Sports writers make playoff predictions

(From left to right): James Dubuisson, Mike Ezekiel, Kadin Pounders and Xavier Wherry discuss their College football predictions Nov. 30. The Flor-Ala sports staff enjoys heated sports debates.

by Sports Editor Mike Ezekiel, Associate Sports Editor Kadin Pounders, Senior Staff Writer James Dubuisson and Student Writer Xavier Wherry

The final weekend of the college football regular season has come to a close.

As the College Football Playoff Selection Committee selected which four teams will play for a national championship Dec. 31 and Jan. 11, our sports staff at The Flor-Ala took the honor of picking which four teams we thought should have made the final field and in what order.

Mike:

1. Clemson

The Clemson Tigers controlled their own destiny, as the win in the ACC championship game secured the top seed. Quarterback Deshaun Watson led Clemson into Bank of America Stadium and helped the Tigers cap an undefeated season and advance to the playoffs.

2. Alabama

Led by Heisman frontrunner Derrick Henry and a stellar front seven defensively, the Alabama Crimson Tide has a wave of momentum. After wins over the likes of Georgia, LSU and Florida in the SEC Championship game, its easy to tell the Ole Miss loss is long forgotton.

3. Oklahoma

It does not seem the loss to Texas Oct. 10 haunts the Sooners, as the Bob Stoops led team has dominated its last few games. With three straight wins over Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State to end the season, Oklahoma was the safest bet for the playoffs, led by potential Heisman finalist quarterback Baker Mayfield.

4. Michigan State

The one-loss Spartans have beaten tough teams, such as Ohio State, Michigan and the previously undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes, proving they are worthy of the playoffs. Led by Mark Dantonio and a seasoned quarterback in Connor Cook, Sparty made the final four in a sport other than basketball.

Champion: Oklahoma

Oklahoma seemed to hit its peak at the right time, which usually spells trouble for anyone in the Sooners’ way.

Kadin:

1. Clemson

After its win over North Carolina, Clemson is an easy decision. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is playing amazing right now, and their resume is without question. Expect more dancing from head coach Dabo Swinney.

2. Alabama

This is not the same Alabama team that won three BCS titles under Nick Saban, but some things never change. With a great defense and a Heisman front-runner running back, the Tide rolled past Florida in the SEC championship game en route to a playoff spot.

3. Oklahoma

The Big 12 does not have a conference championship game like the other Power 5 conferences, but it did not hurt Oklahoma like it did Baylor and TCU last year. As of late, the Sooners have been the most dominate team in football.

4. Michigan State

Michigan State was the better team in the Big 10 championship against Iowa, thus making the playoffs as my four seed.

Champion: Alabama

The Crimson Tide will win its 16th national championship the same way it won its last three titles under Nick Saban: with a suffocating, hard-nosed defense and a bruising ground attack. Alabama’s dynasty is not over yet.

James:

1. Clemson

Anytime a team beats my ‘Canes 58-0, I have to put them as number one. Not to mention their more legitimate qualities, such as one of the best coaches in the nation in Dabo Swinney and the second best player in the country in Deshaun Watson.

2. Michigan State

With their win over Iowa, one of only two undefeated teams left in the Power Five conferences, the Spartans should jump Alabama and Oklahoma to take over the number two spot.

3. Alabama

I cannot believe I am giving Alabama this spot, but they do deserve it. The Tide sealed this spot for me when they shut down Leonard Fournette Nov. 7. They are number three because of the loss to Ole Miss and the trouble they had with the .500 Auburn team. The win over Florida in the SEC championship sealt this spot.

4. Oklahoma

The Sooners are here because the Pac 12 disappeared this season. They are here because the playoff committee needs to make up for the Big 12’s snub in last year’s playoffs. They are not higher because they did not have to play in a conference championship game. Their loss to Texas was bad, but the Sooners redeemed themselves by finishing the season with wins over Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State. They will be the most rested team heading into the playoffs and Baker Mayfield will be looking to prove to Heisman voters he deserved more consideration.

Champion: Alabama

Sadly, Alabama proves they are the best team in the country and we all have to listen to how great they are for another year. Jacob Coker, Derrick Henry and Alabama’s offense is too much for Clemson to handle. Alabama wins a shootout against Watson and the Tigers, 44-38.

Xavier:

1. Clemson

The Tigers have a Heisman hopeful in Deshaun Watson, who has been consistent all season. They have balanced offence (23rd in passing, 25th in rushing), and they only surrender 18 points per game. This team is well coached and has proved they are the true number one team in the country.

2. Alabama

Alabama cruised to another SEC championship Dec. 5 and seem to be in a league all by itself. The Tide, like Clemson, also have a Heisman candidate in Derrick Henry. He, along with two young outstanding athletes in Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart make up a stellar offense. The defense only gives up 18 points per game and could very well have the best coach in college football. Alabama remains the face of the SEC.

3. Oklahoma

The Big 12 champions are the hottest team in the country. The Sooners are getting the job done on both sides of the ball. Baker Mayfield and Samaje Perine are the two standouts offensively. However, surprising to some, they give up 20 points per game in a conference accused of being nothing more than 7-on-7.

4. Michigan State

Beating Ohio State on the road, plus a hard-fought win over Iowa, leads me to believe the Spartans belong here.

Champion: Clemson

I have Clemson defeating Alabama. Bama has not played a team as good as Clemson, or a quarterback as good as Watson. He can beat you with his arm as well as his legs, as both are equally dangerous. I believe he will be the difference in this game. The Tide are a complete team, but the Tigers pose more mismatch problems that Alabama will not be able to overcome.