After last weekend’s upset losses by Alabama and Miami I jotted down my thoughts on who should be in the college football playoff as well as which teams I’d still have in contention. My top four were Clemson, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, & Auburn, with Georgia & Alabama right there ready to pounce and Miami & Ohio St. still having an outside shot. The playoff committee looked at things a little differently. They also have Clemson #1, but like Auburn a couple of spots higher than me, with Oklahoma & Wisconsin one spot lower. They also have Alabama & Georgia knocking on the door, just flipped, and Miami & Ohio St. exactly where I had them. So the same eight teams, in slightly different order. Speaking of last weekend, Zach was 3-4, while I bested him by one game at 4-3. I’m really glad we had UCF-South Florida as one of our games, not because I won (UCF didn’t cover the points) but because it was so much fun to watch. Ohio State failed to cover as well…by half a freakin’ point…which worked out well for Zach. Anyway, we now move on to conference championship week and what are essentially playoff quarterfinal games. Four of the five major conference title game outcomes will have a direct effect on the playoff, which is pretty gosh darn cool for football fans. These will be the last college games we pick this season since the only thing remaining on the schedule is next week’s Army-Navy game. We’ll do our usual Bowl-a-Palooza, but that is a separate deal. Enjoy this weekend’s lineup…it could be really entertaining.
My Season: 42-39
Z’s Season: 42-39
Stanford vs USC (-3)
Pac 12 Championship (Santa Clara, CA)
Neither one of these teams are getting into the playoff, and since the Rose Bowl is one of the playoff games the winner won’t go there either (one of the issues I have with the current system…a topic to be addressed some other time). But the winner will be a conference champ and be playing somewhere…presumably the Fiesta Bowl. Stanford is 9-3 and riding a three game win streak, while the Trojans are 10-2, have won four games in a row, and beat Stanford by nearly three TDs in the second game of the season. This is a Friday night game at the 49ers stadium just outside of San Francisco, so there is no home field advantage. I really don’t know what to expect, but The Vibes are leaning toward USC. Zach likes what Stanford has accomplished thus far and believes they’ll hang tough throughout this game, pulling out a victory in the fourth quarter.
My Pick: Southern Cal
Z’s Pick: Stanford
TCU vs Oklahoma (-7)
Big 12 Championship (Arlington, TX)
The Big 12 only has ten teams and has never had a title game, but y’all know money talks so here we are with a rematch of the top two teams in the conference. Not only are the Sooners guaranteed a playoff spot with a victory, they also beat the Horned Frogs by 18 points just a few weeks ago. I see no reason to think this game will go any differently unless Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield kills or rapes someone, in which case he’d probably be suspended for the first quarter and have to lead his team to a slightly less dominant mauling of TCU. Zach concurs.
My Pick: Oklahoma
Z’s Pick: Oklahoma
Georgia vs Auburn (-3)
SEC Championship (Atlanta, GA)
It’s pretty simple for these two teams…win and you’re in the playoff. The committee has Auburn ranked #2, which is a couple of spots higher than I’d have thought, but at this point it doesn’t really matter. The only thing that’s important is being one of those final four teams. The Bulldogs were the top team in the country not that long ago, but stubbed their toe against…you guessed it…Auburn. So this is a rematch of a game that took place about three weeks ago in which the Tigers dominated by more than three TDs. There is some discussion that Auburn could still get into the playoff even if they lose this game, but I don’t think that would happen, and more importantly I don’t believe it will be an issue. Zach points out the difficulty of beating the same team twice in one season and thinks Georgia will score the upset.
My Pick: Auburn
Z’s Pick: Georgia
Miami vs Clemson (-8.5)
ACC Championship (Charlotte, NC)
Both the playoff committee and yours truly rank the Tigers #1. The Hurricanes were in the playoff until screwing the pooch against Pitt last weekend, so now they find themselves in an uphill battle to get back in even with a victory in this game, although one would have to assume defeating the #1 team in the country would be too impressive to overlook. Still, their early season schedule is weak and the Pitt defeat isn’t a “good loss” (I really hate that terminology), so if you want playoff debate & chaos Miami upsetting Clemson would be a great place to start. One might consider the possibility that Clemson could still make the playoff even with a loss, which would further stir the pot. I had the defending national champs as my #1 team in the pre-season and I see no reason to jump off that particular steamroller now. Zach wasn’t surprised by Miami’s loss to Pitt but believes they’ll bounce back to play a competitive game. However he likes Clemson to score the victory.
My Pick: Clemson
Z’s Pick: Clemson
Ohio State (-5.5) vs Wisconsin
Big Ten Championship (Indianapolis, IN)
I kind of feel sorry for Wisconsin. Though they are undefeated they’re receiving very little respect. I grew up in an era when a win guaranteed moving up or atleast the team holding onto their ranking, a loss meant they’d now be ranked lower or maybe not at all, and being undefeated was something significant. Sadly that isn’t the case anymore. Sports suffers from paralysis by analysis because we have the technology to dissect every second of every game and way too many talking heads on ESPN, FSI, & plethora of other outlets who make big money scrutinizing things from every angle to the point that undefeated isn’t necessarily indicative of anything special. Basically what that boils down to is that the Badgers have to win this game to even slink into the back door of the playoff. Conversely, the 10-2 Buckeyes are actually favored in this game and still have playoff aspirations. Currently ranked #8, they’d need a whole lot of dominoes to fall their way, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. Maybe they’ll end up playing USC in a “What the hell happened to our traditional Rose Bowl invitation??” game where the announcers can dwell regretfully on Ohio St.’s inexplicable meltdown against Iowa and the Trojans’ losses to what turned out to be vastly overrated Notre Dame & Washington State. At any rate, I think Ohio St. wins the Big Ten title and Alabama ends up in the playoff and probably the national title game. Zach likes the size of Wisconsin’s lines. He believes that advantage might be enough to wear down the Buckeyes and snag a close win for Wisconsin.
My Pick: Ohio State
Z’s Pick: Wisconsin