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Spoiler alert: Time to ruin CFP endgame

By: Wally Hall
Published: Sunday, August 19, 2018
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) scores the game winning touchdown in overtime during the College Football Playoff National Championship game between Georgia and Alabama on Monday, Jan. 8, 2017 in Atlanta, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) scores the game winning touchdown in overtime during the College Football Playoff National Championship game between Georgia and Alabama on Monday, Jan. 8, 2017 in Atlanta, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

As is tradition in this space on this Sunday, the crystal ball has been dusted off to predict the final College Football Playoff poll.

That’s right, the last one that comes out in January after all the bowl games.

1) Georgia Kirby Smart is taking everything he learned from Nick Saban and adding his personal touch. A question at linebacker is outweighed by what could be a great offense.

2) Clemson Since it is highly doubtful the CFP committee is going to let it be an all-SEC final again, the Tigers are the hot team to go with. Dabo Swinney has taken the ACC to a new level.

3) Alabama Truly hard to pick against the Tide, but they will have eight new starters on defense. Even for Saban that’s a lot.

4) Michigan Yes, a bit of a wild-card pick with games at Michigan State and at Ohio State, but if they win they should be in the playoffs.

5) Wisconsin High expectations for a team that has only four starters back on defense. There’s a big advantage to playing in the Big Ten West.

6) Washington The best in the West. Chris Petersen has 17 starters back and a very tough schedule, despite not playing USC.

7) Notre Dame Opens the season at Michigan. Ouch. Brian Kelly has 15 starters back.

8) Oklahoma Even with big holes to fill on both sides of the ball, the Sooners should win the Big 12.

9) Stanford A win by the Cardinal over USC in their second game could help, but a hard road schedule includes a trip to Notre Dame.

10) Michigan State Should be Mark Dantonio’s year with 19 starters back from a 10-win season, but he will need some luck.

11) Auburn Huge test in season opener against a loaded Washington. The game is in Atlanta, but the Tigers have lost last two there.

12) Penn State James Franklin has worked a miracle in College Station, but he’s got to replace nine starters on defense and travels to Michigan.

13) Ohio State The biggest question surrounding this team is who will be the head coach, and that is not a good way to open a season. Talented teams still need leadership.

14) USC Clay Helton has supplied the stability this program needed. This could be a little high for the Trojans, who have 13 starters back.

15) Texas Tom Herman makes improvements in a second year. Oct. 6 against Sooners will be a big barometer of how much the Longhorns have improved.

16) Miami Mark Richt came home and set the ship back on course. Hurricanes open with LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

17) Texas A&M One of two teams to play Alabama and Clemson this season (Louisville is the other), and the Aggies do that in their second and fourth games of the season. Jimbo Fisher will need to be Jumbo to go unscathed.

18) Boston College Eagles won five of last seven games to finish 7-6 in 2017.

19) Mississippi State New coach Joe Moorhead has 17 starters back from a 9-4 team that got better as the season went on.

20) South Carolina Will Muschamp has matured since his ill-fated stint with Florida. Gamecocks won nine last year and have 14 starters back.

21) Utah Quiet but efficient, the Utes are a threat to win any Saturday.

22) Boise State Not surprisingly, Broncos are top-ranked Group of Five school.

23) Oregon The Ducks have 14 starters back from a 7-6 team that feasted on unranked foes and struggled against the ranked ones. One step at a time for a program that fell off the radar in 2016.

24) Virginia Tech Season opener with Florida State should be a win and confidence booster.

25) Memphis Nice schedule, 15 starters back from 10-win season and apparently head Coach Mike Norvell is there to stay.

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