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The 6th year of the College Football Playoff has a 50% chance of producing a first-time champion. Alabama is absent, LSU makes its first appearance, and Oklahoma gets another shot at doing more than having a one-and-done cameo role. Meanwhile, Ohio State will be aiming for its first national title since the first year of the playoff format in 2014.
As the season draws near, it is time for CollegeFootballPoll.com, courtesy of the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame, to highlight the key rule changes that will take effect during the 2019 college football season.
The 2019 CollegeFootballPoll.com SEASON PREVIEW is here. Those who know us have discovered over the years that it is never our goal to be the first preview out. Instead, we like to wait as late as possible so that we can incorporate as much up-to-date data as possible.
One of the most-read articles in last year's Season Preview was one which ranked the strength of the 10 FBS conferences and Independents.
The 2019 preseason Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com point to a new conference champion in the Big Ten - and a new national champion that doesn't reside in the ACC or SEC.
After getting stiff-armed in last year's National Championship game, 44-16 by Clemson, Alabama is not projected to earn a 6th straight entry to the Final Four. It would be a first for the Tide which have been in every playoff since the format began in 2014.
Thanks to Clemson, the ACC has current possession of the national championship trophy. The Tigers rolled to a 44-16 victory over Alabama to win their second national title in the last three years. Clemson and 'Bama have been the National Championship game participants three times in the short five-year history of the playoff format. They also met in the semifinals in 2017 with the 4th-seed Tide knocking out Clemson, 24-6.
Washington State was the highest-ranked team in the PAC-12 a year ago, finishing 10th in the AP and Coaches' Polls. The conference has had just 2 participants in the brief 5-year history of the College Football Playoff - Oregon in 2014 and Washington in 2016.
Oklahoma is favored to win the Big 12 for the fifth straight season, according to the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com. But the computer also offers up a big surprise with its No. 2 pick in the conference, Iowa State. The Cyclones check in just ahead of Texas.
Last year, Army continued its successful run under head coach Jeff Monken by tallying a program-record 11 wins (11-2). It comes on the heels of the Black Knights' triumphant 2017 campaign when they posted their first 10-win season (10-3) since 1996. Army also retained the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy with a 17-14 win over Air Force and a 17-10 victory over Navy. Army capped off the season with a record fourth straight bowl win by trouncing Houston 70-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl. It was West Point's third bowl win in consecutive years under Monken.
Last year, the Fresno State Bulldogs captured their first Mountain West title since 2013 with a 19-16 overtime win at Boise State. It marked just the 9th home loss by the Broncos on the "Smurf Turf" since 1999 (121-9).
For the second straight year, Cincinnati and Memphis are the favorites to claim their respective divisions in the American Athletic Conference, according to the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFoiotballPoll.com. Memphis has played, and lost, in the championship each of the past two seasons to UCF.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com said UAB was supposed to be good last year, but not that good. After being picked to go 7-5 (4-4, CUSA), the Blazers went 11-3, capped by their first conference championship and first bowl win. This year, UAB is once again picked to go 7-5 while Southern Miss battles North Texas for the West division title, and Marshall goes toe-to-toe with FIU for the East division throne
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com have proven to be quite successful at predicting MAC champions. Over the last three years, the computer's preseason picks have accurately selected Northern Illinois (2018), Toledo (2017) and Western Michigan (2016). The computer has also predicted at least one of the two conference title game participants every year since 2014. So, who does the computer pick in 2019?
Last year, the Sun Belt staged its first conference championship game with Appalachian State dispatching Louisiana-Lafayette 30-19. The Mountaineers had tied for the title the two previous seasons. Appalachian State is 34-6 in Sun Belt games since entering the conference in 2014.