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Predicting the 2019 College Football Playoff

Is this the year Alabama falls?

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Cohn:

Semifinals:

No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 Oklahoma

No. 2 Clemson over No. 3 Michigan

National Championship: Alabama over Clemson, 31-17

There’s a few things that are true about January. A lot of people dieting, a blizzard throughout the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and Alabama v. Clemson.

I’m on the same page with a lot of what Matt O’Neall says below, mostly that I struggle to not pick these two programs to make the playoff until I actually see them not make the playoff. Nobody’s better than Dabo and Saban, and I’ll keep believing in them until I shouldn’t.

On Michigan, I said this in the Big Ten preview, but I feel like it’s their year. Also, Kyler Murray makes the most of his one chance at Oklahoma before heading to a professional baseball career, and he carries Oklahoma in a fairly weak Big 12, despite a lot of turnover from last year, including the Bakeshow.

Michael Berns:

Semifinals

No. 1 Clemson over No. 4 Washington

No. 2 Wisconsin over No. 3 Alabama

National Championship: Clemson over Wisconsin, 38-20

I seriously believe this Clemson team could be one of the best college football teams of my lifetime (I’m 29), up there with the likes of USC 2004/2005, Texas 2005 and even the Miami Hurricanes of 2001. I’ve never seen a defensive line unit as loaded, as talented and as unstoppable as the 4-headed monster of Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant. All four of those players could be starters in the NFL this season, but instead they’ll be wreaking havoc on the ACC. Clemson will be favored in every game it plays this season, and for good reason.

I think Wisconsin wins the Big Ten, Washington the Pac-12 and Alabama the SEC in what is a relatively down year in the Southeastern Conference. Wisconsin’s defense will be just as good as it was a year ago, and its offense is smart and experienced enough to control games by controlling the clock. Clemson is just too good and is turning into Alabama — Clemson just has far more returning players on defense compared to the ‘Tide in 2018. Clemson has a perfect season, though that early road game against Texas A&M could be its toughest on the schedule.

Raul Rodriguez

Semifinals:

No. 4 Ohio State over No. 1 Clemson, 38-31

No. 2 Alabama over No. 3 Michigan, 21-10

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama, 31-30.

This will be one of those years where a team that fails to win its own division wins the national title. This time, Ohio State, not Alabama will be the team. The 4-seed Buckeyes will get matched up with Clemson in the Orange Bowl. After a month listening to the media tell them they can’t beat Clemson, the Buckeyes come out on fire and upset the Tigers. The combination of Dwayne Haskins and Paris Campbell through the air as well JK Dobbins and Mike Weber on the ground will be too much for Clemson’s vaunted Defense.

In the other semifinal, Bama squares off with Michigan in the Cotton Bowl. The Tide out-muscle the Wolverines in a defensive struggle.

Then, in the championship game, Ohio State pulls out a last second win over Alabama to give Urban (maybe?) his fourth (sure!) national title and to give the Big Ten offseason bragging rights over the SEC. Buckeye fans then spend the entire offseason calling into the Paul Finnebaum show reminding him of the Buckeye’s victory and 11 Warriors will continue to sell “Through the Heart of the South” T-shirts.

Mark Schaer:

Semifinals:

No. 4 Ohio State over No. 1 Alabama

No. 3 Georgia over No. 2 Clemson

National Championship: Georgia over Ohio State, 38-34

A one-loss Ohio State team will sneak into the playoff after what Buckeye fans thought should’ve been their opportunity last season. Nonetheless, Clemson and Alabama will be favorites after an undefeated season, and Georgia will earn the 3-seed with an impressive showing behind QB Jake Fromm.

Alabama is going to falter in the semifinal against Ohio State, likely because Tua Tagovailoa won’t be able to stand up to the pressure like he did last year in the National Championship game. I’m still not sure how that play happened. Regardless, Meyer (potentially) will lead the Buckeyes to the title game where they will run in to Fromm and Co. Unfortunately, that’s the end of the line for Ohio State. Fromm and Kirby Smart are not going to let another opportunity slip away, and the defense will be ready for what will likely be a slightly less dynamic Buckeye offense. Still, it will be a good one to watch. Stay tuned.

Austin Jabs

No. 4 Michigan over No. 1 Alabama

No. 2 Washington over No. 3 Clemson

National Championship: Washington over Michigan 28-18

It has been no secret that I am probably much higher on Michigan than my counterparts this season, and like every Michigan fan I know, the optimism will likely burn me, as they have felt the sting of disappointment for eons now. However, I truly believe the Wolverines have what it takes to make it to the National Championship. That defense is stout and the offense is good enough to make win games.

Washington has a legitimate chance to go undefeated thanks to a bevy of returning starters. Washington should secure the Pac 12’s first College Football Playoff Championship.

Matt O’Neall

No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 Clemson

No. 2 Ohio State over No. 3 Georgia

National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama 31-24

This is really boring I know. From my rudimentary knowledge of football recruiting, it appears that Georgia has gotten every five-star recruit for the past five years and they don’t play Alabama, so they are in. And I’ll start picking Alabama not to make the College Football Playoff when I see it. I really didn’t want to pick Clemson but I ran through their schedule and it seemed super soft. A Lamar Jackson-less Louisville didn’t scare me and Texas A&M and Florida State have both been letdowns as of late and are dealing with new head coaches. I think Urban is quite angry about not being invited to the dance last year so he is going to come at this one with everything he’s got.

Kyle Huisinga

No. 1 Clemson over No. 4 Penn State

No. 3 Washington over No. 2 Georgia

National Championship: Washington over Clemson 21-17

I don’t call myself an expert prognosticator by any means (feel free to call me crazy), but I like the trajectory of these programs going forward, starting in 2018. Penn State might be the biggest “if” here, but I think James Franklin has raised the bar of this program to next-level status. Trace McSorley will post big numbers when healthy, and a relatively soft Big Ten will open the door to a Big Ten Championship and likely birth in the NCAA Semifinal.

Georgia has cleaned up in recruiting the last several years, and with Kirby Smart at the helm, will prove last year was no fluke. Plus, they don’t play Alabama in the regular season, which helps. Clemson is Clemson, a program that has established itself as perennial contenders. Which leaves Washington, which has a stout defense (probably top 3 in the country) and a head coach in Chris Peterson who has proven to be one of the best over the course of the last decade. Give me some new blood.

Sorry Alabama. The Crimson Tide are going to be good. You know they are. Something has to change, right? It won’t be the same every year. This is the year the pattern changes. Clemson and Washington vanquish their semifinal foes, and the defenses play a stout game, forcing Clemson to make a late play. Like Tua Tagovailoa before him, I think Trevor Lawrence gets inserted late and makes the defining moment of the National Championship game, throwing a touchdown pass late to secure the victory.

Ian Gold:

Semifinals

No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 Oklahoma

No. 3 Georgia over No. 2 Ohio State

National Championship: Alabama over Georgia, 35 - 27

Kirby Smart’s ability to lift Georgia so quickly is really amazing, and I don’t think that was a blip on the radar. In a few years we’ll probably be thinking of Georgia similarly to Alabama. At one point it seemed impossible that Miami would ever be dethroned as the No. 1 team, then it was USC, then it was Florida, and now it’s Alabama. Eventually every king falls, and I think Georgia is primed to become the next monster.

But, not quite yet. Bama is still absolutely loaded and if last year’s National Championship was any indication, Tua Tagovailoa is actually the best quarterback on the roster, and he’s going to add to his legacy with a ridiculously prosperous season. The Big Ten was skunked out of last year’s playoff, and I think this year it’s the ACC that gets left out (while Oklahoma beats up on paper defenses in the Big 12).

Matt Rejc:

Semifinals

No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 Georgia

No. 2 Penn State over No. 3 Washington

National Championship: Alabama over Penn State, 41-21

The SEC’s stranglehold on the top rungs of the college football hierarchy will no doubt continue this season. Alabama’s continual presence at the top of the rankings should be challenged within their conference by Kirby Smart’s resurgent Georgia program.

From outside the conference, I think that Penn State’s offense and Washington’s defense stand out as elite individual units. But at the end of the day, I still see Alabama as the most complete team in the country, and I don’t see any other program knocking off Saban and the Tide this season.

Brandon Birkhead:

Semifinals:

No. 1 Clemson over No. 4 Ohio State

No. 3 Georgia over No. 2 Washington

National Championship: Georgia over Clemson, 44-38 (OT)

I’m not sure why, but I just don’t think this is Alabama’s year again, but for that to happen, they need to make the SEC championship and lose. One of the main deficiencies of the college football playoff is Alabama is better off losing a game and not making the SEC Title game, which almost guarantees them one of the four spots. Luckily I’m not too high on Auburn this year and think they lose to both Bama and Georgia in the regular season and making an undefeated or one conference loss Alabama play Georgia in the SEC Championship game and lose. Dear god just please lose. They aren’t gonna to are they? Shit....

Anyways in my dream Georgia makes it out of the SEC and Clemson — that defensive line is porn for coaches — and Washington — seriously the Huskies are always supremely underrated — go undefeated to make the playoff. Ohio State makes it as a 12-1 conference champ with Oklahoma struggling a bit at QB this year and not looking as impressive.

I’d take the team with the best QB of those four teams in Georgia to win it all in a classic national title game. Georgia finally does it and Mark Richt sheds a tear quietly, sitting on the beaches of Coral Gables.