The Circuit’s 2021 College Football 3rd Trimester Check-In
Now that the college football regular season is over, The Circuit will look ahead to the conference championship games, predict what the final playoff rankings will look like, and hand out some awards for this season! Getty Images/ Circuit Artwork Circuit Top 25 Poll Getty Images 1- Georgia Bulldogs 2- Michigan Wolverines 3- Cincinnati Bearcats 4- Alabama Crimson Tide 5- Oklahoma State Cowboys 6- Notre Dame Fighting Irish 7- Ohio State Buckeyes 8- Baylor Bears 9- Ole Miss Rebels 10- Oregon Ducks 11- Michigan State Spartans 12- Oklahoma Sooners 13- Iowa Hawkeyes 14- BYU Cougars 15- Pittsburgh Panthers 16- Wake Forest Demon Deacons 17- Utah Utes 18- San Diego State Aztecs 19- NC State Wolfpack 20- Clemson Tigers 21- Texas A&M Aggies 22- Houston Cougars 23- Arkansas Razorbacks 24- Minnesota Golden Gophers 25- UTSA Roadrunners Michigan made a statement this weekend by beating Ohio State, which earned them my #2 spot. I continue to reward Cincinnati because all they do is win, and they've beaten some good teams. Alabama looked shaky against Auburn, and I still don't buy them as the typical Bama team. Heading into next weekend, there are really only 7 teams in contention to make the playoff; Georgia, Michigan, Cincinnati, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Baylor. Realistically I only see those first five having a chance, but with Michigan & Cincinnati losses, Notre Dame could find their way in. And for Baylor, beating Oklahoma State opens the door if Alabama and Cincinnati lose next weekend. Circuit Heisman Watch Rankings Getty Images 1- CJ Stroud (Ohio State QB) 2- Bryce Young (Alabama QB) 3- Matt Corral (Ole Miss QB) 4- Kenneth Walker III (Michigan State RB) 5- Hassan Haskins (Michigan RB) This is a really close call. Stroud had the best regular season statistically, but Alabama has a better year AND Young has an extra chance to impress voters in the SEC championship game. I think this will be one of the closest votes ever, but CJ Stroud will narrowly win the Heisman over Bryce Young. Conference Championship Predictions American Athletic Conference Title Game: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Houston Cougars Getty Images Houston has had a fantastic regular season, but the Bearcats are the team of destiny. Cincinnati will win this contest fairly comfortably. ACC Title Game: Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Getty Images The Panthers have one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and that should be enough to lift Pittsburgh over Wake for the ACC championship. Big 12 Title Game: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Baylor Bears Getty Images The Cowboys have a historically great defense in terms of Big 12 teams, and that should be enough to get by Baylor and potentially punch their playoff ticket. Big Ten Title Game: Michigan Wolverines vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Getty Images This has major trap game potential for the Wolverines; after finally beating Ohio State, they could easily fall flat against an Iowa team that was ranked #2 early in the season. But Hutchinson and Haskins should lead Michigan to the playoff. Conference USA Title Game: UTSA Roadrunners vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Getty Images The Roadrunners are the better team, and they will hammer the Hilltoppers. Especially coming off their only loss of the season, all UTSA has left to play for is the conference title. MAC Title Game: Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Kent State Golden Flashes Getty Images This is probably the least-exciting championship game, so give me the Huskies because they wear red and red is the color of power. Mountain West Title Game: San Diego State Aztecs vs. Utah State Aggies Getty Images The Aztecs are one of the best Group of Five teams in the country, and despite Utah State being much improved, San Diego State will dominate this game and win the Mountain West. Pac 12 Title Game: Utah Utes vs. Oregon Ducks Getty Images In a rematch of just a couple of weeks ago, I like the Ducks to get revenge and win the Pac 12. While it will be too little too late to make the playoff, it will be a good launchpad for the Ducks going into next season. SEC Title Game: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Getty Images This is not the same dominant Alabama team that we’ve grown used to. They’re good, not great. This Bulldog defense is great however, and I think they will shut down the Tide and knock them out of the playoff. Sun Belt Title Game: Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Getty Images This may shock you, but I haven’t watched a whole lot of either of these teams this season. The only time I did watch these teams, I saw Appalachian State beat Coastal Carolina, a team I thought could compete with Cincinnati at the beginning of the season. Because of that, I’m going with the Mountaineers in this one. What Will the College Football Playoff Look Like? 1 Georgia Bulldogs def 4 Oklahoma State Cowboys Getty Imgaes This is projecting that Georgia beats Alabama and knocks them out, while Oklahoma State beats Baylor to get here. In a battle of two great defenses, the Bulldogs will pull away late to advance to the title game. 2 Michigan Wolverines def 3 Cincinnati Bearcats Getty Images It feels inevitable that the Bearcats are destined to make the playoff. Michigan, however, needs to avoid a letdown against Iowa. While Cincinnati will keep this close, the wolverines run game will beat down the Bearcats and set up Michigan vs. Georgia for the national championship. 1 Georgia Bulldogs def 2 Michigan Wolverines Getty Images Raise your hand if you didn’t have Alabama OR Ohio State in the title game before the season… no one? Same. But these have been the two most impressive teams all season long, and are deserving finalists. In a back-and-forth battle, Georgia will outlast Michigan to win it all. There you have it! All my predictions for championship weekend and the Collefe Football Playoff. Make sure to check out all of our other great content here at The Circuit, and come back after the season for the 2021 College Football Reflection after the national championship game!