Road to the college football playoff

Luke Smith , Sports Writer

This year, college football has definitely been confusing. Due to COVID, there are some teams and conferences that have played less than 7 games and teams that have played 10 or more. With conference championships beginning on Friday, December 18th, let’s take a closer look at each conference championship game from each Power-5 conference (Big 10, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12, SEC) and get a better idea of who will make the college football playoffs.


Pac 12: #15 USC vs. Oregon, December 18th, 7:00 PM CT

The Pac-12 started play later than most conferences, so Oregon and USC have only played 5 games each. In 5 games, Oregon has gone 3-2 and USC has gone 5-0. Oregon fell out of the rankings after losing 2 consecutive games to Oregon State and Cal, both of which were games they were projected to win. I predict USC to win against a teetering Oregon team, however they aren’t in the mix for a spot in the playoffs due to their place in the rankings.


Big 10: #4 Ohio State vs. #14 Northwestern, December 19th, 11:00 AM CT

The Big 10 also started later than most conferences, with Northwestern going 6-1 through 7 games and Ohio State going 5-0 through 5 games. For a long time, Ohio State has been and still is considered the best team in the Big 10. However, with 3 of their games getting canceled this season, Ohio State hasn’t had much of a chance to prove themself against another elite team. While Northwestern is a solid team, Ohio State should win this game fairly easily as quarterback Justin Fields looks to prove himself as a heisman candidate. If Ohio State wins this game, they will most likely earn a spot in the college football playoffs.


Big 12: #7 Iowa State vs. #11 Oklahoma, December 19th, 11:00 AM CT. 

For the first time in 2 years, Oklahoma will more than likely miss the playoffs after 2 consecutive losses to Kansas State and Iowa State early in the season. However, Spencer Rattler has developed into a solid quarterback for OU and should have a bright future with the program. After finishing the 2019 season with a mediocre 7-6 record, coach Matt Campbell has turned Iowa State into a top 10 team with a very strong run game. ISU running back Breece Hall leads the NCAA in rushing yards (1,357) along with 17 touchdowns in just 10 games. While neither of these teams will make the playoffs because they each have 2 losses, I predict Iowa State to win this and go to a major bowl game.


ACC: #2 Notre Dame vs. #3 Clemson, December 19th, 3:00 PM CT

These teams are 2 of the best in college football this season. Through 10 games, Notre Dame remains undefeated and Clemson is 9-1 after losing to Notre Dame in the regular season without their star quarterback and heisman contender Trevor Lawrence. Both of these teams have very strong offenses and this should turn out to be a good game. However, Clemson with Trevor Lawrence has been almost unstoppable, so I choose Clemson to win this. Lawrence has had a very impressive career at Clemson; with only 1 loss in 3 seasons and a national title under his belt, Lawrence is bound to get drafted early in the NFL draft. With the strength of these 2 teams, there is a good chance both of these teams will still make the playoffs no matter who loses this game.


SEC: #1 Alabama vs. #11 Florida

Time after time, coach Nick Saban and Alabama continue to produce elite quarterbacks. In the past 4 years, their quarterbacks have been Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, both of whom are currently starting in the NFL. Now, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is top 5 in the nation in passing yards (3,321) along with 27 touchdowns in 10 games, easily a heisman contender. Other key contributors to this high-powered Alabama offense are running back Najee Harris (1084 yards, 22 TDs) and wide receiver Devonta Smith (1327 yards, 15 TDs), both of whom are expected to go fairly high in the NFL draft. Alabama is 10-0, with their closest game being a 42-24 win over Georgia. While Florida quarterback Kyle Trask is first in the nation in passing yards (3,717) and touchdowns (40), it will be very difficult for them to keep up with Alabama both on offense and defense. I predict Alabama to win this fairly comfortably and lock their spot in the playoffs as usual.