Teams that could make it for first time

There’s plenty of truth in the belief that the College Football Playoff has been dominated by four teams – Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. The quartet combined for 20 of the possible 28 spots in the field since the system started in the 2014 season.

However, there has always been space for newcomers hoping to make the field for the first time.

Last year was the first of the seven playoffs in which the field was entirely made up of previous participants as Notre Dame made the field for the second time and was joined by the Crimson Tide, Tigers and Buckeyes.

It’s likely last season was an anomaly. This year’s playoff race seems more wide open with several top teams facing questions. And there’s plenty of quality candidates capable of joining the select group that often has been part of the field.

Eight teams that could finally break through.

Iowa State

Entering 2019, the idea of the Cyclones being anywhere near the College Football Playoff would have brought disbelief as the program had never been ranked in the preseason coaches poll. Now Matt Campbell’s team will be comfortably in the top 10 when the first rankings come out, and it won’t be a fluke. Breece Hall was Big 12 offensive player of the year after running for 1,572 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Mike Rose was the conference’s defensive player of the year after compiling 96 tackles from his linebacker spot. A veteran secondary leads the defense, and Will McDonald is back in the front seven after leading the country with 101/2 sacks. The season likely comes down to how Iowa State handles a late road game at Oklahoma and then a possible matchup in the Big 12 title game. Brock Purdy is now a senior, but his play at quarterback has included too many bad decisions at critical times. If Purdy rises to the moment then, there is no reason this team can’t win its way in.

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