The Final Countdown

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Updated: November 29, 2017

Predicting the Playoffs/Bowls

Well, it all comes down to this weekend.  Weeks of guessing, what ifs, and various scenarios of who’s beating who will all come to a head in the next week. The final College Football Playoff rankings will be released next week following this weekend’s round of conference championship games.  Here are my projections for how the weekend will play out and who will face off in the playoff semifinals.

Sugar Bowl (New Orleans): No. 1 Clemson(11-1) vs No. 4 Alabama(11-1)

The first matchup of the playoffs brings us a rematch of last year’s national title game with Alabama facing Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. Clemson has one of the clearest paths you can have to the CFP round of 4. The ACC Championship game basically serves as a play-in game between Clemson and Miami where the winner almost assuredly will receive a slot in the semifinals. Clemson is currently a -9.5 point favorite after opening between a -5 to -6 point favorite. Clemson currently checks in #1 in the most recent ranking release and if they beat the Hurricanes this weekend nothing anybody else will do is going to change that.

Alabama will have a little more worry and plenty of time to watch the weekend action as they will not be playing for their conference title after last week’s loss to bitter in-state rival Auburn. Alabama is currently ranked number 5 and will have to root for either Oklahoma or Wisconsin to lose while hoping Ohio State is unable to leapfrog them should they defeat Wisconsin. The Tide’s resume is not the strongest but the committee has had a high opinion of them most of the season as they have been ranked 1st or 2nd prior to their loss. It’s hard to imagine Ohio State jumping them even after defeating Wisconsin due to their losing two times each of the blowout variety.

Rose Bowl (Pasadena): No 2. Georgia vs No. 3 Oklahoma

This matchup will be a something has got to give matchup where Georgia’s run game and monster defense face Oklahoma’s all-world offense.  The Sooners will take on TCU in the first Big 12 Championship game since 2010. This is the first of two championship week rematches. Oklahoma is currently a -7 point favorite after opening at -6.

The Sooners won the initial matchup 38-20 in a game that wasn’t really close. Oklahoma jumped on top 38-14 before going on cruise control for the 2nd half. While rematches rarely resemble the original its hard imagining TCU being able to slow down this Sooner offense, led by Heisman frontrunner Baker Mayfield, enough to eke out a victory. The total is set at 63 points which easily is the highest among the Power 5 conference championships indicating this may be sort of a shootout. A shootout is just Oklahoma’s game and TCU will be fighting an uphill battle.

Georgia enters the SEC championship game to take on an Auburn Tiger team that just pasted them 40-17 a few weeks ago. So why on earth would I predict a Georgia victory in the rematch? The initial matchup was a home game for Auburn facing a Bulldog team that may have began to believe some of the hype surrounding their number 1 ranking in the polls. In addition, Georgia made a host of major errors and penalties that led to Auburn scores and seemed to do everything in their power to extend Auburn drives.

Georgia will have to get better production out of their run game if they are going to upset Auburn as the Tigers held their superstar duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to 27 and 21 yards respectively. Quarterback Jake Fromm was a pedestrian 13/28 for 184 yards while facing constant pressure from the Tigers defense.

This contest is held in Atlanta at the Mercedes Benz Stadium. Atlanta is more often than not Bulldog country so at worst you are looking at a neutral crowd. Georgia cleans up the mistakes, cuts down on penalties, and at least one of their superstar rushers has a decent game to lead the Bulldogs to the upset. Auburn is currently a -2.5 point favorite over the Dogs.

There you have it, predictions for the semifinal matchups of the CFP championship. Now, we just have to remember that this is college football we are talking about and chaos can and often will break out. Let’s hope for an exciting weekend and maybe cash a few winners along the way.