On Sunday morning the college football playoff committee announced the College Football Playoff field with Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State being the four teams selected. There was plenty of drama this weekend with notable playoff implications, including USC’s stunning loss to Utah in the PAC-12 Championship and TCU’s overtime loss in the Big 12 Championship that set up this final four. With the four-team field set now, it’s time to take a look at each team.
Georgia has been the most consistent team this season, and they have dominated every game this season aside from a close victory against Missouri in October. Quarterback Stetson Bennett has continued to command the Bulldogs offense this whole season. Bennett’s 68.1% completion rate is one of the highest in college football, and he will look to continue that against an Ohio State defense that has struggled with passing defense all season.
The Bulldogs also possess plenty of talent in the ground game with the trio of Kendall Milton, Daijun Edwards and Kenny McIntosh all having over 500 rushing yards this season. In the receiving game, the Bulldogs are led by tight end Brock Bowers, who has 726 yards and six touchdowns on the season. Ladd McConkey has also developed as a reliable option at wide receiver as well.
In last Saturday’s win against LSU, the Bulldogs showed why they are the top-ranked team in the country, putting up 50 points against a formidable LSU defense. It’s going to take a lot to stop Georgia from winning another national title this season, and anything other than a repeat title for Kirby Smart’s team should be considered a disappointment.
Although the Wolverines made the playoffs last season, they flew under the radar somewhat this year. The Wolverines, however, have embraced the underdog role this season, and their regular season culminated in a 45-23 drubbing of Ohio State in Columbus. On Saturday, the Wolverines took care of business against Purdue to complete their first 13-0 record in program history.
The key to the Wolverines’ success at the end of the year has been the play of quarterback J.J. McCarthy. In the win against the Buckeyes, McCarthy had some huge plays and finished the day with 263 yards and three touchdowns. The Wolverines will need McCarthy to continue his hot streak into the playoffs if they want to have a chance at winning the national title.
Running back Donovan Edwards has also carried the Wolverines as of late with over 400 rushing yards in just the last two games. With star running back Blake Corum receiving season-ending surgery, Edwards must continue to be a work horse for the Wolverines in their backfield.
Although the offense has stepped up as of late for the Wolverines, the defense has been the team’s staple this season. The Wolverines rank third in the FBS in total defense, and they have allowed just 277 yards per game and only 4.45 yards per play.
The Horned Frogs come into the playoffs as the biggest underdogs after losing the Big 12 Championship game Saturday to Kansas State. Despite the loss, this year has been a year to remember for the Horned Frogs. Quarterback Max Duggan has been the heart and soul of this team, and has thrown for over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdown passes. Duggan’s season will likely earn him a trip to New York for the Heisman trophy, and if TCU is going to have any chance against Michigan, they will need Duggan to have a career day.
Running back Kendre Miller has also been a spark for the Horned Frogs on offense this season, as he has averaged 6.2 yards per carry and has totaled over 1,300 yards on the ground this season.
No one is giving TCU a chance against Michigan in the CFP semifinals, but the Horned Frogs are playing with house money at this point. Although they will have a chance to prove themselves in the program’s first ever playoff appearance, the Horned Frogs’ defense must play better than they did against Kansas State if they are going to pull off an upset of Michigan.
Ohio State has arguably had the rockiest of roads to the CFP, and without USC’s loss on Friday night, they most likely would not have made the playoffs. Although the Buckeyes breezed through the majority of their regular season games, they hit a major road bump in their stunning home loss to Michigan at the end of the season. In that game, the Michigan offense gashed the Buckeyes for 252 yards on the ground, despite not having star running back Blake Corum.
Despite the stunning loss, C.J. Stroud and the Buckeyes will have a chance to redeem themselves as heavy underdogs against Georgia. If the Buckeyes are going to compete, their defense is going to have to make a complete 180 from the Michigan game, which will no doubt be a challenge against a Georgia offense that ranks seventh in the FBS in total offense.
In the Michigan game, the Ohio State offense let the team down as well by only scoring three points in the entirety of the second half. Although that was uncharacteristic for an Ohio State offense that averages nearly 500 yards per game, they will face another stiff test against a Georgia defense that led the SEC in yards allowed per game.