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Final weekend’s championship-a-palooza gave us loads of thrilling motion between marquee groups, and the upcoming bowls and four-team Faculty Soccer Playoff will present extra the place that got here from.
However what if we spiced it up just a little and went to an eight-team area? It will add only one sport to the very best groups’ slates and would imply added star energy and one other spherical of thrilling matchups. It additionally doubtless would imply megabucks for a sport on the pinnacle of its reputation.
Who would not need to go eight deep and see if there are any Cinderellas able to strive on slippers? The way in which this 12 months’s playoff seems, there are three no-doubt groups and only one upstart in Oklahoma, which has an explosive sufficient offense to make issues attention-grabbing.
Maybe it is not a fail-safe to maintain the banter away about who belongs, however it will be plenty of enjoyable. Let’s examine how a hypothetical eight-team playoff would shake out.
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The Wisconsin Badgers proved they had been rather more than a token opponent for Ohio State in final weekend’s Huge Ten Championship Recreation by constructing a 14-point benefit earlier than a second-half onslaught gave the Buckeyes a snug win.
Nonetheless, they did sufficient to remain on the cusp of the playoff dialog. On this situation, they might have been the final crew in relatively than the Huge Ten consultant within the Rose Bowl.
Their reward would not have been an enviable process, although, having to play high-powered LSU and quarterback Joe Burrow. Regardless that the Badgers have plenty of defensive star energy, they do not have the offensive horses to maintain up.
As soon as Ohio State discovered the blitz packages and rolled quarterback Justin Fields out of the pocket, the Buckeyes opened issues up and ran away from the Badgers. It will be even worse towards the Bayou Bengals’ passing assault.
Wisconsin does not have sufficient of an air assault to match LSU level for level. Burrow would get going quickly sufficient, and most groups do not respect versatile operating again Clyde Edwards-Helaire sufficient.
The Badgers might have stored it shut for a half, however the Tigers advance on this situation with a 38-23 win, getting some big-stage payback for Wisconsin’s 16-14 victory over them the final time they performed in September 2016.
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Georgia was uncovered within the SEC Championship Recreation towards LSU’s explosive offense, and it is laborious to examine Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts would do a lot worse.
Sure, the Bulldogs have a terrific protection that sat atop of the SEC for a lot of the season, however the unit cannot do all of it, and the opposite facet of the ball has skilled myriad points in offensive coordinator James Coley’s first season.
Although the Sooners have not been constantly dynamic on offense, making far too many errors, they have the expertise and expertise to make up for it. With Hurts on the helm, this unit can rating in a rush, and UGA must gradual yet one more elite steady of receivers.
You’d assume Georgia would have the ability to put up factors on Oklahoma’s suspect protection, however coordinator Alex Grinch has the Sooners enjoying a lot better, and with Georgia’s points, exposing OU would not be a given.
Sure, having a wholesome D’Andre Swift would matter for the Dawgs, and the operating again’s shoulder would doubtless be superb by the point this sport can be performed. In the long run, although, Oklahoma has too many offensive weapons, and Georgia does not have sufficient.
With UGA’s injury-riddled receiving corps with out Lawrence Cager (ankle) and having misplaced Dominick Blaylock (torn ACL) within the convention title sport, there aren’t sufficient perimeter stars for quarterback Jake Fromm, who was having a mediocre season anyway.
Oklahoma wins 30-23 and advances to the semifinal.
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Oregon is the very best crew that did not get into this 12 months’s CFP, making this probably the most intriguing video games of our quarterfinals.
The Geese screwed up towards Arizona State and had been rightly overlooked of this 12 months’s area, however coach Mario Cristobal’s crew has the studs on each side of the ball to do harm had it earned a spot.
On this scenario, it is in. Sadly for the Geese, they run into Dabo Swinney’s scorching-hot Clemson Tigers.
Not solely are Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross and Co. enjoying at a particularly excessive degree on offense, however the Tigers protection can be elite. It is laborious to consider they misplaced a lot NFL expertise from the entrance seven and are nonetheless this good, however they’re.
The Tigers lead the nation in scoring protection and complete protection.
Therefore, the Geese’ playoff foray can be short-lived, as Clemson would have its means on each side of the ball. Defensively, Cristobal’s crew may grasp for some time, however the Tigers have too many stars to be held in test for lengthy.
Lawrence is on one other planet, and Burrow is the one pro-style passer who’s enjoying higher than him. He would outduel Justin Herbert, and Clemson would advance with a 38-28 win.
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On the underside facet of our eight-team bracket sit the Ohio State Buckeyes, who confirmed flaws within the Huge Ten Championship Recreation towards Wisconsin.
In fact, the Buckeyes additionally confirmed they will flex their appreciable muscle whereas trailing, and being examined presently of 12 months isn’t a nasty factor. All that sport proved is Justin Fields can battle by way of tough conditions and lead his crew to victories.
There’s sufficient pro-level expertise on each side of the ball to make Ohio State harmful, although LSU is rightfully ranked first.
On this situation, the Buckeyes would get a troublesome first-round matchup with Baylor, which misplaced simply twice—to Oklahoma, and in heartbreaking trend every time. What coach Matt Rhule has executed with the Bears, rebuilding this system after the shameful Artwork Briles tenure, is miraculous.
With a wholesome Charlie Brewer at quarterback—one thing they didn’t have within the Huge 12 Championship Recreation—the Bears may make noise in the event that they acquired one other shot at profitable all of it.
Sadly for Rhule’s crew, it does not have the offensive horses to experience with Ohio State. The Buckeyes are robust on each side, and, as with LSU towards its Huge Ten counterpart, the expertise discrepancy would play out within the second half.
This quarterfinal showdown would wind up lopsided, as Ohio State simply would advance with a 33-17 win. That is only a horrible matchup for the Bears.
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Sadly for these in search of upsets, the eight-team playoff would produce the identical closing 4, primarily based solely on matchups.
Oregon might need had an opportunity if it performed a crew comparable to Oklahoma and even Ohio State, however the Geese cannot grasp with the high-flying assaults of LSU and Clemson.
So, this turns into a query of what’s going to occur when LSU matches up with Oklahoma, and it is tough to examine the Sooners staying shut.
The factor about coach Ed Orgeron’s crew is the offense is so dynamic that there have been a number of video games the place the Tigers seemingly took the evening off on protection and it did not matter. (Bear in mind Ole Miss?) The Bayou Bengals will rating as a lot as they need towards Oklahoma’s protection.
Whereas Grinch has that unit enjoying higher, the Sooners have not seen something like Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. And Terrace Marshall Jr. had a pair of touchdowns towards Georgia within the SEC Championship Recreation? That is not even truthful.
Throw in Edwards-Helaire, and the Sooners haven’t got solutions.
Oklahoma will rating due to the dynamic Hurts in his school finale, however it’s tough to examine it being sufficient. This has all of the markings of being a blast to observe, however LSU has greater than sufficient firepower to win 48-34.
If this sport stays under 75 factors, it’s going to be a shock.
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That is the primary playoff showdown all people needs to see, and it will likely be an distinctive one.
If Clemson is to repeat as nationwide champion, the Tigers should earn it towards Ohio State and LSU.
Fortunately for Dabo Swinney’s crew, it’s battle-tested from final 12 months’s championship run. It additionally must be well-rested after hardly breaking a sweat all through the final three-quarters of the common season.
These are the 2 most full groups, with elite playmakers on offense and protection. Whereas the Buckeyes have two Heisman Trophy candidates (defensive finish Chase Younger and quarterback Justin Fields), Clemson is simply as proficient.
Ohio State’s J.Okay. Dobbins and Clemson’s Travis Etienne will present a pleasant subplot, as arguably the nation’s high two runners go head-to-head towards elite defenses.
The one crew that may match Clemson’s defensive expertise is Ohio State too.
LSU has school soccer’s high offense, however these groups are evenly matched throughout the board, and this might be a traditional. It virtually actually shall be higher than the final time these groups met following the 2016 season in a 31-Zero Clemson laugher.
These powerhouses will commerce physique blow after physique blow, however Lawrence has been there earlier than and made large performs on the most important stage, so he is a secure guess to make yet one more massive play than Fields and take his crew to the title sport.
Clemson will win a terrific matchup 31-28 and advance to play LSU.
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Do not buy into Swinney’s whining. Clemson will get loads of respect, and also you’d higher consider Orgeron and the Bayou Bengals will know what they’re in retailer for within the title sport.
The lean of the Tigers must be electrifying.
Clemson’s protection is healthier than LSU’s, however Orgeron’s crew confirmed that coordinator Dave Aranda’s unit can play at a excessive degree in an enormous sport final week. In fact, the Tigers are in a unique stratosphere than Georgia on that facet of the ball.
LSU’s digital residence sport in New Orleans would be the difference-maker.
Sure, it is all new for the Bayou Bengals, who have not performed for a nationwide title since they misplaced to Alabama in 2011 within the so-called “Game of the Century” and have not received one since 2007. However after every little thing that is been thrown at Burrow, he appears to get higher when the video games get larger.
So, whereas Clemson might be the extra full crew, LSU has the very best participant who will influence the sport in a much bigger means. If it feels like I am making an attempt to persuade myself of this, it is as a result of it may go both means.
LSU will play higher defensively than it has a lot of the season. Elite security Grant Delpit will get an opportunity to relaxation his nagging ankle harm, and the dynamic duo of Kristian Fulton and Derek Stingley at cornerback will make issues robust on Lawrence, Higgins and Ross. And LSU’s secondary is only a bit higher than Clemson’s.
Additionally Burrow proved he can get past the tackles, prolong the play and shrug off a move rush towards Georgia. He’ll do the identical on this sport.
This might be one other traditional, however in entrance of what must be a house crowd, the No. 1 seed may have a bonus. LSU will win a battle 38-34.