Breaking down highly anticipated weekend in CFB

Christopher Bean, Assistant Sports Editor

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It’s early December and that means Santa Claus is coming to town soon. It also means the biggest and most unpredictable weekend in College Football is upon us, Championship Saturday.

With every conference championship being played this weekend, playoff implications are on the line for major programs. Currently, Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Georgia all sit in the top four and hold a spot in the College Football Playoff. Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor are all outside looking in, but they have a chance to make a statement this weekend in their conference title game and will need help across the board.

We will start with who is in the playoff regardless of what happens this weekend. Ohio State and LSU have both locked up a spot in the playoff. The Buckeyes and Tigers had flawless 12-0 regular seasons. OSU just demolished in a second year in-a-row in a 56-27 win, and defeated No. 8 Penn State the week before in their closest game of the year in a 28-17 win. First year head coach Matt Day has picked up right where Urban Meyer left off, and will enter his first playoff regardless of how they do against the Big Ten West winners, Wisconsin. For LSU, they are led by Ed Orgeron. Coach O’s team has defeated four top 10 teams in the nation: Texas, Florida, Auburn and Alabama, the most by any program in the country. Not to mention, their soon to be Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrows has completed 80 percent of his passes in those games. LSU could pick up their fifth top 10 win with a win against Georgia and knock them out of playoff contention.

There is one more undefeated team left in the nation, and that is the defending National Championships, the Clemson Tigers. Now, you may be asking why they aren’t a lock like LSU and OSU considering they haven’t loss in two full seasons. It’s for the simple fact that they haven’t played anyone. They defeated No. 12 Texas A&M 24-10 in Week 2, but the Aggies finished with a 7-5 record and outside of the top 25. However, the Tigers have manhandled everyone on their schedule except their 21-20 win over UNC. They will get to face a top 25 opponent against a 9-3 Virginia team in the ACC Championship. A win and Clemson’s in, a loss and that’s where it gets complicated for them. A loss doesn’t guarantee that they miss an opportunity, but they would need a lot to happen. They would need Georgia to lose in the SEC Championship game, the Utah Utes to lose to Oregon and Baylor to defeat Oklahoma, and hope the committee sees their 12-1 record better than Baylor’s 12-1 record. This would be tough considering Baylor would have a much better win than the Tigers do on the whole year. But all of this can be ignored if the Tigers take care of business against the Cavaliers on Saturday.

Next is the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have been in the top four of the standings since Alabama lost to LSU. All Georgia needs to do is win and they’re in, however it’s not that simple for them because they play LSU in the SEC Championship. It’s not the first time Georgia has been in this situation. As a matter of fact, the Bulldogs were in the same situation last year when they lost to Alabama 35-28 to miss the playoffs. They are led by junior quarterback Jake Fromm, who was their QB in 2017 when they lost in the National Championship game in overtime to Alabama and helped them win 11 more games last year. However, they will need to overcome something they couldn’t last year, and that’s win an SEC Championship just like they did in 2017. It’s simple for Georgia on paper: win and they win, lose and they will miss the playoff for the second straight year.

Now it gets really complicated with the teams outside looking in. First, we have the Utah Utes, the best team with a chance to make the CFP that is on the outside. The 11-1 Utes play Oregon for the Pac 12 Championship on Friday. If the Utes make it, they have to win and they need either Clemson or Georgia to lose in their respective title games. However, if Utah wins and both Clemson and Georgia win, the Utes won’t have a better resume than those teams, and certainty won’t have a better resume than LSU if they happen to lose to Georgia. But if the Tigers or Bulldogs lose and the Utes win, the Pac 12 will have a team in the playoff for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Next are the Oklahoma Sooners and the Baylor Bears who both head in with an 11-1 record into the Big 12 Championship game on Saturday. Both teams matched up a couple of weeks ago in Waco, and the Bears pulled an Atlanta Hawks and blew a 28-3 lead and lost 34-31 to the Sooners. In order for the Sooners to make it, they need to beat the Bears again and need Utah and Clemson/ Georgia to lose. The same goes for the Bears; they need to win their matchup against the Sooners and have the Utes lose and the Tigers/the Bulldogs lose. Neither team can win and expect to get in. They won’t even be the first team out if Utah wins.

Well there it is, how the top seven teams in the country can make it in. It seems easy now but will be a very tense Saturday for each team fighting for limited playoff spots. What teams will hold under pressure and which teams will fold? We will see soon come this weekend.

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