by Joe Quirk '23 on December 1, 2022
University of Michigan
Will Murphy ’23
As the college football season comes to a close and conferences hold their championships, many fans turn their attention to the looming College Football Playoff. All the nation’s best teams hope to be selected, but ultimately only four will be chosen to participate in the event.
One of those teams will almost certainly be the University of Michigan, which will likely be one of the favorites to take home the championship trophy. The Wolverines have been dominant all year, and have just one final test remaining: the Big Ten Championship. Michigan will face an 8–4 Purdue University on Saturday, Dec. 3. The Wolverines are coming off perhaps their best win of the season against their bitter rival, Ohio State University, who was ranked in the top four in the country before the contest. Michigan rolled to a 45–23 victory behind a dominant second half that saw the Wolverines outscore the Buckeyes 28–3. Michigan’s defense held strong against Ohio State, despite the prowess of Ohio State’s offense led by playmakers C.J. Stroud and Marvin Harrison Jr. This victory solidified Michigan’s case for the College Football Playoff, and barring any unforeseen circumstances the Wolverines will likely remain in the top four, win or lose against Purdue in the Big Ten Championship this weekend.
One of Michigan’s biggest advantages is that they have an experienced coach who has been to the Championship before. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has a championship pedigree and should lead his team into the playoffs with a very solid game plan regardless of who they will be matched up with. Along with coaching, Michigan’s defense is another notable strength that will likely have an impact on the team’s success in the playoff. Defensive lineman Mike Morris, who was named the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year, terrorizes opposing offenses and can minimize the opposing teams’ running games. Mazi Smith is another difference-maker on the defensive line, who was a first-team All-Big Ten selection. These two, along with many others, have helped guide Michigan to a top-five scoring defense in the country, one that could match up with even the most formidable offensive attacks.
In addition, Michigan has an elite offensive line that bolsters a strong run game and a steady passing attack. Running back Blake Corum has already racked up over 1,400 rushing yards to go along with an impressive 18 touchdowns. Look for Corum and Michigan to run their way through the College Football Playoff and become the 2022-23 National Champions.
University of Georgia
Joseph Quirk ’23
The University of Georgia is one of the most iconic and historic names in college football. Yet, it was only last year that the SEC darling captured its first national championship since 1980, their first in the modern college football playoff era, and their first under brilliant head coach Kirby Smart. It wasn’t UGA’s first appearance in the title game under Smart; they had appeared four years prior in 2017, where they lost to Smart’s mentor Nick Saban and the University of Alabama. But last year Smart got his revenge and finally took down the Tide in an exciting back-and-forth matchup. With an experienced returning quarterback, a promising young tight-end, and many other returning pieces, there was certainly reason for optimism that Georgia could be back.
However, there was also reason for doubt. Georgia lost some big offensive pieces such as running-back James Cook and wide-receiver George Pickens. Georgia also has a historically good defense, most of their key pieces heading to the NFL. Returning quarterback Stetson Bennet was a walk-on at UGA and was never supposed to start, but an injury gave him the opportunity. Could he really replicate his success for an entire season? While they were ranked to begin the season, there was valid reason to question if Georgia could return to the college football playoffs, let alone the title game.
That was all answered in week one, when Georgia absolutely demolished the University of Oregon 49–3. Oregon was a top-25 team entering the season as well and has remained in the top 25 now into the end of the season. They are a good football team, but Georgia buried them. Georgia would go on to stay undefeated throughout both its season and SEC play, not allowing more than 22 points in any game. The defense that people were worried would take a step back is almost as good as last season, with another multiple projected first round picks this year. Georgia, currently No. 1 in the country, faces Louisiana State University on Saturday, Dec. 3 for the SEC championship. LSU is currently a top-15 team themselves, so even a loss to them should not knock Georgia out of the playoffs. Georgia would have one loss, that being to a top-15 team, and a better resume than most of the other one-loss teams just outside the playoffs. Letting Georgia in means unleashing the dogs. The No. 2 team in the country right now is the University of Michigan. Michigan, while arguably much improved from last year, faced UGA in last season’s playoff semi-final game, in which UGA won with ease. The other likely playoff contenders are Texas Christian University and the University of Southern California, who will be having not only their first taste of the playoffs but also have first year head coaches and less experienced and talented rosters. It is clear: the University of Georgia will win this season’s national title.