College football playoffs are set. Only four teams make the playoffs to have a chance at hoisting that National Championship trophy. Those four teams are Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and lastly, Alabama. These four college football juggernauts have displayed their case all year long as to why they should be the National Champion. Clemson is looking to defend their 2016 title. Oklahoma is led at the forefront by Heisman-favorite Baker Mayfield as Georgia looks to claim its first title since 1980. Lastly, Alabama is aiming to get revenge on Clemson, looking to capture its fourth title in seven years. New Year’s Day is going to kick off with a bang.
With Deshaun Watson graduating, the Clemson Tigers are exactly where they were just a year ago. Kelly Bryant has assumed the quarterback role for the Tigers, filling in nicely after Watson. The junior QB was mainly efficient this season, only throwing five interceptions compared to his 13 touchdown passes. However, Bryant exemplified his dual threat possibilities. He rushed for 646 yards and added 11 more rushing touchdowns, giving him 24 total touchdowns on the season. However, Bryant and company will have to deal with the second-ranked defense in the nation in Alabama.
Oklahoma possesses the highest scoring offense in the nation, coming into the playoffs with momentum, facing off against Georgia. Baker Mayfield has been a huge reason for the success of the Sooners this season. The Heisman candidate threw for over 4,000 yards and over 40 touchdown passes with only five interceptions. This team depends on him and Oklahoma’s success will be squarely on Mayfield’s shoulders. The Austin, Texas native looks to carve up a stout Georgia defense that has only allowed 19 offensive touchdowns. This will be a classic matchup of power offense against power defense. One saying that always holds true is that defense wins championships.
On the other side, Georgia squares off against the Sooners with an unprecedented year from the Bulldogs. Georgia’s defense has been the storyline for the entire season, being a top 10 defense in the country. They are second in passing yards allowed, third in scoring defense and overall fourth in the nation in total defense. To be successful in the Southeastern Conference, a team must have an outstanding defense and Georgia showcases that. On the offensive side, Nick Chubb has displayed his importance from the backfield, rushing for over 1,000 yards along with 13 touchdowns this year. He provides himself as a nice compliment to QB Jake Fromm so the offense stays balanced. With this SEC-Big 12 matchup on New Year’s Day in the Rose Bowl, one will await the Clemson-Alabama winner.
Alabama is always in the conversation to be involved in the National College Football Playoff. Head coach Nick Saban holds his players to a certain pedigree of winning and thus the Crimson Tide has become a college football dynasty. Even though Alabama lost to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, they snuck in at No. 4 and face Clemson in the Sugar Bowl as well as the College Football Playoff Semifinals. The Crimson Tide is no ordinary four seed, which is genuinely dangerous. Injuries plagued their defense all year long but now with the extra rest, Alabama will mostly be at full strength. Alabama is prided on their defense, which was second in total defense, third in rushing defense and first in scoring defense. In addition to Georgia, Alabama mainly leans on their defense with dual-threat QB Jalen Hurts making plays on offense.
These four teams earned their right to play for a national championship and a victor will be crowned in January. Two offensively-minded teams, Clemson and Oklahoma, and two defensively minded teams, Georgia and Alabama, have differing approaches, but the defenses and quarterbacks will be the difference makers. Clemson and Alabama are squaring off for the third year in a row in the College Football Playoff and Oklahoma and Georgia are the newcomers this year.