After waiting 11 weeks, we have officially arrived at the most exciting time of the college football year. According to ESPN’s Playoff Predictor, there are 10 teams still alive, and that includes No. 11 Oregon State holding onto a 1% chance.
What teams will make it, and what will transpire in the CFP? Let me lay it out.
Personally, I think that No. 3 Michigan has been the best team in the country. The naysayers argue that they have not played anybody. Although that is true (the Wolverines rank 112th in strength of schedule), they have blown out each unranked opponent by 24 or more points. This stat is a rarity and nearly unheard of.
Their first game against more equal competition was against No. 12 Penn State. In the face of controversy with head coach Jim Harbaugh sidelined due to a suspension, Michigan won by nine points in a classic style that 1950s college teams would be proud of.
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy only threw the ball eight times. The offensive attack came through the ground game, putting up 227 yards on a Penn State team that is among the top defenses in the country. If the Wolverines can defeat Ohio State on Nov. 25, taking over the Big 10 would mark them down as the best.
I see No. 1 Georgia being in the No. 2 spot as they get back to their dominating form, blowing out No. 9 Ole Miss 52-17. I do not see them getting into a slugfest against No. 8 Alabama on Dec. 2, but Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide should never be counted out.
No. 6 Oregon will finish at No. 3. I predict they will defeat No. 5 Washington and become the final Pac-12 champion. Washington has been on a downward spiral and have not shored up their weaknesses. No one has seen more college play than Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, and that experience makes the Ducks a threat to any opponent.
The final spot will be taken by No. 2 Ohio State. They have the second-best defense in the country and do just enough on offense with star wide receiver Marvin Harrsion Jr. to keep them in games. Quarterback Kyle McCord has been under scrutiny for some inconsistent performances, but numbers wise, he mirrors Heisman candidate McCarthy.
The Florida Gators hold a lot of power in determining No. 4 Florida State’s fate in the final playoff standings. If the Gators can be on the winning side of the Sunshine Showdown on Nov. 25, that will most likely sever the Seminoles’ chances. History favors the Gators with the all-time series record of 37-27-2.
Although the chances of FSU being conference champions are high, the ACC is not the same as it used to be in a world where valuable wins mean everything.
In my opinion, the first two out will be Florida State and Washington.
I predict that two Big 10 teams, one SEC team and one Pac-12 team will be represented.
The No. 1 versus No. 4 matchup will be Michigan and Ohio State. This game will see a tight first half, but I think that the Wolverines have more to give and an extra gear to shift to that Ohio State does not have.
The No. 2 and No. 3 matchup will be Georgia and Oregon. This will turn out to be a scrappy game, but Georgia’s experience will inevitably lead them over the hump and into the championship game.
I predict the College Football Playoff National Championship will feature Georgia and Michigan. Championships where both teams have extra gears provide the best possible competition, and the Bulldogs and Wolverines will show why they are the two best teams in the country.
Georgia boasts a great team and has faced off against more ranked opponents, yet Michigan’s consistent performance and unified support for Harbaugh, despite enduring two suspensions, will serve them well. I believe this will amp up their play and take them to the promised land.
This is the Wolverines’ year.