Good snowy morning everyone! I hope all of you are warm and cozy in your homes since I assume most of you reading this (unless you live in Auburn) got quite a bit of snow yesterday.
Today, we’re taking a quick look at this weekend’s First Round matchups for the College and Magnolia College Football Playoff (CMCFP). If you aren’t familar with what I am talking about, check out the primer for the CMCFP earlier this week. I think you’ll enjoy it!
Since the first round has a whopping 64 games, I wasn’t able to go too in depth with each and every game, but I hope this gives you some things to think about for the first round.
Let me know how y’all think this weekend is going to play out! Any upsets in mind? If you feel the urge to write a game preview, or a game recap after the results come out, feel free to write it in the comments! It’s tournament time!
(1) OSU vs (16) UAB: Blazers, you’ve been one of the darlings of this football season. Unfortunately, there’s not much I think you can do here. The Buckeyes are the number one overall seed, and number one overall seeds don’t lose in the first round.
(8) Missouri vs (9) Ohio: This is a fun matchup, with Missouri finishing the year on an absolute tear. Good on them for getting in the playoffs. Drew Locke is probably the most underrated quarterback in the country, and Ohio ranks 82nd is passing S&P+. If the Bobcats are going to win this one, QB Nathan Rourke and RB A.J. Ouellette is going to have to run the ball well against the Tigers.
(5) Louisville vs (12) Iowa: Despite all of the flaws with the Cardinals, Lamar Jackson can take them places. Will it be enough to hold off the giant-killer Hawkeyes? As we all know, in
March December, the 12/5 upset is all too common. We’ll find out soon enough.
(4) Toledo vs (13) Arizona: Khalil Tate will get a chance to run wild against a middling Rocket defense. Expect this to be a shootout, though, since the Rockets also hold one of the country’s best passing attacks.
(3) UCF vs (14) North Texas: The Mean Green can score, but it will be a tall task to keep up with the 50 points-per-game Knights. You’ve got to expect UCF to roll through this one.
(6) Virginia Tech vs (11) Purdue: Expect this one to be a defensive struggle, with VT fielding the number six defense in the country and Purdue having the number 28 defense against fairly mediocre offenses.
(7) Fresno State vs (10) Oregon: Perhaps the biggest turnaround story in college football sans UAB this year has been the Bulldogs. With Willie Taggart bolting for FSU, who knows who will be calling the shots for Oregon? This one could get crazy as a Pac-12/MWC after-dark game.
(2) Oklahoma vs (15) Marshall: Baker Mayfield will do bad things to this Marshall defense. Very bad things.
(1) Washington vs (16) TAMU: This is a Washington defense which should play VERY well against a young TAMU quarterback, although the Aggies have the talent on the field to compete with Washington. However, the Huskies have shown their talent is significantly more developed than most other programs in the country. You’ve got to expect a Washington win here.
(8) Houston vs (9) Wake Forest: Last year this game would’ve been a blowout, but Wake put together a quietly decent 7-5 season while Houston struggled to find an identity under Major Applewhite. The Demon Deacons will have to continue to be successful in throwing the ball, because Ed Oliver will be ready to stuff any and all rushes in this game.
(5) LSU vs (12) NC State: Maybe that Orgeron hire wasn’t so awful after all? The early season results weren’t great, but the Tigers looked the part once the offense opened up. Meanwhile, NC State was a dark horse candidate in the ACC in the preseason, but went 8-4 and really faded down the stretch.
(4) TCU vs (13) UTSA: I love when power conference football teams play smaller in-state programs. You know a lot of these guys played high school ball together. But, this just isn’t a game Gary Patterson loses. Expect to see the Horned Frogs move on.
(3) FAU vs (14) Miami-OH: Another directional Florida school as a three seed! I’ve got a pretty good feeling the Lane-train will keep on rolling through a largely average 5-win Miami-OH team.
(6) Michigan vs (11) Iowa State: Unfortunately, Michigan won’t be able to break out Shea Patterson just yet. It’ll be interesting to see if either team can move the ball against the defenses, but part of me has a feeling the Cyclones will continue to promote chaos in college football.
(7) Boise State vs (10) Utah: Former Mountain West Conference founding member gets to face off with the crown jewel the aforementioned conference in what should be another fun Pac-12/MWC matchup. Neither team has been on top of their usual game this season, but this should be an intriguing matchup for everyone.
(2) Penn State vs (15) SMU: With the ponies losing Chad Morris to Arkansas earlier this week, it might be difficult for them to keep up with a really strong Penn State offense. While McSorley and Barkley struggled against top-tier defenses this season, I don’t think those struggles will carry over here.
(1) Alabama vs (16) West Virginia: “Country roads, take me home/To the place I belong/West Virginia/Mountain mamma, take me home/Country roads” – Nick Saban, in the only way West Virginia might actually win this game.
(8) Washington State vs (9) Southern Miss: Did any of you know Washington State has actually fielded a better defense than offense this year? Not I. Anyways, these two teams have pretty similar statistical profiles, so expect the Cougars to do their thing and make this one batshit crazy.
(5) Memphis vs (12) Northern Illinois: Only one side of the ball will be good football in this one. Memphis, as we saw in the AAC title game, has an elite offense led by a solid sophomore RB combination and senior QB Riley Ferguson, who threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 36 TDs this season. Meanwhile, NIU has number 13 defense in the country. On the flip side, the Huskies 103rd ranked offense gets to square up with the Tiger’s 106th ranked defense. Yikes.
(4) USF vs (13) FSU: How about this in-state matchup! I’m telling you, the directional Floridas had a great year. Despite a tough loss to rival UCF in the final game of the year, Charlie Strong fielded a REALLY good team all over the field this year led by Quentin Flowers at quarterback. I just don’t think the Noles will be able to put up a fight here.
(3) Auburn vs (14) Texas: This Auburn defense against a pretty poor Texas offense? Yes please. If Texas has a shot, it would be because Auburn can’t get the offense going against a good-not-great Longhorns defense. If Kerryon Johnson is healthy, this is an easy win.
(6) Arkansas State vs (11) Colorado State: Another intriguing G5 matchup here. Arkansas State was a bit of an enigma this season. They played extremely well in their wins, but they also seemed to just give away their losses. Three of their four losses were by less than a touchdown, including an absolute meltdown in the defacto Sun Belt Championship against Troy. If the Red Wolves can put the pieces back together to and get out to an early start, they should win this one easily.
(7) Michigan State vs (10) Troy: Can this game have a fun, ancient Greek rivalry game? The Spartans take on the Trojans in this one, and it should be a doozy. The Spartans will have a talent advantage in this one, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but getting a tournament win would really put a cap on a great season at Troy for head coach Neal Brown.
(2) Clemson vs (15) Texas Tech: As we Auburn fans saw this season, this Clemson defense is nasty. The offense hasn’t been too shabby on its own, but I just don’t see the Red Raiders hanging around for long in this game.
(1) Georgia vs (16) Wyoming: While this could be one last shot for Wyoming QB Josh Allen to put on a show for NFL scouts, I’m not so sure he’ll enjoy facing this Georgia defense. Best of luck, Mr. Allen. You’ll need it.
(8) Stanford at (9) Appalachian State: How is this for a culture clash? Appalachia meets Northern California? The Mountaineers will have their hands full with Bryce Love if he is back even to 80%, but these 8/9 games are (expectedly) tough to predict.
(5) Miami vs (12) Ole Miss: That’s right, Rebs, you’re in my postseason! Better yet, they get to face a banged up Miami team that just got steamrolled by Clemson last week. And you know Ole Miss would have some fun with that turnover chain. Keep an eye on this one.
(4) Notre Dame vs (13) Indiana: Man, the “committee” did a great job with these in-state games. Unfortunately, the Hoosier seemed to have moved on from their “Team Chaos” moniker from years past, and they will have severe talent and matchup problems against Notre Dame.
(3) Oklahoma State vs (14) Utah State: Utah State had a good year, and they really are a decent program in the MWC, but I think they’ll be in over their heads against Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys. Good luck, Aggies.
(6) USC vs (11) Northwestern: Who here knew Northwestern won nine games this year? If you say you did, I’d say you’re lying. While nobody said playing in the Big 10 West was hard, the Wildcats still played a pretty solid season, sans a mystifying 24 point loss at Duke in week two. While the Wildcats have a strong defense, USC has a much more powerful weapon of their own: Ronald Jones II. Point, Trojans.
(7) Mississippi State vs (10) San Diego State: This could be a tough one for Mississippi State without Nick Fitzgerald. The good news is the Bulldogs showed against Alabama that their rush defense is pretty stout, because the Aztecs produce top tier running backs like it’s nothing. If the Bulldog offense can get it together, I have faith in them going forward, but that’s a big IF.
(2) Wisconsin vs (15) Army: Nobody ever likes facing a triple-option team, much less a good triple option team. If anybody is built to match a death-by-a-thousand-cuts team, though, its death-by-leaning-on-you-for-four-quarters Wisconsin. Don’t worry too much about this one Badger fans.