Tusk to Tail: Looking past Bama to a bowl game maybe near the Rendezvous

It’s time for updated playoff predictions. Which 4 teams get in, and who wins it?

Todd: This changes weekly. Georgia and Alabama in all probability still have to play each other in the SEC title game. Ohio State-Michigan is still ahead. Cincy needs Oregon to lose to Utah. But odds are if Bama loses a close game to UGA in Atlanta, they will become the first 2-loss team to make the playoff. If Notre Dame sneaks in, lord help us all if we have to watch that playoff slaughter again. As of today, I’ll go with Georgia, Bama, Oregon and because the committee is obsessed with them every year, Ohio State. There is still more football to be played and the carousel will continue. We will find out who stays in three weeks.

David: Georgia is the only certainty. Most expect Bama to lose to the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship, but you can never count out Saban when a championship is on the line. Even with two losses, the Crimson Tide should make it in. I think Oregon will have a second loss this week or in the conference championship, so that removes any Pac 12 team again. Ohio State’s single loss was to Oregon. If they win out, they are in, but the door is still open for Michigan State or Michigan if they beat the Buckeyes and win the Big Ten. Let’s go with Sparty just for fun. So who would join Georgia, Alabama, and Michigan State? Notre Dame? Cincinnati, the only team to beat the Irish? If Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, or even Baylor can win the Big 12 Championship with a 12-1 record, I think they might get the nod.

#21 Arkansas @ #2 Alabama
Todd: The Hogs have played their way into a decent bowl game at 7-3, and from here on out it’s icing on the cake. Well, find a way to beat Bama and it’s more than that. Win one more to get to 8 and Tusk to Tail will have their bags packed for a bowl game in Florida. With 7 wins, give me Liberty or give me Texas Bowl. The Hogs have been one of the best in the country on 3rd down stops, but Alabama completes 57% of their tries. The Tide run defense is stellar, and so is their secondary, so Briles has his work cut out for him. Arkansas needs to discover the middle of the field and the tight end again, but the tight end will probably be needed for an extra blocker this week. If the Hogs can somehow get this game to the fourth quarter as a one-score game, lookout. I think Bryant Denny Stadium and the depth of Bama won’t let that happen. One thing is for sure: we will see how far this team has come since the Georgia game where the Hogs were flat out shellshocked. The Tide take another one, 34-17.

David: This week I heard that the first iPhone had not been sold when Arkansas last beat Alabama. One of these days when it’s least expected, the Hogs will find a way to upset the Tide. I love everything the Razorbacks have accomplished so far this year, but I can’t call that upset quite yet. The best we could probably hope for is to cover the 20.5-point spread. Let’s call it 38-20 Alabama.

Auburn @ South Carolina
Todd: Auburn lost a giant lead against Miss State last week, lost their top 25 ranking, and lost their QB and leader Bo Nix for the season. TJ Finley steps in as they take on a mediocre South Carolina team. Carolina rushed for a whopping 57 yards last week against a terrible Missouri defense in the loss. Finley will make enough plays, and the Tiger defense will do the rest. War Eagle, 33-21

#13 Wake Forest @ Clemson
David: One of the most notable names missing from our playoff watch list is Clemson. The Tigers have struggled to replace QB Trevor Lawrence and are a longshot to even make the ACC conference championship game. Clemson has a significant talent advantage, and is favored at home over the Demon Deacons. I see something like 31-24 Clemson.

Vanderbilt @ #10 Ole Miss
Todd: I love writing these things, but Vanderbilt is not worth wasting words on, especially against a top 10 team. Ole Miss early and all day, 42-14.

David: Ole Miss has been as good as expected this season, but it’s the same old Vanderbilt. There is virtually no chance of Vandy pulling off the upset, but the Dores could put up enough of a fight to cover the massive 36.5-point spread. Ole Miss winning 44-13 would check that box.

#7 Michigan State @ #5 Ohio State
David: This is a big game for the Big Ten. We know this because they are playing at 11 a.m. The Buckeyes have been playing their best football the past few weeks, but I like how Sparty matches up. Michigan State would have to win here for my playoff prediction to come true, so let’s say Sparty wins a 31-30 shocker over the Buckeyes.

#4 Oregon @ #24 Utah
Todd; A huge game for the Ducks as they look to stay in college football playoff talk and keep their #4 ranking. Lose, and in all probability, they are out with two losses. Oregon has run for close to a 1,000 yards the past three games, and seem to have found themselves. Utah has given up two 200-yard rushing games to San Diego State and BYU in losses. They are 0-8 when they give up 200-plus. Think that streak continues. Quack quack! The Ducks stay alive, 31-24.

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