College Football Playoff: The storylines to watch

Atlanta — While basically every traditional power was holding back or fighting inferior foes, Georgia had obliterated almost everyone in its path.

Tennessee was a contender until the Bulldogs overwhelmed the Vols. LSU ended Alabama’s playoff hopes and was beaten by coach Kirby Smart’s juggernaut in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia began the season by wiping out Oregon with his 46 points.

In a tumultuous season, undefeated Georgia remained unchanged — the defending national champions may be even more accomplished than they were before the season. It enters the Peach Bowl as the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoffs, scoring his second-lowest points (12.8) and his 11th-most scores (38.7) in the nation. One possession gave him one game decided and an ugly four-point victory over Missouri, which also runs the SEC. Otherwise, the Bulldog outscores his opponent with a staggering 483-144 and is a big favorite to become his first repeat champion since Alabama in 2011-12.

The main question in the playoffs is whether Georgia will be given a game on a 15-game winning streak. Tennessee could not. LSU could not. Oregon couldn’t. A talented but imperfect No. 4 seed, Ohio State will get its first crack on New Year’s Eve at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

With the semi-finals approaching, The Post’s Zach Brasiler takes a look at some of the other stories from the two games.

buck the trend

After 13 games, it’s still hard to tell what Ohio State is. Even with his only loss, his 45-23 loss at home to Michigan, the Buckeyes looked like a good team for the long haul. Their defense gave up too many big plays — his five touchdowns over 45 yards. They overwhelmed his 10-win Pennsylvania State in the trip, and on September 3, overwhelmed Notre Dame.

Of course, even if top receiver Jackson-Smith-Nigba and top running back Treveyon Henderson end their season due to injury, they’re still brimming with talent. This group features a quarterback (CJ Stroud) who ranks 13th in scoring defense, his second in scoring, and the nation’s top passing efficiency.

CJ Stroud

Playing house money as a 6.5 point underdog against Georgia in the backyard of the Bulldogs. Ohio State wasn’t even supposed to reach the playoffs after losing to Michigan on Thanksgiving weekend, but USC’s loss to Utah in the Pac-12 title game saw the Buckeyes enter the back door. was given. Now they have to play his best 60 minutes of the season against the best team they’ve played against in a year.

Benn’ there, done that

Stetson Bennett was already a legend in Athens, Georgia, the walk-on quarterback that led Georgia to its first title since 1980. Plus, if he wins two, Bennett is immortal and as a starter he’ll be the rare quarterback to win two national championships.

A year ago at this point, there was legitimate concern whether the native Georgian was good enough before the 25-year-old signal-caller threw for five touchdowns and 537 yards in the playoffs last season. . He did even better this fall, posting career-highs in completion percentage (68.1) and yards (3,425), scoring 27 total touchdowns (his 20 in the air), and finishing in the Heisman Trophy voting for him. finished in 4th place.

Stetson Bennett
Stetson Bennett

skim gym

Jim Harbaugh brought Michigan back to the national level and led the Wolverines to back-to-back playoff appearances. Now, could he return to the NFL? Rumors are already swirling that teams are interested in him. There were vacancies in Denver, Indianapolis (where he played), and Carolina, and NFL Network recently reported that teams were doing their homework on him. Last year, Harbaugh interviewed for a job with the Vikings, but he remained in Michigan after getting a raise. It was unclear if he received an offer from Minnesota.

horn up

TCU not only fell out of the ranks in the preseason Associated Press polls: it didn’t get a single vote. In the Big 12 he was selected 7th. The Horned Frogs weren’t supposed to get anywhere near the playoffs. Pundits don’t expect much from his TCU, even after an impressive season that won the league title. A 7.5 point underdog to Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl.

Coach Sonny Dykes’ team is considered the worst of the four programs, with five wins by one score and many miraculous comebacks. It’s a whopping 18/1 to win them all. Clearly, no one believes in Cinderella. Again, TCU had no followers in August, and while the Big 12 school was expected to decline at some point, he’s one of the last four teams remaining here. is one of Levee almost certainly uses the role of the underdog as motivation.

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