We have reached the end of our journey. We have gone through ten conferences, a group of four independent schools, and now here we are at the College Football Playoff. It is now time to determine who will be our National Champion!
If you missed the announcement for Conference Champions, make sure to go back and listen – The Ted Talk Sports Podcast: August 6, 2017
Included within our College Football Playoff post will be my predictions to the New Year’s Six Bowl Games. These are the most prestigious of all the bowl games to play in, and every year, two of these games serve as National Semifinal Games. In 2017, the National Semifinals will take place in perhaps the two most historic games of them all: The Sugar Bowl and The Rose Bowl.
Rounding up my 2017 college football predictions, let us look at my picks for the College Football Playoff, starting with the non-tournament New Year’s Six Bowl Games.
COTTON BOWL CLASSIC:
University of Wisconsin v. Stanford University
The Cotton Bowl will feature two teams who won their divisions, but failed to capture their conference championship. Both teams are likely to enter with identical 11-2 records. Wisconsin’s offense will have torched the Big 10, while Stanford will have put forth a good fight due to their typically menacing defense. The classic line in football is “offense wins games, but defense wins championships,” but since . A fourth quarter touchdown will be the difference maker as Wisconsin comes away with their second consecutive victory in the Cotton Bowl. Final Score: Wisconsin 24, Stanford 20
Penn State University v. University of South Florida
Teams from lesser conferences always seem to end up playing in the Fiesta Bowl, and they always seem to perform well in those situations. For the 2017 edition, the Fiesta Bowl will feature South Florida, a team that will be the top team from a “Group of Five” Conference, or non-power conference, when the regular season ends. South Florida will be rewarded for their efforts with a match up against the mighty Penn State Nittany Lions, a team with the talent to win a National Championship and a history of doing so. I see Quarterback Trace McSorely having a monster game for Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl, leading Penn State to a victory over South Florida. The win will bring Penn State to a perfect 8-0 in the Fiesta Bowl all time, one such win having been over Miami in 1987 that made Penn State a National Championship. Final Score: Penn State 33, South Florida 16
Florida State University v. University of Michigan
A match-up of two college football bluebloods is always appreciated in bowl season, especially when it occurs in a historically significant bowl game. A rematch of the same two teams in the same exact bowl game is a dream come true, especially when the original was the thriller that the 2016 Orange Bowl was. Last season, Florida State took down Michigan in a wild and crazy Orange Bowl with the score 33-32. Such a chaotic game is unlikely to repeat itself for 2017, but a classic game between two of the elite college football programs is a near certainty. Look for Quarterback Deondre Francois to have a stellar performance in the rematch as Florida State comes away with another exciting over a young Michigan team. Final Score: Florida State 30, Michigan 24
Oklahoma State University v. University of Washington
The unstoppable force meets the immovable object as Oklahoma State’s phenomenal offense goes up against a Chris Peterson defense. Oklahoma State, the champions of the Big 12, will feel jilted that they could claim their conference title but were left out of the College Football Playoff, something that has occurred to the Big 12 Champion all but once since the 2014 implementation of the College Football Playoff. Washington will be waiting in the Peach Bowl for Oklahoma State, and Washington will have just as much to play for despite not having a stake in the National Championship. I love Oklahoma State’s offense, but I never bet against a Chris Peterson defense, and I see Washington getting just enough out of Quarterback Jake Browning and their offense to pull the upset over the Cowboys. Final Score: Washington 37, Oklahoma State 35
Finally, we enter the meat and potatoes of this entire series. We have arrived at the College Football Playoff itself. From here on out, the games will be played on New Year’s Day of 2018 or later. Here are my predictions.
SEMIFINAL #1 ROSE BOWL:
University of Southern California v. Ohio State University
The Grand-daddy of them all, The Rose Bowl Game. The first bowl game ever to be played, dating back to 1902, the Rose Bowl is universally considered among the premier games in all of football. The 2017 season brings us a match made in heaven, USC versus Ohio State, which will draw more TV viewers than any other college football game in 2017, and perhaps more than for the National Championship Game itself. USC won the Rose Bowl last season, and will be coming into this season’s game the undefeated champions of the Pac 12. The road for Ohio State will include a few hurdles, but with only one loss to their record and a Big 10 Championship in their pocket, the Buckeyes will be looking strong as well entering the Rose Bowl. Quarterback Sam Darnold will have his hands full going up against a strong Ohio State defense, with Defensive Back Denzel Ward licking his chops at the opportunity to attack one of the best offenses in college football. In what will be another instant classic of a Rose Bowl, Ohio State will lean on their defense to take down Southern California, handing USC their first loss of the season in the process, and advancing Ohio State to the National Championship Game. Final Score: Ohio State 31, Southern California 27
SEMIFINAL #2 SUGAR BOWL:
University of Alabama v. Clemson University
So much drama has unfolded over the years in the Sugar Bowl; from a goal-line stand for Alabama in 1979 which led to a victory and a National Championship, to the stunning upset of Alabama just 3 years ago as Ohio State emerged victorious en route to the first ever College Football Playoff National Champion, the Sugar Bowl has been the site for some of the most hotly contested games in college football history. For the third straight year, Alabama and Clemson will meet in the College Football Playoff, although this will be the first instance their matchup will be taking place before the National Championship Game. Clemson will have come together during the course of the season, finding ways to plug the holes left over from graduating a national champion one year prior. Alabama will be as powerful as ever, riding a 12 game winning streak after losing in their first game to Florida State, Alabama’s only loss of the season. While Clemson has found a way every year to have a strong defense, Running Back Bo Scarbrough will be too much for the Clemson defense to handle, and Alabama will claim victory. With a win in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama will advance to their third straight National Championship Game. Final Score: Alabama 28, Clemson 16.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Ohio State University v. University of Alabama
In 2017, it is impossible to have a more impactful match-up in college football than Ohio State against Alabama. The coaches of each team, Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Nick Saban of Alabama, are widely considered by far the two best coaches currently in the game today. Both OSU and Alabama have won national championships under the College Football Playoff. As previously mentioned, Ohio State defeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl three years ago on their way to the 2014 National Championship, while Alabama won the Championship in 2015 but came up short in the Championship Game in 2016. So who wins it all for 2017? Ohio State has a deep pool of talent, as does Alabama. Ohio State has experience on both sides of the ball, and Alabama does as well. In the end, the National Championship will come down to defense, as it should. Ohio State will have a powerful defense, but Alabama’s will be even more powerful. In a game that will go down to the wire, the Alabama Crimson Tide will defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes to win the 2017 College Football National Championship. Final Score: Alabama 23, Ohio State 21