Top 4 teams announced Dec. 4, playoff games set for National Championship

Charlotte Tomlin

When December rolls around, most people think about Christmas and New Year’s, holidays and family, even traditions and food. But, for college football fans, with the beginning of December comes the best time of the year: College Football Playoffs.

This year, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, the University of Georgia and Texas Christian University will face off for the title of the National Champions.

“My favorite part of the playoffs is the idea that no team has any second chances,”avid TCU fan and senior Blair Brennan said. “In turn, every player plays with no regrets making it a more enjoyable experience. I always love watching the game on Monday instead of doing schoolwork.”

On Nov. 1, before Week 10 of college football games, the preliminary rankings for the College Football Playoff were released. At number one stood the University of Tennessee, at the time an 8-0 team, followed by Ohio State, a common name in the playoffs. Next came Georgia, defending National Champions, with Clemson bringing up the rear, albeit with controversy.

“I’m super excited to see Georgia in the playoffs again this year,” Georgia fan and junior Caroline Bagley said. “I love watching them play.”

However, since Nov. 1, a lot has changed in the rankings. Georgia now holds the No. 1 spot, with Michigan, TCU and Ohio State following behind. For the first time ever, the Big 10 has two teams in the Top 4.

“Considering Georgia has been blowing it out of the water especially late in the season, I was not worried about the rankings, [because] I knew we would be number one,” football player and junior Charlie Neuhoff said.

It comes as no surprise that Georgia holds the number one seed, as they’ve maintained an undefeated record and defeated their biggest competitors, like Tennessee and LSU, soundly.

“I think the [Southeastern Conference] championship was a great game for [Georgia] and a real statement game going into the CFP,” Neuhoff said. “It got us some more hardware as well as showing other teams that we aren’t going to hit the brakes for any team.”

Georgia is in the hunt for its fourth National Championship title. They’re coming off their season with a 13-0 record, led by 25-year-old Stetson Bennett IV, the oldest starting quarterback in the SEC— who is also a Heisman finalist. The Heisman Trophy is an award given annually to the most outstanding player in college football. Four finalists are named and invited to the Heisman Trophy Ceremony on Dec. 10 to celebrate their achievements as players.

“At the beginning of last season Stetson Bennett stressed me out, and I wasn’t sure how we would do,” Neuhoff said. “He clearly proved me wrong and showed he deserved that starting role on the number one team in the nation. Hopefully, he can end this season going back to back and win Georgia another National Championship.”

        Michigan, also undefeated with  13-0 record, has won 11 previous National Championships, the most recent being in 1997. In an interview with ESPN, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy revealed his team’s mission for the College Football Playoffs.

“That ultimate goal, we really weren’t shooting for that National Championship last year,” McCarthy said. “It was to beat Ohio State, win a Big 10 championship, but this year, we’re shooting for it, and we’re going to go get it.”

Led by Heisman finalist Max Duggan, this year is the first year that TCU has made it to the College Football Playoffs having maintained a winning season and finishing the regular season 12-1. TCU lost in the Big 12 conference championship against Kansas State.

“I have been a TCU fan my whole life,” Brennan said. “It is incredible seeing the team finally compete in the CFP and represent the city of Fort Worth on a national stage.”

After their playoff dreams were up in the air when they didn’t make it to the Big 10 conference championship, Ohio State— led by Heisman finalist quarterback C.J. Stroud—was ranked No. 4 in the playoff rankings.

“I think the rankings are fair this year because there are no teams with two losses in the Top 4,” Bagley said.

TCU’s ranking was largely debated, as many people felt that they had an easier record compared to the rest of the teams in the playoffs.

“With the loss by University of Southern California, I felt a lot more comfortable in the frog’s CFP opportunities,” Brennan said. “The loss to Kansas State is sad because it ruins our perfect season, but in hindsight, I think it will fuel a comeback.”

Many fans are worried about TCU’s chances against the other College Football Playoff teams, especially returning national champion, Georgia.

“I am nervous,” Brennan said. “The SEC is a fantastic conference with a great history. However, at the end of the day, it is just another game — the players won’t let the moment get too big.”

However, for fans of those SEC teams, playing against other Power 5 teams is no big deal. The Power 5 consists of the top college football conferences: SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

It is incredible seeing [TCU] finally compete in the CFP and represent the city of Fort Worth on a national stage.

Blair Brennan

“I’m not too worried about going up against other Power 5 conferences,” Neuhoff said. “I believe the SEC is the best conference in the NCAA, and I think our win against Michigan last year in the Orange Bowl just proves that.”

Georgia is set to play Ohio State in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, at 7 p.m. Georgia remains the favorite to win the National Championship, according to ESPN, and is a 6.5 favorite against Ohio State.

“I’m super excited that we made it to the CFP,” Neuhoff said. “I think we have a great chance of winning it all and going back to back.”

TCU will face off against Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, also on Dec. 31, at 3 p.m. According to DraftKings, Michigan is favored to win by 9.5 points. However, Michigan realizes the threat that TCU poses to its National Championship dreams.

“Max Duggan, he’s a great player, but it will be awesome to see how he shapes up against our defense,” McCarthy said in his interview with ESPN. “I always look at other quarterbacks to see if I can take bits and pieces from their game and add it to mine. Max, he’s a tough dude. Seeing him run the ball, especially on those last couple of drives, it was really standing out and realizing, ‘Hey, it’s Big 12, but there will be opportunity for me to use my legs.”’

The playoffs give fans time to cheer on their team after the regular season, as well as spend time with their friends and families.

“My favorite memory of the CFP was Ringo’s pick-six against Alabama which sealed the game,” Neuhoff said. “I remember running around my house celebrating with my family.”

Beginning in 2024, the College Football Playoff will be expanded from a four-team format to a 12-team format, allowing more teams to compete for the National Championship.

“I like the idea of expanding the playoffs because it makes sure that the best teams are in the final,” Bagley said. “Especially because a lot of the most competitive teams are in the same conference, it makes it more fair.”

However, some fans aren’t a fan of the 12-team format, and instead, propose an alternative solution.

“I think 12 teams is good, but some games won’t be competitive enough,” Brennan said. “It will help represent more schools, but I think an eight-team playoff is better.”

Fans all across the country are confident that their team will take home the title of National Champions. “Frogs by 90!” rings through the streets of Fort Worth, while fans of other teams instead choose to focus on their team’s success throughout the year, and how that will manifest itself in the playoffs.

“Georgia will win the National Championship, no question,” Neuhoff said. “They are on a different level and should run through this CFP. The CFP is the best part of the football season, and I’m excited to watch Georgia win it all.”

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