In recent memory, there have been college football seasons where the ultimate National Champion looked unbeatable. Teams such as the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs and the 2019 LSU Tigers have looked almost professional, steamrolling over even the ranked opponents in their wake.
Not so, this season.
Look at the top three teams.
Georgia (still holding that No. 1 spot after back-to-back titles) lost 13 players to the NFL Draft last year and though they remain undefeated and top-ranked, their cracks have started to show. Their margins of victory over unranked opponents like South Carolina and Auburn have been much narrower than they would have been in years past.
With three games against ranked opponents remaining (plus Florida on the road), Georgia could very well end the season with more than one loss.
Michigan very well might be the best team in the country at the moment, but we can’t say that for sure because they haven’t played anyone of note. To their credit, they have blown out their opponent in pretty much every single game. In their last three games, they’ve won 52-10 against Minnesota, beat Indiana 52-7, and shut out their in-state rivals Michigan State 49-0.
But would those results ring true against a Georgia or a powerhouse team? We probably won’t know until they play Ohio State in the final week of the season.
Ohio State, for its part, is currently ranked No. 3, and while the Buckeyes have two marquee wins under their belts (a 17-14 victory over Notre Dame and this past weekend’s 20-12 win over Penn State), both of those wins have looked shaky at best.
The Buckeye offense continues to struggle to run the football, desperately needing to come up with a solution before they play Michigan, while Kyle McCord goes hot and cold. When he’s on, he’s really on, but when he’s off, it’s hard to watch.
In addition to the top three teams in the country, Florida State, Washington, and Oklahoma remain undefeated.
And of the six remaining unbeaten teams, it’s anyone’s guess who will make the playoffs.
I’d argue this is a good thing.
The best seasons of football are the ones that come full of surprises. Why watch the game if the outcome is clear or feels predetermined? On any given day, all six of these teams have the ability to beat the other five, which adds a little element of chaos into the mix each Saturday.
In years where Georgia, Alabama, or even Clemson feel unbeatable, watching your team excel in a top-4 spot feels a little like prolonging your own funeral: It’s just a matter of time until they’re matched up with the professionals and get curb-stomped. And when the time comes, it’s absolutely miserable to watch.
This year? Nothing about the rest of this season is clear. We can make predictions all we want, but at the end of the day, it’s really anyone’s guess. It feels fresh.
Two of the top four will play each other on the last weekend of the regular season. The No. 1 seed has three tough games toward the end of conference play. A week ago, Michael Penix Jr. winning the Heisman Trophy seemed like maybe the only predictable thing left in this season.
Then he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble against an unranked Arizona State team, barely eking out a win this past Saturday.
Penix, Jr.’s two interceptions came just a week after Caleb Williams’ downfall. The reigning Heisman Winner had been favored to repeat through the first few weeks of the season until USC lost to Notre Dame in a performance that saw Williams throw three interceptions.
It’s a season where even the best teams, even the best players, have had moments of mediocrity.
And it’s been an absolute blast to watch.
As an analyst, we spend so much time trying to guess who will win based on Xs and Os, tangible statistics, and patterns. Sometimes, something intangible takes over though, for better or worse. It defies predicting.
So we tune into the game with no real answers, no clear picture of how things will shake out. Games surprise us. We get frustrated. We get excited. Sometimes we get to say, “I told you so” (me predicting Colorado’s Week 1 win over TCU) before putting our foot in our mouth a few weeks later (me when Colorado ultimately got blown out by Oregon in Week 4).
Ultimately, in a season like this, your team might not win every game. The teams are more evenly matched. There are holes to exploit. There’s more room for an upset.
There’s also more room for fun.
I hope you’re all enjoying this chaotic ride as much as I am.