Here are my picks for the playoffs:
Big 10 Champion: Michigan State
I've written about their adaptations on defense and their fantastic offense this offseason. I think this is going to be a balanced and highly effective team that upsets Ohio State, gets past Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game, and then heads to the playoffs.
SEC Champion: GeorgiaAll explained in the first link above. TL;DR version: Loaded run game, good balanced offensive system, lots of young talent back on defense, one of the best DCs in the nation in year two.
Pac 12 Champion: UCLAI'm selling on Oregon's defense and UCLA is really loaded, their only problem is that their QB is a freshman but he's surrounded by tons of talent and he's a particularly bright freshman. I'd feel better if he was a redshirt frosh but whatever. The defense also has a lot of talent and bring aboard Tom "scrap" Bradley fresh off helping West Virginia figure out how to play defense.
I'm also shorting USC and their coaching...situation. The main challenges I see in the Pac 12 are the Arizona schools and Oregon, who will still be great on offense regardless of whether they are playoff material as a team.
At large team/MWC Champion: Boise StateThere's a good chance that Boise State goes undefeated in 2015, and if that happens...can they be left out? An undefeated season would include victories over BYU, Virginia, and that's it amongst power conference teams.
But Boise has a reputation that would make them a major storyline as an undefeated team and if those victories over BYU and Virginia were blowout wins then that storyline would really have a lot of force.
You'd expect the selection committee to avoid placing Boise State in the playoffs if they could at all get away with doing so but if they're undefeated, what else can you do?
I guess pick a 2nd SEC team...we'll see. This will be something to watch.
I'm excluding Ohio State not because I don't think they're the best team, but because I just don't trust 20 year olds to handle "the disease of more" well and repeat as champions. Tebow couldn't get his 2009 team to do it and he was as strong a leader as they come. They are the best team and leaving them out is more about having fun and trying to see interesting possible outcomes than it is a claim that they aren't great.
Not like when I boldly stated that Alabama would absolutely not three-peat in 2013.
I fully expect a 1-loss Big 12 champion to get screwed because I expect that champion will be Baylor, or possibly TCU or Oklahoma State. I also fully expect the Big 12 champ to have at least one loss.