Ohio State Buceyes
By: Kipp Branch
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
It is playoff time once again! The College Football Playoff begins on New Year’s Eve.
Here are my previews and predictions.
The first semifinal on New Year’s Eve has No. 2 Michigan facing off with No. 3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Wolverines are making their second consecutive appearance after having an unbeaten regular season that included a 45-23 drubbing of rival Ohio State.
The Horned Frogs are making their first trip, despite losing to Kansas State in overtime of the Big 12 title game.
TCU is the only team in the history of the CFP to lose a game and not drop in the rankings.
Michigan will look to physically dominate the line of scrimmage, and TCU will try to throw the football led by Heisman runner-up Max Duggan to put up points.
Michigan will have the more talented roster. TCU comes into the contest more battle tested with a series of come from behind wins during the regular season.
Most of the experts believe that Michigan should beat TCU rather easily. Could Michigan be looking past TCU to a UGA or OSU rematch? Time will tell.
TCU must stop Donovan Edwards. Michigan’s sophomore running back had to step in due to the injured Blake Corum. He has totaled more than 400 yards rushing in the past two games, and he has become the Wolverines biggest offensive threat.
If the game is close, TCU could pull the upset. Illinois provided the blueprint that teams must follow to beat Michigan. Michigan struggled in the 19-17 win other them. Match the physicality and force FGs in the redzone.
Prediction: Michigan 28-17.
The second showdown has No. 1 Georgia facing No. 4 Ohio State in the Peach Bowl. The defending champion Bulldogs will have the advantage of playing in the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
UGA is already 2-0 this season in the Benz with blowouts over Oregon and LSU in the SEC title game.
The UGA defense will have to contend with Buckeye’s quarterback C.J. Stroud and some talented wide receivers.
Ohio State was a dominant team all season and have been defined going into this playoff game by one bad second half of football against Michigan.
On the negative side for the Buckeyes, they are banged up. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba will not play, and RB TreVeyon Henderson is having foot surgery and will miss the game. RB Miyan Williams has been banged up as well.
Offensively, C.J. Stroud should still be a threat against a Georgia defense that allowed more than 500 yards passing against LSU. That had to drive Kirby Smart insane.
OSU’s skill people are on par with the offensive skill players that Tennessee had in 2022.
Defensively, OSU got bullied against Michigan and if that repeats in the Peach Bowl then they will not win the contest.
On the Georgia side, the defense must put together a Tennessee like performance in this contest.
Jalen Carter will be the best player on the field for UGA, and he must wreak havoc on the OSU offensive line. Kelee Ringo must play well against Marvin Harrison Jr. Finally, the UGA defense must tackle well.
Offensively, UGA must be balanced and not be stubborn and just run the ball. Stetson Bennett should have a fantastic game.
The UGA OL is better than the OSU DL and that must play out in this contest. Brock Bowers is a match-up nightmare for Ohio State, and the WR group will be as healthy as they have been since the season opener.
This is the best semi-final match-up to date in the College Football Playoff. This should be a fantastic football game.
Prediction: UGA 38-35.
By: Kipp Branch
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Break out the pork chops, black-eyed peas, fried okra, and cornbread which is the traditional New Year’s Day meal in the Branch Family.
The meal will be ready to eat at 12PM on Monday, which is also the best football day of every year.
You also have the College Football Playoff that starts at 5PM that day in Pasadena, California with Georgia and Oklahoma and ending with Alabama and Clemson immediately after in New Orleans.
Under the playoff format you have the two playoff games that rotate between the Sugar, Rose, Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Peach Bowls annually; these are now called the New Years 6 Bowls.
Here are my predictions for the NY6 Bowls.
Cotton Bowl: #5 Ohio State vs. #8 USC
In this matchup you have two conference champions in OSU and USC that got snubbed by the playoff committee in favor of a one loss non-conference champion in Alabama.
Both teams will come to Dallas with a chip on it’s shoulder. I personally thought OSU would get in the playoff over Alabama if the committee was going to put a two loss Auburn team in the playoff. Which would have happened if the Tigers would have beat UGA in the SEC title game.
I think OSU has something to prove in this game and the Buckeyes handle USC pretty easy, 34-20 and Urban Meyer proposes a new playoff system in his postgame presser.
Fiesta Bowl: #9 Penn State vs. #11 Washington
Penn State might be the best team in the Big 10 after blowing the 15 point 4th quarter lead in Columbus against OSU and then sleepwalking into a loss to Michigan State the following week.
I think Penn State will be too physical for the Huskies and they will handle Washington 38-27. James Franklin is about to kick it into high gear in State College, PA.
Orange Bowl: #6 Wisconsin vs. #10 Miami
Former Glynn Academy standout Dee Jay Dallas is named Orange Bowl MVP after he scores 2 TD’s and has 140 yards rushing against the Badgers who will not beat Miami in Miami at the Orange Bowl. Too many athletes and Mark Richt owns Big 10 teams during his coaching career.
Peach Bowl: #7 Auburn vs. #12 UCF
Which Auburn team shows up? The one who beat UGA and Alabama in November or the one who blew a 20 point lead at LSU in October? Is Kerryon healthy? Does Auburn even want to be in Atlanta for the Peach Bowl?
I can guarantee you that UCF is thrilled to be there. If Auburn is motivated to play this game they win.
I think Auburn’s defense will be ready to play and the Tigers find a way to win 27-21. If Auburn comes out flat then look out for the upset, which I would be thrilled to see.
Rose Bowl: #2 Oklahoma vs. #3 Georgia
Oklahoma has the Heisman winner in Baker Mayfield at QB. UGA has the best defensive player in the country in Roquan Smith. What gives here?
For UGA to win they must control the clock and line of scrimmage with the running game and that will keep Mayfield on the sidelines.
The Sooners will score points but I think UGA gets enough stops and wins 38-34 and Nick Chubb is named Rose Bowl MVP with 175 yards and 3 TD’s, and will eventually have his #27 retired in Athens.
Sugar Bowl: #1 Clemson vs. #4 Alabama
Nick Saban lobbied to get the Tide in this year’s playoff and it is going to pay off.
Clemson’s DL is better than a couple of NFL teams and points in this game will be at a premium; so this one will come down to another heart stopping drive in the final minute with Jalen Hurts leading his team to victory 20-17 and being named Sugar Bowl MVP.
Georgia vs. Alabama in Atlanta for the NC on January 8th. Oh, my goodness what will the ticket prices be?
By: JJ Lanier
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Let me start by saying that I have absolutely no issue with Alabama receiving the fourth and final spot in the College Football Playoffs.
It’s not so much because I think the Tide deserve to be in the playoffs, but rather because of this lesson I learned at the age of 14; if you don’t want to be left out of something then don’t give them a reason to leave you out.
In this instance, both Alabama and Ohio State gave the committee reasons not to be chosen as that fourth team. Because of that I would’ve been fine with either of those teams making in.
The issue I have isn’t with who made the playoffs, it’s with the system itself. And no, I’m not listening to the Danny Kanell “Everybody is sucking at the SEC teet” greatest hits that he brings out this time of year.
Most everyone was pleased to get rid of the BCS because it didn’t allow for any subjectivity, so now we have a process that is almost completely subjective.
The guidelines with which the committee follows are reminiscent of a Jackson Pollack painting, they just throw whatever criteria they decide to use that particular season and voilà, by the end of the year they have four teams and a playoff.
One of the things I hate the most is that only the Power 5 conferences truly have a shot at making the playoffs. I have no idea how Central Florida would contend with Clemson in a opening round game, but I’m sure nobody gave the Coastal Carolina baseball team a second thought last year, until they won the College World Series.
And please don’t tell me teams like UCF need to schedule better out of conference games either. Did you not hear the all knowing and powerful Nick Saban talk about P5 schools only playing other P5 schools? No legit playoff contender wants to schedule someone like the Knights; if you win you were supposed to; if you lose it could all but end your playoff hopes.
There’s just something wrong with a competition that basically excludes half of participants before it even begins.
They also need to figure out something with conference championships, too. As I mentioned, under the current rules I have no issue with Alabama being in the playoffs.
However, those rules are stupid if a team that didn’t even participate in their conference title game, makes it the final four.
Notice I’m not talking about a team that loses in their conference title game, but rather a team that doesn’t even get there. The fact it’s happened two years in a row makes me trust this process about as much as I’d trust a male politician at a high school prom.
The solution is simple, if you don’t make it to the conference title game you don’t make it to the college football playoffs. I know that can be harsh when you’re looking at a team like Alabama this year, who’s only lost happens to be within the conference, but timing is everything.
You think Georgia’s in the playoffs if they win that first meeting with Auburn, but lose by 23 in the rematch? Possibly, but I doubt it.
Of course, I’ll end up watching all three of the games, which is exactly what the NCAA is counting on. So, they win yet again and it’s likely nothing will change.
Sorry UCF, I really did try my best.