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National Title Contenders – 2015

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National Title Contenders – 2014-15

The First Word


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The core.  The heart. The beginning.  This is where this CFBMatrix journey all started 9 years ago.  I have always enjoyed solving what was perceived to be complex questions with simple answers.  The question I started with was talent and it’s ability to define the BCS National Championship game.

Using the formula to look back from 2005 to 2002, it missed one team in the BCS title game.  In the 9 years since, every winner and loser of the BCS title game has come from this annual group of 9 to 11 teams that share 5 numbers.  25 of the last 26 and every National Champion since 2002.  I know we have a ‘new’ system in place.  But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. One simple formula, one simple answer.

This is the 2014 kickoff of College Football Season for the CFBMatrix. It’s been a great off season for me with visits to several AQ schools to talk stats and creating better or new pro-active analytics in their football and athletic programs. These adventures have spawned a ton of new ideas and metrics for tracking and predicting college football. I see the CFBMatrix as a ‘Art of War’ disciple where it’s over before it’s over.

 “Dave came on our show last year and went through his National Title list.  No Oregon. No A&M. No South Carolina. No Stanford. But he had Auburn and Florida State.  He even said the Iron Bowl would be one of the best games in CFB in 2014.  We all thought he was crazy.  Yes. He. Is.”  Ryan Fowler, Host – The Game – Tide 99.1 in Tuscaloosa

While many feel the 4 team playoff will benefit the less programs, I feel this limits their ability to make a run to a title.  A national title took just 11 wins less than 2 decades ago, this year it could be 15.  Every game played increases the odds of a loss, and of injury.  The teams with lesser depth and lesser talent no have tougher odds, in my opinion, of winning the title.

Note to self: Don’t play the Field

  • Alabama – Love the elite talent and elite coach.  Hate the fact they get four guys back to start on the offensive side of the ball in a conference that will be dominated by defense again in 2014.  I do not like the hire of Lane Kiffin as well.  We will see if the new role suits him. However, 5 straight years of undercoaching the talent at USC and Tennessee tells me to be wary of the Crimson Tide to win it all.
  • Auburn – Elite talent and a coach that has got his teams to perform at or above talent/schedule expectations in 3 of the last 4 years.
  • Florida –While Gator fans can daydream about Auburn like turn around the biggest problem is the coaching.  Yes, the Gators have elite talent.  National title level talent.  However, with a 3 year coach effect of -10 games, getting a team that has under performed it’s ability for 3+ years to suddenly win 13 of 15 or more is tough expect.
  • Florida State – They get back a majority of their team and their schedule is miles better than 2013.  Their 3 toughest games are all at home.  Pretty easy to pencil them into an ACC title and the playoffs again.  Repeating however?  Tough call. Their biggest enemy will be themselves and the mental game of coming off a national title win.
  • Georgia – The only top 8 recruiter of this century to not make a title game?  Yup.  UGA.  But they lose a forever cornerstone in Murray (that might be a good thing #EwingTheory) and get back 90% of key defensive production.  They also have one tough roadie at the Gamecocks with Auburn, the Vols and Clemson at home with no trap games on the horizon.  Expect a playoff berth at most from Richt.
  • LSU – How about we just not discount Les Miles any more?   The dude just wins and recruits like hell.  Even with all the NFL early entries, this is still a very talented team coming back to Baton Rouge.  Anyone contending for an SEC West title is contending for a playoff berth.  Period.
  • Ohio State – Low attrition and Meyer in year 2.  Lights out.  This should be a strong favorite to the NCG title game.  No team that is #1 in recruiting for their conference has a bigger talent/coaching gap between themselves and the rest of their conference.  Anything less than a Big Ten title is a wasted season going forward for the Buckeyes.
  • Oklahoma – This is not the elite Sooner teams of the early 2000’s.  Stoops and Co. lost their recruiting edge and have hit a down turn.  Still a Big 12 title contender and national title game berth contender.  But like Clemson and the two teams below, not enough total talent to take them to win it.
  • Notre Dame – The Irish have been here every year since 2009.  The CFBMatrix loved the coach effect of Kelly at Cincinnati, but like so many programs with national titles in the last couple of decades we are constantly left scratching our heads why the talent and coaching cannot seem to get it together.  With 3 of the last 4 years being under performing seasons to their CFBMatrix talent/schedule expectations, I do not hold my breath on this selection.

Last One In

  • Oregon – Washington, Stanford, Michigan State and Arizona all at home.  The only true road threat is themselves and UCLA.  The table to run to a playoff berth and home field in the PAC12 conference title game doesn’t get set much better than this. However, this is a team that could make, but not win it.  They don’t have the metrics of a National Title winner, and next year they may not be on the list at all.

Last 2 out

  • Texas – Low attrition and huge talent levels.  Now an article came out about lazy coaching.  Wow… so not surprised.  And they are still there.  Need to clean house DeLoss.  Patterson is waiting.  How scary would the ‘Horns be if Patterson was in charge?  If he was, my picks for NCG this year would be OSU and UT.
  • USC – Like Texas, this is an elite program with unlimited recruiting funding and potential.  With a new head coach, and one that has performed 1 game or more under talent/schedule record expectations for 4 years, USC is not one to expect to win a title in 2014-2015 season.  Still a potential playoff contender.

Other Notables on the Edge of Championship Talent: UCLA, Miami, Clemson, Michigan and Texas A&M

Got a question about a team not on here and if they are close?  Tweet me.  Email me.  Invite me to your forum. email: dave@cfbmatrix.com twitter/Instagram/Pinterest @CFBMatrix 


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  3. John

    March 31, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Like your list with 5 from the SEC because in all likelihood only the SEC Champ will make the playoff. Surprised to see the Gators who are riding a 7 game losing streak. Good to see UGA who should represent the East in the SECCG. Believe your top 10 will have all 4 of the playoff teams. My prediction is SEC Champ, FSU and the best 2 among OK, OR and Ohio St.

    • Dave Bartoo

      March 31, 2014 at 10:19 am

      My annual team pool is based solely in talent. Florida is elite, but the coaching effect of Muschamp in the CFBMatrix says taking them is foolish. They need a new head coach or an unforeseen miracle to get where they should be in CFB.

      • MIke G.

        June 1, 2014 at 4:34 pm

        Just a little curious of why you think Oregon is the last one in, and possibly not even on the list next year? Is that due to the transition of losing their elite talent after Mariota is drafted after this season in addition to the new coaching staff?

        • Dave Bartoo

          June 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

          Recruiting is not good enough. Period. They are on the fringe of teams that get to a NC and not win it. Their best class in the last 5 years is gone next year. The PAC12 coaching and talent has risen as well the last 4+ years. I am a season tix holder and I still say the fairy tale window is getting very tiny for my alma mater.

      • MIke G.

        June 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm

        Just a little curious of why you think Oregon is the last one in, and possibly not even on the list next year? Is that due to the transition of losing their elite talent after Mariota is drafted after this season? Also with the addition to the new coaching staff?

  4. Charlie Mancuso

    June 17, 2014 at 8:06 am

    While I agree with you on the lackluster coaching job Lane Kiffin did as a head coach, it is very hard to argue with his record and production as a offensive coordinator. The coaching hire has, or did have many Alabama fans in a bit of a trough, however the more his productivity as an OC comes to light, the better he looks. You add in someone like Saban to leash the beast so to speak, and Kirby Smart on the defensive side of the ball, without a doubt this could be a very good combination.

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