College Football Playoff tiers: Where all 130 teams fit for 2021
- College football reporter
- Joined ESPN.com in 2007
- Graduate of Indiana University
When asked last month about the possibility of a 12-team College Football Playoff, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was blunt in his disapproval.
“Our team isn’t for it,” he said. “They don’t want to play more games. And to be honest with you, I don’t know if there’s 12 teams good enough.”
How many are?
Certainly more than the current four-team field can accommodate. Eight teams (Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Texas) enter the season with at least a 10% chance to reach the playoff, according to the Allstate Playoff Predictor. Still, CFP executive director Bill Hancock has made it clear that the earliest the playoff could expand is 2023 — and recent realignment conversations could delay it further or even change the current proposal.
So here we are, heading into another fall with a crowd of contenders elbowing each other for four coveted spots. Swinney is right in that there is a measurable drop-off between elite programs with a realistic chance and most others.
How much separation lies between them, though, is debatable, which is why we’ve decided to take a closer look and categorize all 130 FBS teams according to their playoff potential this fall.
The usual suspects
Alabama Crimson Tide
Ohio State Buckeyes
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