As the regular season portion of the college football season winds down, the College Football Playoff picture is coming more into focus. Though there is still some uncertainty on who will be the final four teams competing for the CFP title, a handful of favorites have emerged to vie for the crown.
Below we take a look at some familiar CFP favorites and also a dark horse that could make history in 2022.
Led by the sixth-year head coach Kirby Smart, the Bulldogs have rode a historic defense to the SEC Eastern Division crown. Georgia is now on a collision course with Alabama in the SEC Championship game which could also determine who will ultimately win the national title as well. The consensus No. 1 overall team, the Bulldogs are undefeated at 12-0 and boast a perfect record (8-0) in SEC play. Quarterback Stetson Bennett has emerged as the Bulldogs signal-caller and skill position players Zamir White (running back) and George Pickens (wide receiver) lead a balanced attack for UGA.
However, the true strength of the Bulldogs lies with their defense. Recognized as potentially one of the greatest units of all-time, Georgia has relied on a suffocating defense to bury their opponents. No team has scored more than 17 points against the Bulldogs and the unit has held opponents under 10 points seven times so far on the season. Since their 10-3 season opening win over Clemson, Georgia has decimated opponents and won by double digits in each of their games since.
The SEC Western Division champion and defending national champion, Alabama is still the king of the college football world until someone else knocks them off. The Tide have had another amazing year with marquee wins over No. 14 Miami, No. 11 Florida and No. 12 Ole Miss. Quarterback and Heisman Trophy favorite, Bryce Young, has done a masterful job of piloting the Tide offense since taking over for the departed Mac Jones. Alabama will usually open each year as the favorite to win it all, but they must get past Georgia, potentially twice, to secure another national title.
Coming off one of the most thrilling wins in recent memory, the Michigan Wolverines are poised to make their first run at the CFP title. Fresh off a 42-27 victory over then No. 2 Ohio State (its first since 2011), the Wolverines have set themselves up for a Big Ten Championship Game showdown with Iowa. If Michigan can knock off the Hawkeyes, they will be a virtual lock to make the college football final four. Led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Cade McNamara, the Wolverines will finish the regular season with an 11-1 record, including an 8-1 mark in Big Ten play. Though they are truly riding a huge high of knocking off Ohio State, the Wolverines have to stay focused if they want to make a strong playoff run.
The Cinderella story this season, the Bearcats have done nearly everything they have needed to do to make a case for themselves to be a part of the national title conversation. With a marquee win over No. 9 Notre Dame earlier this season and a dominant run through the American Athletic Conference, Cincinnati is the dark horse to crash the usual Power Five national championship party. However, the Bearcats will be hard-pressed to gain a lot of momentum against the traditional powers. A non-Power Five school has yet to win the CFP title.
Prediction: Indeed it would be more fun to root for a school like Cincinnati to take home the national title, but that just will not be the case this year. However, a new CFP champion will be crowned this year as the Georgia Bulldogs will ride their all-world defense to a national title.
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