The NCAA has attempted to promote a more even playing field in college football by limiting the number of scholarships each school can give, but we've seen two coaches dominate the sport for the last 15 years. Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have held the National Championship Trophy at the end of 8 of the last 14 seasons, including 7 of the last 11. Alabama and Ohio State will begin 2017 as the top two teams in the nation, and I expect it to end that way as well. But first, they must get through the other two teams that qualify for the College Football Playoff.

Penn State

In the first three seasons of the CFP, we haven't seen two teams from the same conference make it to the year's final four. Penn State and Ohio State have a great chance to buck that trend this season.

The Nittany Lions had a strong case for a spot in last year's CFP as B1G champions, but the committee chose Ohio State even after they lost in Happy Valley last season. James Franklin returns with a ton of talent in 2017 and his experience should help them avoid an early-season slip-up like they had against Pittsburgh last September.

QB Trace McSorely and RB Saquan Barkley form one of the nation's most dynamic duos, and their defense boasts top-level talent at all three levels, which will help them make their first college football playoff appearance.


Many college football pundits also wanted to put USC into the CFP last season as they were the nation's hottest team heading into December. Like Penn State, their September struggles prevented them from competing for a national title, but they were breaking in a new head coach and hadn't made a decision on their starting quarterback yet.

The locker room seems to have rallied around head coach Clay Helton and QB Sam Darnold, and they'll be surrounded with plenty of talent with four straight top-10 recruiting classes. The Trojans' Achilles heel could be their offensive line where they only return two starters, but a mobile quarterback and a relatively easy schedule should help them overcome those issues.


Alabama's dominance in college football has been unparalleled in the modern era, and they have another incredibly strong squad in 2017.

They return the nation's best backfield with QB Jalen Hurts and a stable of elite running backs in Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris, and Joshua Jacobs. Four starters return along the offensive line, and WR Calvin Ridley also provides some playmaking ability on the outside.

The Crimson Tide's defense should be dominant again this season with possible first-round draft picks on the defensive line, and at linebacker, cornerback, and safety. The transition to another new offensive coordinator could be rough, and Jalen Hurts still needs to prove he can stretch the field in the deep passing game.

Ohio State

After losing 31-0 in last year's National Semifinal, the Buckeyes will be out for revenge this season. J.T. Barrett returns for what seems like his 87th year of eligibility, and Urban Meyer brought in Kevin Wilson to spark their anemic offense. Wilson could go down as one of the greatest offensive coordinators in NCAA history.

This defensive line will be the best unit in football next season as they return up to eight possible NFL-caliber players in the trenches. There's a bit of turnover in the back seven, but this terrifying D-line and some high pedigree talent should prevent that from becoming a weakness.

Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Buckeyes and they still made it to the College Football Playoff. Urban Meyer will win his fourth National Championship this season, and solidify his dynasty at Ohio State.