Georgia and Michigan Football took care of business in their respective conference championships on Saturday. Couple that with TCU’s OT loss in Saturday’s Big-12 title game and Southern Cal’s loss in Friday’s Pac-12 title game, that should give us a clear picture of the College Football Playoff semifinalists, who will be broadcast on ESPN Sunday lunchtime to be announced. Here’s a quick look at the last four and how we think they’re set:
All averages for Saturday’s games.
1. Georgia Bulldogs (13-0)
Attack: Goal shot — 13th (38.3 points per game); meter – 8thth (488.8); Frenzied courtyards — 22nd (203); Past farms — 18th (285.8).
Defense: Goals — 1. (11.3); meter — 4th (270.6); Frenzied courtyards — 2nd (79.5); Past farms – 22nd (191.2).
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Scouting report: King is king — Georgia hasn’t lost since Nov. 7, 2020 — and the Wolverines still have flashbacks to how they were mistreated by the Bulldogs at the Orange Bowl last December. Georgia lost much of that defense to the NFL … and still led the nation with the fewest points allowed this season. Incredibly, no Bulldog reached 60 tackles, nine TFLs or four sacks during the regular season — but 15 had at least a half sack. On offense, kudos to Stetson Bennett IV, who rushed for 3,151 yards with 16 TDs and six interceptions in the regular season despite not having a receiver with 650 yards. (The Bulldogs have spread it, but Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey are the biggest pass-catching threats.)
2. Michigan Wolverines (13-0)
Attack: Goal shot — 8th (39.8); meter — 24th (459.1); Frenzied courtyards — 5th (244.5); Past farms — 91st (214.6).
Defense: Goals — 3rd (12.7); meter — 2nd (262.2); Frenzied courtyards — 3rd (84.8); Past farms — 11th (177.3).
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Scouting report: Jim Harbaugh’s squad doubled on a ground-and-pound approach, despite substituting Blake Corum – and now Donovan Edwards following Corum’s season-ending knee surgery – for Hassan Haskins. So far so good, although the games weren’t exactly exciting – it’s like watching a snake eat an animal bigger than itself; Once the jaw is unhinged, all that remains is digestion. Likewise, in nine games during the Big Ten season, the Wolverines only allowed two opponents second-half touchdowns: Maryland on September 24 and Illinois on November 19. As much as the Corum injury drew attention this week, a more serious one could be defensive lineman Mike Morris, who missed the Big Ten’s title game with an injury sustained against Illinois.
3. TCU Horned Frogs (12-1)
Attack: Goal shot — 3rd (41.3); meter — 16th (473.3); Frenzied courtyards — 27th (198.5); Past farms — 25th (274.8).
Defense: Goals — 53rd (24.5); meter — 73rd (383.5); Frenzied courtyards — 61st (144.8); Past farms — 87th (238.7).
Scouting report: The Horned Frogs have gone from rowdy underdogs to CFP locks to nervous observers over the past month. Their underlying stats — don’t stare too hard at the Frogs’ pass defenders or they’ll burst into flames — aren’t spectacular, and they have just two wins against teams in the latest CFP rankings: No. 20 Texas and No. 10 Kansas State, who retaliated with a 31-28 OT win in the Big 12 title game. Nonconference victories over Colorado — possibly the worst Power Five school in the country — and FCS-level Tarleton State aren’t great, but at least September’s TCU held off Bowl-eligible SMU. gulp. But an unbeaten regular season has to mean something, right?
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4. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
Attack: Goal shot — 2nd (44.5); meter — 6th (492.7); Frenzied courtyards — 27th (198.5); Past farms — 15th (294.2).
Defense: Goals — 13th (19.3); meter – 11th (303.9); Frenzied courtyards — 23rd (119.9); Past farms — 15th (184).
Scouting report: Yes, we know – we thought they were done too after fighting the Wolverines harder than Claude Lemieux at The Joe. But here they are, thanks to a season-opening win over Notre Dame, still ranked No. 21 by the CFP committee on Tuesday. (The Irish finished 8-4 with losses to Marshall and Stanford – Pooh.) The Buckeyes have struggled to stay healthy, with stars Jaxon Smith-Njigba and TreVeyon Henderson missing large chunks of the season. But Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. have risen as sophomores, allowing QB CJ Stroud to shine again. OSU’s only loss is probably better than TCU’s – but does the committee really want a rematch between OSU and UM in a semifinal?
Waiting in the wings: Alabama Crimson Tide
Attack: Goal shot — 5th (40.8); meter — 14th (475.7); Frenzied courtyards — 29th (197.4); Past farms — 23rd (278.3).
Defense: Goals — 10th (18); meter — 15th (311.3); Frenzied courtyards — 30th (125.8); Past farms — 17th (186).
Scouting report: Yes, we know — we thought they were done, too, after coming up short in overtime against LSU, which ended in four losses after Saturday’s loss to Georgia. But Nick Saban’s crew is like Michael Myers in Halloween; until you see the Crimson Tide actually taking a snap in the Sugar Bowl, they are ALWAYS a CFP candidate. The stars are still there in Tuscaloosa — QB Bryce Young will be a top-3 pick in the NFL draft, and LB Will Anderson Jr. (with 58½ TFLs and 34½ sacks in 40 games) should be — but the tide has this killer misses threats from years past, although RB Jahmyr Gibbs has put up 1,228 yards from scrimmage with 136 carries and 42 receptions.
This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Michigan Football in the College Football Playoff: Who Will Join Them?