Congrove has done the math, and his algorithm - as best as possible - has formulated the results. The Congrove Computer Rankings of all 77 teams playing football this Fall was released on Monday with the results favoring Clemson to regain the College Football Playoff Championship hardware in a rematch with LSU.
The top four seeds are projected to be 1) Clemson, 2), LSU, 3) Oklahoma, and 4) Alabama. That setup would have Clemson dispatching Alabama in the semis, and LSU deflating the Sooners. If the Clemson-LSU title game were to be played today, Clemson would have a scant 2.02-point edge.
Clemson's path to the ACC title is probably a pretty safe bet. The closest challenger is expected to be Notre Dame, which will play a full ACC slate this season as an "honorary" member. Hot on the heels of the Irish are, somewhat surprisingly, Virginia Tech and Virginia.
Oklahoma is a solid favorite in the Big 12. Oklahoma State is expected to make it interesting but the Bedlam rivalry game is in Norman. Texas is picked to finish 3rd in the conference, just ahead of Iowa State.
Alabama, in reality, should be the favorite in the SEC. LSU had a whopping 14 players taken in the NFL draft including five first-rounders in QB Joe Burrow (No. 1), LB K'lavon Chaisson (No. 20), WR Justin Jefferson (No. 22), LB Patrick Queen (No. 28) and RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (No. 32). Additionally, WR La'Marr Chase has opted out due to Covid concerns along with DL Neil Farrell, DL Tyler Shelvin and DB Kary Vincent.
To our knowledge, at this point, no one has opted out at either Alabama or Clemson. Meanwhile, Oklahoma found out on August 16 that Kennedy Brooks, its top returning rusher, would not play.
Some schools have been hit hard by opt-outs. The list of UCF players had grown to 12 as of today (September 1), and South Florida was missing 7 players. Elsewhere, North Carolina and Vanderbilt had each reported 5.
Will more players possibly change their mind like Commodore LB Dimitri Moore? Moore opted out on August 15, but reversed his decision on August 25.
The 2020 season has plenty of other unusual circumstances that could greatly affect how the teams play on the field.
Some schools have announced that they plan to allow 15-25% of the stands to be full. Others, like those schools in North Carolina, are bound by state requirements to limit outdoor gatherings to 25 people. At the other end of the spectrum, Florida State plans to not only put several thousand fans in the stands but to even permit tailgating. The ACC, which typically bans the use of noisemakers at games, will now allow teams to "pipe-in" crowd noise to compensate for the lack of fans.
All of the football annuals released in May and June such as Athlon's, Lindy's and Phil Steele were based on the full compliment of 130 FBS teams taking the field. Instead, that number will be 77.
The Big Ten, PAC-12, Mountain West and MAC shelved fall sports and plan to start later.
That leaves 3 of the 5 Power Five conferences (ACC, Big 12 and SEC) taking the field this fall, along with 3 of the Group Of Five conferences (American, Conference USA and Sun Belt).
Adding to the quirkiness is the aforementioned inclusion of Notre Dame in the ACC for the 2020 season, and the decision by Air Force to go slightly rogue from the Mountain West and agree to play Army and Navy to keep the round-robin competition alive for the military's Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
The reduced number of overall teams could help those schools from Group of Five conferences get more television exposure, and improve their chances of making the Top 25, or even Top Ten.
For the most part, there was no traditional Spring practice. This can particularly be devastating for those schools that made a head coaching change in the offseason, or even for those that made major assistant coach changes.
Regardless of all the challenges, we are hoping for a full season of college football with no major Covid outbreaks. But we are also expecting this to be an uncertain and wild ride.
Still, the best news can't be deminished - College Football is BACK!