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Saturday June 15th

The College Football Final Four preview

<p>Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy has lead his team to the top seed in the playoff (Photo courtesy of MGoBlog / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgoblog/52430121513/in/photolist-2nJpDhv-2nT4KBR-2nMisyq-2nW6gEV-2nT55ui-2nNQgAD-2nVYUCF-2nWadFJ-2nW2wAh-2nNLFLY-2nT9oza-2nT9oxr-2nT73Qf-2nRAHcB-2nNQg46-2nRGqse-2nNRdG2-2nRBaVn-2nJkRMW-2nJsjfF-2nT9oyD-2nJkFkx-2nJsYsU-2o2vMp8-dbE5yR-2o2wad6-2o8TLP2-2o8ZCZr-2o8WE5t-2ocXmvg-2nRDK9P-dbE992-2nXJrPx-2nYRR3s-2o8YRUq-2o8ZfN1-2o3UrfY-2mUF6oS-2o8Y1vz-2mUBTnr-2mVeCJr-2mVhKeX-4NBZBh-2o1jVCx-2o1cEW9-2o3VLdE-2o3T4bm-2o3VLBR-2mVeDon-2o8ZxSR" target="_blank">Flickr</a>).</p>

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy has lead his team to the top seed in the playoff (Photo courtesy of MGoBlog / Flickr).

By Joey Bachich
Staff Writer

The college football playoff is set and four teams look to battle it out for a national championship early in 2024.

The Final Four Teams

No. 1 - University of Michigan
Record - 13-0
Best wins - No. 7 Ohio State and No. 10 Penn State

The Michigan Wolverines are back in the College Football Playoff for the third season in a row, and they are looking to get out of the first round for the first time in program history. Over the last two seasons, Michigan has had a record of 38-3 with three Big Ten championships in a row. The Michigan team in the past has been built to play stout defense and run the ball with the running back duo of senior Blake Corum and junior Donovan Edwards. 

This season, junior J.J. McCarthy has emerged as a great quarterback at the college level and is an interesting NFL prospect. While the running game is still good, the pass game for Michigan has changed the dynamic for the team and can now push the ball down the field as well as play deep in the trenches. Built like a boa constrictor, this team squeezes the life out of opponents. In the CFP, Michigan looks to break through their glass ceiling by making the championship game and fighting for a national title with head coach Jim Harbaugh.

With the suspension of coach Harbaugh at the end of the season because of a sign stealing allegation, this team came together and did not let that become a distraction, but a motivating force. The only problem this team has is with their offensive line. They have lost a few tackles along with one of their senior captains, guard Zak Zinter, so the depth of the offensive line will be stressed. 

No. 2 - University of Washington 
Record - 13-0
Best wins - No. 8 Oregon Twice and No. 14 Arizona 

In the final season of the Pac-12 conference, the Washington Huskies will be their representative in the CFP. Head coach Kalen DeBoer has created an offense that is the most potent in the nation with a Heisman candidate in quarterback Michael Penix. DeBoer took this Husky team and beat Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game while being a heavy underdog and out-scheming Oregon. DeBoer has an overall record of 103-11 and looks to add two more wins and a national title to his resume. 

The wide receiver core are a group of future NFL players consisting of Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk and a now fully healthy Jalen McMillan. Now being linked with one of the best college quarterbacks of all time in Penix makes for a difficult offense to stop. The defense over the past few weeks has gotten healthy. They fly around to get stops when they need and can make some incredibly timely plays. So far this season Penix has been one of the best clutch players in all of college football, and he looks to keep it rolling in the CFP.

The problem with this team is that they have not played great all season long, going through some ups and downs. They barely beat a 5-7 Washington State team on a game winning field goal and had to survive a game against a 3-9 Stanford as well. Husky fans hope that they get a little more Jekyll than Hyde in the playoffs. 

No. 3 - University of Texas
Record - 12-1
Best wins - No. 4 Alabama and No. 20 Oklahoma State 
Loss - No. 12 Oklahoma
 

Texas is back in the national championship contention after years of middle of the road performances. Head coach Steve Sarkisian finally got his team over the hump with his creative offensive scheming and a roadblock type run defense. 

Texas has one of the best wins in all of college football this season, beating Alabama by double digits on the road. Alabama had not lost a home game by double digits since 2004, before Nick Saban was the head coach. Junior quarterback Quinn Ewers has been a little banged up over the past two seasons, but when healthy, he has really found his deep ball and adds a layer to Texas they have desperately needed. Texas is so physical upfront, it is difficult for opposing teams to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense.

The Oklahoma loss hurts this year, only losing on a game winning touchdown, and it shows some weakness in the Longhorns’ squad. The secondary is straight up bad, with the 95th best passing defense, but they have the third best rushing defense which has carried that unit so far. 

No. 4 - University of Alabama
Record - 12-1
Best wins - No. 6 Georgia and No. 11 Ole Miss
Loss - No. 3 Texas
 

After another Southeastern Conference Championship victory, Alabama is back in the CFP after an up and down season. Head coach Nick Saban has established himself as one of the greatest coaches ever after how this season started and where they are at now. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe has found his footing as the Alabama front man, becoming a great dual threat quarterback. This team plays so smart and that is all credited to Nick Saban and the coaching staff. They really flexed their muscles against Georgia, who had to earn every yard against this athletic defense. 

Alabama had a tough loss early on to Texas, which was thought of as the end of the Alabama playoff hopes. This team battled back again and again against the adversity of this season and found themselves back in the CFP. Running back Jase McClellan will hopefully be healthy for the first game of the playoffs since he has been the bell cow for the offense all year with six touchdowns and 803 yards on the season. 

Alabama is not without blemish, as they needed an insane fourth-and-30 touchdown pass to win against a 6-6 Auburn as time ran out. They are ranked No. 18 in total defense and No. 53 in total offense. This leads them to rely on their quarterback often to make big plays, but he has answered that call so far.

The Games 

Rose Bowl - Jan 1, 2024

No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 4 Alabama
Michigan favored by 2 according to ESPN Bet

Sugar Bowl - Jan 1, 2024

No. 2 Washington vs. No. 3 Texas
Texas favored by 4 according to ESPN Bet

Two winners play in the National Championship on Jan. 8, 2024.




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