College Football Playoff 2018: Championship, Final Four Predictions for Week 12

Elizabeth FinnyContributor INovember 14, 2018

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) drops back to pass against Mississippi State during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Surprise, surprise, Alabama stays at No. 1 in this week's College Football Playoff Rankings. A little more surprisingly, the top 10 stayed the same from Week 11 to Week 12.

With no ranking-altering results among the top teams in college football this past week, the College Football Playoff rankings went through little change entering Week 12.

Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Michigan all sit at the top four for the second straight week, with Georgia staying at No. 5 and Oklahoma at No. 6.

College Football Playoff Rankings

1. Alabama                                                                            

2. Clemson

3. Notre Dame

4. Michigan

5. Georgia

6. Oklahoma

7. LSU

8. Washington State

9. West Virginia

10. Ohio State

11. UCF

12. Syracuse

13. Florida

14. Penn State

15. Texas 

16. Iowa State

17. Kentucky

18. Washington 

19. Utah 

20. Boston College

21. Mississippi State

22. Northwestern

23. Utah State

24. Cincinnati

25. Boise State


Michigan will see its second most difficult matchup of the season on Nov. 24 against No. 10 Ohio State. The Buckeyes' defense has been inconsistent, holding four teams to 20 points or less but allowing Oregon State, Nebraska and Purdue to score 30-plus points. Michigan has consistently put points on the board this season, making it likely they will take on Alabama in the playoff.

Reigning national champion Alabama has shown complete dominance this season, which should basically guarantee them a spot in the semifinal—and most likely the National Championship. However, the Crimson Tide have yet to play their biggest game of the season—a matchup against longtime foe No. 5 Georgia on Dec. 1.

Syracuse has been surprising college football fans at every turn and will be taking on undefeated Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Orange will have a chance to snap Notre Dame's winning streak and potentially bump them out of the running for the playoffs. Syracuse came within four points of No. 2 Clemson in Week 5 and has averaged 44 points a game with 18 passing touchdowns and 32 rushing.

Notre Dame is led by quarterback Ian Book who has had a phenomenal season so far with an almost 75 percent completion rate through 10 games. Paired with his go-to receiver Miles Boykin, who leads the team with over 650 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, the duo is hard to take down. The Irish will surely take advantage of Syracuse's struggle to stop the drive, as it's given up an average of 27.6 points to opponents through 10 games.

The Clemson Tigers should remain at No. 2 as they finish out their season against Duke and South Carolina. Duke has proven to have talent with quarterback Daniel Jones at the helm, but with wide receivers dropping balls and inconsistent defense, the Blue Devils don't have much of a chance against Clemson.

South Carolina has fallen to all the ranked teams they've played this season, such as Georgia, Kentucky, and Florida. Playing a Clemson team with quarterback Trevor Lawrence having a completion percentage of 66.7 does not look optimistic for the Gamecocks.

Noticeable changes in this week's rankings include Michigan State and Auburn dropping out of the top-25. Kentucky dropped six spots after a loss to Tennessee while Mississippi State dropped five after their scoreless game against Bama.

CFP Predictions

ESPN @espn

Week 12 #CFBPlayoff Rankings: 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Notre Dame 4. Michigan 5. Georgia 6. Oklahoma https://t.co/ZJM121Q0C0

It's difficult to see any of the four teams falling in the last couple games of the regular season. Michigan may duke it out with Ohio State, but will ultimately prevail and take on Alabama in the semifinal.

The Crimson Tide's closest game this season was a 42-23 win over Texas A&M in Week 4. They've dominated ranked opponents—then-No. 7 LSU and then-No. 16 Mississippi State in Week 9 and 10, respectively, holding both teams to zero points. Michigan hasn't lost since it played No. 3 Notre Dame in Week 1; however, Alabama's ability to put up so many points and hold ranked teams scoreless bodes well for the Crimson Tide.

Michigan will score against Alabama, but it won't be able to hold off a Crimson Tide team that averages more than 40 points a game and has capitalized off turnovers—scoring 97 points through Week 11. Alabama will advance to the National Championship for the fourth straight year.

Notre Dame and Clemson will battle it out in the other semifinal.

Ultimately, Clemson's Travis Etienne—the leading running back with over 1,000 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns through the first 10 games—will exploit Notre Dame's weak rush defense to take on Alabama in the championship game for a rematch of the 2016 National Championship.

Alabama has only given up three rushing touchdowns to opponents, which will limit Clemson's Etienne—its top overall scorer. Paired with the fact that Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa has thrown 28 touchdowns through 10 games, Alabama looks likely to take it. The Crimson Tide have eight receivers with at least one touchdown—Jerry Jeudy leading the troop with 10—and six different players with at least one rushing touchdown with Josh Jacobs topping the list with nine.

Due to Alabama's seemingly lack of an offensive weakness entering Week 12, it is likely the Crimson Tide will go back-to-back and take home the National Championship for the second year in a row.