College football playoff: Who’s in?

By Caleb Bailey, Sports Editor

The 2015 college football season is upon us and it is shaping up to be a great one. When we last left the college football world, the Ohio State Buckeyes had won the first-ever national championship in the College Football Playoff era.

This year, everything is riding on the Buckeyes to do well. Everyone is coming after them and there are a host of teams who could come out and beat the them on any given night. Join me as we take a look at every conference and see who exactly will come out on top in 2015.

Let us start with the conference home to the defending national champions: the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have everything to lose this year. With either Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett looking to take control of the offense, and Braxton Miller out of the quarterback picture with his move to wide receiver, there’s no telling how good they can be.

The Penn State Nittany Lions and Michigan State Spartans are looking like the only teams that can actually give the Buckeyes a run for the conference championship. There is no reason, however, why the Buckeyes will not come out on top of the Big Ten and go back to the CFP.

The rest of the Power Five conferences are going to look much different this year. Despite the controversy surrounding coach Steve Sarkisian, the USC Trojans are the frontrunner to win the PAC-12 South division with the Oregon Ducks and new quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. looking to be the best thing about the North.

The Trojans have all the right pieces with fifth year senior Cody Kessler at the helm of the offense and safety Su’a Craven being a force in the defensive backfield. They should be the second team to advance to the CFP this year.

In the ACC, this season will not be dominated by the Florida State Seminoles despite them snagging Notre Dame transfer quarterback Everett Golson this offseason. The Clemson Tigers look way too strong with ACC Preseason Player of the Year, Deshaun Watson, leading the charge. The Tigers are destined for a match-up with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the ACC Title Game and an upset in the Charlotte would put the Yellow Jackets in a New Year’s Six bowl game, but not the CFP.

The Big 12 looks like it is already wrapped up for the TCU Horned Frogs with Heisman hopeful Trevone Boykin throwing the ball around, but there is a team on the rise just to the north and no, they don’t play in Norman, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are easily the dark horse team of the season in the Power Five, but with J.W. Walsh and Mason Rudolph vying for the starting role behind center, they should be a force to be dealt with. The team only falls once throughout the season but an 11-1 record is good enough to get them into the CFP in January.

The biggest surprise, coincidentally, of the 2015 season will be who comes out of the SEC. This team went 8-4, 8-5 if you count the loss in their bowl game. They have one of the most talented running backs in the entire country who took the nation by storm rushing for 1,034 yards as a true freshman.

The LSU Tigers have one of the toughest defensive back groups in the country and they should give any team fits that they play this year. While their quarterback situation is nowhere near the Matt Flynn and Jamarcus Russell days, the presence of Travin Dural, Trey Quinn, and Malachai Dupre will certainly help either Anthony Jennings or incumbent starter Brandon Harris throw the ball around.

With Tre’Davious White and Kendell Beckwith holding down the fort on the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers will have one of the smoothest roads to the SEC title game in Atlanta in early December. That’s where the meet, and beat, the Tennessee Volunteers to go 12-1 and get to the College Football Playoff.

The Tigers, as the three seed, face off with the Trojans and the Buckeyes, who despite starting off 0-1 are still the one seed, face the Cowboys. We have a rematch of the 2008 BCS National Championship Game between the Tigers and the Buckeyes with much of the same result. The Tigers outlast the Buckeyes and Heisman Trophy winner Ezekiel Elliott to take home the big gold trophy.

Happy football season folks.