College Football Playoff 2021: Championship, Final Four Predictions for Week 12

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 17, 2021

College Football Playoff 2021: Championship, Final Four Predictions for Week 12

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    The paths to the College Football Playoff are still the same for the top programs in the CFB Playoff rankings. 

    Starting with the Georgia Bulldogs, the top five programs in Tuesday's rankings control their own situations as long as they win out. 

    Georgia is on a collision course with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. If the Bulldogs win that game, the potential two-loss Crimson Tide would be out of the picture. 

    The undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats would get in based off their current spot in the rankings. The same goes for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten and the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12. 

    If Ohio State loses in one of the next two weeks, the Michigan State Spartans or Michigan Wolverines would take over the path of the Big Ten East champion to the playoff. 

    If any unexpected results come up, the Oklahoma State Cowboys could sneak into the picture as the potential Big 12 champion, but their path is blocked for now by the teams in front of them. 

Orange Bowl (December 31): No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Cincinnati

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    The one factor not up for debate right now is where Georgia will end up if it wins out. 

    If the Bulldogs capture the SEC Championship, they will be the fourth consecutive program from the conference to earn the top billing. 

    Georgia's defense has been magnificent all season, and it passed its toughest test yet on Saturday when it held a high-powered Tennessee Volunteers offense to 17 points.

    Kirby Smart's team should handle the Charleston Southern Buccaneers and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the next two weeks to prepare for the clash with Alabama.

    Alabama's defense conceded more points in SEC play. It allowed over 20 points to its pair of Top 25 opponents. The Crimson Tide now face two straight tough assignments against the Arkansas Razorbacks and Auburn Tigers. 

    Alabama will be at a disadvantage in the SEC title game against Georgia's defense, and it could be a tough task for it to conquer the Bulldogs. 

    Cincinnati can set up a rematch from last season's Peach Bowl if it continues to win out in the American Athletic Conference. 

    The Bearcats' toughest assignment will be against the Houston Cougars in the AAC title game. The Houston defense allowed over 20 more points in five of its last seven games., and it needs to perform better to contain Desmond Ridder and the Bearcats offense. 

    The only way Cincinnati enters the playoff is if it remains undefeated. While you could make a case for the Bearcats to jump Oregon as an undefeated team, it may be tough for them to leap over the Ducks because of their status as a Group of Five program. 

    The committee might be reluctant to pair Oregon and Ohio State together again after their regular-season meeting, but that could be their best option if the Big Ten and Pac-12 programs win out. 

Cotton Bowl (December 31): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Oregon

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Ohio State and Oregon are likely headed for a rematch in the national semifinal if they win out, but the order of the two teams could change by the time the final rankings are released on December 5. 

    Ohio State has a chance to build arguably the best resume in the FBS. It can reel off four straight wins over Top 25 teams from now until December 4. 

    If the Buckeyes beat Michigan State and Michigan, they will own two Top 10 victories, which is one more than the Ducks can brag about. 

    The CFB selection committee set a precedent that head-to-head meetings may not matter in the long run after it placed the Wolverines over the Spartans last week. 

    Ohio State would have the better resume and the same amount of losses as Oregon. If the committee puts the Ducks over Cincinnati, the order will only matter for the uniforms chosen in the potential semifinal clash.

    Oregon has one more chance to build its resume against a new opponent on Saturday when it plays the Utah Utes.

    If the Ducks win out, they will likely face the Utes again in the Pac-12 Championship. Two wins over the same borderline Top 25 team may not impress the committee as much as what Ohio State can do. 

National Championship (January 10): No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 2 Ohio State

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The best possible national championship matchup is shaping up to be Georgia versus Ohio State. 

    Georgia's top-rated defense would go up against a high-powered Ohio State offense that proved what it could do at its best in the Week 11 win over the Purdue Boilermakers. 

    Ohio State has a Heisman Trophy front-runner in quarterback C.J. Stroud, three stars at wide receiver in Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and a freshman phenom at running back in TreVeyon Henderson. 

    The Buckeyes eclipsed the 50-point threshold in five of their last seven games. If they play Oregon again, they should make the proper defensive adjustments to contain Anthony Brown and the Oregon offense. 

    Georgia has shut down every offense in its sights and not allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points this season. 

    A potential clash between the Bulldogs and Buckeyes would pit the nation's best defense up against arguably the most-talented offensive unit in the FBS. 

    The paths to the title game will not be easy, but Georgia and Ohio State have proved over the last two months that they have two of the most powerful units in the FBS. 

    A potential clash between the SEC and Big Ten champions could produce one of the best title games we have seen in the playoff era.