The College Football Playoff selection committee has made its decision. Alabama will face Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, while Georgia and Oklahoma will square off in the Rose Bowl. In addition to the two semifinals, the rest of the New Year’s Six has been decided as well following a Championship Week in which nearly all the chalk held up when it was all said and done.
SEC Championship Game – Georgia 28, Auburn 7
Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs got the last laugh against the Tigers after losing in Jordan-Hare in early November. Auburn went right down the field and scored on its first possession, but it couldn’t get much else done on offense the rest of the game as Jarrett Stidham didn’t look like the quarterback we had seen the last month of the year.
This time around, Georgia was able to dominate the line of scrimmage. The Bulldogs ground game rolled up 238 yards against Auburn’s front seven, which loosened up the Tigers defense enough for Jake Fromm to be successful on play action. Fromm looked like a completely different quarterback than he did the last time these two teams played and will look to take that poise to the Rose Bowl.
Big 12 Championship Game – Oklahoma 41, TCU 17
Hello, Heisman. Baker Mayfield essentially wrapped up the prestigious individual award with this performance. He didn’t throw for a boatload of yards but found the end zone four times and didn’t turn the ball over once.
Oklahoma’s defense has been maligned all year for its performance against good offenses, but the Sooners shut out the Horned Frogs in the second half in this one. They had six tackles for loss and that’s encouraging news with Georgia next on the schedule.
Pac-12 Championship Game – USC 31, Stanford 28
Of all the Power Five championship games, this one may have been the most exciting. Although neither the Trojans nor the Cardinal had a real chance of getting into the CFP, this one was close the whole way.
Bryce Love had a gritty performance, hobbling around on one leg for the final quarter of the game. But USC’s offense was too much in the end. Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones II both had fantastic days and the Trojans ended up with almost 500 total yards of offense.
Since the Rose Bowl is hosting one of the CFP semifinals, USC will not be playing in Pasadena this year. Instead, it will be taking on the Big Ten Champion in another venue.
Big Ten Championship Game – Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 21
The Buckeyes were clearly the better team in this game, but mistakes kept this one close enough that Wisconsin had a chance to win at the end. Unfortunately, with their ground game held in check, the Badgers couldn’t muster much of a fight. Alex Hornibrook completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw two picks, while Jonathan Taylor had just 41 yards on the ground.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they needed a bigger win in order to get into the CFP. If they would have smashed Wisconsin like they did three years ago in this spot, they probably would have been able to make it. Such an unimpressive victory was not the right message to send to the committee, though, making Alabama an easier choice in the end.
ACC Championship Game – Clemson 38, Miami 3
This game was never in any doubt. Miami’s defense held tough against the run and credit to the Hurricanes for that. However, they had serious trouble in every other phase of the game.
Malik Rosier just hasn’t been good enough over the last month of the season. Rosier again completed less than 50 percent of his passes, and he averaged less than four yards an attempt against Clemson’s defense. He was unable to use his mobility to move the chains either, finishing with just 19 rushing yards against the best front four in the nation. On the other end, Kelly Bryant was great. He completed almost 80 percent of his passes and was clinical with his throws throughout the game.