Who is in and who is out of the College Football Playoff?
Published 4:16 pm Friday, November 25, 2016
By Powell Cobb, Carolyn Iamon,
John Simpson and Brandon O’Connor
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The last weekend of the college football regular season is upon us. The schedule is packed with key games that will go a long ways toward deciding which four teams make the final four and have a chance to end the season as National Champions. The most important game on the schedule is Michigan at Ohio State. Both teams are currently in the playoff, but there is only room for one.
Penn State host Michigan State at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, which becomes all the more important if Ohio State beats Michigan because then Penn State controls their half of the Big Ten. Washington and Washington State played yesterday with a spot in the Pac-12 championship game on the line and if the Huskies went down all the predictions that follow may very well be outdated already.
Also in the Pac-12, Utah and Colorado play with the Utes having a chance to spoil Colorado’s conference championship hopes and launch USC into the game and possibly the playoff (if the Trojans beat Notre Dame).
And because it is rivalry weekend, you can never write off South Carolina having a chance to knock off Clemson and Auburn having a chance to topple mighty Alabama (even though it wouldn’t matter).
There are countless scenarios of how it could all go down so we have decided to each off you our predications of how exactly it will work out:
It’s difficult to decide what the Final Four will look like for the College Football Playoffs.
The only team I’m gung-ho sure about is Alabama staying at No. 1 in the land. The team they have left to play is Auburn, who I think won’t be able to score many points on the Crimson Tide’s stingy defense.
Alabama’s defensive line will be the winner of the game, as I see them breaking down every Auburn play in the backfield and putting unquestionable pressure on Tiger quarterback Sean White.
The last three teams are hard to call, but I will do my best.
In the spirit of true chaos, I’m making the bold prediction that Penn State will squeak their way into the Final Four. All they need to do is put the nail in Michigan State’s coffin this Saturday, finally ending the Spartans’ misery-stricken season. Then if Ohio State beats Michigan, which I have faith they will, Penn State will win the East Division. If the Nittany Lions then win the Big Ten Championship, that will surely punch their ticket to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta at No. 4 to play… Bama.
And that’s most likely where the Nittany Lions will end their season. But it would be historic, nonetheless. I’d love to see Penn State make it happen.
So that leaves me with No. 2 and No. 3.
If Michigan loses to Ohio State like I am predicting, then that will throw them out of the playoff race altogether. But Ohio State will win in overtime on a last second play. The game will be ugly, and both teams will come away a little embarrassed no matter who wins. Since the CFP committee seems to favor conference champions, which I am calling to be Penn State, then Ohio State won’t break into the Top Four, especially after the awkward showing they’ll have against the Wolverines. I see them finishing the season at No. 5.
Clemson, the current No. 4 team, will not lose to Muschamp and the Gamecocks for the battle over South Carolina. Not a chance. So boom, there’s my No. 2 pick with those lucky orange and purple Tigers.
Coming in at No. 3 will be Washington, who will need to beat Washington State on Friday and win the Pac 12 Championship against what will most likely be a hot USC Trojans team. The Huskies lost to them earlier in November, but it won’t happen twice.
So my Top Four in two weeks will be:
1 Alabama, 2 Clemson, 3 Washington, 4 Penn State.
Alabama will play Washington in the College Football Championship and dominate the Huskies for all 60 minutes.
Place your bets!
Two years ago I wrote a column about The Ohio State University football team winning the national NCAA football championship. It was a great season, and a happy outcome for this Buckeye fan.
So what does the year 2016 hold? If Ohio State beats Michigan this Saturday, and Penn State loses to Michigan State, then Ohio State will move on to compete for the Big Ten championship. If they lose, or if Penn State wins, then the young, struggling and unpredictable Ohio State team is done for the season, except for going to a bowl game.
So, everything hinges on this Saturday’s games.
Will I be rooting for Ohio State to beat Michigan? Of course I will. I will be cheering for J.T. Barrett to be his throwing and running best, and for Samuel and Hooker to be spot on. OSU’s Defense will continue to be great at interceptions and making exciting TD’s. and Ohio State will beat Michigan. That will make it a winning season for OSU, no matter what else happens. Go Bucks.
I have pulled my crystal ball out of storage and tried my hardest to dust it off, but the picture is still a little blurry because there are just too many ways it can go.
The easiest predication is the number one seed overall. All Alabama has to do is beat one of Auburn or Florida and they are in and they will likely easily win both. The Tide has dominated almost everyone they’ve played this season and their defense is absolutely terrifying.
After the Tide it all gets a little murky. The team with the easiest path and my projected second team in is Clemson. They have to win out, but those game are against South Carolina (in Clemson) and then the ACC Championship game against either Virginia Tech or North Carolina. The Tigers have looked vulnerable all season long, but I think the Fighting Dabo Swinneys get the job done.
It gets very hard to predict who the third and fourth teams will be. Michigan and Washington have the easiest paths because they control their own destiny, but I’m throwing a wrench in and picking Ohio State to beat Michigan. Then it gets confusing. Do you take a one loss OSU team that didn’t win the conference over a two-loss Wisconsin or Penn State team that did? I think the committee will go with the Buckeyes especially with a win over Michigan. That leaves one spot and it will belong to the Pac-12, unless chaos hits, then it will go to the winner of PSU/Wisconsin or Oklahoma in my scenario.
I am taking Washington over Wazzou, and then a little chaos with Utah upsetting Colorado and USC beating Washington for the second time to claim the conference and back-door their way into the playoff.
So my final four are: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Southern California. With the Tide defeating Clemson for the second straight year.
As the college football season winds down, the debates are revving up. The coveted top four spots and who is worthy of them have been a major discussion for fans and media professionals alike. The top four as it sits right now is 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Michigan, and 4) Clemson.
Either Michigan or Ohio State will drop out Saturday depending on who wins or loses The Game, so where does that leave the rest of the teams? Logically one would think regardless of who loses, Clemson would move up to number three. Meaning Washington would take the number four spot. I think Washington will lose to a very hot Washington State team, which would then move Penn State or Oklahoma in to the four spot. If Michigan wins they play Wisconsin and Penn State becomes irrelevant. Wisconsin will lose to Michigan. Which if all those things happen then that means Oklahoma would fill the number four spot.
So that is where I think this season will fall. 1) Alabama, 2) Michigan, 3) Clemson, and 4) Oklahoma.
If there is one team in the nation that can truly challenge Alabama, it is Oklahoma. Their receiving core would expose Alabama’s at-times questionable secondary. However I think Alabama will win it and play Michigan.
I believe that Michigan will give Alabama a run early in the game, but the Tide’s defense will be like nothing the Wolverines have seen this year and would wear them down by the second half.