The time has arrived for the nation’s current top college football teams to prove for a final time that they belong in the playoffs. The formula seems simple enough – win, and you’re in. But lose, or struggle, and leave your fate in the hands of the 13-person playoff committee who will announce their final standings of the season on Sunday.
But what’s the fun in waiting until Sunday? Bold predictions and hot takes are the new way of life in sports media, so it’s time to join in on the fun!
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
#20 Memphis Tigers / #14 UCF Knights
The nation’s top two offenses clash once again in what is a rematch of a regular season game at Spectrum Stadium in September that Knights won convincingly. However, a lot has changed since that game, including the increased likelihood that Saturday will serve as Scott Frost’s final game as Head Coach of the Knights. A win would earn UCF a seat at the table in the coveted New Year’s Six bowls, and whether Frost will make that trip or not will be known shortly after the final whistle on Saturday.
Prediction: UCF 38, Memphis 36
#2 Auburn Tigers / #6 Georgia Bulldogs
It might be the first time in the history of the SEC Championship game that these two teams will face one another, but Saturday will mark the 122nd meeting of all-time between Auburn and Georgia. An Auburn victory will not only secure a spot in the College Football Playoffs, it would give each school its 57th win in those 122 meetings. The two teams have also tied eight times. Georgia was demolished in a regular season game at Auburn just three weeks ago, but if the Dawgs are able to seek revenge, it could be enough to convince the committee that they deserve the chance they have rightfully earned all season.
Prediction: Auburn 27, Georgia 24 (OT)
#1 Clemson Tigers / #7 Miami Hurricanes
Clemson heads to Charlotte loaded with momentum and experience. Something Miami has neither of. The Tigers are making their third consecutive trip to the ACC Championship and are seeking their third consecutive bid into the College Football Playoffs. Miami is coming off of their only loss, just one week ago in the regular season finale at Pittsburgh. The turnover chain must make an early and often appearance for Miami to have any chance, or the biggest turnover of the night could very well be the viewing audience’s remotes finding another game to watch.
Prediction: Clemson 31, Miami 14
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
#4 Wisconsin Badgers / #8 Ohio State Buckeyes
As the only other undefeated team in the country besides UCF, Wisconsin has spent much of the season leading the nation in disrespect. No, the Badgers haven’t played the most colossal competition, but they have relied heavily on a defense who is only giving up 12 points per game, good for 2nd nationally. The Buckeyes, led offensively by electric quarterback, J.T. Barrett, head to Indianapolis favored to win, thus providing a little shake up to the current top four and perhaps their own invitation into the playoffs.
Prediction: Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 20
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
#3 Oklahoma Sooners / #11 TCU Horned Frogs
Returning to Championship week for the first time since 2010, the Big 12 Championship also stands as a rematch between the Sooners and Frogs. Just three weeks ago, the Horned Frogs traveled into Norman and were beaten worse than the 38-20 final score would indicate. Led by senior quarterback and leading Heisman Trophy candidate, Baker Mayfield, the Sooners look to seek revenge on the committee by whom they felt slighted by just one year ago. Though no real threat to make the playoffs, this will be the Horned Frogs first Big 12 Championship appearance after the school joined the conference in 2012. The high-octane, up-tempo offense of Head Coach Gary Patterson has real potential to pull the upset and leave Oklahoma on the outside looking in, once again.
Prediction: TCU 48, Oklahoma 41 (OT)
If Saturday were to play out as detailed above, the committee would end up with both a familiar and comfortable scenario. The national appeal may not be as high as some would like to see, but we all know something that the 13-person committee does as well: that college football is in fact southern fried. It does not need large markets such as New York, Dallas, or Los Angeles to thrive. So what will the committee’s board look like come Sunday?
Sunday’s College Football Playoff Rankings Prediction:
3. Ohio State
Bonus prediction: Scott Frost will be named Head Coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers by Monday
So what does your playoff picture look like? Comment below and discuss with me where you believe I’m right and wrong!