Only three weeks into the college football season and there are already a few big programs that can kiss any chance at making the College Football Playoff goodbye.
It has been a wild first few weeks of the college football season. Upsets have happened on a weekly basis while teams have fought and scraped to stay in the College Football Playoff race.
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Unfortunately for some teams, a sluggish start to the season has already taken them out of the CFP race. Instead, these teams will be playing for pride and a reputable bowl game for the rest of the year. Even some of the bigger programs in the nation are out of the race, so let’s take a look at some of the teams who will be watching the College Football Playoff from home.
Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles looks to the scoreboard surrounded by players during the fourth quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
5. LSU Tigers (2-1)
Yes, the LSU Tigers are still ranked No. 18 in the latest AP poll. However, the Tigers have looked less than stellar to start the season, falling to the Wisconsin Badgers in their season opener and barely getting past the Mississippi State Bulldogs sans Dak Prescott this past week.
It’s become pretty clear that Les Miles is coaching for his job the rest of the season, and that’s not a good sign for a team that wants to play in the College Football Playoff. The SEC is hyper competitive every season, and this year it looks like the Tigers aren’t going to top teams like Alabama, Ole Miss or Arkansas in the SEC West to get a chance to play in the conference championship.
Without a conference title, the Tigers aren’t going to have a shot at playing for the national title. Expect them to lose a few more games against teams like Alabama and Florida before the season is over, officially putting the nail in the coffin for LSU.
Sep 17, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Max Browne (4) gestures during a NCAA football game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
4. USC Trojans (1-2)
In order to be a College Football Playoff team, you have to be able to show that you can beat the top-tier teams around the nation. The USC Trojans have done the exact opposite to start the 2016 season.
The Trojans opened the season by getting absolutely destroyed in a 52-6 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. After getting a confidence boost with a blowout win over Utah State, the Trojans came right back this past week and lost in convincing fashion 27-10 to the Stanford Cardinal.
Expectations were sky high to start the season for USC. Unfortunately, the team has failed to meet those expectations. They still have some incredibly talented players that will be in the NFL next season in receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree Jackson.
That talent doesn’t mean much if you can’t beat quality opponents, however. The Trojans will still have a chance to have a solid season, but don’t expect them to come anywhere close to the semifinals this year.
Sep 17, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly (10) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Alabama won 48-43. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
3. Ole Miss Rebels (1-2)
Chad Kelly was supposed to lead the Ole Miss Rebels to the promised land this season. The hype surrounding Ole Miss was as high as its been in quite some time. Although Ole Miss has looked good in its first three games, a 1-2 start has more than likely doomed the Rebels.
Yes, both losses have come against elite opponents in the Florida State Seminoles and the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, the season opener against Florida State should have been a win until the Rebels completely fell apart in the second half. That kind of collapse will matter at the end of the season when the committee is selecting the final four teams.
What’s tough to swallow for the Rebels is the fact that they could win out and still not make the semifinals. The rest of their schedule isn’t nearly as impressive, with their biggest games coming against two struggling teams in Georgia and LSU.
The Rebels will continue to compete in the SEC, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to make any noise this year.
Sep 17, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Noah Brown (80) catches a touchdown pass against Oklahoma Sooners defensive back Michiah Quick (16) during the second quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
2. Oklahoma Sooners (1-2)
Much like the Rebels, the Oklahoma Sooners were expected to be a legitimate national title contender heading into the 2016 season. However, just like the Rebels, two losses against top-tier opponents has ruined Oklahoma’s chances at a national title.
Oklahoma lost in pretty convincing fashion against the American Conference Houston Cougars. The Sooners were still kicking after that loss, but getting blown out by another playoff contender in the Ohio State Buckeyes sealed Oklahoma’s fate.
The problem is that the offense has so much talent with players like Baker Mayfield, Semaj Perine and Joe Mixon. They’d be a great team to watch once the postseason rolls around, but the fact of the matter is that they won’t be playing another truly elite team that’s on the same level as Houston or Ohio State for the rest of the season.
On the bright side, the Sooners could still win out with some convincing games over teams like Texas and Baylor and make it to a very reputable bowl game.
Sep 17, 2016; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Josh Adams (33) is tackled behind the line of scrimmage by Michigan State Spartans defensive end Evan Jones (85) during the first quarter of a game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-2)
Sorry, Notre Dame fans. This year was filled with so much promise. DeShone Kizer looks like a potential top-three pick, the defense has a ton of playmakers and Brian Kelly was expecting this Fighting Irish team to compete for a championship.
Instead, the Irish couldn’t grab wins against two teams that really would have solidified their place in the College Football Playoff race. Sure, Michigan State and Texas aren’t on the same level as Alabama or Ohio State right now, but no one would have been doubting Notre Dame had they started this season 3-0.
To make matters even worse, the Fighting Irish only have three more games against quality opponents in Stanford, USC and Miami. Only Stanford looks like an actual CFP contender at this point, so winning out isn’t going to do Notre Dame much good in terms of making it to the semifinals.
Notre Dame has one of the largest fan bases in the nation, and they’re already disappointed with how this season has gone.