ESPN NFL analyst Mel Kiper Jr. revealed his picks for the College Football Playoff and national championship during an ESPN Radio segment this week with analyst Dari Nowkhah.
The veteran draft guru believes a talented team from out West will emerge as a national darkhorse and upend ACC champ Florida State in the national title game.
“I’m going with the Washington Huskies to win the national championship,” Kiper Jr. said. “I look at that team with (Jake) Browning, a really good college quarterback. They’ve got the coach (Chris Petersen). They’ve got studs up front. They’ve got speed at linebacker … I don’t see any other team in (college football) that really wows me.
“Can you just recreate stars at Alabama? Where’s the pass-rush going to come from?”
Kiper projects Ohio State as the No. 2 seed, Florida State at No. 3 and Auburn at No. 4.
“I like offensive line play, that’s key, and it got down to Auburn and Oklahoma State for me,” Kiper Jr. said. “I think this is Auburn’s year with (Jarrett) Stidham at quarterback to get it done.”
Nowkhah isn’t as high on the Seminoles. He says FSU’s offensive line isn’t good enough to protect quarterback Deondre Francois throughout the season, though admits Jimbo Fisher’s squad is one of the most talented teams in college football.
Nowkhah’s final four is Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Washington. Two-loss Clemson will be left out of the Playoff as the ACC champion, Nowkhah projects, and he believes Nick Saban will win another one.