By: Andrew “Fish” Fain
There were plenty of people out there who were hoping the College Playoff system would fall flat this season. A few weeks ago, it looked like that could very well be the case.
After all, Oklahoma St, Baylor, TCU, Iowa & Ohio St were all undefeated and yet only Ohio State was in the CFP Top 4. The other spots were taken by an undefeated Clemson squad and Notre Dame and Alabama who both had one loss.
It looked like it was going to be a giant mess when it came time to the playoffs. After all, with the Big 12 not having a conference championship, how many undefeated teams were going to be left out of the playoffs? It was the perfect scenario for everyone to bitch and moan again at how, while better than the BCS, this system was flawed too and something had to be done.
Fast forward to December 5th, and after all the conference championship games, it looks like we know who the four teams in the playoffs will be, and as much as I hate to admit it, I think there can be no complaints about it. The only unknown right now is the seeding, and I will take a shot at that too.
The top seed will be the undefeated Clemson Tigers, winners of the ACC. They have been the one team that has had no questions all season. Dabo Swinney has this squad firing on all cylinders, yes there was a phantom offside call in the ACC Title game, but every team needs a little luck too. Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson may be the most dangerous weapon in college football this season and with the way they play offense and defense, the Tigers will be a tough match-up for anybody.
The second seed will be the Crimson Tide of Alabama, who won the SEC with a convincing 29-15 win over Florida. The Tide had one hiccup all season, a home loss to Ole Miss, but other than that, they have played solid if not spectacular football all season. This is not one of those dominant Crimson Tide teams, but Nick Saban has them playing their great trademark defense and they seem to get just enough out of the offense to win. They will have a tough match-up against the 3 seed (who I will reveal in just a moment), and personally I do not think they will move on, but I also would not be shocked if they did.
The third seed will be the one team that did not win a conference championship game, the Oklahoma Sooners. Other than an unexplainable loss to a much lesser Texas team, this Sooners squad has to be considered the biggest threat to Clemsons’ perfect season. Look at their schedule and who they have beaten this year and you will see how battle tested they are. They have home wins against West Virginia and TCU (both of whom were ranked when they played them) and even more impressively road wins against Tennessee, Baylor and Oklahoma State who again, were all ranked (and Baylor and OK State were both undefeated at the time) when the Sooners beat them up. They won all their games by an average of 25 points and I think they may be the best team in the country.
The fourth and final seed will be (or should be) the Michigan State Spartans, after their win over an undefeated Iowa team in the Big 10 Championship game. This was the one spot that was kind of up for grabs. If Iowa had won, they would have grabbed this spot, but may have been the weakest undefeated team of all time. At least the Spartans had some signature wins this season. They defeated Oregon, Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa this season, and their only loss was a 1 point defeat to Nebraska in Omaha, and remember this was the game where Huskers wide out Brandon Reilly caught the game winning TD after stepping out of bounds before making the catch with 17 seconds left. It was ruled at the time that he was forced out, and therefore it was legal to come back and make that catch, but it could have been argued that he should not have been allowed to come back in and make that catch. Other than that, Mark Dantonio had his team play perfect football all season, including ending the Buckeyes 23 game winning streak with a win at the Horseshoe.
So on New Year’s Eve, The Cotton Bowl will feature (1) Clemson vs (4) Michigan St and The Orange Bowl will pit (2) Alabama vs (3) Oklahoma. Then on January 11th, the National Championship Game in Phoenix will be (1) Clemson against (3) Oklahoma, where the Sooners will win their first National Championship since beating Florida State 13-2 in 2000.
Of course, since this is college football, I could be dead wrong and Stanford could be the National Champions, but I doubt it.
By: Andrew “Fish” Fain