B/R CFB Community: Bold Predictions for the College Football PlayoffDecember 28, 2021
Game week. There is nothing like it.
And after a few dormant weekends, the College Football Playoff is finally (almost) here.
On New Year's Eve, No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl in the first matchup. Then, No. 2 Michigan will play No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl to bring in 2022.
The winners of these two games, of course, will play in the national championship on January 10. (It's in Indianapolis, so get used to everyone in attendance complaining about how cold it will be. It's inevitable.)
As we embark on another playoff, however, we are searching far and wide for those willing to attach themselves to bold claims. College football's mini-playoff might not have an abundance of games to predict, although that doesn't mean there won't be surprises.
What will those surprises be? We asked Bleacher Report readers for their bold predictions heading into the playoff, and they delivered. They always do.
Here they are, in all their boldness.
The Great Harbaugh Bulldozer
Suggestion: Michigan puts up over 250 rushing yards against Georgia, wins by 10 points.
The comments, to be clear, were very pro-Michigan. That's a change from the regular season when they were, well, not.
This was not the only person to proclaim a Michigan triumph. There were many, with various tidbits along the way, that were plenty bold.
But this one stands out for a few reasons. For starters, the Wolverines beating Georgia by double digits would be a big deal. Michigan is currently a 6.5-point underdog. Many Michigan fans would likely take an outright win, although flexing for style points is never a bad thing.
But the boldness in this prediction for the stat nerds out there—raises hand—is the idea that the Wolverines will run for 250 yards.
Georgia allowed 150-plus rushing yards just one time this season, and only four teams reached 100 total rushing yards against the Bulldogs. Michigan is poised to challenge this history, having rushed for 250 (or more) yards five times this year. But it would be somewhat remarkable to see this rushing offense, as tremendous as it is, have that kind of success.
That's why they call them bold predictions. That's why I love them.
Suggestion: Cincinnati beats Michigan in the national championship.
A Cincinnati-Michigan championship would be fascinating for a slew of reasons. But a Cincinnati title would be one of the more thrilling endings in the history of the sport.
This is bold. Let's be clear about that.
Sure, there are only four teams left, and we're running out of championship options. But at +1600 to win the national title now, Luke Fickell's team could cap off a brilliant year with a most unlikely outcome.
Considering the Bearcats are nearly a two-touchdown underdog this week, even reaching the championship game would be a shocking result. Being able to overcome another CFB blue blood after a semifinal victory would be perhaps the boldest of bold predictions.
Maybe this is indeed the year. Given the amount of discussion that Cincinnati generated this season—and even in 2020—it would be only fitting to see the Bearcats shock the world one last time.
And to do it against Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, who has spent seven years trying to conquer CFB since arriving at Ann Arbor, would be that much more thrilling. Not for the many Michigan fans feeling themselves in the comments, but certainly everyone else.
Cincinnati would be an underdog in that matchup as well, and likely a sizable one at that. I doubt the Bearcats would have it any other way.
Upcoming Forecast: ‘Bama Blowouts
Suggestion: Bama wins another natty with two double-digit wins. Not that bold, but it's what will happen.
It's not terribly bold, has a solid serving of overconfidence and states something far less outrageous than some of the predictions mentioned. But I can't help but consider what the past six weeks have looked like and how much things have changed.
Alabama should have lost at Auburn. The Crimson Tide certainly deserve credit for outlasting the Tigers and keeping their playoff hopes alive. And Nick Saban certainly deserves credit for fixing his team's offensive line and clobbering Georgia the following week.
Back on Thanksgiving, however, this prediction would have sounded outrageous. It's Alabama, and nothing should ever be simply tossed aside given Saban's dominance since he arrived. But the Crimson Tide looked mortal for much of the year. Beating Georgia changed everything.
If Alabama beats Cincinnati by double digits and follows it up with a double-digit win over Georgia or Michigan, it will be Saban's greatest coaching accomplishment ever.
That is not hyperbole. That is not bold. That is very real.
To lose the talent Alabama lost this offseason and still reach this point—let alone dominate the CFP—would be truly unbelievable.
The Outcome No One Wants
Suggestion: Michigan gets at least 1 W because of a forfeit.
Let's begin with a disclaimer. It doesn't matter the team or situation; the hope is that the remaining College Football Playoff games will go off without issue and the champion will be decided without issue. That should go without saying. So much of this is larger than the games themselves.
However, the possibility of COVID-19 impacting the CFP certainly exists. In fact, the College Football Playoff management committee had to announce contingency plans if one or more teams are impacted by positive tests.
While semifinal games have a small window to be rescheduled, a team could forfeit that game if it is unable to field the appropriate number of players before or on January 7.
The same goes for the national championship, which could ultimately be vacated if both teams are unable to play. It could also be a forfeit if only one team is impacted.
Given the surge in cases, the fact that the committee had to announce these potential plans well in advance speaks volumes. They are prepared for whatever happens, and the teams will be as well.
While we can argue and debate the victors and the upsets and the storylines within the storylines, one thing isn't up for discussion: We want the sport and the people making it all possible to be safe.
We want the games to go off cleanly. We want a tremendous season to end on an incredibly high note.
Bold Take: No One Will Watch
Suggestion: Psssh, there are no bold predictions: Bama vs. UGA. The only bold prediction is that the championship will have the lowest ratings.
If the chalk holds, and it very well could, Alabama and Georgia will play a football game for the second time in a six-week span. Getting a rematch is not exactly a bold projection, as is pointed out in the comment. But the reaction to this game could be somewhat fascinating.
(Well, if you're into that sort of thing.)
Alabama-Georgia Part 1 was watched by more than 15 million viewers, making it one of the most watched football games of 2021. (Ohio State and Michigan delivered the highest ratings of any football game this year, for those who were curious.)
Would Part 2 likely turn some people away? Probably.
Would it also gain some people who want to see CFB's champion crowned? Probably.
People don't necessarily love a rematch in any sport, and the first installment wasn't exactly an all-timer. In fact, the game really dragged in the second half when Alabama pulled away.
But the stakes, of course, would change plenty. You would still have a Heisman-winning QB going up against a defense ripe with future NFL players. And you still have Saban trying to recement his GOAT status. Whether people care about that is another question entirely.
Ratings for last season's national championship game between Alabama and Ohio State were down significantly from the previous year. My guess is that an Alabama-Georgia rematch would likely do better numbers, although I understand the fatigue surrounding both the Crimson Tide and the possibility of a rematch.
I know one thing: I will watch. Very bold of me to say.
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