Playoff Bound?

Every year hundreds of Division I  football programs all over the country compete for a spot at the college football playoffs, but only four can make it.  This year was another storied season for college football with a few new schools looking to win the national championship. 

Georgia is coming into the playoff with the number 1 seed, and they have been dominating the SEC going on its second undefeated season in a row and beating LSU for the SEC championship. They are coming into the playoffs with a dominating defense that has held opponents to an average of just twenty points a game, a Heisman finalist quarterback in Stetson Bennett, and an absolute stud in tight end Brock Bowers. 

Michigan is the second team coming into the playoffs undefeated this year. Michigan’s undefeated season can be attributed to a dominating defense, its sophomore quarterback JJ McCarthy , and its two star running backs, Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. 

The team coming in third for the playoffs is TCU. TCU is coming in 12-1 with their only loss being against the #11 Kansas State Wildcats. TCU’s run to the playoffs was improbable as they came into the season unranked, but after a week 1 injury to their starting quarterback Chandler Morris, surprise star Max Duggan started and balled out. He threw for over 3,000 yards and  scored thirty touchdowns to only four  interceptions. On the ground he rushed for 404 yards and an extra six touchdowns. Duggan was helped by star receiver Quentin Johnson and running back Kendre Miller. TCU will be playing Michigan in the College Football Playoffs on New Years Eve in the Fiesta bowl. 

The final team coming into the playoffs are the 11-1 Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State will be led into the Playoffs by Heisman finalist CJ Stroud who threw for 3,340 yards, thirty-seven touchdowns, and six  interceptions. He will be helped by star wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr and Xavier Johnson . Ohio State will be missing two  key players to their offense. The first is star wide receiver Jaxon Njhaba Smith who opted out of the college football playoffs to commit for the NFL draft, and the second is running back Trevon Henderson who will miss the playoffs due to an injury he sustained to his foot that will require surgery to fix. 

With the regular season coming to an end, the Heisman award nominees were announced as QB Caleb Williams out of USC, QB Max Duggan out of TCU, QB CJ Stroud out of Ohio State, and QB Stetson Bennett out of Georgia. Whilst Caleb Williams ended up winning the Heisman Trophy, throughout the rest of the season, there were calls for running back Bijan Robinson from Texas, running back Blake Corum from Michigan, QB Drake Maye from UNC, and QB Bo Nix out of Oregon to win the Hiesman instead.

Here in the Triangle all three division 1 colleges have had not only winning seasons but have also qualified for great bowl games.

First up is UNC who finished the regular season 9-3 and won the ACC Coastal Division. They met Clemson in the ACC championship where they lost 42-10. UNC began the season with a big surprise with its sophomore Quarterback Drake maye who finished the season 3rd with total passing yards,  3rd with total touchdowns and  10th for quarterback rating. UNC struggled this season defensively where they ranked 125th in defense. They will play #9 Oregon in the San Diego Credit Union Holiday Bowl on December 28th.

Second is NC State who finished 8-4, ranked 25th in the nation, and finished fifth in the Atlantic Conference. NC State excelled on the defensive side of the ball, having one of the best defenses in the ACC but struggled offensively as they finished the season starting their fourth string quarterback. Their starting quarterback Devin Leary was injured in week 7; in week 8 they began starting third -string quarterback MJ Morris who was injured in week 12 with an ankle injury. And in week 13 against their rival the UNC Tar Heels NC state started their fourth-string quarterback Ben Finley. NC State will be playing in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl against the Maryland Terrapins on 12 P.M. on December 30th.

The final Triangle team to cover is the Duke Blue Devils who finished 8-4 and third in the Atlantic conference. Duke fans had a surprise this year in their quarterback Riley Leonard who threw for almost 3,000 yards and twenty touchdowns to six interceptions. They struggled everywhere else though so Riley Leonard had to carry his team to an 8-4 finish. Duke will be playing in the Military Bowl against UCF on 2 P.M. on December 28th.

With the end of the regular season comes the opening of the transfer portal, which started in 2020. The transfer portal allows for players to transfer schools in a forty-five-day window without losing a year of eligibility, and on day one of the transfer portal opening it was flooded with over seven hundred transfer requests. Schools with the most players leaving include Alabama, Texas A&M, and South Carolina. Another thing happening now is college football players declaring their intention to enter the 2023 NFL draft. Some of the high profile players declaring for the draft are Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Njhaba Smith, UNC wide receiver Josh Downs, and  Clemson Pass rusher Myles Murphy all declaring their intent to go to the 2023 NFL draft.

The College Football Playoffs will begin on December 31st at 2 P.M. with the #2 Michigan Wolverines playing the #3 TCU Horned Frogs in the Virbo Fiesta Bowl with the Chic-Fil-A Peach Bowl coming right after at 8 P.M. with the #1 Georgia BullDogs playing the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes. The College Football National Championship will be played on January 9th at 7:30 and will bring an end to “The Greatest Story Ever Played”.

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