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Social Distance: Cole Cubelic picks CFB Playoff, national champ

On the latest episode of 247Sports’ Social Distance series, SEC Network and ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic discussed his picks for the College Football Playoff this fall. He’s got three teams he thinks are in for sure, one wild card, and he’s already locking in his national champion.

When asked which four teams would make the playoff, Cubelic didn’t hesitate in naming three programs. Although the Big Ten has some very good football teams, he thinks Ohio State is able to survive that gauntlet.

“I think Clemson’s in,” Cubelic said. “I think Alabama’s in. I have to say Ohio State’s in. I think Penn State is going to be a really good football team. I think Minnesota is going to be good again.”

Then, Cubelic was asked if this is the year the Pac-12 gets back to the playoff. In his eyes, it’ll be more of the same for that conference in 2020. Because of his belief that the Big 12 will improve as a conference this fall, he thinks the playoff committee will be more forgiving of a team with one loss from that league, as opposed to the Pac-12.

“I do not think so, and I’m going to tell you why,” Cubelic said. “Last year, I said I thought the Big Ten was the best conference in college football going into the season because I thought the middle of the pack had taken a big step up. When you looked at some of those teams in the middle of the Big Ten, you saw what Indiana did. You saw what Minnesota did with another great year and beating Auburn in a bowl game. Penn State is above the middle of the pack now. We knew Ohio State, Michigan, and the regular players were going to be there. Wisconsin was going to be there. I think the Big 12 takes that step this year. I think that league is no longer laughable … I think now you might have four or five legitimate football teams that could be pretty scary against most teams across the nation on any Saturday … I think the BIg 12 will be better, which tells me a team with a loss will be a little more forgiven and looked at a little bit better to get in the playoff.”

Oregon is a Pac-12 team that stands out to Cubelic as a potential playoff contender down the road. However, Cubelic believes losing Justin Herbert and some veteran offensive linemen could hurt the Ducks more than some people think.

“Now, I love what Mario [Cristobal] is doing at Oregon, and I think he’s going to get a team into the playoff, but just with what’s happened in the quarterback situation, maybe Anthony Brown can come in from BC and be that guy,” Cubelic said. “You lose a ton of front. You have Penei Sewell, but you lose a couple others that were really good for you for a while. I think Oregon’s the team to beat in the Pac-12 going into the season. I just don’t see them getting into the playoff. If I had to choose today, I would say, I’ll just say that it’s a Big 12 that gets in.”

Finally, Cubelic made a pretty confident declaration about which team will win it all in the 2020 season.

“Clemson is winning the national championship,” Cubelic said. “I think Ohio State lost way too much up front, and it’s not just Chase Young.”

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