College Football Playoff and National Championship Picks
It'ssssss game week - and with just a couple days to kick-off of Week 0, our Torres Media guys are hitting all of the biggest topics in the sport.
Last week, we hit on the most overrated and underrated teams in college football and this week, followed it up with our Heisman Trophy and conference title picks.
Today, it's go time, as Aaron Torres, and Torres Media college football writers Jake Faigus and Garrett Carr make their College Football Playoff and national title picks:
No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 Utah
Please forgive me for being the 4,282nd college football writer you know who both:
Has Utah as a "dark horse" playoff entry (which of course, doesn't make them a dark horse anymore)
The Crimson Tide is self-explanatory, but when it comes to the Utes, one thing keeps striking me: We all agree that Ohio State's offense was genuinely awesome last year, and will, in all likelihood be the best in college football this year, right? Well, Utah's offense went toe-for-toe with them in last year's Rose Bowl and returns almost essentially intact. I do think they win Week 1 in Gainesville and find themselves in the playoff.
Once there though, there will simply be too much Alabama - as the Tide simply have too many weapons on offense, and too much talent on a loaded defense which - as crazy as this sounds - could go down as one of the best of the Nick Saban era.
No. 3 Oklahoma over No. 2 Ohio State
By now, my thoughts on Oklahoma are well known: I'm expecting big things in Year 1 under Brent Venables. The defense will be improved for obvious reasons, and I don't think the offense skips much of a beat with Dillon Gabriel at quarterback and Jeff Lebby calling plays. Gabriel had 32 touchdowns and 3,500 yards passing in his last full season at UCF in just 10 games, and will have more skill position talent around him than he's ever had before.
Which is why I like the Sooners to win a shoot out with the Buckeyes in the second playoff semifinal.
Both teams come in with one-loss and the strength of the Big Ten gives the Buckeyes the No. 2 seed, but the combination of Gabriel's live arm and that improved Venables defense, gets Oklahoma its first win of the playoff era.
(I'm sure no one on social media will let Lincoln Riley know about it afterwards, either).
No. 1 Alabama over No. 3 Oklahoma
Listen, I could sit here and list all the players on Alabama's depth chart, but I'd rather not bore you with things you already know. You know about Bryce Young, Will Anderson, Jahmyr Gibbs and the group they're running with.
What strikes me about Bama this year though is this: Not only are they the most talented team in college football, but this is the rare year where they're entering a season with a chip on their shoulder. This was a team that even in a rebuilding year - and yes, Nick Saban was right, last year was a rebuilding year - entered the fourth quarter of the title game with a lead against Georgia.
They couldn't close out against the Dawgs, but will leave no doubt at SoFi Stadium.
Alabama, by a lot, in this year's title game.
No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 Georgia
These two teams have a lot of history in the playoff from the miracle "2nd and 26" throw in 2018 by the Crimson Tide to the Bulldogs getting revenge last year with a dominant performance. This should be an interesting matchup because it would be a rematch of the SEC Championship presumably too. The Bulldogs I think could get blown out by the Tide in both games. Georgia is not without playmakers after an amazing year last year, with the return of Brock Bowers at tight end and Jalen Carter at linebacker for the defense. The Tide have Bryce Young back at quarterback and have the best college football player in the country on the defense in Will Anderson Jr. I see this game just being business as usual for the Tide and I think it gets out of hand quickly because the Tide just have that much more talent than the Bulldogs this year. I think the difference is that Bryce Young is just that good of a quarterback and I don’t see the Georgia offense being able to dig out of a hole if they get behind early. I like Alabama to win 42-21 and return to the National Championship game.
No. 2 Ohio State over No. 3 Utah
In this game, we would get a rematch of the best game from all last season when Ohio State won a shootout against Utah in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes are loaded this year with arguably the best offense in all of college football highlighted by CJ Stroud at quarterback and then Jaxon Smith-Njigba outside. The Utah Utes are full of talent with stability at quarterback in Cameron Rising and then also at running back in Tavion Thomas. I see this game being much closer than the Alabama game, but not as close as the previous year’s Rose Bowl. The deciding factor for me is the defense. Utah has been known for its defense for a while, but I just don’t see how they can contain this Ohio State offense after what happened in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeye defense should also be much improved with the hiring of Jim Knowles. I see the Buckeye defense getting a few more stops than the Utes and winning 48-35 to advance to the championship game.
No. 2 Ohio State over No. 1 Alabama
I know, I know, Alabama is seen as head and shoulders above every team this year. However, I really like the Buckeyes this year. I’ve said before that the Buckeyes will have the best offense in the entire country, and I don’t think it’s going to be all that close. The Tide’s defense will probably be back to being the best in the entire country too so the strengths will be clashing throughout this game. The key will be the Buckeye defense against the Crimson Tide offense, and while I think Bryce Young is great, I think the impact of Jim Knowles as the new defensive coordinator will be the difference and could do enough to contain the Alabama offense to a degree. The talent is there for the Buckeyes, they just need the coaching and I really believe that will be there this year. I think we get one of the best games of the year in this game with the Buckeyes winning 38-35 and winning a championship for the first time since 2014.
No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 USC
One of these teams will come as a surprise to no one, but the other shouldn’t either. Alabama will be in everyone’s preseason playoff predictions, I’d think. If you’ve been paying attention to these roundtables, you know that I am very high on Lincoln Riley’s Trojans. I think they have a decent shot at going 13-0, and 12-1 with a PAC-12 title still gives them a great shot to make the playoffs.
Alabama is a given. Quarterback Bryce Young and pass rusher Will Anderson are the most dynamic teammates in the country, and they have a pissed off Nick Saban who was moderately embarrassed the way his defense and offensive line played last year.
This will be one of the few games USC has all year where they will be significantly outmanned up front. Their fantastic skill players won’t be able to overcome that disadvantage against an Alabama team that can match them athlete for athlete, and I have the Tide playing in the title game for the third season in a row.
No. 3 Georgia Over No. 2 Ohio State
I have real questions on whether I think Ohio State can live up to their potential under Ryan Day. Those questions aren’t necessarily about the offense. Day is as good of an offensive mastermind as anyone in all of football at any level. But, I’m not sure if his management style and finesse style of play is perfectly suited to win titles. That being said, I think their talent gives them a 12-1 season (they will not go undefeated) and puts themselves back in the playoff.
Yes, Georgia lost a lot of studs from last year’s team, especially on defense. But, how many times have we said that about Alabama, only for the Crimson Tide to be there at the end once it’s all said and done? Georgia recruits every bit as good, if not better, than Alabama does, and the calvary is coming to surround Stetson Bennett, Devonte Wyatt and Nolan Smith with more difference makers. I have them losing to Alabama in the SEC title game after going 12-0 in the regular season.
National Championship Game
No. 1 Alabama over No. 3 Georgia
Saban gets his revenge. Not much more needs to be said.
For the staff's conference title picks, click here
For the staff's Heisman picks, click here