Three College Football Teams Who Could Beat Alabama & Clemson
July 18, 2021
Another year is set to kick off in college football in six weeks or so, and it is another year where Alabama and Clemson are the two favorites to win the national championship. And while the pool of teams that can hang with the big two in college football is a shallow one, there are a few teams with a chance to win it all that aren’t coached by Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney. These three teams in particular could be a threat come playoff time.
Ohio State (+550)
The Ohio State Buckeyes are the third member of the big three in college football along with Alabama and Clemson, even if there is some serious distance between them and the other two programs. And Ohio State has a genuine chance to get to the playoff as a high seed as long as they can take care of business early in the season against Oregon. If they do that, there shouldn’t be anyone to stop them en route to a playoff spot.
Heading into their September 11 matchup against the Oregon Ducks, the Buckeyes are a 10-point favorite on the look ahead line. Oregon is no pushover, and the game could be closer than the double-digit spread implies. But a big non-conference win could propel Ohio State to a high seed in the postseason, where the Buckeyes have proven capable of beating Alabama and Clemson in the past.
While Ohio State is the favorite to beat Oregon in their September showdown, a win by Oregon could be massive for the future of the Oregon Ducks this season. Playing in a Pac-12 that is largely considered soft each year, a victory by the Ducks could set them up for an undefeated or one-loss season that could propel them into the playoff.
The question for the Ducks is whether they can tangle with the best teams in college football anymore. Oregon hasn’t scored a marquee win in college football since Marcus Mariota and the Ducks beat the Jameis Winston-led Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl. But a victory over the Buckeyes could change things in 2021.
The Florida Gators are a 40/1 longshot to win the College Football Playoff, but they have the benefit of playing in the weak division in the SEC. A strong regular season always makes them a candidate to play in the SEC title game. And just one upset, likely over Alabama in the conference title game, would propel them into the College Football Playoff.
Florida should find out what the fate of their season will look like early in the year, as they play Alabama at home on September 18. A win over the Crimson Tide at home will give the Gators hope that they can claim the SEC title. But a blowout loss in that game will make a run through the rest of the conference a tough sell in Gainesville.