College football’s opening weekend is on deck and “experts” everywhere are trying to figure out everything there is to know about how the 2018 season will unfold. At least two teams, Alabama and Clemson, are widely expected to reach the College Football Playoff at the end of the line and, despite the general absurdity of that in a sport involving more than 100 teams, it is easy to see why the top programs would have that baseline.
Others — headlined by Ohio State, Georgia, Wisconsin and Oklahoma — land on virtually any top-10 list ahead of the season and that allows for each program to become a trendy College Football Playoff selection. In this space, though, we’ll glance off the radar to some extent, fully excluding the top 10 teams in the country (at least according to the initial AP Poll) in an attempt to unearth “sleepers” to reach the sport’s final four.
It should be noted that Group of 5 teams could become involved but, unfortunately for fans of those programs, the deck is stacked wildly against them and that doesn’t allow us to fire on a smaller conference program in this exercise. Also, the word “sleeper” doesn’t usually apply to some of these (very) large brands but, considering their starting point, it would be at least a mild surprise if any of the five teams below crashed the party.
Here are five teams that have the talent, schedule and opportunity to do so, however, and they arrive in alphabetical order.