And so here we are. The regular season has ended and against all odds and shoddy score keeping, there’s two people tied for first place in the picks. Both Mitch and myself ended the season at 43-23 to set up the first ever Championship Game Showdown! Never fear though, your other favorite staff pickers will be back next time.
David Poole (@VirgoAssassain): 3-3 (36-30)
Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke): 3-3 (43-23)
Courtney McCrary (@CourtMac17): 3-3 (39-27)
Derek Woods (@D_Woods21): 4-2 (36-30)
Britt Zank (@BZank17): 0-6 (30-36)
Tim Bach (@TBach84): 4-2 (43-23)
#5 Michigan State vs #4 Iowa
Tim Bach: I still haven’t figured out Iowa yet but they just keep winning. Nebraska gave them trouble and showed how to beat them in theory at least. Michigan State has their offensive and defensive lines rolling and a healthy Connor Cook makes the difference. Sparty marches to the College Football Playoff.
Mitch Gatzke: Iowa is undefeated mostly because they haven’t had to play the Big Ten juggernauts. It’s been an incredible run for the Hawkeyes, but I think the Spartans put an end to it. State wins 24-14.
#22 Temple vs #19 Houston
Tim Bach: Temple hasn’t been quite the same since they got beat by Notre Dame. Houston in theory no longer has to worry about their coach getting poached so they can actually focus on the game now and just trounced a pretty good Navy team. The Owl is a cooler mascot but this is about winning so I’m going with Houston.
Mitch Gatzke: This one’s a close call. I’m leaning toward Houston because they’re hosting and Greg Ward Jr.’s playmaking ability is undeniable. Cougars 38, Owls 30.
#18 Florida vs #2 Alabama
Tim Bach: This will be the most lopsided of the championship games without a doubt. Florida got demolished by Florida State and most likely had their confidence broken. The SEC is mostly garbage this year but Alabama is still pretty good and they’ll drop at least five scores on Florida in a blowout.
Mitch Gatzke: Nobody seems to be giving Florida much of a chance in this one. I’ll say this though: Alabama better go out assert its dominance early. The Gators can’t score, but they can make life awfully tough for opposing offenses. In the end, the Tide roll, 17-9.
#20 USC vs #7 Stanford
Tim Bach: I waffled on this one a lot because it will depend on which USC shows up. Is it the USC who beat up Cal, UCLA, and Utah? Or is it the USC who got stomped by Stanford and Oregon? They say it’s hard to beat a team twice in a season. I’m banking on the USC that beat up on UCLA coming to town to face that Stanford defense that just allowed Notre Dame to put up 36 points. Also, I think Mitch will pick Stanford.
Mitch Gatzke: Granted, it is an extremely long shot, but Stanford is still alive in the playoff hunt. A blowout win here and something unexpected at the top might be just enough to sneak the Cardinal into the fourth spot. It’s tough to beat any team twice in the same season, but that first meeting was a long time ago. I think Stanford is that much better than USC. 35-23.
#10 North Carolina vs #1 Clemson
Tim Bach: This one is hard to pick because I don’t actually know how good North Carolina is. Other than bombing Duke, who did they really play? Clemson on the other hand took care of some pretty solid competition in Florida State and Notre Dame. I’m going to go with Clemson because if somehow they lose, Ohio State is going to luck their way into the Playoff.
Mitch Gatzke: As much as I’d love to be the guy who calls this upset, I’m not confident enough to do it.
North Carolina will score enough points to keep pace. I have no doubts about that. My worry is that the Tarheels won’t be able to get the stops they need late in the game. Clemson pulls away in the fourth, 42-34.