College Football Playoff Predictions


Cesar Robles, Reporter

The College Football Playoff selection committee recently released the final rankings for the season.

Easily coming in at the Number 1 spot, is the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide. Notable victories for the Tide include: No. 4 Georgia, No. 18 Mississippi State, No. 19 Texas A&M, and No. 24 Missouri. Not only have they played difficult games, but they have beaten their opponents by an average score of 33.1 points. Alabama has been led by arguably the best wide receiver core in the nation and heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa.

Alabama has proven that they can overcome large deficits, coming back from being down 14 against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. Georgia, despite losing, exposed that the unstoppable Tagovailoa can be shut down. Tua exited the game with an ankle injury in the 4th quarter, but here were his final stats: 10 for 25 passing, 164 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, finishing with a 15.1 total quarterback rating. Tua’s average QBR throughout the season was 94.2, being second in the nation only behind Kyler Murray, the Heisman winner. Tua’s injury could be very beneficial to the other playoff teams, as throughout the season, he has been the main talking point for Alabama. Without him at full strength, Alabama’s odds of winning have lowered.

The No. 2 Seed is the Clemson Tigers, who has easily established themselves as the second best team in the country. Key victories for the Tigers include a night game victory against Texas A&M and against No. 20 Syracuse. The Tigers will face their first elite Top 10 team in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. The Tigers have the second highest margin of victory with 30.9 behind Alabama. Clemson has been led by their freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and their NFL ready Defensive Line.

Clemson has also overcome adversity this season, utilizing their star running back Travis Etienne to defeat Syracuse after Trevor Lawrence exited the game with an injury. Like Alabama, their QB is getting better throughout the season. If Clemson’s defense can play as they have all season, they should make the Championship game with relative ease.

Notre Dame enters as the first independent team to ever make the College Football Playoff. They finished the season undefeated with victories over No. 7 Michigan, No. 20 Syracuse, and No. 22 Northwestern. At the start of the season, their schedule seemed to easily be the best in the nation. However, the teams they scheduled had underachieving seasons. Some are saying that the Irish don’t deserve to be in because they did not play in a conference championship. I still think that they deserve be there, but I don’t feel that they are a Top 4 team.

The Irish are led by an impressive front 7 and QB Ian Book, who is recovering from an injury suffered against Northwestern. He is one of the nations’ best quarterbacks, with an 83.7 total QBR. Clemson’s secondary was exposed recently versus rival South Carolina, if Book can step up and make big plays, Notre Dame may be able to pull off the upset against Clemson. Do I believe that they will defeat the Tigers? No. Clemson’s offense is too explosive and too deep for the Irish. My prediction is Clemson winning 38-21.

No. 4 Oklahoma enters the playoff as the only team with a loss. Midway through the season, Texas beat the Sooners by a last-second field goal. However, Oklahoma came back to beat the No. 15 Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship Game, clinching their playoff berth. Other key victories include No. 16 West Virginia and No. 24 Iowa State.

There was a controversy surrounding whether or not an 11-1 Oklahoma should enter the playoff over 10-2 Georgia. One could argue that Georgia would beat Oklahoma if they played, but a 1-loss Big 12 champ deserves to be in over a 2-loss SEC runner-up. Oklahoma’s offense has shown to be as explosive, or more explosive, than in the past years. They are led mainly by Heisman winner Kyler Murray. Murray leads the nation in Passing Efficiency, total Offensive yards, total touchdowns, and in QBR. If he plays as he has the entire season, the Orange Bowl should be a shootout. What are the Sooners chances of winning against Alabama? Slim to none. Their defense, throughout the season, has proven that they cannot stop even some of the worst Big 12 teams. If Alabama stops Murray’s offense more than once, the Sooners’ odds of winning will diminish terribly. I believe that the Crimson Tide will prevail in the Orange Bowl 56-35.

After the dust settles on a Monday night in Santa Clara, CA, I believe the Clemson Tigers will raise the national championship trophy. Alabama and Clemson are nearly even in most categories, each team having slight edges in different categories. I think Clemson’s defensive line is better than Alabama’s and Tua Tagovailoa is better than Trevor Lawrence. However, Tua is not at 100% currently. I think that Clemson will get to a weakened Tua just as Georgia did and potentially intercept him and Clemson’s freshman QB will step up and lead the team to a 35-31 victory.