The conference championship games are now over along with the regular season and there are only four teams left that the college football playoff committee deem worthy enough to compete for the national championship.
Clemson [12-1], who finished the season with a dominating victory over the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC championship, have maintained their position as the #1 overall seed in the college football playoff rankings. Clemson will face the #4 seed in Alabama in what will most likely shape out to be a thrilling rematch of last year’s national championship game which resulted in Clemson defeating Alabama by a score of 35-31.
For this year’s matchup, I give the edge to the Clemson Tigers. This is because their regular season tells you all you need to know about this team. The Tigers have finished with the 4th best defense in the nation in terms of point allowed per game [13.6] and have an impressive track record against ranked teams including Auburn, Miami, N.C. State and Virginia Tech.
What is most impressive about these wins is that most of them came on the road in hostile environments. On the contrary, Alabama’s schedule was extremely easy considering the fact that they only played two ranked opponents in which they got handled fairly easily by Auburn and barely beat Mississippi State.
There is already enough controversy surrounding Alabama and their ranking within the college football playoffs because of the lack of strength and difficulty in their regular season schedule. Additionally, Alabama does not have a conference championship win like Ohio State does after their victory in the Big10 championship game over the Wisconsin Badgers. The committee is notorious for having an affinity towards both Alabama and Ohio State, so this must have been a difficult choice for them.
At the end of the day though, Alabama only has one loss as opposed to Ohio State who finished the season with two losses including a blowout to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Although this loss was certainly not a favorable one for Ohio State, they still have a conference championship victory over a team who was the last undefeated power 5 team in the Wisconsin Badgers and this is why I believe that Ohio State deserved the #4 spot over Alabama.
Lastly, we have the matchup between #2 Oklahoma [12-1] and #3 Georgia [12-1]. Oklahoma wrapped their regular season with a dominating win over a tough TCU team in the Big 12 championship game. Oklahoma’s offense was the difference in this game as they continue to show no signs of slowing down. Baker Mayfield continues to prove why he is a finalist for the Heisman trophy.
The Georgia Bulldogs finished their regular season with a dominating performance over the Auburn Tigers who had just come off a huge win over their rivals in Alabama. Georgia got their running game going against Auburn and if they can do this against Oklahoma then they should have no problem putting up points. The concern for Georgia, and any team who plays Oklahoma, is how to stop Baker Mayfield. If they can completely shut down Oklahoma’s rushing game and can get pressure to Mayfield, then they should win the game with ease, but that is easier said than done of course.