Now the games have all been played, all that is left is the pondering and pontificating. Our final College Football Playoff Predictions of the 2022 season attempt to make sense of a chaotic “Championship Weekend” and what impact it will have on the CFP Selection Committee. Will the Ohio State Buckeyes benefit from bypassing the Big Ten title game and back in the College Football Playoff?
- Georgia Bulldogs
2. Michigan Wolverines
3. TCU Horned Frogs
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
1) Georgia Bulldogs
Remember those “what if LSU beats Georgia” CFP conversations? Man, they were fun. Georgia absolutely obliterated the Tigers in the SEC Championship, with their offense putting up 50 points for the second time this season. Although LSU scored more points against the Bulldogs than anyone else has managed this season, it always felt easy, comfortable, and in control for Kirby Smart’s team.
As a result, the Bulldogs hold on to their number one spot in our College Football Playoff predictions. Georgia finishes the season as an undefeated SEC champion, checking off two of the factors that the selection committee takes into consideration when discussing the CFP rankings.
Coming into the weekend with the top defense in the nation and one of the highest-scoring offenses, the Bulldogs also matchup extremely favorably to the “balance” that has become a monotonous soundbite of rankings explanation every Tuesday since the end of October.
The only stumbling block to Georgia making our College Football Playoff predictions come true is if the CFP committee manipulates the final rankings to ensure Michigan and Ohio State avoid a rematch in the Peach Bowl. However, with no actual rule to prevent that, and with the committee previously stating it isn’t a consideration in their decision, Georgia should be heading to the Fiesta Bowl later this month.
2) Michigan Wolverines
It’s not a particularly strong one, but you could argue that Michigan has a case to end the season as the No. 1 team in the country. However, as our College Football Playoff predictions suggest, they’re more likely to remain as the second-ranked team when the final CFP rankings are announced.
Following their win over Purdue in the Big Ten Championship, they can tick the box on the CFP checklist next to conference champion. With defense and offense units that both rank in the top 10 in the nation, they’re arguably the most balanced of all the teams vying for a place at the College Football Playoff table.
Winning their last two games without their most prolific offensive producer Blake Corum also speaks to the balance of this Wolverines team. Injuries are a consideration in the CFP Selection Committee’s discussions, and showcasing how comfortably they can overcome them is another feather in Michigan’s CFP rankings cap.
With Ohio State ranked second at the time they played them — and our College Football Playoff predictions suggesting that the Buckeyes could finish fourth — Michigan has the best win of all teams in contention at the top of the sport ahead of “Selection Sunday.”
3) TCU Horned Frogs
Despite coming up short in an overtime loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game, our final College Football Playoff predictions see the TCU Horned Frogs remain in the third spot of the CFP rankings. Their reward for an undefeated regular season is a berth in the Peach Bowl against Michigan.
TCU has had to battle for respect from the CFP Selection Committee all season long. The fact that before kick-off, there was legitimate conversation about whether a two-loss Alabama team that was less impressive against a common opponent (Texas) shows that there is still an element of national disrespect for the job that Sonny Dykes has done with the Horned Frogs this season.
Rightly or wrongly, given the reasons that the committee has previously cited for their slighting of the standout storyline of the season — defense and repeatedly playing from behind — you could absolutely envisage the committee taking a dim view of the defeat to Kansas State.
However, with just one loss to the 10th ranked team in the nation and multiple ranked wins on their résumé, TCU deserves to be included in the College Football Playoff. If USC had won, the Horned Frogs might have dropped a spot, but it would be ridiculous for them to slip behind the Buckeyes on the back of that one game.
4) Ohio State Buckeyes
The fourth and final spot in the CFP rankings has the potential to be the most contentious in recent years. The way the chips have fallen this season has really opened up a conversation about the value of playing in a championship game. Thankfully, winning a conference crown will carry more weight in an expanded College Football Playoff for the 2024 and 2025 campaigns.
For now, our College Football Playoff predictions presume that the Buckeyes will be the beneficiary of a brutal weekend for the top-ranked teams who played in conference championships. USC’s defeat to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game — and more importantly, the fact they were beaten more soundly than the earlier season loss to the Utes — is likely to cost the Trojans their spot in the “final four.”
To their credit, Ohio State has one of the top-scoring offenses in the nation. Their defense — although exposed by Michigan — has been able to put up some imposing performances this season. The Buckeyes’ only defeat is to an undefeated Big Ten Champion Michigan team that ranks second in our College Football Playoff predictions.
It would be some sort of sweet irony that their bitter rivals winning the conference title and being ranked so highly actually helps Ohio State backdoor their way into the “final four” when the CFP Selection Committee reveals their final rankings.