Dylan Fraychineaud —
Orange Bowl: Clemson v. Georgia
Clemson’s roster is absolutely stacked. The only team who can match their absurd talent is Alabama — who refreshingly will miss the CFP this year. A healthy Clemson squad should waltz through the ACC and back into the College Football Playoff. I’m confident that Georgia will take down a previously unbeaten Bama in the SEC Championship, knocking the Tide down to No. 5 and solidifying the Bulldogs place in the Orange Bowl as the No. 4 team. The Tigers’ dominant defensive line will be the difference against Georgia. The Bulldogs will not be able to muster much of an attack, and Clemson will advance to the CFP Title Game with a resounding 13-point victory.
Cotton Bowl: Washington v. Wisconsin
In a matchup of two undefeated teams, I believe Wisconsin will eek out a close victory. After opening the season with a statement victory over Auburn, Chris Petersen’s Huskies will survive scares in Eugene and at home against Stanford. Wisconsin will outlast a stingy Michigan squad in Ann Arbor before dismantling Penn State at Beaver Stadium — officially announcing themselves as a true contender. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor will be the difference in the Cotton Bowl, as his second rushing touchdown of the day propels the Badgers to the CFP Title Game.
CFP Title Game: Clemson v. Wisconsin
Dabo Swinney’s program seems poised to bring home their second National Championship in the past three seasons. Aside from their terrifying defensive line — arguably the best single unit in college football — Clemson’s skill players will be improved this year. Regardless of who starts at quarterback between Kelly Bryant (incumbent) or Trevor Lawrence (N0. 1 recruit in the nation), the offense as a whole should be more dangerous. In the end, Clemson’s defense has the chance to be one of the best college football has seen in years. Taylor will struggle to gain yards as easily as he has become accustomed to, and the Badgers will be tamed as a result. Clemson will reign supreme yet again.
Harris Ahmadzai —
Orange Bowl: Clemson v. Ohio State
The Tigers boast the most talented roster in the nation. With a deep pool of pass rushers, and their choice of Kelly Bryant or freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence under center, there’s no reason to think Clemson will have any trouble getting through the ACC with an undefeated record. Waiting for them will be a team that has been marred by controversy all offseason long. By the time Urban Meyer returns to OSU’s sideline, the Buckeyes should remain undefeated with home victories over Oregon State, Rutgers, and TCU. Even if they drop the game against TCU, Ohio State would still get in if they run the table with wins over rivals Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State. If they make the Playoff, the Buckeyes would be riding a huge wave of momentum, but it takes more than that to beat Clemson. Clemson’s defensive talent and superior QB play (whether it’s Bryant and Lawrence) will be the difference.
Cotton Bowl: Alabama v. Oklahoma
I desperately wanted to pick the rematch of last year’s Rose Bowl between the Sooners and the Bulldogs of Georgia — arguably college football’s best game of 2017. However, the Bulldogs have some patching up to do on their roster. The heart of their defense, Roquan Smith, and the engine of their offense, running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, are gone. While sophomore D’Andre Swift is a nice consolation prize as the potential lead back, there’s no replacing what Smith brought to that defense. Bama is truly a machine at producing defensive talent, and will have a more seamless job of assimilating their newest starters. Over in Norman, the Sooners will be riding a Major League Baseball first-round draft pick in QB Kyler Murray. The supremely talented Murray possesses the requisite ability and bravado to topple Alabama and lead Oklahoma to their first championship game since 2003.
CFP Title Game: Clemson v. Oklahoma
The sixth matchup between these two juggernaut programs will be on college football’s grandest stage. While the Tigers were known for their explosive offense during the Deshaun Watson years, it’s more likely that Oklahoma enters this game as the nation’s top ranked offense. On the other hand, Clemson has a great chance to unseat Alabama as the country’s No. 1 defense. The matchup in the trenches would be fascinating, as Clemson’s front seven includes three potential first-round draft picks, while Oklahoma boast a Heisman front runner in RB Rodney Anderson and an enormous offensive line. The game will ultimately be decided by quarterback play, and Clemson has two good ones. The experienced Bryant or the talented Lawrence will ensure Clemson hoists the National Championship for the second time in three years.
Jason Fray —
Orange Bowl: Clemson v. Washington
Clemson will finish unscathed en route to the top spot in the College Football Playoff. Duly, Washington will be back in the mix for the second time in three years. This should be quite a fascinating game. Washington is exceptionally well coached, and has a lot of NFL talent scattered throughout its team (particularly along its offensive line and in the secondary). Clemson is LOADED along its defensive front. It also has the pedigree to participate in — and ultimately win these big games. While it should be a close contest, Clemson’s team speed on defense will overwhelm the efficient yet weak-armed Washington signal-caller Jake Browning. The Tigers will move on to the title game yet again.
Clemson 24 Washington 13
Cotton Bowl: Alabama v. Wisconsin
This contest is akin to two muscular beasts fighting each other in a phone booth. Both Wisconsin and Alabama pride themselves on being physical, run-first teams. Wisconsin is systematic with its sophisticated run game. Essentially the ‘Stanford’ of the Big Ten, the Badgers routinely beat up opponents at the line of scrimmage. It also helps when they have one of the best running backs in the country in Jonathan Taylor. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe Alabama’s prowess over the last decade. In this contest, Wisconsin’s huge offensive line will be tested by Alabama’s vaunted defensive front. By giving Nick Saban a month to prepare for this contest, he should be able to come up with enough wrinkles to disturb Wisconsin’s offensive rhythm. Duly, Alabama’s own rushing attack will overwhelm the Badgers athletically.
Alabama 17 Wisconsin 9
CFP Title Game: Clemson v. Alabama
Here’s the matchup we’ve all been waiting for. Alabama and Clemson may be the two most gifted teams in the country from a talent standpoint. Surely, the Crimson Tide will be motivated in this contest after what Deshaun Watson did to them a few years ago. There will be a huge collection of NFL talent all over the field. In terms of the in-game strategy, much of it will revolve around Alabama’s ability to protect QB Tua Tagovailoa. If the Hawaiian gunslinger has time to deliver the ball downfield, Alabama will be in good shape. If Tagavailoa is running for his life, Clemson will nab another natty.
Alabama 24 Clemson 23
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