For only the second time in College Football history the selection committee will soon choose the four teams they think deserve to have a shot at a national title. Teams have one last chance to state their case as to why they should be included in the final four. However no game is more influential this week than 5th seed Michigan State against 4th seed Iowa.
Both teams have a lot on the line during this Big Ten championship. The winner is virtually guaranteed a spot amongst the final four. Iowa has been trying to prove their haters wrong all season. Some feel they are not a legitimate contender because they haven’t played any true talent this season. The Hawkeyes will have their chance to make a statement win this weekend, but it will be a challenge against a very solid team. The Spartans escaped the deep Big Ten East with an 11-1 record adding impressive wins to their resume like Ohio State and Michigan.
Michigan State has had a balanced offense all season. Led by Senior Quarterback Connor Cook, possible Heisman candidate, who has thrown 24 touchdowns to just four interceptions. They have averaged 239.8 yards per game passing and 159.8 yards rushing. Something has to give here as the dominant three-headed rushing attack, which includes L.J. Scott, Gerald Holmes, and Madre London goes up against Iowa’s 6th best rush defense. The Spartan’s greatest challenge will be to not become a one-dimensional offense. Someone who will try to make sure that doesn’t happen is breakout WR Aaron Burbridge. He had previously not caught more than 30 balls in a season, but this year has totaled 74 receptions for 1,148 yards.
Iowa needs its Senior RB, Jordan Canzeri, to play at a high level if they have any hopes of being victorious. This small 5’9” player has been a beast on the field totaling 964 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season. The one who needs this most is the QB C.J Beathard who is responsible for leading Iowa to 12-0 so far. This season he has thrown for 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He is also good for a 139.3 QBR. However a good rushing attack will open things up like play action passes, and that will be key for their offensive success.
Michigan State is a 3-½ point favorite, but no matter who wins this game they will both be deserving of where they are no matter what. There are two other games that could impact the standings
Oklahoma is a lock right now at the number 3 seed because they don’t play any other games. Movement is possible depending on how things play out but they will most likely stay where they are. At the top however things could switch up if craziness occurs. Undefeated number 1 Clemson plays the North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC Championship. It’s been 35 years since the Tar Heels have won the ACC, and they will look to play spoiler this weekend. Clemson is only a 6 ½ point favorite due to Heisman candidate RB Deshaun Watson and if an upset occurs it is not outside the realm of possibility that they would be knocked out of the final four. Number 2 Alabama plays against number 18 Florida in the SEC championship. Alabama locks up a spot with a win, and even with a loss it would need to be a bad one for them to not be in it. Alabama is a 17-point favorite for this game.
If Clemson loses it would make a pretty good case for North Carolina to be in the mix. The other two teams that could be there are Stanford and a disappointing Ohio State. The Ohio State Buckeyes are the defending champs but with a loss to Michigan State it put them in a deep hole to make it into the CFP. There is still a sliver of hope if one of those two teams aforementioned suffers a loss. Finally if Stanford wins the Pac 12 they could sneak in an argument and hope to get in. They have fairly dominated conference play, but two key losses against Oregon and Washington State probably puts them behind Ohio State.
The playoff picture is pretty clear and the final four will include Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, and the winner of the Iowa game. However, college football has time after time proven itself to be predictably unpredictable.