College Football Playoff Outlook: Week 13

Story posted November 22, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Alex Loughin

Heading into the last week of the regular season, there is still a lot left to play for, as teams look to cement their spot in conference championship games. Let’s take a look at how the top teams in the nation fare heading into Week 13.

1. Alabama

Alabama dismantled Mercer in a 56-0 shutout, as expected.

This was a complete and efficient performance from the Tide, on both sides of the ball. Alabama outgained Mercer 530-161 in total yardage, and picked off the Bears three times. QB Jalen Hurts impressed, going 7-for-7 for 180 yards and three touchdowns, while backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa added three more scores.

On Saturday, Alabama travels to No. 6 Auburn for the Iron Bowl, in which the victor will go on to play Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. This is the biggest game of the season for both teams, and the Tide will have to bring their very best to beat an excellent Auburn squad. The Tigers have been clicking, scoring over 40 points in each of their last four games.

The winner of the Iron Bowl has played for the national championship seven times in the past eight years, so look for the winner of this game to make a strong case as to why they should be in the top four.

Alabama needs to win this game if they want to solidify their place in the College Football Playoff, and Nick Saban will have his team up to standard. Auburn will have to play their best game of the year if they expect to beat the Tide.

2. Oklahoma

Despite an on-the-field gesture that will see him sit the start of this weekend’s game, Baker Mayfield carried Oklahoma to a 41-3 victory over Kansas.

The Heisman front-runner had three touchdown passes, and the Sooners ran for two more. Oklahoma’s defense also played well, albeit against a woeful offense, holding the Jayhawks to just 155 yards.

With Oklahoma State’s loss, the Sooners virtually clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship, and will likely face TCU or Iowa State for the trophy.

The biggest concern for the Sooners is the fact that their defense fails to show up at times, especially in big games, like when they gave up 52 points to Oklahoma State earlier this year. Baker Mayfield and the offense must continue to run up the scoreboard in each game from here on out if they want to be considered a legitimate contender for the title.

The Sooners host West Virginia for the final game of the regular season, and should be able to pull out seventh win in a row, and advance to the Big 12 Championship Game.

3. Miami

The U struggled against Virginia on Saturday, coming back from 14 points down twice, and ultimately scoring 30 unanswered to win 44-28.

Miami failed to move the ball well, and gave the ball away three times, with two interceptions and a fumble. The defense gave up a season-high 439 yards, but had a pick-six to tie the game midway through the third quarter.

I mentioned before that Miami was a highly-emotional team, and coming off the Notre Dame win, they had trouble remaining poised against a clearly inferior opponent, and on a different day, the ‘Canes may have lost.

In the final week of the regular season, Miami heads to Pittsburgh to play the Panthers on Friday. This, once again, could be a tricky game for the ‘Canes because they are a warm-weather team, playing in a cooler environment.

Pittsburgh has nothing to lose, and should play hard against Miami, which is why the ‘Canes need to stay composed and focused, and remain undefeated ahead of the ACC Championship Game against Clemson.

4. Clemson

The Tigers crushed Citadel 61-3 in the penultimate week of the season.

Kelly Bryant threw for three touchdowns in the first half alone, and the Tigers rushed for three more. The defense played lights-out, allowing a lone field goal in garbage time, and limiting the Bulldogs to just nine first downs.

Not that Citadel was supposed to test Clemson, but the Tigers looked in complete control, on virtually every play. Dabo Swinney’s team exhibited the qualities of a playoff team, even when all the starters were taken out.
They made plays on both sides of the ball, limited mistakes, and were efficient on third down. This team is starting to look like the team that has played in the national championship the past two seasons.

No. 24 South Carolina is up next for Clemson. The Gamecocks have a stingy defense, and would love to spoil Clemson’s college football playoff hopes. Look for the Tigers to be at their best and beat their rival, before facing Miami.

5. Auburn

6. Wisconsin

 

Alex Loughin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail arl5607@psu.edu.