The 2021 College Football Playoffs are upon us

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On New Year’s Eve, billions of people gather round to celebrate the new year, but college football fans will gather for one of the biggest days of the sport: the College Football Playoffs. At Number 1 is the Alabama Crimson Tide. They are no stranger to the CFP, as it is essentially a seasonal invitational for them. At the Number 2 spot resides new blood with the Michigan Wolverines. They come off their first ever Big 10 Championship win, and enter the playoffs for the first time ever.

Next, at number 3 is a team who has not won the National Championship in over four decades are the Georgia Bulldogs, who had their hopes and dreams crushed about a month ago in the SEC Championship to Alabama, ending their undefeated record. But their season is still alive and well. Finally, and most historically, at the Number 4 spot is the Cincinnati Bearcats. They are the first Group of 5 team ever to make the playoffs. Their mere presence is a historic feat. Four teams are in, but only one can win it all.

Barring any and all Covid cases, the semifinals are a go for New Year’s Eve.

Alabama Crimson Tide VS Cincinnati Bearcats

The first game of the day is between perennial powerhouse Alabama, and the mighty underdogs Cincinnati. The largest dynasty CFB has ever seen versus a team that isn’t even from a Power 5 conference. A win for Cincinnati would rock the college football world forever. The SEC and Alabama would forever be knocked down a peg. That’s not to diss Cincinnati, but the fact of the matter is, very few people genuinely believe Cincinnati has a chance. They are the biggest point-spread underdogs in this entire bowl season, sitting at a 14-point underdog.

Cincinnati is the only undefeated team remaining in the country, but most people would be quick to point out that they play inferior competition against their fellow Group of 5 teams. However, they did go to South Bend and knock off Notre Dame, who currently resides at 5th in the country. But something that goes overlooked when citing that big win, is the fact that Notre Dame’s starting quarterback Jack Coan was out with an ankle injury. Cincinnati’s win is still impressive, but they beat a 2nd string QB at South Bend. Now they play a fully loaded Alabama team, who is much better than Notre Dame.

If Alabama plays how they did against Georgia in the SEC Championship, then they are going to thrash Cincinnati, and this may be the first and last time we ever see a Go5 team in a 4-team playoff. Led by Heisman winner Bryce Young, and of course the legend himself, Nick Saban, Alabama enters this game hungry for yet another National Championship berth. It’s hard to see Alabama losing this game, but if they do, it would be one of the most momentous days in College Football history. The whole landscape as we know it would change forever. A Group of 5 team not only made the playoffs, but they knocked off the greatest dynasty this sport has ever seen in the playoffs.

Frankly, it’s hard to envision Cincinnati pulling it off. Alabama will very likely bully Cincinnati into oblivion and cruise to the National Championship. No matter what happens, it’s still a historic day for College Football. Many people, including myself, are writing Cincinnati off, so perhaps that will give the Bearcats the motivation they need to shock the world.

Michigan Wolverines VS Georgia Bulldogs

In the next game are two teams that have been on the cusp of greatness for years now, but have yet to get over the hump. Michigan finally beat Ohio State for the first time since 2011, and it’s about time too since that rivalry was getting awfully lopsided. Georgia has not won a National Championship since 1980. Georgia lost to Alabama in overtime to Alabama in the 2018 National Championship. Both of these teams desperately want to win, but first they must go through each other to have a chance.

Georgia enters the game as an 8-point favorite. Based on point spreads, it would seem we are poised for a rematch of the SEC Championship, and that’s no fun for anyone, especially because Georgia can’t figure out how to beat Alabama. Plus no one wants an all SEC National Championship. Fresh off a devastating and embarrassing loss to Alabama, Georgia looks to redeem themselves against the Big 10 champs. Most of the season made Georgia out to be the clear cut favorites for winning it all. Then they went to the SEC Championship and got manhandled by Alabama.

On the other hand, Michigan has exorcised all of their demons, except against Mel Tucker and Michigan State. However, they did beat Ohio State, and Michigan has failed to do that since 2011. Then they destroyed Iowa in the Big 10 Championship, winning their first Big 10 Championship in program history. Michigan sits atop the Number 2 spot with a lot to prove. Led by Heisman finalist Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan’s defense is quite stout and prove to be a big problem for Georgia, but Georgia’s defense was once poised as the best in the nation. They didn’t play like it against Alabama, but they are still an elite squad. Both defenses play with ferocity, and the better defense will likely determine the winner of this matchup.

It would be disappointing for Georgia to go 12-0, only to lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship, and then go one and done in the playoffs. Perhaps the most disappointing 12-0 season of all time. It could happen, but if Georgia plays how they are capable of, then it will be difficult for Michigan to score on them. Michigan is perhaps the more complete team, with a stout defense and overall better offense. There is a reason both teams sit at 2 and 3, respectively, but only one team can win, and it will be a battle that goes down to the wire.

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Nate Walker

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