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      Smack Zone — College Football Playoffs

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      5 Surprise Contenders in College Football

      By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone contributor Now is as good a time as any to take an early look at five under-the-radar teams that could influence the college football national championship playoffs:

      1. UCLA โ€“ they came into the season ranked No. 13 and now have climbed up to No. 7. The Bruins are coming off back to back victories against BYU and at Arizona. The middle of October will show us if the Bruins are a contender or pretender. They face Stanford and Cal back to back weeks.
      Why they will make it: The Bruins have one of the top defenses in the country and freshman QB Josh Rosen looks like the real deal. Why they wonโ€™t make it: You can never fully trust a freshman QB. Also, we donโ€™t know if P. Diddy will get a hold of another kettle ball.
      1. Georgia โ€“ the Bulldogs were the heavy preseason favorite to win the SEC East this year, and have not disappointed so far. They currently sit at No. 8 and have a big showdown against Alabama this Saturday. Nick Chubb is a Heisman frontrunner and with a victory against Bama, Georgia could run the table heading into the SEC Championship.
      Why they will make it: Nick Chubb is one of the two top RBs in the country, and he can carry this team to the playoffs. Why they wonโ€™t make it: Because itโ€™s Georgia and they always choke when the pressure is at its highest.
      1. Utah โ€“ Utah was unranked to start the season, but an opening weekend win against the Michigan Harbaughโ€™s moved them up to No. 24. Last week, they absolutely destroyed Oregon on the road, 62-20, and have vaulted all the way up to No. 10. They are one of 4 teams to receive a first place vote in the AP poll.
      Why they will make it: Everyone loves a Cinderella story, this will definitely be it. Why they wonโ€™t make it: The voters wonโ€™t let them in.
      1. Clemson โ€“ the Tigers have faced a cupcake schedule so far, and have stayed at their preseason rank of No. 12. They have their first test of the year as they host #6 Notre Dame Saturday night. Clemsonโ€™s season always comes down to the showdown with FSU. Could this be the season that Clemson gets over the hump?
      Why they will make it: Dabo Swinney is due. Why they wonโ€™t make it: Dabo Swinney actually isnโ€™t due.
      1. Oklahoma โ€“ the Sooners sit at No. 15 after a thrilling comeback win at Tennessee a couple weeks ago. Expectations are always high in Norman, even with TCU and Baylor stealing the thunder away from Oklahoma and Texas. Oklahoma faces TCU and Baylor in back to back weeks at the end of the season, that should determine the Big 12 champion.
      Why they will make it: ย Bob Stoops. Why they wonโ€™t make it: the last 3 weeks of their schedule.