This is the biggest weekend in all of College Football and three playoff spots are on the line. So let’s get into the picks:
#14 Northwestern vs. #4 Ohio State, NOON EST, FOX
Ohio State has the fortune of playing in this game. At the beginning of the season the Big Ten Conference made a rule that all teams’ in the Conference Title game must play at least six games. Well, Ohio State finished with only five games so the Big Ten responded by changing their decision (I’m sure $$$ had a little to play in this decision too). The Buckeyes and future top pick Quarterback Justin Fields, are just one win away from entering the College Football Playoff.
They face the much-improved Northwestern Wildcats- 3-9 last season to 6-1 this season. The Wildcats have one of the nation’s best defense only allowing 14 points per contest, however, their offense is the problem. Northwestern’s sad passing game (174 ypg) won’t be able to exploit Ohio State’s porous pass defense (268 ypg).The Wildcats must be perfect in this game to have any shot. I’m talking turnovers, short fields, third down stops and luck. Expect Northwestern’s defense to keep them in it early but Fields will take over late.
Ohio State is rightfully favored by over 20 points.
Prediction: Ohio State 44-20 Northwestern
#5 Texas A&M at Tennessee, NOON EST, ESPN
The most significant non-championship game of the day. Texas A&M comes into this game ranked #5 with the best chance to make the playoff if a top four team loses. There are a lot of questions when it comes to the Aggies, however… This team hasn’t played a lot in the past month, they lost by 28 against #1 Alabama, their top win is against a Florida team who lost to a bad LSU team last weekend. A&M must make a big statement here against a bad Tennessee team and hope for a big upset.
Prediction: Texas A&M 55-17 Tennessee
#10 Oklahoma vs #6 Iowa State, NOON EST, ABC
This is the biggest game in Iowa State’s history. Iowa State is looking for their first ever Big 12 Title and their first conference championship since 1912. 1912!!!!
Oklahoma? Seven of the past ten Big 12 title’s are theirs.
This game is an early season rematch of a 37-30 Iowa State win in Ames, IA. This was a HUGE early season win for the Cyclones. The Cyclones are coming into this game with two losses but they are ranked #6. (Which I disagree strongly with). They are paced by star running back Breece Hall (1,357 yards, 17 TD’s, 6.1 yards per rush) and a defense is holding teams to only 21 points per game.
The Sooners haven’t lost since the Iowa State game. They are ranked #10 in the nation but are playing like a Top 5 team. Their defense (Which has always been awful) has given up only 78 points in their last five games. Their offense, as per usual is great, outscoring their opponents by over 25 points per game. Quarterback Spencer Rattler was pretty inexperienced in their first match up but has blossomed since (24 TD, 7 INT).
As a fan of almost every Chicago team this game feels all too familiar. You have the consistent underdog taking on the perennial favorite. So much is on the line for Iowa State; Oklahoma has been there and knows how to win these types of games. I expect Iowa State to lay an egg here.
Prediction: Oklahoma 38-28 Iowa State
#19 Louisiana at #12 Coastal Carolina, 3:30 pm EST, ESPN
That sucks. Coastal Carolina had a legitimate chance to play in a New Years Six Game with a win. This also hurts Iowa State as one of their losses were at Louisiana. If Louisiana were to win this game convincingly, Iowa State would have benefited.
#3 Clemson vs #2 Notre Dame, 4 pm EST, ABC
In many ways this is the rematch of the century. Earlier this year Notre Dame took out Clemson 47-40 in double overtime. A revenge game? Hardly. If I’m Clemson I’m feeling great. I’m favored by 10 points in this game and my star QB Trevor Lawrence is available this time around. Everything rides on this game as a second loss against the Fighting Irish may knock them out of the playoff.
Notre Dame, on the other hand is almost a lock for the playoff barring a complete collapse. The Irish have a top defense and that was highlighted in their win at North Carolina. They held the Tar Heels (Over 700 yards against Miami) to under 300 and only three points after the first quarter. The offense, on the other hand, is a concern. In the previous matchup, ND ran for over 200 yards. This was with their starting center and without three key Clemson defenders.
Last time, Clemson was an awful 4 for 15 on third down and STILL had a touchdown lead with a little more than one minute left. An experienced Quarterback should complete some of those third downs shifting the tide to the Tigers. Expect Clemson to throw off Notre Dame’s rhythm without their center and for the Tigers to pull away.
Prediction: Clemson 34-24 Notre Dame
#1 Alabama vs. #7 Florida, 8 PM EST. ABC
Alabama is a well-oiled machine. Coming into this game they are averaging a 50-17 margin of victory. These opponents aren’t Coastal Alabama or Troy, no- it’s all SEC competition. The Crimson Tide are led by two Heisman Trophy Favorites in Quarterback Mac Jones (76.4% completion percentage, 27 TD, 3 INT) and DeVonta Smith (1,338 yds, 16 TD’s). Smith is looking to become the first receiver to win a Heisman since Desmond Howard won it in 1991.
They take on a Florida team that threw (literally) its’ season away last week against a bad LSU team. The Gators are led by Quarterback and Heisman finalist Kyle Trask (an absurd 3,717 yds, 40 TD, 5 INT) and tight end Kyle Pitts (11 TD). Florida has been without Pitts lately so they hope his return will make an impact. Despite their loss, the Gators absordly only fell one spot in the rankings. They will need a miracle (multiple upsets) to make the playoff.
Lets face it- Florida’s loss deflated the energy in this game. This would have been a clear play-in game for Florida if they won. Alabama hasn’t faced a Quarterback all season as good as Trask, so Florida has that in their corner. I’m not sure what else, though.
**NFL Fans with bad quarterbacks need to watch this game **
Prediction: Alabama 52-30 Florida
#23 Tulsa at #9 Cincinnati, 8 pm EST, ABC
I’m angry for Cincinnati. The Bearcats are undefeated on the season yet continue to stumble in the CFP Rankings. They haven’t been able to play due to COVID cancellations and the committee is holding that against them. How can you explain three two loss teams (Georgia, Florida, Iowa State) ahead of them? Georgia has looked mediocre all season; it’s insane that Florida only dropped one spot after a bad loss; Iowa State has two losses in a weak conference. Cincinnati should be at least #6 in the rankings with a chance at the playoff. This is total disrespect not only for the Bearcats but for every team outside of the power five conference.
Tulsa comes in with the 20th ranked defense led by future pro linebacker Zaven Collins (4 Tkl, 11.5 TFL, 4 INT). Tulsa’s defense should keep this game close with several third down stops, but Cincinnati’s Quarterback Desmond Ridder (27 Total TD’s- 10 on the ground, 911 rush yards) is pro ready and magnificent.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27-17
With these results the College Football Playoff will be…
#2 CLEMSON VS. #3 NOTRE DAME, PART III
#1 ALABAMA VS. # 4 OHIO STATE
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