College football is back! The 2018-2019 season kicks off “Week Zero” this weekend, with four games between some clubs outside of the “Power Five” conferences. While we don’t plan on covering every single game in a weekend – there are a 130 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams after all – we do plan on highlighting a handful of games each weekend throughout the season, leading to the National Championship game at Levi’s Stadium on 7 January 2019.
This will be the fifth season of the College Football Playoff used to determine the champion of the FBS. (The Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) concludes its season with a playoff featuring 20 teams, something that has been deemed impossible for the FBS (a topic for another day)). Alabama is the defending champion after beating Georgia in the Championship game last year, their second championship since the College Football Playoff began during the 2014-15 season. They are the only team to compete in the College Football Playoff every year of its existence, and are expected to do so again this year.
The “Power Five” football conferences – the Big 12, Southeastern Conference (SEC), Pac-12, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and Big Ten – plus Notre Dame are considered the “elite” of FBS football, and have dominated postseason bowls in the College Football Playoff era, and while they are not all guaranteed spots in the playoff, no team from outside the “Power Five” has ever been ranked in the top four spots for the playoffs. A non-“Power Five” team is guaranteed at least one bid to one of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games, however, and have been able to prove their worth, going 3-1 in four games against “Power Five” teams over the past four season.
I’m not a huge fan of preseason rankings (despite my use of them with English football clubs), if only because they anchor a team for the entire season based on a lofty – or low – initial rating. If the first ratings were completed after Week 5, when most teams have played at least 4 games, it might be more illustrative of what the team might be expected to do over the course of the season. Nevertheless, there are two separate polls – the Associated Press and Coach’s Poll – that release preseason Top 25 lists, and the final rankings in December are part of the calculation for determining who plays in the College Football Playoff at the end of the season.
Both sets of preseason rankings don’t leave much room for teams outside of the “Power Five.” Only UCF (of the American Athletic Conference) – the only team to go undefeated last year – and Boise State (of the Mountain West) are in the preseason rankings, making them the super early favorites for a berth in one of the New Year’s Six bowl games. The remaining 23 teams are pretty much the same, with only Oregon (#24 in the AP Top 25) being swapped out for Oklahoma State (#25 in the Coach’s Poll) different. These weekly rankings will help determine our coverage during the season, so as much as I might dislike them, they will serve a purpose to find games to write about every week.
We hope that you join us for our college football coverage, which will kick off in earnest next week when the bulk of college football starts to play real games. Personally, I hope that Alabama ends the season 8-5 or something and a team that hasn’t won for quite some time pulls through, but that might be a little too much to hope for.
Until next time…
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