What this Year’s College Football Playoff Contenders Mean and Our Predictions.
Just like that, the 2017 college football regular season has come to an end, and what a hell of a season it was. No matter what school you pledge allegiance to, one thing we can all agree on is just how different week 1 and week 13 can look from one another. At the start of our season, Florida State was a favorite to go undefeated once again, the Texas Longhorns were a sleeper pick to make it into the College Football Playoff, and everyone thought Alabama would dominate the SEC practically unmatched for what feels like 100th year in a row. Well, by the last game of week 13, we were looking at a competitive landscape looking quite different from anyone’s predictions. Florida State has its first non-winning record in over a decade, The Longhorns once again have finished the season unranked, and the competition in the SEC is some of the hottest it’s been in years. It’s surprises like these that always keep college ball fans coming back for more, but it was one unexpected pick at the end of this season that has everyone torn: and that’s Alabama.
In a surprising turn of events this past Sunday, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee submitted their final ballots for who would advance into the four-seed playoff series for a shot at the national title. Three expected teams, from winning their conference championships, were in: #1 Clemson, # 2 Oklahoma, and #3 Georgia. The shock, awe, and outrage came with the fourth selection: The University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama coach, Nick Saban’s ball club essentially steamrolled all their opponents early in the season, but looked rather pedestrian along the stretch, with their most impressive win come from beating a fairly anemic LSU Tigers at home. It was in their 12th and final game of the regular season, when facing their in-state rival, the Auburn Tigers, that Alabama committed the greatest cardinal sin of football scheduling: don’t lose late. Alabama, sort of mirroring the rest of their season as a whole, did enough at the start to look dominant, but was gassed by the final quarter, leading to a 26-14 loss at Auburn.
So, they’re out, right? Down goes Bama, and for the first time in the College Football Playoff’s 4-year history, we will see who is the top dog of 2017 with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide out of the picture. Well, surprising to many, a playoff series is still synonymous with phrase, “Roll Tide.”
Forget Ohio State winning their conference championship against a sturdy and previously undefeated Wisconsin Badgers, the committee has spoken, and they believe quality losses at the end hurt less than awful losses near the start. Now, you can go to the comment section of ESPN’s Facebook page, or the wastelands of Twitter to get everyone’s two cents about whether or not the 2-loss Ohio State deserved the #4 spot over the Crimson Tide, but we’ll make it simple for you (as we always do). The committee, while always taking strength of schedule to heart, values the strength of a quality loss above all. It’s safe to say that every year, college football features 6 to 10 elite teams that’ll have close to perfect, or perfect regular seasons for that given year. Urban Meyer’s offensive wizardry can go toe-to-toe with any team just as well as Dabo Swinney’s iron wall of an 11-man defense can. What the committee has to do to distinguish elite teams is look at the cracks in their perfection; and see just how deep those cracks go. Sure, Alabama didn’t compete in a conference championship the way Ohio State did, but they also didn’t lose by a massive margin of 31 points to the 7-5 Iowa Hawkeyes…. the way Ohio State did. Yes, the Crimson Tide lost late, but the late loss was on the road, to an elite Auburn squad, and if you want to split hairs, is very comparable to Ohio State’s first season loss to #3 Oklahoma. But with all that being said, the question is, will Ohio State’s robbed 4-spot really matter in the end? For us, we’re not too confident that it will. Here’s our predications for how this upcoming playoff series will wrap up.
The Sugar Bowl (Clemson v.s. Alabama): Our Pick- Clemson
That’s right, guys. Whether it had been Ohio State or Alabama going up against the Clemson Tigers, we’re predicting that the result would’ve been the same. Clemson, while showing some flaws throughout the season, is the definition of a hot team right now. Their one regular season loss was by a measly field goal on the road, and they just got done completely dominating a very competent Miami Hurricanes team in the ACC Championship. In terms of what gave Alabama problems in their defeat to Auburn (a defense that doesn’t seem to tire and poor field positioning), the Clemson Tigers seem to do all that just the same, if not better than the Auburn Tigers. The OTBS team sees Clemson wrapping this game up by a comfortable 2-3 score margin.
The Rose Bowl (Georgia v.s. Oklahoma): Our Pick- Georgia
They say where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if it’s one thing Georgia knows how to do, it’s impose their will onto their opponents in the most textbook ways possible. In terms of exciting games, we’re looking forward to this one, as UGA and OU are two high-preforming teams that excel in pretty different areas. Georgia’s defensive front 4 can go up against the best offensive lines out there, and running back Nick Chubb can run the ball down any teams throat, almost at-wiill. Oklahoma features a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback in Baker Mayfield, who’s poise in the pocket will make the best defensive coordinators wary of the deep ball at any point in the game. This one will be close, but we’re thinking Georgia just pulls it out with a win by 3-10 points.
The College Football Playoff Champion: Georgia
With how consistent Clemson’s looked this season, this is a tough pick for us, but we’re saying Georgia walks away with the chicken dinner. Clemson quarterback, Kelly Bryant, has had a hell of a season. Possibly the best season ever for a quarterback following the performance of a championship-winning predecessor (Clemson alumni and current Houston Texan, Deshaun Watson). But it’s Gerogia’s grit that makes them our favorite. Kibry Smart’s Bulldogs are just a rough and tough team. They play hard, fast and aggressive SEC football that Clemson surely hasn’t faced this season. With Dabo Swinney’s offense showing their greatest flaws against stellar defensive front 7’s, we’re predicting that the Bulldogs will just be too great an opponent when flexing a stellar defense and their yards-on-demand running game.
But what do you think about this wrap up to a chaotic season? Was Ohio State robbed a potential CFP championship? Will Bama capitalize on their grace from the committee and win it all? Whatever happens, we’re certainly ready and excited for what will go down next.