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B5Q Roundtable: 2019 National CFB Preview, Part 1

That’s right, baby. There is more than one part to this next Roundtable. LET’S GOOOOOOO!

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

We are in the thick of Roundtable SZN now and I for one couldn’t be happier. Firstly, it is less I have to write. Secondly, it’s fun to shout about sports on the internet. Thirdly, we might get Bob to watch an ACC game this year and broaden his horizons.

This week we will have a number of different roundtable discussions to hopefully get you prepared, and excited, for the upcoming college football season. This is the first in a two-part series on the national picture. Heisman finalists and CFP participants and such.

Read on and give us your choices in the comments.

Who are your top-3 Heisman finalists?

Tyler Hunt: Trevor Lawrence is the preseason favorite, and I find it hard to believe he won’t be invited to New York. Lawrence should put up monster numbers with a trio of great receivers back led by Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins. That coupled with a very experienced offensive line should give Lawrence all the opportunity to be one of the best players in the country. The schedule also helps, as the Tigers only take on two ranked teams in Syracuse and Texas A&M.

The Heisman is a “quarterback award” with 15 of the last 18 being QB’s. Despite the bias, I think Jonathan Taylor is primed for another huge season and should get an invite. Maybe I am biased? Regardless, JT is good and will do enough to make the top three in my opinion.

The other obvious answer is Tua, but thats boring so I will throw out a dark horse in Justin Herbert from Oregon. The Ducks QB was a projected top-ten pick and decided to return for his final year. Herbert brings back his three top receivers, and has one of the best offensive lines in the sport in front of him. Last year his receivers dropped 50 (FIFTY!!!) balls which greatly hurt his yards and completion percentage. If he can get a little help from returning players, he should greatly improve his numbers.

Matt Belz: I agree with Tyler on Trevor Lawrence, he has a loaded receiving corps and has the it factor that drives Heisman voters after a stellar freshman season. After him the admittedly obvious answer is Tua Tagovailoa. He was the leader in the clubhouse for most of last season before Kyler Murray went bonkers towards the end of the season putting up video game numbers. Tua had just under 4,000 yards and had 43 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions. If he can duplicate those numbers again it will be hard for him not to be in New York.

As Tyler noted, the Heisman has been a largely quarterback driven award for the past two decades, and I don’t see that changing this year. My last candidate is Sam Ehlinger. If he can propel Texas past LSU in their opener and upend Oklahoma for the in the Big 12 title he will be in contention. He brings a blend of finesse and power to the quarterback position, and he can rack up stats in a big way through the air and on the ground.

Without a big time proven running back, Ehlinger shoulders a big load for the offense at Texas, and could be in store for a bigger season than last year where he still managed over 3,200 passing yards and 25 touchdowns, in addition to 16 touchdowns on the ground.

Rock: My stay at B5Q would be very brief if I didn’t start with Jonathan Taylor. That’s one. Since the Heisman is primarily ‘the QB on the best team’ award, put Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence next. I think Tua has more opportunities for ~~The Heisman Moment~~ presented by Nissan, so he takes it home.

Bob Wiedenhoeft: I gotta say, my brain is in recovery mode from taking in these high-level, important ideas. However, I’m quite sad that nobody has mentioned Graham Mertz. If NCAA 14 taught me anything, 82 passing touchdowns in a season will get you the Heisman 9 times out of 10.

On a serious note, I get the feeling that there are so many obvious candidates that the winner will be an unknown freshman. However, the top true freshmen QBs seem to be at best a 50-50 shots to be the opening day starter for their squad. For example, Jack Coan has the inside track at Wisconsin it appears, Jalen Hurts will start over Spencer Rattler at Oklahoma, and Bo Nix has had an up and down fall camp with Auburn.

On a more serious note, my feeling is probably wrong. Let’s go chalk fellas:

  1. Trevor Lawrence
  2. Jonathan Taylor
  3. Hunter Johnson

I’ll explain Johnson in an answer to a later question, but I like Northwestern as a sleeper team. (Editor’s note:’d better explain this.)

Who makes the CFP?

Tyler: Clemson is a shoo-in for me. Easy schedule, dominating offense. They’ll be in for the fifth straight year. I think it’s a similar story in Tuscaloosa. You’ll have to beat ‘Bama twice to keep them out, and I don’t see that happening this year. I think Georgia is as good as those two teams, and they have a favorable schedule with Notre Dame at home to try and get there. Their toughest road test is at Auburn which should be winnable. I think the Dawgs get there too.

There’s a significant gap after those three teams. That means one spot is available for three likely conference champions. I think the Big 12 will cannibalize themselves, leaving the PAC-12 and Big Ten battling for a spot. Oregon, Utah, Michigan, or Ohio State should grab that fourth spot.

Matt: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia or LSU, and either Notre Dame or Oklahoma. Clemson has the easiest road of anyone in the AP Top-25 this season, and like Tyler, I don’t see Alabama losing twice. Georgia almost got in last year, and could jump into that top spot this year, but look out for LSU, who if they can muster through their difficult schedule, will get every opportunity to get in.

I think if Notre Dame beats Michigan and is respectable against Georgia or beats them, they will be the leaders with a relatively easy schedule outside of those two games. Where it gets interesting though is Oklahoma. They only play two AP Top-25 teams this year in Texas and Iowa State. If they can manage to beat Texas, and not slip up I think they an easier path as well. I think Oklahoma would need Jalen Hurts to be very good and the defense to improve under new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, but given both of their track records that is not out of the question.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Spring Game Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Rock: ‘Bama and Clemson are the gimmes. Oklahoma has an extremely manageable schedule, let’s throw them in. I don’t see anyone from the SEC East entering December with one loss – Florida plays LSU, Georgia hosts Notre Dame and both have Auburn in addition to each other. None of the PAC-12 teams really are interested in being better than a 10-win team, so we’re down to Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame. Hate to say it, but Michigan.

Oh, do I hate saying it so much.

Bob: I like to start by answering two questions: 1) Will Notre Dame be in the playoffs, and 2) which conferences will be represented in the playoffs?

I have no clue about Notre Dame, but their schedule is too tough for me to slate them into the playoffs without a conference championship game.

I think the Big Ten will beat itself up this season, as seven teams are in the top 25, and I’ll explain this more in question 4. The SEC has had six playoff spots in the last five seasons, and the ACC has had five in the last five. I think it’s a safe bet that each will get one in (‘Bama and Clemson). The PAC-12 is also due, as it has only earned two playoff spots. Oregon makes a lot of sense given the return of Justin Herbert.

So, the last spot is going to Georgia. Again. I feel this Google doc beginning to cast a shadow onto my soul.

Who do these clowns think will actually win the national championship? To be continued in Part 2, later today!