Topic: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?
Replies: 21   Last Post: Dec 6, 2019 6:57 PM by: HillBillyTiger
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Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

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Posted: Dec 6, 2019 11:40 AM

It's a rare year in college football when three teams finish the regular season unbeaten. Actually the last time I can remember is last year - Clemson/Alabama/Notre Dame - but before that, 2004, I believe, was when Southern Cal, Oklahoma, and Auburn all finished 12-0 and Auburn ended up left out of the BCS Championship Game. Which spurred the invention of the 4-team playoff.

Has there been another incident in modern times?

In 2017, for instance, no Power-5 teams finished unbeaten. Clemson finished 12-1, lost to Syracuse, and still wound up as the #1 seed going into the playoffs.

This year there aren't just 3 unbeatens, there's a bumper crop of 11-1 teams...and even some 10-2 teams that are crazy-strong. Alabama, for instance, is 10-2...and lost by 5 points to #1 LSU (and left a bunch of points on the table in the process, Alabama easily could have won that game), and by 3 to an Auburn team...after Auburn was gifted an extra-second figgie by the refs War Eagle should not have gotten, and after Alabama gifted the Barn with not one but two pick-sixes.

Mind, Alabama's got some warts this year, but in any ordinary year the team they now have would still be in the playoffs. The Tide just caught some savage bounces (and injuries!). And I never thought I would be taking up for Alabama, but ranking them #12 is...well, silly. They're 8 points from being 12-0.

Everybody's busy politicking and tearing at everyone else's resume, but the bottom line is, this year is absolutely loaded at the top. OSU is having maybe an all-time-great year. LSU absolutely caught lightning in a bottle this year and has themselves a near-lock at QB for the Heisman who is posting absurd PlayStation numbers...and who is also a near-lock to be the #1 pick in the draft. Their D is a bit shaky, sure...but Ed the Ogre's gang has a puncher's chance against anybody right now.

Clemson is Clemson. We've won 27 straight - that number is insane! - and are in our usual November form.

Then you've got not one but four 11-1 teams (UGA/Utah/Oklahoma/Baylor) all still in the mix for the playoffs. (Memphis is 11-1 too, but they're vying for a New Year's Six bowl slot.) Like them or hate them the Dawgs have been a power the last three years, Oklahoma's traditional royalty having another strong year, and Utah and Baylor are having Cinderella seasons.

That's an incredibly crowded field of contenders still standing at this late juncture, and it also almost certainly means that there will be no "backing in" to the playoffs, regardless of what the pundits and talking heads try to say. There's just too many claimants who can make convincing cases they belong...which means conference championships and getting it actually done on the field is going to matter everything this year.

Mind, the Committee is human and humans sometimes do funky things, but thus far it's been hard to argue with their ultimate rankings. They've gotten it right in years past and I think they'll likely get it right this year too.

And I think, ultimately, 2019 might go down as the strongest field of CFB teams in the modern era. There's just some dominant squads in peak form out there right now...and nobody's getting an easy ride to the title. Starting tonight, the deathmatches start...and they really do look good.

Just my .02.

I think so

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 11:43 AM

Statistically this is one of our best teams ever, including '16 and '18, and we're neck in neck with LSU and Ohio St. Probably 2nd or 3rd if I was being honest. I think Clemson and Bama have raised the bar for other top programs. Now we just have to be careful to not do what Bama did this year.

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Re: I think so

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 4:49 PM

Bama lost two, we can only lose one now. We are peaking now and playing championship ball. Play hard and if we win em all, we will again be National Champion.

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Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 11:49 AM

We will see how they perform in the playoffs. Lsu has been great offensively but I could see them getting routed in the playoffs. I could be wrong. Should be interesting.

The playoffs will be the eye opener

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 12:15 PM

Everyone always thinks they have a handle on these teams before the CFP. There is usually some public perception that is wrong.

This is an exciting year. I’d say one of the playoffs in 15 or 16 vs Bama is debatably one of the best CFP years. We shall see.

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I wouldn't completely write off LSU's defense

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 2:31 PM

-According to advanced metrics, they haven't been as bad as the reputation they have received. They are 22nd in defensive SP+ which isn't elite, but it's still pretty good and certainly not an anchor dragging the team down like we've seen with Oklahoma in previous years.

-They still have elite talent, especially on the back end

-They still have one of the best DCs in the game

-They just completely shut down A&M holding them to 169 yards and 7 points, so perhaps they are turning the corner late in the year?

We are 12 games into the season so generally it's "what you see is what you get at this point," and expecting LSU to make any significant improvements on defense is probably unrealistic, but i still don't think their D is anything close to a true liability. They are going to be a very tough out if we draw them in the semis.

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Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 11:49 AM

I was just thinking this. Dabo says this team is ahead of last years team but I believe LSU and Ohio State are stronger than Notre Dame and Alabama were last year. I look for a couple of mighty struggles to win it all if the Tigers make it in.

One disagreement - Bama is not 8 points from being undefeated. They were never really close in that LSU game and they just aren’t close to the ‘16-‘17 squads they fielded so they don’t belong in this conversation.

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I also agree with your Bama assessmen. Apparently the OP

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 2:17 PM

is using an ESecPN "eye test".

My eyes show me they've given up some points and they lost their two games by giving up a ton of points. One of the games was to Auburn, which hasn't been an offensive powerhouse by any stretch.

Yep, Bama's defense alone, along with 2 losses, leaves them ranked where they should be.

Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 11:59 AM

3 finished unbeaten last year going into the playoffs...Clemson, Alabama, and ND.

Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 12:03 PM

2010, AU, Oregon, and TCU were top 3, all undefeated.

2009, Alabama, Texas, TCU, and Cincinnati all were top 4, all undefeated.

Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 12:10 PM

I generally hold off calling a team elite until all the games have been played. Tough to say one team is elite while another team is not when really good team from different conferences teams play so few common opponents. When there are common opponents, a lot depends on when the games were played. Clemson was a different team in September than were are in November and the same can be said for most teams. Some teams improve more than others, injuries occur, etc.

I like Walt Deptula but he likes to hear himself talk and sometimes makes bold statements. For example, he said he thinks there is a great chance that this year's national champion will be Utah and Ohio State is probably the best team to ever come out of the Big 10. When Clemson goes out and wipes out both of these teams by 28 points each I do not view either of these teams as elite.

IMO the only elite team last season was Clemson. Clemson played the best teams in the country for the title and wiped them out. Had one of these teams taken Clemson to the wire I may view one of those teams as elite as well.

2018 Clemson was elite. 2017 Bama was elite and UGA was right on their heels. I do not look at 2017 Clemson as elite due to QB play and even spotty receiver play despite an elite defense. 2016 Clemson and Bama were elite.

2004 was certainly a Unicorn of a season. Five unbeaten

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 12:06 PM

teams in the regular season, but that's not even what made it unusual. It was this:

A 12-0, unbeaten Champion from the SEC got left out of the National Championship game. That could never, ever happen in today's media climate, where the SEC is constantly trumpeted as being far superior to every other conference. Some bald crackhead geezer even wrote a book about it.

Auburn being left out that year as the SEC Champ probably had as much to do as anything with the 4 team playoff eventually coming into being. If LSU were to lose to Georgia this year and get left out, coupled with Alabama finally not making it into the playoffs, you would see the playoffs expand to 8 teams faster than President Trump can make an idiot of himself again on social media.

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The 1971 Season is still

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 12:25 PM

Tops in my memory banks. Unreal season...and defined by clearly the two best teams, when the dust settled. It's a neat read:

Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 12:33 PM

As usual your 0.02 are right on the money. These are going to be some VERY interesting playoff games - but we need to take care of business tomorrow.

I agree that whichever team is number four will also be a tough out.

Thumbs Up

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 12:43 PM

Hard to argue with you here. Unless this weekend produces some unexpected upsets, it is impossible to deny LSU, OSU, and CU match last year's trio of qualified talent. I have held the opinion since the start of the BCS playoff that the only teams who "deserve" to be in the playoff are undefeated conference champs. Anything beyond that, IMO, is just filler… and while one of the "undeserving" certainly can win it all, I just don't believe there is a reason to expand the playoff. It will be an infinite regress to decide who else makes it into whatever structure is established. I genuinely hope there is never a case where there are 5 "deserving" teams. Anyway, appreciate your incites.


Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 12:51 PM

Another huge factor in all that you have stated is that we are seeing something happen at a surprising rate that has not happened since the scholarship limits were put in place in college football.

The top high school talent is at times ignoring depth charts for two reasons.

They want to get to the NFL and they want a chance to win a championship during their time in college.

Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio St, Clemson, and Georgia have been labeled as title contenders and schools that turn players into draft picks.

LSU is using their HUGE jump in offense this season to jump into the same category and it is currently showing on the recruiting trail.

If recruits continue to approach their decisions in the same way, we will see more of this group of elite teams at the top, and we will see more of a gap between the top and the middle of each conference.

The PAC 12, being the only conference not represented above, is ripe for the picking by Utah or Oregon (already jumping up in recruiting) to add another team or two to the top group.

It will be interesting to see if some other teams can convince a player here and there to go to a lower level team, because if 45 of the top 50 keep picking the same schools the gap is going to be huge and the fight for a seat at the 4-chair table is going to get a little tougher as well.

Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 3:59 PM

Quozzel's excellent analysis leads me to wonder about the future of collegiate football. We have about 8-10 programs that are head and shoulders above the field. These programs have shone us thy have the desire and facilities to maintain their programs at this level well into the future. Then there are the second tier of teams who appear to aspire to the top level but they are not yet there. Some are destined to reach a higher level but, in my estimation, most of them will continue to be second tier.

And then the larger group of teams who, through history, have never made it to the second tier. when the objective and level of desired success is the ability to win six games just to become eligible for a bowl we now, in essence, have two distinct groups, the "haves" and the "have nots". The 2019 ACC season presents a good example of the "haves" and "have nots" and Clemson has suffered when evaluated by the committee re their SOS.

There are schools in most conferences who have been perennial doormats. Wishing will not make them a team to garner national honors but are they willing to put forth the effort to be a constant contender or, are they content to be everyone's homecoming opponent.

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Maybe. Hard to know with everything being relative.

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 4:01 PM

For all we know the 10th best team in 1998 could kill all three front runners now. No way to have any real idea.

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Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 5:04 PM

If all three win this weekend, the playoffs are going to be great. Hope Clemson is left standing when the smoke clears.

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I think it has more to do with the fact there are just

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 6:19 PM

not many good teams lately.

Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 6:31 PM

Great post. I’d agree it is a very strong year but without head to head match ups through the years, it’s hard to know just how elite any given year of teams is comparatively.
Important to note how impactful the transfer portal has been in creating these elite teams. How different the landscape would be for LSU, OSU, and OK without it. Doubtful we would see this elite level of play from so many teams.
Should be a great weekend of

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Re: Is this the best crop of elite teams in CFB history?

Posted: Dec 6, 2019 6:57 PM

Not to mention the ncaa is much more liberal in allowing immediate eligibility for underclassmen. Add in the change in the redshirt rule, and you will have more graduate transfers with one year of eligibility.

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