College Football Recap and Playoff Preview

College+Football+Recap+and+Playoff+Preview

Cooper Ams, Print Editor

This past weekend was very important to many college football fans, as it was conference championship weekend. While this may sound like any other weekend for college football, it actually had a major impact on the College Football Playoff (CFP) Standings. 

The weekend started with Oregon taking on Utah in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday night. The Utes jumped out to an early 23-0 lead in the first half, leaving the Ducks stunned. Utah went on to beat Oregon by a score of 38-10, ending Oregon’s hope of making it to a New Year’s Six Bowl. 

On Saturday, the remaining Power Five conferences played their championship games. The first of these games was the Big 12 Championship between Baylor and Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were ranked 5th with a good chance of making the CFP with the loss of Alabama. The only ones standing in their way were the Baylor Bears, who were ranked 9th. Baylor jumped out to an early 21-6 lead, but this lead was not safe. Oklahoma State slowly crept back into the game, but an impressive defensive stand by Baylor on the two yard line stopped the Cowboys from scoring the winning touchdown, allowing Baylor to hold on and win the Big 12 Championship by a score of 21-16.

 The ACC Championship game was played later that night in Charlotte where the Pitt Panthers faced off against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. This game was definitely a must-watch if you enjoy high-powered offenses, as Sam Hartman and Kenny Pickett faced off against each other. After a close first quarter, Pitt blew the doors off of Wake Forest, holding the Demon Deacons scoreless in the last three quarters. Pitt took home the title of ACC Champs after a win over Wake with a score of 45-21. 

The two big games of the night, however, took place in Atlanta and Indianapolis. In Indianapolis, Michigan faced off against Iowa for the Big Ten Championship. The Wolverines were looking to lock in their spot in the CFP with a win over the Hawkeyes. Michigan hopped out to an early 14-3 lead and never looked back, beating Iowa 42-3, locking in their spot in the CFP. 

The biggest game of the day, however, took place in Atlanta, where the #1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs faced off against the #3 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship game. While the Bulldogs were able to take an early 10-0 lead, Alabama’s offense took no time to strike back on their own, as quarterback Bryce Young had a career day, throwing for 421 yards. Needless to say, Alabama quickly put the Georgia defense in their place and beat Georgia by a score of 41-24, ensuring that the Crimson Tide would be competing in this year’s CFP. 

The only non power-five game that had an impact on the CFP picture was the American Athletic Conference championship game, where 4th ranked Cincinnati faced Houston. The Bearcats were looking to be the first non power-five team to make the CFP, so this game was a must win for them. CIncinnati knew what was at risk, and came out ready to prove themselves. The Bearcats went on to beat the Cougars from Houston by a score of 35-20. Now, it was time to wait for the selection show on Sunday to see what teams made the final cut. 

The selection committee released the following rankings:

  1. Alabama
  2. Michigan
  3. Georgia
  4. Cincinnati

This means the CFP is set: #1 Alabama faces off against #4 Cincinnati on December 31 in the Cotton Bowl and #2 Michigan faces off against #3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl later that day. 

 

My Predictions: 

Having watched a lot of college football this year, I believe that Alabama will have no problem with Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl. Alabama’s offense will be a rude awakening for Cincinnati’s defense who has only faced two ranked opponents all season. Alabama’s maturity and composure, in my opinion, will be the main reason they win the game. They have been on the big-stage before and know what it takes to win. I think that the more competitive game of the two CFP semifinals will be the Orange Bowl between #2 Michigan and #3 Georgia. After Michigan’s impressive showing against Ohio State, I think the Wolverines have a genuine chance of going all the way this year. However, I am not sold on Michigan’s offense. Georgia is known for their suffocating defense, and I don’t think Michigan will be able to figure out their defense. While I do not want to see yet another Alabama-Georgia rematch, I think that matchup has the greatest likelihood of happening. As for Alabama-Georgia, I think the result will be similar to the SEC Championship game. I think Alabama will continue to beat Georgia’s defensive backs by running the ball well, which will open up the ability for a deep pass every now and then. I don’t think the Georgia offense will be able to keep up with the Alabama offense, as Georgia has ridden their defense to their success all year. While I hope Georgia wins and we do not have another Alabama National Championship season, I think the National Champion will be the Alabama Crimson Tide, who will (pun not intended) roll all of their opponents until they are National Champions. While this is what I think will happen, I really hope that I am proved wrong and a team like Michigan or Cincinnati find a way to win, so that we have a CFP National Champion that we have not had before. No matter who you are cheering for in these bowl games, it will be entertaining at the very least.