College Football Playoff 2019: Final Four Predictions After Top 25 Rankings

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 4, 2019

Ohio State wide receiver Austin Mack (11) celebrates after scoring on a 16-yard touchdown reception against Michigan in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Finalizing the College Football Playoff field seems like a simple exercise after Tuesday's rankings release.

College Football Playoff @CFBPlayoff

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If Ohio State, LSU and Clemson win their respective championship games Saturday, they will be the first three programs into the playoff.

That would leave Utah and Oklahoma to fight for the No. 4 seed with Georgia cleared out of the way by LSU.

The Utes moved into the No. 5 position vacated by Alabama, whose loss to Auburn simplified the debate for the final position.

Utah, with one loss and a Pac-12 title, will be compared to Big 12 champion Oklahoma, also with one defeat, as long as LSU beats Georgia.

The only way neither team qualifies for the final four is if they both lose this weekend or Georgia beats LSU in the SEC Championship Game, which may force the selection committee to take a pair of SEC programs.


College Football Playoff Prediction

Peach Bowl (December 28): No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Utah

Fiesta Bowl (December 28): No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Clemson

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Ohio State is the front-runner for the No. 1 overall seed, as it sits atop the rankings once again.

The Buckeyes could boost their resume by beating No. 8 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.

If they triumph at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Big Ten East winner would own three consecutive Top 13 victories, with two of the three coming against the No. 8 team.

One of Ohio State's other two ranked wins came against Wisconsin. The 38-7 win at Ohio Stadium occurred when head coach Paul Chryst's team was 13th.

The most impressive part of the Buckeyes' resume is double-digit wins over every opponent.

If they beat Wisconsin by 10 or more points Saturday, they should remain on top of the rankings and avoid Clemson.

LSU can earn a fifth win over a Top 10 squad Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but the difference between it and Ohio State is three of them were single-digit victories.

Since beating Alabama, head coach Ed Orgeron's team posted three consecutive 50-point performances, and its defense improved Saturday by containing Texas A&M to seven points.

The Tigers are not expected to be as dominant against a Georgia defense that has held its last six foes under 20 points.

The difference-makers could be LSU wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, both of whom have over 1,000 receiving yards.

Heisman Trophy favorite Joe Burrow has more weapons at his disposal than Jake Fromm, and eventually the Tigers will find holes in the Georgia secondary.

However, an SEC championship may not be enough to boost the Tigers over the Buckeyes for the top seed, which leaves it with a potentially difficult matchup against Clemson.

Head coach Dabo Swinney's team rolled through ACC play in October and November, and it is the overwhelming favorite to win the conference crown Saturday.

Clemson deserves credit for blowing out weaker opposition, but its schedule will ultimately hold it back from competing with Ohio State and LSU for No. 1.

Virginia jumping into the rankings at No. 23 helps the Tigers' resume, but they currently have a single Top 25 win over Texas A&M.

If Utah wins the Pac-12 and Oklahoma takes the Big 12 crown, the Utes could hold the edge because of how dominant they have been.

Since October began, the Utes have six double-digit wins in seven games, and they have held five opponents under 10 points.

Conversely, Oklahoma had four games between their last two triumphs of 10-plus points.

The Sooners struggled to put away Iowa State and TCU at home, which may weigh on the minds of some committee members when comparing them to Utah.

Head coach Lincoln Riley's team will have an edge in Top 25 victories, but Utah has an opportunity to bolster its resume by taking down No. 13 Oregon.

If the Utes extend their dominance into Friday, they could prove to the committee that their style can carry into the playoff.

Their dominance combined with entering championship weekend ahead of Oklahoma hands Utah the edge for the No. 4 seed.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.