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:
- UCLA – 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.
- Georgia – 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.
- Utah – Utah was unranked to start the season, but an opening weekend win against the Michigan Harbaugh’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.
- Clemson – 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. Clemson’s season always comes down to the showdown with FSU. Could this be the season that Clemson gets over the hump?
- Oklahoma – 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.