College Football Playoff: Guess how many out of 42 ESPN staff members picked Auburn to make it

Can Gus Malzahn get Auburn to the College Football Playoff in 2018?(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Can Gus Malzahn get Auburn to the College Football Playoff in 2018?(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

On Tuesday, ESPN released its list of 42 analysts and writers with their picks for which teams will reach the College Football Playoff in 2018 and the outlook was not bright for the Auburn football team.

Now you’d expect several things when playoff predictions are made:

  • Alabama is going to be selected a lot. The Crimson Tide have won two of the four playoff titles and have reached the playoffs all four times.
  • Clemson is going to be selected a lot. The Tigers have reached the playoff in three of four seasons and own one playoff title.
  • A Big Ten team or Oklahoma will be selected a lot. Big Ten teams have played in three playoffs (Ohio State twice, Michigan State once) and Oklahoma reached the playoff twice.

The 42 ESPN staffers followed suit for the first two items.

Alabama was chosen to make the playoffs in 39 of the 42 picks. To be honest, I’m surprised three people left them off until I see two were Lee Corso and former Georgia QB D.J. Shockley (the other was former Miami LB Jonathan Vilma).

Clemson was unanimous. That’s right. Every single prediction included Clemson. Our best guess to why is two fold: Clemson is going to be really good and Clemson plays in the ACC and has one game against an AP Top 25 team (No. 19 FSU). The Tigers don’t play Virginia Tech, Notre Dame or Miami.

Related Story. Can Auburn shake slow start syndrome vs. Washington?. light

Big Ten teams made 38 of the 42 picks and once a pair of Big Ten teams were selected (David Hale selected Ohio State and Wisconsin).

But only one person picked Auburn to reach the College Football Playoff. Thank you, Laura Rutledge.

On Monday, we looked at what some other sites were saying about Auburn football in 2018. Out of seven Sports Illustrated writers, one picked Auburn to reach the playoff.

And OK, before you think we’re being irrational about so little optimism for an Auburn playoff run, let’s make this clear: The odds are not in Auburn’s favor to reach the playoff. We know that. The schedule is brutal. The SEC West is the toughest in college football. We outlined a bunch of things that Auburn needs to happen to get to the postseason.

But Auburn did beat two No. 1 teams last year in Georgia and Auburn. Auburn does return one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Auburn does return one of the top three defensive lines in the country and one of the top 20 defenses. Auburn has a ton of talent at the skill positions.

So the point in this column is this: You’d think more than one person would break from the pack and pick Auburn. After all, six people picked Michigan and one went as far as to pick the Wolverines to win the championship.

A few other observations:

  • Auburn’s opponent Saturday, Washington, was selected 21 times.
  • Georgia was chosen 13 times and 10 of those also included Alabama.
  • Four Big Ten teams made the cut: Wisconsin (14 times), Ohio State (10), Penn State (8) and Michigan State (4) made the list.
  • Other teams on the list: Stanford (3), Oklahoma (2), West Virginia (1), Miami (1), USC (1) and Notre Dame (1)

Next. Auburn in 2018: Our game-by-game picks. dark

Remember, it’s just preseason picks. Nothing matters until games are won on the field. The first step for Auburn football proving everyone (other than Laura Rutlege) wrong, begins Saturday.