12-Team College Football Playoff: Quarterfinal Matchups
Oklahoma Sooners (1) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (9)
After knocking off Cincinnati as the lone lower seed to win in the first round, North Carolina gets rewarded with a matchup against Oklahoma. This could be a matchup between the top two quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft with Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell going toe-to-toe. And this round of that battle is going to the Sooners quarterback.
Not only do I expect Oklahoma’s defense to be the best it’s been in quite some time but they simply have more ways to beat a team like North Carolina than vice versa. Their weapons are more plentiful and the playmakers on defense, such as Nik Bonitto, are more obvious. This would be a thriller but the Sooners would prevail. Winner: Oklahoma
Georgia Bulldogs (2) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (7)
Texas A&M has the bodies and the athletes to dominate USC, especially as the Trojans are still trying to find their footing in the trenches. The same is not true for Georgia. In fact, you could make the argument that the Bulldogs are better in those areas than the Aggies. But that’s actually not the reason why the higher seed would advance here.
While Haynes King could make this look silly if he adds a new element to the offense, Georgia is just the more explosive team. We’ve seen in recent years how valuable the ability to produce huge plays offensively is and JT Daniels showed that for the Dawgs. Contrarily, Jimbo Fisher hasn’t shown that of late, which would leave the fans in Athens celebrating. Winner: Georgia
Ohio State Buckeyes (3) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (6)
There is no question for me that C.J. Stroud can take over the Ohio State offense and thrive. The talent and infrastructure around him is too elite for that not to be the case. However, they are going to dominate the Big Ten because of their ability to control the trenches. That won’t be as easy to accomplish, however, against Alabama.
Furthermore, the Crimson Tide have enough pass-catching weapons to attack the Buckeyes secondary, which could be the biggest problem area for Ryan Day’s team this year. And if that weren’t enough, Bryce Young getting Bama to this point means he’s going to have the playmaking advantage on Stroud. Advantage, Nick Saban. Winner: Alabama
Clemson Tigers (4) vs. Oregon Ducks (5)
Two matchups between Oregon and Clemson would be extremely fascinating and, ultimately, pivotal for the outcome. The first would be Kayvon Thibodeaux and a potentially dominant Ducks front seven against a suspect Tigers offensive line. On the flip side, how D.J. Uiagalelei and a talented wide receiver corps attacks a young Oregon secondary would be intriguing.
At the end of the day, Clemson has been here before, even if Uiagalelei hasn’t. Their defense won’t be able to completely dominate the Ducks by any stretch but they have enough advantages there and in the passing game that they should be able to squeak by Oregon in a tight one. Winner: Clemson