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Cottam’s Corner: College Football Playoff Preview

Zach Cottam, Reporter

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Sunday morning, the College Playoff Committee revealed the four teams that would be competing for the National Championship in January. The committee announced that the Alabama Crimson Tide, Clemson Tigers, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Washington Huskies would be the fourth team to fight for the third Playoff trophy.

The Crimson Tide finished the season 13-0, and undefeated in SEC conference play. Alabama won the SEC East and beat Florida in the conference championship. Alabama outscored their four non-conference opponents 169-19. Alabama held all of their opponents this year under 17 points except for Ole Miss and Arkansas. The starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts, is currently fourth in the Heisman race as a true freshman. Alabama is the team to beat, as every analyst has them as their pick to win it all this year.

The Tigers finished the season at 12-1, with one loss to Pitt in ACC conference play. They beat Virginia Tech to win the ACC and complete their fifth straight season with over 10 wins. Clemson spent the season rotating between blowing opponents out and winning shootouts. Clemson’s senior Quarterback, DeShaun Watson, won the 2016 Johnny Unitas award and is predicted to get drafted in the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The next two spots were met with plenty of mystery and criticism. There were five teams fighting for the bottom two spots before Championship weekend: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Washington. Wisconsin lost to both Michigan and Ohio State, Penn State had beat Ohio State earlier in the season, Michigan had beaten Penn State, and Michigan had beaten Penn State. So as far as head-to-head goes, the committee was stuck up a creek without a paddle. When Ohio State beat Michigan in rivalry week, that sent Penn State to the Big Ten championship against Wisconsin. Wisconsin had an early 21 point lead, but ended up falling to Penn State, crowning Penn State as the Big Ten champs. Washington beat Colorado to win the Pac-12, and Ohio State and Michigan enjoyed an extra week off. It all came down to the committee’s choice, as everyone in sports disagreed on who should fill the last two spots. On Sunday, the committee picked THE Ohio State and Washington to fill the slots.

The Ohio State Buckeyes finished at 11-1 on the season, with an 8-1 record in the Big Ten East. They finished the season in third place in the Big Ten, behind Wisconsin and Penn State. By Beating Michigan on rivalry week, Ohio State played themselves by not being eligible for the Big Ten Championship, due to Penn State’s better record. Many people saw Ohio State as being the only team that could beat Alabama, so them dropping to the third seed challenges that idea. On the other hand, many thought that Penn State’s conference championship and their win in head-to-head against Ohio State should launch them to replace Ohio State at the third seed.

And with the final spot in the College Playoffs, fans around the country were outraged with the selection of Washington. Many thought Penn State or Michigan should’ve gotten the fourth seed instead of Washington. However, Washington ran the table in the FPI’s second toughest division in college football, the Pac-12 North. Their only loss in an 12 win season came against the 9th seed Southern Cal, who turned on the jets half way through the season. Washington beat Colorado 41-10 in the Pac-12 conference championship, and QB Jake Browning is currently in the top three for the Heisman race.

For the third straight year, the fourth seed has been disputed between a few teams, and we’ll see how correct the Playoff Committee got it this year. Can Washington upset Alabama, and how will the shootout between Ohio State and Clemson work out?

Notable Bowls Schedule (all times in Eastern Standard Time):
Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl: (4) Washington vs. (1) Alabama 12/31/16 – 3 pm
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: (3) Ohio State vs. (2) Clemson 12/31/16 – 7 pm
Valero Alamo Bowl: (12) Oklahoma State vs. (10) Colorado 12/29/16 – 9 pm
Capital One Orange Bowl: (6) Michigan vs. (11) Florida State 12/30/16 – 8 pm
Goodyear Cotton Bowl: (15) Western Michigan vs. (8) Wisconsin 1/2/17 – 1 pm
Rose Bowl: (9) USC vs. (5) Penn State 1/2/17 – 5 pm
Allstate Sugar Bowl: (14) Auburn vs. (7) Oklahoma 1/2/17 – 8:30 pm

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Cottam’s Corner: College Football Playoff Preview