COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The College Football Playoff is just over a month away so here’s a look at the first edition of “The Path to the Playoff.”
If the playoff started tomorrow, it would like like this: No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Georgia. Let’s break down all four teams starting with the LSU Tigers.
LSU (10-0, 7-0 SEC) has the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense with 48 points a game and also the nation’s No. 2 total offense with 556 yards a game. That’s due in large part to former Ohio State Buckeye and current LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. The Athens, Ohio native ranks second in the country in both passing touchdowns (38) and passing yards (3,687) and is the current favorite to win the Heisman trophy.
The one flaw LSU has is its defense, especially in the secondary. The Tigers rank 47th in total defense and 78th in passing yards allowed. With that being said, the Tigers will be heavy favorites in their next two games against Arkansas this weekend followed by Texas A&M the following week. LSU’s next biggest test, as long as it wins one of its next two games, will come on December 7th when the Tigers play SEC East Champion Georgia in Atlanta. But even with a loss to the Bulldogs, LSU could still get into the CFP with wins over Texas, Florida, Auburn and Alabama.
Right behind the Tigers are the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten). The Buckeyes’ offense is just as impressive as LSU’s with OSU ranking fourth in total offense with 542 yards a game and first in scoring offense with 52 points a game. Justin Fields remains in contention for the Heisman trophy as well and is tied with Burrow for most total touchdowns with 41. 31 of those are passing TD’s, which puts Fields at fourth in the country and his 10 rushing touchdowns ranks fifth best in the country. The other offensive juggernaut for the Buckeyes is junior running back J.K. Dobbins. Despite not playing in several second halves due to a substantial lead, Dobbins still ranks fifth in the country with 1,289 rushing yards and tenth in rushing touchdowns with 13.
The biggest difference between the Tigers and Buckeyes is defense. Ohio State ranks first in total defense only allowing 216 yards a game and also first in scoring defense only giving up 10 points a game. Ohio State is also first in total team efficiency with a rating of 97.8, nearly two points higher than second place Clemson. In that category, Ohio State has the most efficient offense (96.4) and the second-most efficient defense (92.2).
The only team more efficient on defense is the third-ranked Clemson Tigers (11-0, 8-0 ACC).
Along with being the country’s most efficient defense (97.1), the Tigers have the second-best total defense by only allowing 238 yards a game. They’re defense is also ranked third-best in scoring as the Tigers only allow 10.7 points a game. The offense, led by sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence, ranks fifth in scoring with 46 points a game and third in total offense with 543 yards a game.
Rounding out the top four is the Georgia Bulldogs (9-1, 6-1).
The Bulldogs are the only team in the top four with a loss and it came at home in overtime on October 12th to unranked South Carolina. Georgia’s quality wins include Notre Dame, Florida and Auburn and they can add to it by beating the winner of the SEC West, which will be LSU if the Tigers win this weekend. Georgia is right behind the Buckeyes in scoring defense allowing only 10.5 points a game and the Dawgs are sixth in total defense giving up just 267 yards a game.
But just like LSU, Georgia has a flaw that could be its downfall. The Bulldogs’ offense ranks 42nd in scoring offense at 32.4 points a game and 48th in total offense with 429 yards a game. The problem is not the rushing attack, which averages more than 200 yards a game, but rather the passing game with UGA ranking 80th in country at 220 yards a game.
No. 5 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) is currently on the outside looking in with one loss to No. 1 LSU followed by No. 6 Oregon (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12), which lost to No. 15 Auburn during week one in Dallas.