Things are interesting heading into the 2016 college football season.

Things are interesting heading into the 2016 college football season.

The reason there is such intrigue is the fact that there is no dominant team sitting out there that is the prohibitive favorite. So many of the heavyweights lost bundles of players to the NFL Draft.

That uncertainty has created quite the challenge in trying to figure out which four teams will make the College Football Playoff.

Most prognosticators have Alabama ranked No. 1 to start the season. After all, they are the defending champs.

They do return guys like Cam Robinson, Calvin Ridley, Tim Williams and O.J. Howard. As always, the defense will be one of the best units in the SEC.

However, I think that this is the year they get left out of the playoff. They lost Heisman winner Derrick Henry, and most importantly, they lost starting quarterback Jake Coker. Cooper Bateman will most likely take over from under center, and I was not impressed with what I saw from him in 2015.

Many have hyped Florida State during the offseason.

They will bolster an incredibly talented squad with one of the best running backs in the country in Dalvin Cook, but their quarterback situation is questionable to say the least.

It was their downfall last year, and I think it will prevent them from making the playoff this year as well.

Michigan is a strong team with a strong head coach that has a schedule that should guarantee at least nine to 10 victories.

But I just think it’s too early in Jim Harbaugh’s tenure to see them making a run for the national championship. I still think they’re a year away.

Yes, they may have a lot of NFL talent now, but they still don’t know how to win the big one just yet. Two years ago, they were wallowing around in mediocrity. Just last year, they were getting destroyed at home by Ohio State.

They need more time to build their pedigree.

The best lock for the playoffs has to be Clemson.

The Tigers came so close to going undefeated and bringing home a national title last year, so that hunger to make it back is there in 2016.

It also helps that they’re being led by the leading Heisman candidate at quarterback in Deshaun Watson. Wayne Gallman is back at running back, and Artavis Scott and Mike Williams are both back at receiver.

They did lose some studs on defense—guys like Mackenzie Alexander and Shaq Lawson, but they’ll bring back enough talent to make the unit comparable.

They also have a favorable schedule. Their toughest games look to be road trips to Auburn and Florida State. They’ll get Louisville at home.

Oklahoma faced Clemson in last year’s playoffs. I like the Sooners to get back to the final four this season.

They have a big-time Heisman hopeful at quarterback with the return of Baker Mayfield, and they have one of the best backfields in the country with Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.

They did lose two important pieces of their defense with the departure of Eric Stryker and Zack Sanchez, but with talented guys like Jordan Thomas coming back, the cupboard is far from bare.

They have a tough schedule with non-conference games against Houston and Ohio State and Big 12 road clashes at TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia, but that should give them more margin for error when it comes to the selection committee.

I’m going way out on a limb and picking Tennessee to be another playoff team.

The Volunteers are returning a ton of talent—including starting quarterback Josh Dobbs and stud running back Jalen Hurd.

Defensively, Jalen Reeves-Maybin returns as one of the best linebackers in the SEC. That whole defense is filled with speed and athleticism.

Remember, Tennessee lost four games last season by a combined 17 points. This included an overtime loss to Oklahoma and a five-point road defeat to Alabama. I think this is the year they finally figure out a way to win these close games.

It also helps that they get both Florida and Alabama in Knoxville this year.

I really hope I don’t jinx them, but I’m picking LSU to make the playoffs for the first time.

They have the talent to beat anyone. They return 18 starters—including arguably the best player in the country in Leonard Fournette.

They have a stacked backfield, a great receiving corps, a deep defensive line and probably the best secondary in the country.

It all comes down to Brandon Harris. Can he do enough at quarterback for them to win big games?

After having a whole year of experience under his belt, I think he’ll make the necessary improvements in 2016, and I think he’ll do just enough to guide the Tigers to the national championship.

Yes, I’m a homer.