Alabama Crimson Tide defense championship quality or not

Mandatory Credit: Kent Gidley via USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kent Gidley via USA TODAY Sports /
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Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama Crimson Tide /

College Football Playoff Contenders

In this analysis, eight teams are considered Playoff contenders. Three of the eight have only marginal chances, being Texas A&M, Cincinnati and Northwestern. The Wildcats are only included because of a chance to beat Ohio State in a Big Ten title game.

The other five are the Alabama Crimson Tide, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Clemson Tigers, Ohio State Buckeyes and Florida Gators. The only stats considered are Scoring Defense rankings and the Scoring Offense rankings of each team’s opponents.

A ‘Championship Quality’ defense is an imprecise label. No numerical value is used in this analysis. Instead, based the data referenced above, a prediction is offered on whether a team’s defense can make enough stops against a top offense to win a Playoff game.

Northwestern Wildcats 5-1 and No. 14 in CFBP Ranking

  • The Wildcats are No. 6 in the 127 teams, FBS rankings for Scoring Defense.
  • The top Scoring Offense Northwestern has beaten is the No. 38, Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa scored 20 points against Northwestern and constrained by three interceptions, only had 293 yards total offense.
  • The next two highest-rated Scoring Offenses, the Wildcats have beaten are No. 75 Purdue and No. 78 Wisconsin.
  • Two more wins came against Scoring Offenses, No. 93 Maryland and No. 95 Nebraska.
  •  The Northwestern loss was to Michigan State, with the No. 120 Scoring Offense.

Prediction: Northwestern does not have a ‘Playoff-Quality’ Defense.

Ohio State Buckeyes 5-0 and No. 4 in CFBP Ranking

  • Ohio State is No. 33 in Scoring Defense.
  • The top Scoring Offense Ohio State has beaten is the No. 55, Indiana Hoosiers.
  • The other four Buckeye wins were over teams ranked No. 74 (Rutgers); No. 89 (Penn State); No. 95 Nebraska and No. 120 Michigan State.
  • An explosive offense would have to carry Ohio State in the Playoffs.

Prediction: Ohio State does not have a ‘Playoff-Quality’ Defense.