By Jake Rosenstein Maroon-News Staff
As championship weekend has come to an exciting conclusion, the final four teams in the 2018 college football season have been officially set. With dozens of teams vying for the
opportunity to make the college football playoff at season’s open, only Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama remain.
The returning national champion Clemson Tigers (12-1), the top team in the nation according to the college football playoff committee, dominated the ACC Championship, putting to bed an upstart Miami team 38-3 and mocking the Hurricanes’ “turnover chain” in the process.
The high-flying Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) led by the Heisman favorite Baker Mayfield and a ferocious defense are riding high after a 41-17 victory over their rival the TCU Horned Frogs in the newly reformed Big 12 conference
The third-ranked team in the nation, the SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs (11-1), are riding their star-studded halfback tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel along with their vicious front seven into the playoff.
Rounding out the all-important top four are Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1), the second ever non-conference champion to make the playoff, following Ohio State in 2016.
The stage is set for the two semifinal games. On New Year’s Day, the Tigers have a thrilling rematch with the Crimson Tide team that they defeated in the instant-classic 2017 national championship game in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. When it’s all said and done, the swarming Tigers defense will prove to be too much for the Crimson Tide and Alabama will fail to avenge their 2017 national championship loss in a two-score defeat.
This year’s Rose Bowl will pit the Big 12 champion Sooners against the SEC champion Bulldogs in a battle of wills. The Oklahoma Sooners will beat a strong Georgia Bulldogs team thanks to their dominant offensive line and star quarterback.
Thus, on January 8, the Clemson Tigers will have the opportunity to become the first back-to-back national champions since the 2012-2013 Alabama Crimson Tide when they square up against the number two ranked Sooners.
However, in a big play ridden back-and-fourth battle, the Sooners will crush the Tigers’ hopes of a repeat championship with a 31-28 victory, and Baker Mayfield will end his illustrious college football career with both a national championship as well as a Heisman trophy.
By Matt Gentile Assistant National Sports Editor
Each year as the college football season concludes, the talk about the playoff system ramps up. Growing up a fan of the bowl system, I am still hesitant to partake in the talk of “who’s in, who’s out” of this playoff system. That being said, in my opinion, this question simply asks who is the best team in college football.
After realizing that, my answer is simple: The Clemson Tigers. Clemson showed everything they needed to in their dominating win over the Miami Hurricanes. Clemson currently sits atop the college football rankings, so this may seem like an easy pick. However, with only four teams in the playoffs the talent level is too high to be overly confident in any prediction. Clemson has playoff experience as they have made it into playoffs the previous two seasons and won it all last season. A huge part of that team was the contributions of Deshaun Watson, but you cannot undervalue the leadership of their head coach Dabo Swinney. Swinney remains at the helm of the Tigers, and that is why I am confident in my pick. (Also, Swinney will receive a bonus $250,000 if the Tigers repeat as champions…if that’s not a good incentive, I don’t know what is).
By ETHAN MARCHETTI Maroon-News Staff
This year, the College Football Playoff will feature No. 2 Oklahoma vs No. 3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl, as well as No. 1 Clemson vs No. 4 Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. That being said, its ultimately difficult to pick against Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma. The senior QB finished the season with 41 touchdowns and over 4,300 passing yards, leading the Sooners to a 12-1 record and a Big 12 Championship. The high-powered offense will certainly be tested against in the Rose Bowl going up against Georgia’s stout front seven on defense, but Mayfield’s stellar play will ultimately be no match for the Bulldogs. I see Oklahoma winning this one handily and moving on to the Championship game.
In the National Championship, Oklahoma will face the elite defense of either Clemson or Alabama. The two are second and first in points allowed per game, respectively, and either would prove to be a worthy opponent for Mayfield’s arm. However, I think that this is the year that he finally gets it done.
Mayfield has been in high-pressure situations before, so as long as he can use his experience to his advantage, he should be able to overcome either of these gritty defenses and bring a National Championship home for the Sooners.