Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
This week’s topic: Our College Football Playoff predictions.
The 2023-24 College Football Playoff is officially set, and well, people certainly have feelings about the selection committee’s decision-making process, general intelligence, motive(s), and/or possible hatred toward their team. Not me, though... Not my team, not my problem.
I actually think that the selection committee nailed it this year. Breaking precedent to leave Florida State out was a bold and controversial decision, but in my opinion, also the right one. I mean, did you see the Noles against Florida and/or Louisville? Their offense was putrid without Jordan Travis. And I have nothing against FSU – you certainly don’t want to see them penalized because of injury – but we literally just saw what would have happened had they snuck in at No. 4. Here’s a hint: The Midwest version of Florida State played in Indianapolis a few nights ago, and it ended very, very poorly.
In the last year of the four-team playoff, I appreciate that the selection committee went with the four best — in their opinion. As opposed to the most deserving. It sucks for FSU, but them’s the breaks. If the Noles wanted to leave nothing up to chance, they should have simply waxed Louisville 59-0 — something that is absolutely and undeniably possible with a third-string QB.
Now that I have pissed off all of Tallahassee, I will just tell you that Gene and I picked some low-hanging fruit for today’s edition of You’re Nuts. We are going to share our CFP predictions, all of which will surely come to fruition. We were originally going to debate whether Kyle McCord eventually becomes Ohio State’s eighth Heisman Trophy winner (seventh individual), but that no longer appears to be likely.
Getting back to the CFP; I anticipate fireworks. The committee chose four really good teams, and as a result, I believe that we will see two close games. TTUN, Washington, Texas, and Alabama are all capable of winning it (the natty), but in the end, I expect superior coaching to determine the champion.
What do I mean by that? I just think that Nick Saban and Kalen DeBoer have a leg up in their respective matchups. The latter is viewed by some as the “new kid on the block”, but he has three NAIA championships on his resume and boasts a 24-2 record at Washington. I also love his aggressive mindset and willingness to let his guy make a play, regardless of the situation. As for the former, well, Saban is Saban, and he is going up against Jim Harbaugh who hasn’t won a bowl game since the Reagan administration.
I think Washington-Texas becomes a shootout, which will ultimately be won by Michael Penix Jr. and his impressive arsenal of weapons. The crowd will likely be full of burnt orange, but UT already lost their starting running back and saw Xavier Worthy go down in the Big 12 title game. So the Longhorns could be hurting/lacking weapons, while the Huskies appear to be firing on all cylinders.
In the other semifinal, I expect Alabama’s collective talent and experience to win out. Don’t get me wrong: TTUN has some guys. And they play well together on both sides of the ball. But Bama has a roster full of studs who also play well together — and are coached by the GOAT. The trump card here is that Saban will coach to win... Do with that comment what you will.
Then, if and/or when Washington and Alabama meet up, I think the Huskies pull off a minor upset. There’s just something about this DeBoer and this UW team that makes me believe. I think their defense plays ‘well enough’ in this hypothetical final matchup, and Rome Odunze goes bananas. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but give me 31-24 Washington.
I want to start off by saying that unlike Josh, I find it patently ridiculous that Florida State was left out of the College Football Playoff as a 13-0 Power 5 conference champion. Sure, the Seminoles’ offense looked really bad in the win over Louisville in the ACC title game, but they still beat a top-15 team by double-digits to remain undefeated. Alabama beat Georgia in the SEC title game, which is obviously an impressive feat, but the rest of their season was pedestrian at best in what was a down year for the SEC — the league’s 7-9 OOC record was the worst among the P5. Florida State scheduled and beat two SEC teams this season in LSU and Florida, and for them to do everything possible in their power and still not make the CFP feels wrong.
That being said, there is nothing that can be done to change things now, and while I don’t think Alabama deserved to be here, there is still a very legitimate chance that the Crimson Tide go on to win it all, because at the end of the day Nick Saban is the greatest to ever do it in this sport.
I believe Alabama will defeat Michigan in the No. 1 vs. No. 4 matchup, and yes it is partially just because I am a hater. However, I also think that the Tide will challenge the Wolverines in ways that Ohio State could not, and that starts first and foremost with a head coach who wont be afraid of the moment and a defense that can pin its ears back and create pressure on J.J. McCarthy. Michigan allowed four sacks in the win over Iowa in the B1G title game, and guys like Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell will be a huge challenge for a Wolverines offensive line that has looked susceptible in pass protection at times. It will probably be a lower-scoring game, but I cannot in good faith pick a Jim Harbaugh-led team over a Saban one.
On the other side, I think Washington-Texas is going to be a banger, but I love this Huskies team. Michael Penix Jr. has been sensational this year, throwing for over 4,200 yards and 33 touchdowns, and he has a treasure trove of incredibly talented wide receivers at his disposal in Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan as well as a sturdy running back in Dillon Johnson. Texas has some great receiver talent as well in Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell, and Quinn Ewers is no slouch either at QB, but I just like what Washington has going a lot more. Again, looking at the coaches on each sideline, I think Kalen DeBoer is one of the best head coaches in the sport and is never afraid to trust his best players in the biggest spots, while Steve Sarkisian has been known to throw up a stinker.
Back in September I picked Washington as my national title favorite, and while the other three teams in my CFP prediction turned out to be incorrect (Georgia, Ohio State and Florida State), I am sticking with the Huskies to win it all. I am incredibly worried that Josh and I picking the same champion will almost certainly backfire, but I do genuinely think Washington has been the most complete team in college football this season. Jalen Milroe has made tremendous strides from where he started the year, but he is still no Penix, and Alabama’s wide receiver core is nowhere near as talented as the Huskies’. This Crimson Tide team is clearly talented, but I cannot pick a team that needed to convert a 4th-and-31 to win the game against Auburn — a team that lost by 21 points to New Mexico State — to win the whole damn thing.
Both teams have strong defensive units, but I’ll take the team with a more dynamic offense in a 31-20 victory for Washington to secure the program’s third claimed national championship and the first since 1991.