First, let's get the obvious out of the way. Alabama will make the playoffs this season, barring a catastrophe regarding injuries and performance. That much is clear. What we don't know is who the other three will be. Who are the other three teams that'll make it and what might hold them back?
Ohio State: Why They'll Make It: Miyan Williams already looks like a force, running for a 71-yard touchdown against Minnesota. The Buckeyes always have a fearsome front four, causing chaos for all opposing offenses. Ryan Day picked up where Urban Meyer left off last season, leading the Buckeyes to the National Championship game. Why They Won't Make It: Can C.J. Stroud carry the workload and lead the Buckeyes to the playoffs? Ohio State might be suspect to the run, leaving themselves exposed to surprisingly good running backs. Their schedule may prove to be surprisingly challenging, with potential trap games against Minnesota and a challenge against Oregon.
Clemson: Why They'll Make It: The ACC isn't the best conference, but Clemson still has a formidable opponent in Georgia on their schedule. The Tigers are known for producing solid receivers and this year's no exception. E.J. Williams, Joseph Ngata, and Frank Ladson are all talented receivers, while Braden Galloway is an NFL-ready talent. Why They Won't Make It: They can't afford to lose to anyone else should they trip up against a solid Georgia team. Losing Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne will hurt the Tigers a bit. Pass protection must be better for Clemson to truly thrive this season.
Oklahoma: Why They'll Make It: Spencer Rattler is being touted as a Heisman frontrunner for a school known for quarterbacks. It's not just the QB position, though: the Sooners have a dynamic offense all around. Seven starters are returning for the Sooners offense, making them a threat. Why They Won't Make It: While scoring points won't be a problem, Oklahoma has been notorious for not stopping anyone. Will the Sooners leaving the Big 12 prove to be a distraction for the team? While Rattler has plenty of hype surrounding him, an injury or underachievement would expose the lack of depth at the quarterback position.