchdowns so far.
- Ohio State Buckeyes (0-0)
The Buckeyes are the only team on this list who have yet to begin their season. Their season will begin on Saturday at home against Nebraska
The offense will likely be led by Justin Fields, a junior Georgia transfer quarterback. Last season, Fields accounted for 51 touchdowns and led the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season. The Buckeyes will need a strong and nearly perfect regular season start in order to catch up with the pack of undefeated teams ahead of them.
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0)
Notre Dame has done well in its first season with the ACC, outsourcing their opponents by a whopping 131-46. Their recent success has the potential to blossom into the programs second-ever playoff appearance.
Sophomore running back Kyren Williams has been putting on a show for the Irish. He has rushed for 122 yards per game and has four touchdowns this season. His continued success along with consistency from senior quarterback Ian Book will be essential when playing Clemson and North Carolina later this season.