College Football is into the stretch and the rankings become more and more important each week. Only the top 4 teams make the playoffs so fighting for a spot makes every game extremely competitive for college football teams competing for a top spot. As the end of the season approaches, these are the most important games that will ultimately determine which teams make the playoffs:
LSU at Alabama
Tua Tagovailoa suffered a high ankle sprain while playing against Tennessee but he said during a postgame interview that he will be back for the most important game of the season: LSU. Tua has great vision and can move the football extremely well. Backup quarterback Mac Jones played great against a struggling Arkansas team so just incase Tua doesn’t play, Alabama fans shouldn’t be too worried. Coach Saban said rehab is going well for Tua and he expects him to play against LSU. Alabama has one of the best offenses in the nation as well as a superb defense. On the other hand, LSU has one of the best defenses in the nation and an excellent offense. Quarterback Joe Burrow is a definite Heisman candidate and is moving the offense very well. Alabama hasn’t been challenged that much so this will be the ultimate test for them. LSU has faced Texas, Florida, and Auburn who were all ranked in the top 10. This matchup could be the best game in college football all year. At the moment, LSU is ranked 2nd and Alabama is ranked 3rd. Expect this to be a very close battle between two of the best teams in college football because the winner will definitely be ranked first in the nation and the loser won’t move too far.
Ohio State vs Penn State
Penn State is currently ranked 4th in the country and Ohio State is ranked 1st making this game important. If both teams continue to play at this rate, the winner will have a significant chance of making the playoffs. Ohio State has 3 players in the Heisman race and they look like the best team in the nation. Coached by Ryan Day, the Buckeyes are undefeated and playing extremely well on both sides of the ball. Offensively, QB Justin Fields has been a great addition to the offense since he transferred from Georgia. They have scored 38 or more points in every game this season and it doesn’t look like they will be slowing down anytime soon. Defensively, Ohio State has only let up 10 or fewer points to ranked opponents and after the first game of the season, 10 or fewer points allowed in every game. Defensive end Chase Young is someone to keep an eye on during the Heisman race. On the other side, Penn State has risen beyond expectations as they are currently undefeated and have not struggled against anyone so far. Quarterback Sean Clifford and Wide Receiver KJ Hamler have one of the best connections in the game of college football. Hamler has 8 touchdowns on 37 receptions. Penn State averages 38.5 points per game and 17 different players have caught the football. They have 8 interceptions on the defensive side. It is unknown if Penn State has the defensive strength to hold the Ohio State offense, Penn State has the offensive attack that can take over this ballgame.
Oklahoma vs Baylor
Oklahoma started the season undefeated and recently was handed a loss by a good Kansas State team. The Sooners then went on the bye and hopefully can finish the season off well. The Baylor Bears are currently undefeated and ranked inside the top 15, making this game a very intriguing matchup. Whoever wins the game may have a shot at the playoffs. Oklahoma has one of the most electric offenses in the nation, run by QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts has a chance at winning the Heisman so he has to play well against Baylor. Not only does Hurts have the most passing yards on the team, but he also has the most rushing yards which is very impressive for a quarterback. This dual-threat is very hard for defenses to handle. Alongside Hurts, Oklahoma has 3 running backs with over 300 yards and 4 receivers with over 200 receiving yards. Losing to Kansas State was a major set back for the Sooners and if they want to make the playoffs they must win this game. The Baylor Bears have defeated every opponent on their schedule but haven’t beaten a ranked opponent. If they win this game against Oklahoma, that would be a major resume builder and increase the chance of making the playoffs drastically. The offense averages 480 yards per game and 36 points per game. Wide receiver Denzel Mims has over 600 receiving yards and will be a major threat to the Sooners as well as quarterback Charlie Brewer who has been very consistent this season. Baylor relies on the run game a lot as they have two running backs with over 400 yards each. Baylor will struggle against their first ranked opponent and the Sooners will make this a really tough game for the Bears. Oklahoma will hand Baylor their first loss of the season.
Clemson at South Carolina
Undefeated Clemson has fallen out of the playoff bracket when the College Football Playoff rankings were first revealed. Meanwhile, South Carolina will be fighting for a bowl game spot. Clemson has only had one difficult opponent and might struggle when they end the regular season (before the ACC championship) in South Carolina. Clemson averages 44 points per game as well as 545 yards per game. Those statistics are amazing but they teams they have faced weren’t so good. Clemson started the year ranked number 1 and since then has fallen to number 5. They didn’t fall because they were losing, they lost because they weren’t facing many ranked teams. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne have both been playing well as well as most starting wide receivers. On the defensive side, they have 15 interceptions, including one pick-six. When Clemson is playing great, they can be one of the scariest teams in the nation. South Carolina has been a mediocre team as they only have one great win which was at Georgia. The Gamecocks have arguably the hardest schedule in the nation as they faced: Alabama, Georgia, Florida and they will be facing Texas A&M as well as Clemson. After starting QB Jake Bently got hurt, Ryan Hilinski stepped in and has proven to coach Muschamp that he can take over. Although having a 4-5 record, the Gamecocks would still like to win 2 out of the final 3 games and play in a bowl game. I don’t think South Carolina has the talent to beat the 5th ranked team in the country, but why not give it a shot and maybe pull off a win just like they did against Georgia.
College Football Playoff Prediction: 1. Alabama 2. Ohio State 3. Clemson 4. LSU