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College Football Update CFP Final Rankings

Dan Gialluca

Dan Gialluca

Nate Shirley, Staff Writer

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The committee has convened and the results are in. The top four teams in the country that will compete in the College Football Playoff have been determined. The Clemson Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Georgia Bulldogs, and Alabama Crimson Tide have all had stellar seasons and earned their chance to bring a national championship to their respective universities. The semifinals will kick off with the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day featuring the Bulldogs and the Sooners at 5:00 PM. The Sugar Bowl will be played that same day at 8:45 PM pitting the Clemson Tigers against the Alabama Crimson Tide for the third year in a row. The winners of their respective games will meet for battle on January 8th at 8:00 PM in the CFP National Championship Game to see who will come out on top.

Coming in at number one, the Clemson Tigers are trying to repeat as national champs. While the fearless leader from last year’s championship team is now a member of the Houston Texans (DeShaun Watson), Clemson has found the next best thing in Junior Quarterback Kelly Bryant. The passing attack for Clemson has been solid, in part because of Bryant, but most of the credit should go to his stellar group of wide receivers. Deon Cain, Hunter Renfrow, and Ray-Ray McCloud have been consistent targets for Bryant, while true freshman Tee Higgins has shown that he can make plays at that position as well. The run game for Clemson has been big for them, as they get production from both the quarterback and running back positions. Bryant’s ability as a runner has opened up the offense and given bigger holes for running backs Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne. Etienne has had a breakout season as a true freshman and could be a major factor in the playoffs. Christian Wilkins will lead a stout defensive line for the Tigers that has been the key to their defensive success this year. Famed defensive coordinator Brett Venables will have to rely on Wilkin’s leadership to lead the Tiger’s defense against the toughest opponents they have faced to date. While they did suffer an embarrassing loss to Syracuse, the Tigers have looked very impressive in the last few weeks, especially in a rout of Miami in the ACC championship. With the momentum on their side, will Clemson be able to repeat and bring the title back to the state of South Carolina?

The probable Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield has led the second ranked Sooners to their spot in the CFP. Mayfield has had an incredible season, throwing for 41 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions. He also has a 71% completion rate. He has had an incredible season on the field, but off field concerns have been a factor for him. Other off the field concerns have made this offense a concern going into the playoffs as starting running back Rodney Anderson is now facing rape allegations. Receivers Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown have been Mayfield’s favorite targets and will need to have a big impact on the offensive side of the ball, especially if Anderson is unable to play for legal reasons. Despite one embarrassing loss to Iowa State, Oklahoma is coming in with a lot of momentum. The blew out TCU in the Big 12 championship game 41-17 and looked stellar in that win. Will the Heisman trophy candidate be able to lead his team to the title?

The SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs gave the SEC title back to the SEC East for the first time since 2008. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm took over for Jacob Eason after he was injured and ruled out for the season during the first week. While most expected the offense to struggle without their star signal caller, Fromm took over and turned in a great season. Wideouts Javon Wims and Terry Godwin have been reliable targets for Fromm and have made Georgia’s passing attack effective. The rushing attack for the Bulldogs has been lethal. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel came into the season widely considered the best 1-2 punch in the running game for any college football team. They have lived up to the hype. On top of those two stellar backs, a new speedster at that position has emerged giving them another weapon to for Kirby Smart and his staff to utilize. D’Andre Swift has turned himself into an essential part of the offense and his breakaway speed makes him a threat to get into the endzone on every snap. The defense of Georgia has also been a key to their success and will challenge Baker Mayfield in the Rose Bowl. Linebacker Roquan Smith and company will look to stifle the electric offense of Oklahoma and hope to bring home the win. The Bulldogs seek to bring a national championship to this powerhouse program, something that hasn’s been done since 1980 when Herschel Walker suited up for the Dawgs. Will the trio of backs be enough to take home the title?

Last but certainly not least, the Alabama Crimson Tide find themselves in a familiar place. While they did need some help from Ohio State to get in, Nick Satan will try to bring yet another trophy back to Tuscaloosa. Quarterback Jalen Hurts (Ms. Hurt’s nephew according to her) will lead the Tide in their bout against the team that sent him home with his first loss as a collegiate football player, the Clemson Tigers. Hurts has had a solid season both in the running and passing game. He is responsible for 23 touchdowns on the year, eight of which were rushing. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley is the clear leader of the receiving core with 896 yards on the season. The running game has been led by Damien Harris and Jalen Hurts, but they have also has significant contributions from Bo Scarborough and Najee Harris. Raekwon Davis has held down the defensive line and Rashaan Evans been a force at linebacker. Even with these stellar leaders, the clear leader if this defense is safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who in my opinion is the best defensive player in all of college football. He has been unstoppable in both his pass defense and run defense. He is Alabama’s most valuable player and will need to make a big impact for the Tide to come out on top. Will Nick Satan be able to will this team to another national title and continue Alabama’s dominance?

Finally, the CFP is set, and while some controversy surrounds the selection of Alabama over Ohio State for the fourth spot, I personally believe that the committee got it right. The four best teams in the country are ready to do battle and this playoff should produce plenty of exciting moments. Now that the playoff is set, resumes do not matter. Strength of schedule is irrelevant and no one cares about that embarrassing loss. All that matters is the next few games and who will come out on top. Let the playoffs begin.

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