Week 12’s results brought the biggest shift in the rankings yet. Both Oregon and Michigan State lost in embarassing fashion, eliminating both from College Football Playoff contention. With one more week left in the regular season, the Playoff picture is becoming clearer. With that being said, here are my current picks for the College Football Playoff.
#1 Georgia Bulldogs (11-0)
Much like Alabama’s game last week, it’s hard to make much out of Georgia’s 56-7 win over Charleston Southern. Three different players threw touchdown passes for the Bulldogs. Zamir White led a Bulldogs run game that had 233 yards on the ground. Their nation-leading defense was as good as ever. They recorded four sacks and held the Buccaneers to 126 total yards. Georgia lowered its FBS-best points per game allowed to 7.5. They will have another tune-up game next week before taking on Alabama in the SEC Championship. Georgia should be a lock for the College Football Playoff no matter what.
Who’s Next: vs. Georgia Tech (3-8)
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1)
Wow! What a performance by the Buckeyes. Ohio State dominated all aspects of the game on their way to a 56-7 victory over Michigan State. They blitzed the Spartans from the get-go. CJ Stroud threw for six touchdowns in the first half and had only three incompletions. Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba all had stellar games. What might have been most impressive about the win was the play of their defense. They held running back Kenneth Walker III to only 25 yards and the Spartans to 224 total yards. If their defense continues to play like that, watch out. The Buckeyes have solidified themselves as the second-best team in the country. One final regular season test awaits them at Michigan.
Who’s Next: at Michigan (10-1)
#3 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1)
Bama survived a scare at home to the Razorbacks and clinched a spot in the SEC Championship. Bryce Young threw for a school-record 559 yards and led the Tide to a 42-35 victory. Young threw for five touchdowns, three of which went to star wide receiver Jameson Williams. If Alabama wants to knock off Georgia and make a run in the playoffs, Young will need to play as he did on Saturday. Bama’s run game is still not great, but it will be less of a factor if Young keeps playing like he is. A matchup with an Auburn team that has won two of the last four matchups in the series awaits them next week.
Who’s Next: at Auburn (6-5)
#4 Cincinnati Bearcats (11-0)
With Oregon’s loss, Cincinnati finally moves into the top four. Cincinnati also played its most complete game of the season in a 48-14 drubbing of SMU. The Mustangs came into the game averaging north of 40 points per game but weren’t able to reach the endzone until late in the fourth quarter. On offense, quarterback Desmond Ridder had a great game highlighted by a 40-yard touchdown run that really broke the game open. He also added three touchdowns through the air. The Bearcats finally look like a team that deserves to be in the top four, and they are ranked there deservingly so. Two more wins by Cincy should see them become the first Group of 5 team to make the College Football Playoff.
Who’s Next: at East Carolina (7-4)
#5 Michigan Wolverines (10-1)
Michigan moved closer to potentially making its first College Football Playoff with a 59-18 thrashing of Maryland. Quarterback Cade McNamara passed 259 yards and two scores. Running back Donovan Edwards had a breakout game. He had 10 catches for 177 and a score. The Wolverines run game wasn’t as dominant as it has been all season, but that didn’t matter because McNamara had his way through the air. If Michigan is going to have success down the stretch they will need Hassan Haskins and the rest of their run game to control the game. They now take on a team that has had their number for a long time. Michigan has only beaten Ohio State three times in the 21st century.
Who’s Next: vs. Ohio State (10-1)
#6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1)
Everyone wrote the Irish off when they lost to Cincinnati in week 5. Since then, the Irish have done nothing but win. Their 55-0 win over Georgia Tech was their sixth in a row. Quarterback Jack Coan threw for two scores and they totaled 212 yards on the ground. After some early-season struggles, their defense has become truly dominant. Even without star safety Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame has only given up nine points during the past three games combined. While the Irish are in the thick of the College Football Playoff race right now, they will need some major help to get in. Without a conference title game to potentially boost their resume, they will need to rely on teams around them in the rankings losing.
Who’s Next: at Stanford (3-8)