Around the country, students of all ages are scrambling to fix and improve their grades before the final report cards are sent home to mom and dad. Similarly, Week 14 of the college football season gives 12 teams the opportunity to impress the playoff committee in one final showing against the best of the best. Championship week gives us rematches and dream matches, as rivals scratch and claw their way into the 4th annual College Football Playoffs. Can Clemson, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Auburn lock in their playoff spot? Can Georgia, Ohio State, or Miami storm their way back into final four teams?
No week this year has come and gone without any hint of drama from the college football world, and this Saturday will not be any different. As teams do their best to impress the College Football playoff committee one more time, here are our bold predictions for how Championship week will end up.
Miami, on and off paper, may just be the most overrated team college football has ever seen. Miami has a mere TWO wins against ranked teams this season, and even those aren’t that impressive. I’m sure everyone remembers week 11 of this season- the infamous Catholics vs Convicts game was back and under the brightest Saturday night lights. Miami would beat #15 Notre Dame that night by a score of 41 to 8, but the game was ultimately a massive disappointment. Notre Dame came out playing flat, uninspired, scared football, and beat themselves into the ground because of it. So when looking at it, even that win for Miami can be attributed to home field advantage and taking advantage of ND’s worst game of the entire season. So Miami went 11-1 with ranked wins against No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 22 Virginia Tech, with a loss to Pittsburgh. This schedule was a cakewalk and a half.
Meanwhile, Clemson has been rolling this entire year with a coach that is feeling more and more comfortable in the top spot. Clemson started the year beating Auburn at home, a win that has aged like a fine wine over the course of the season as Auburn got better and better. Clemson also didn’t have the toughest schedule due to the nature of the ACC, but with quality and dominant wins against Auburn, South Carolina, Florida State and Louisville, Clemson is a team that has potential to be very scary.
I cannot imagine a situation where Dabo Swinney doesn’t win on Championship Saturday with a playoff berth on the line. Miami has done nothing to show legitimacy this year to me, while Clemson is looking for back to back National Championships. Look for Clemson to roll here, and control the game easily from start to finish.
Last week, in potentially the biggest game of the year so far, Auburn took down undefeated Alabama at home in a masterpiece of a game by Gus Malzahn and the Tigers. Auburn has beaten not one, but TWO No. 1 teams this year in Georgia and Alabama. Auburn played the Crimson Tide in an extremely physical game, and it is no shock that the team was beaten up following the game. Running back Kerryon Johnson, the heart and soul of the Tiger offense, will be a game time decision after exiting last week’s game early with a shoulder injury.
Auburn may be the hottest team in the country right now, but at some point, all those big games have to take a toll on the players physically. And this is that week.
Auburn beat Georgia earlier in the year 40-17. It was an absolute rout in front of Auburns home fans, and Auburn looked absolutely dominant. But ultimately, Georgia has been on cruise control since that loss until now, resting up during big wins against Kentucky and Georgia Tech.
Even though they lost to Auburn earlier in the year, Georgia is no joke. Georgia has lined up and knocked down everyone else that has stepped in their way, including Notre Dame and Mississippi State. But regardless of wins and losses, this game does not come down to who is better on the field for me. The deciding and most important factor of this game is which team is fresher and less beaten up going into this matchup. Auburn has been one of the best stories of the season this year, but look for their luck to run out tonight. I expect Georgia to win by controlling the ground game with physical play, to win a low scoring game and cement their spot in the playoffs.
BIG TEN Championship
Wisconsin has been one of the most interesting teams of college football this year. They are one of only two undefeated teams left in the Nation, but the Badgers have been subject to some serious criticism, as media members around the country have downplayed their ranking due to strength of schedule. Wisconsin has only played one ranked team this year, which they went on to win against No. 20 Northwestern.
But through all the criticism this team has received, Wisconsin has still positioned themselves where they control their own destiny in the playoffs, currently ranked No. 3.
Much like the SEC championship, this game doesn’t come down to X’s and O’s for me. Yes, Wisconsin hosts a great defense. Yes, Ohio State has an electric offense with an unconventional coach. But Wisconsin has everything in the world to play for, while Ohio State has nothing. Ohio State, even with a win, will need a lot of luck to make it into the playoffs as a two-loss team with a loss to Iowa. Ohio State has been known to play uninspired football before, and I think this will be one of those surprise times where the Buckeyes look flat. On the other side of the ball, Wisconsin has everything to lose and everything to gain. With a loss, they prove the skeptics right- They prove that they weren’t as good as their record shows and that they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. But with a win, Wisconsin proves to their country that they can win the big games against some of the most talented teams.
Wisconsin will come out with an attitude today, and will not go down without a fight. Look for Wisconsin to win a tightly contested game down the stretch, locking down their postseason birth in the process.
Big 12 Championship
The Oklahoma offense has put up 41 points or more in every game this season except for two. If anyone doesn’t think the Heisman trophy race is a one man race between Baker Mayfield and no one else, youre crazy. Oklahoma has won their last seven straight games, creating instant classics in the meantime against teams like TCU, Texas, and Oklahoma State. With all this talk about how many teams are struggling to prove their strength of schedule, the Sooners have essentially removed themselves from the conversation completely.
Oklahoma has had to play Ohio State, TCU, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia this year, all ranked and in the spotlight of the nation. But not only have they just had to play those teams, they have beaten them all and left no questions as to which team was the better one in the process.
As good of a team as TCU is, they just don’t have any chance to beat Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield on Saturday. The Sooner have bested the Horned Frogs once this year all ready, and nothing from that game convinces me that things will be different the second time around. Mayfield has the offense playing as good as anyone in the country. So how do you make a bold prediction for a game that will be a rout? You say that Baker Mayfield will have a combined 600 total yards of offense this year and the Sooners put up over 50 points on their way to a win and playoff birth. Mayfield has been absolutely sensational throwing and running the ball this year, and can be electric at any given moment.