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College football predictions: Projecting an SEC-less Final Four

Football 2014 — The Oklahoman’s Jenni Carlson projects the national college football picture.
by Jenni Carlson Published: August 26, 2014

College Football Playoff Final Four: Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Oregon. A final four without an SEC team? You got that right. All four of these teams will be undefeated and force out one-loss SEC teams.

Title game pick: Florida State 41, Oregon 38. Nothing could be more fitting in this era of college football — a couple of high-scoring teams in a high-scoring title game.

Game of the Year: Stanford at Oregon. Ducks will hold off Stanford to stay undefeated and force the SEC out of the playoff.

Upset of the Year: Auburn over Alabama. Yes, it’s in Tuscaloosa. Yes, the Crimson Tide will want revenge after last year. But Gus Malzahn is a heck of a coach and Nick Marshall is a heck of a quarterback. Advantage, War Eagle.

Coach on the Rise: Mark Helfrich. Chip Kelly left Oregon for the NFL, but with Helfrich at the helm, the Ducks haven’t missed a beat.

Coach on the Way Out: Will Muschamp. Wins will be hard to come by again at Florida, and Gator fans aren’t willing to live with that — or with Muschamp.

Team on the Rise: Missouri. The Tigers will be disruptors in the SEC once again. Maty Mauk will make some folks wonder if Johnny Manziel relocated to Columbus instead of Cleveland.

Team on the Decline: LSU. The Tigers will start either a freshman or sophomore at quarterback. Could make for a rocky road in a stout SEC West Division.