We all know that the same handful of teams tends to dominate college football year after year. However, there always seems to be one or two teams every year that put themselves in the College Football Playoff discussion despite being a little overlooked and undervalued heading into the season. Let’s take a look at some of the teams that may not be on the radar but have a chance to sneak into the CFP in 2020.
Did you think the Golden Gophers were a fluke last season? Guess again. Quarterback Tanner Morgan is back and might be the best quarterback in the Big Ten outside of Justin Fields.
The Gophers will also return their entire starting offensive line, which is huge in a league like the Big Ten. More importantly, the Big Ten West isn’t as daunting as the East Division. If Minnesota can get past Iowa and Wisconsin, they’ll have a chance to play in the Big Ten Championship Game and crash the CFP.
This is Jimbo Fisher’s third season at Texas A&M and the Aggies finally appear ready to make their move in the SEC West. Quarterback Kellen Mond has all of the qualities of a Heisman contender and could be on the verge of a special season. Defensively, the Aggies bring back their top four tacklers, which means the A&M defense could be even better than last season, taking some of the pressure off Mond.
Keep in mind that Texas A&M played a ridiculously difficult schedule last season. With so many key players returning, the Aggies should reap the benefits of that tough schedule and be prepared to make some noise in 2020.
Senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger is someone to watch closely in the Heisman race. At times, he’ll be able to put the Longhorns on his back and win a game when Texas is having an off day. Of course, the hope is that he gets a little more help around him.
Last year, Texas struggled at times because of a young roster. That means the Longhorns have a lot of returning players who have experience under their belt. Combined with a quarterback like Ehlinger and Texas is the perfect dark horse.
Losing quarterback Justin Herbert is a big blow for the Ducks. However, the rest of the offense is largely intact while Boston College transfer Anthony Brown gives Oregon an experienced replacement for Herbert.
More importantly, the Ducks are loaded defensively, giving them a leg up in the Pac-12. If the offense can come around during the season, Oregon could look dangerous late in the year.
The Hurricanes may not even start the season in the top-25, but they’ll be a team to watch. The arrival of quarterback D’Eriq King as a grad transfer from Houston is a game-changer for a program that couldn’t figure out its quarterback situation last year. King is a dynamic runner and passer who should help mitigate some of Miami’s offensive line issues from last season.
Defensively, Miami could have the best pass-rushing tandem in the country with Quincy Roche and Gregory Rousseau. That should help to hide any other deficiencies on the defense. The kicker, of course, is that the ACC Coastal lacks a dominant team, giving the Hurricanes a clear path to the ACC Championship Game if they can play up to their potential.