While college football Week 0 has started, it is time to look at the crystal ball and see who will hold that crystal football at the end of the year. Looking at my predictions of the conferences, there may be plenty of controversy if all goes to as planned (in other words, it will not) in my predictions. But let’s see how far off I will be in 2019 shall we?
The Power 5 could end up with 12-1 or 13-0 champions from each conference which means somebody may get hosed in the end from a conference. I had Washington (12-1), Michigan (12-1) Oklahoma (13-0), Georgia (12-1), and Clemson (13-0) to win their conferences and pray that they end up being one of the top 4 selected by the playoff committee. So who do I think gets in?
Not much of a debate if the Sooners and the Tigers go in the Playoff assuming they go undefeated. Clemson stays at #1 overall. But Georgia will get in if they defeat Alabama and have wins against Florida, Texas A&M, and Notre Dame to bump their resume to #2 over Oklahoma. Regardless, Clemson takes the first spot and plays their game in Atlanta while Georgia and Oklahoma go out to the Phoenix area to play another playoff game against each other for the second time in three years. So who gets #4?
Looking at the contenders for that at-large spot: Michigan, Washington, LSU, and Alabama could all vie for it. However, if Alabama loses two games (something they haven’t done in a regular season + SEC Championship since 2010) and both of them being their toughest games, it is hard to see them break the top 4 (see Georgia last year). LSU could be 11-1 but probably won’t get to the SEC Championship and it could hurt the Tigers there with two teams also having 1 loss and a conference title. So, down to Michigan and Washington. The Wolverines if they go 11-1 + a Big Ten title may trump the Huskies in part because of resumes again. Michigan would net wins against Notre Dame and Ohio State to sneak in and face Clemson down at the Peach Bowl, a place where they got ran off the field to Florida the year before.
So my top 4: Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan; Clemson vs. Michigan in the Peach Bowl and Georgia vs. Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl
The New Year’s Six games will be as follows:
Cotton Bowl: LSU vs. Boise State
Orange Bowl: Syracuse vs. Florida
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Washington
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Nebraska
I won’t do a prediction of those games because honestly I wouldn’t know where to begin. LSU vs. Boise State would be tempting to see and I’d be interested in the Buckeyes/Huskies rematch with the two Georgia transfers in Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Jacob Eason (Washington dueling it out). Nebraska would be bent on showing they are back while Alabama could be in a hangover from not making the Playoff for the first time since its inception (though I’d pick Alabama in a close one). Syracuse vs. Florida would be…..okay I guess.
PEACH BOWL: #1 CLEMSON VS. #4 MICHIGAN: While Michigan will possess a strong defense like always, it is always going to come back to speed. The Wolverines struggled tremendously against Ohio State in part for that (and Florida State a few years prior). And it is going to be the downfall here with Clemson, who plays physical and fast. I don’t think Michigan has the speed to compete with the Tigers and honestly I think it could be over around halftime. So Harbaugh’s detractors will go “yeah, you beat Ohio State, but you can’t beat the big boys outside of the Big Ten.” Harbaugh is 1-3 in Bowl games at Michigan. 1-4 after this one. CLEMSON 45, MICHIGAN 17
FIESTA BOWL: #2 GEORGIA VS. #3 OKLAHOMA: We get a few rematches here. First the classic Rose Bowl war with the Bulldogs and Sooners where Georgia won in OT. And Georgia vs. Jalen Hurts, pt. 3. Now, from a defensive standpoint Georgia dominates and I’m forever a believer in defense wins championships so in this case I’d like to lean towards Georgia. However, the one issue that Kirby Smart’s teams has (whether as head coach at Georgia or coordinator at Alabama) is the inability to match-up against bigger, faster wide receivers to go along with a dual threat QB like Hurts (Georgia fans still remember the nightmares he caused in the SEC Championship last year). Now the game will be decided on the line, notably Oklahoma’s offensive line which is going to be very inexperienced while Georgia’s defensive line who struggles to create any form of a pass rush (so far a Smart staple in Athens) to prevent a big running play. If Oklahoma protects Hurts and gives him time to create, the Bulldogs are in SERIOUS trouble despite having one of the best defenses around. If Georgia pressures Hurts and makes him look more like 2017 Hurts in the National Title game, where they rattled him beautifully, then Georgia will be in their second national championship game in 3 years. But given each other’s history, I have to think Oklahoma controls the line and Georgia has little-to-no-answers for Hurts. OKLAHOMA 42, GEORGIA 38
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: #1 CLEMSON VS. #3 OKLAHOMA: If the Sooners have an albatross opponent in college football, it has been the Tigers. Dabo Swinney has found a formula to really stop Oklahoma’s offense dead in their tracks in the few times they’ve played since 2013. Again, it will come back to the offensive line for Oklahoma against Clemson’s defensive line which will be young, but I think both sides will have their games elevated by then. But where it will be is if the Tigers can get after Hurts (they can), and if Oklahoma can stop Lawrence from rocking and rolling like he did last year vs. Alabama. I just think Clemson on offense is just too much to handle for a Sooners defense that is still not up to snuff all that much. The Sooners will keep it close but I think Clemson is just on another level at this point, even moreso than Alabama. Tigers repeat and will be the new dynasty. CLEMSON 44, OKLAHOMA 31
My Pick for the Heisman Trophy? Jalen Hurts. He’s going to be in a system that he could just shatter records.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat