CFT predicts the College Football Playoff

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The inaugural College Football Playoff is set. No. 1 Alabama will meet No. 4 Ohio State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET Jan. 1, ESPN), while No. 2 Oregon faces No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual (5 p.m. ET Jan. 1, ESPN). The winners will meet in the College Football Playoff championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (Jan. 12 on ESPN, time TBD).

Now that you know when and where it will shake out, CFT is here to tell you how it will happen.

JOHN (@CFTalk)

ROSE BOWL: Oregon over Florida State, 45-38

SUGAR BOWL: Alabama over Ohio State, 34-31

TITLE GAME: Oregon over Alabama, 38-27

BOTTOM LINE: No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon are already favored by double digits, and rightly so.  Since the middle portion of the season, the Tide and Ducks have been the two best teams in college football, and it hasn’t really even been close.  A UO-UA title tilt has the makings of an epic clash of cultures, with the Ducks’ new-age, high-speed offense vs. the Tide’s Nick Saban and his old-school ways.  Don’t sleep on either No. 3 Florida State or No. 4 Ohio State, though.  The defending BCS champion Seminoles simply follow Al Davis‘ creed and just win, week after week, exam after exam.  It may not be pretty, but all they do is pass every single test.  As for the Buckeyes, they earned a spot in the Big Ten championship game with a No. 2 quarterback who turned into the starter a couple of weeks before the start of the season, and then won a conference title and spot in the College Football Playoff with a quarterback who was third on the depth chart in mid-August.  Underestimate OSU at your own peril, although there’s no way that happens with a Saban-coached team.  All in all, these are two terrific semifinal matchups that will leave us with one helluva national championship game.  As for the Big 12?  Get a league title game, or undisputed champion, then you’ll have earned the right to whine.

KEVIN (@KevinOnCFB)

ROSE BOWL: Oregon over Florida State, 34-31

SUGAR BOWL: Alabama over Ohio State, 31-23

TITLE GAME: Alabama over Oregon, 31-27

BOTTOM LINE: We are finally going to get ourselves a highly-anticipated clash of football cultures, with Oregon and Alabama facing each other for the first College Football Playoff national championship. And it is going to be a blast getting there. First we will have what looks to be a battle of Heisman Trophy quarterbacks with Marcus Mariota and James Winston in the Rose Bowl. Give the Ducks the home-field advantage in this one,s ending them to the title game after winning a shootout. Florida State will finally be cracked. Then the awesome coaching match-up of Urban Meyer vs. Nick Saban in the Sugar Bowl will be huge. Ohio State has shown it may not matter which quarterback is throwing under center, but give Nick Saban a month to prepare for a young quarterback and they may be tough to beat in the Sugar Bowl, site of last season’s dismal ending to the season for the Tide.

ZACH (@zach_barnett)

ROSE BOWL: Oregon over Florida State, 45-31

SUGAR BOWL: Alabama over Ohio State, 31-16

TITLE GAME: Alabama over Oregon, 31-26

BOTTOM LINE: Florida State is clearly immune to losing close games, so Oregon will find a loop hole by not letting it get close. Marcus Mariota slices and dices the ‘Noles through the air (three touchdowns) and on the ground (two more). In the Sugar Bowl, playing a Nick Saban defense in a national semifinal for a second-ever start proves too much for Cardale Jones to overcome, and the Tide cruises. And in the title game, Blake Sims-to-Amari Cooper proves too much for Oregon to overcome, and the Ducks will spend the next nine months kicking themselves after settling for three short field goals, which prove to be the difference.

BRENT (@brentsobleski)

ROSE BOWL: Oregon over Florida State, 31-21

SUGAR BOWL: Alabama over Ohio State, 24-21

TITLE GAME: Oregon over Alabama, 23-20

BOTTOM LINE: This prediction is very simple. The two best teams in the country are clearly Alabama and Oregon. Alabama brings the best defense to the table in the first College Football Playoff, while Oregon maintains an edge with the top quarterback in Marcus Mariota. Ohio State absolutely trampled Wisconsin the in the Big Ten Championship game, but a Nick Saban defense will be another animal for quarterback Cardale Jones to face in his second-career start. Meanwhile, Florida State won seven games this season by six points or less. Their luck will run out against the most talented offense they’ll face all season. And Alabama will meet Oregon at the National Championship Game in Arlington, Texas. Just like everyone expected. And the Ducks will finally break through to claim their first national championship thanks to having the best player in the country running their offense.

Southern Miss offensive coordinator leaves to join Georgia staff

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How big is the gap between the SEC and Conference USA? So big that Buster Faulkner would evidently rather be an analyst in the SEC than a coordinator in C-USA.

The Southern Miss offensive coordinator is leaving Hattiesburg to join Kirby Smart‘s staff in Athens. Smart has already hired former Todd Monken (ironically, a former Southern Miss head coach) to be his offensive coordinator, and there are no spots open on Georgia’s on-the-field staff. So, according to Dawgs247, Faulkner will join as an analyst.

While nothing has been announced, Faulkner on Monday confirmed his departure out of Hattiesburg.

“Thank you Coach Hop for allowing me to be a part of something special in Hattiesburg,” he tweeted. “I was able to work with some incredible men on this offensive staff! To the players-I love you guys, thanks for everything. I had a blast working with y’all. I wish you guys the best.”

A former Valdosta State quarterback when Smart was on the coaching staff, Faulkner spent just 2019 at Southern Miss after spending the previous three at Arkansas State. He helped the Golden Eagles fly from 109th to 48th in yards per play.

Kerry Coombs set to return to Ohio State

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Ohio State has an opening for a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach now that Jeff Hafley is Boston College’s head coach. And Ryan Day has found the perfect guy to fill that role — Ohio State’s old defensive backs coach.

Ever-popular assistant coach Kerry Coombs is set to return to Columbus as the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, according to multiple reports on Monday. (Letterman Row first reported the news.)

An original member of Urban Meyer‘s Ohio State staff, Coombs coached the Buckeyes’ defensive backs from 2012-17, a period that saw Ohio State rank among the top 13 nationally in pass efficiency defense four times, including 2017. Ohio State immediately slunk to 42nd in 2018, leading to Day’s hiring of Hafley. Ohio State immediately rocketed to first (they were second until LSU shredded Clemson last Monday), which led to Hafley’s hiring at BC and, now, Coombs’ return.

“I told the [defensive backs] last year at this time: ‘I am going to go get the best guy in the country.’ They didn’t know who Jeff Hafley was,” Day said last month. “Now they love him, they’re going to miss him. Going to do the same thing again next year, go get the best there is. You call around to different people that you respect. But usually the people you bring in are people that you know really well and you trust.”

Day spent the past two seasons as the defensive backs coach for the Tennessee Titans, and he’ll now return to a senior role he never would’ve gotten had he not left in the first place.

Phil Snow officially following Matt Rhule to Carolina

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise given he’s spent the past four years working for the man, but Phil Snow is officially following Matt Rhule to Carolina.

The team made the announcement Monday.

Snow had coordinated Rhule’s defenses at Temple and Baylor, and in 2019 became one of the most highly-regarded coordinators in the sport. A finalist for the Broyles Award and winner of the FootballScoop Defensive Coordinator of the Year, Snow would have had options had he chosen to remain in the college game. (Returning to Baylor likely not an option, with Dave Aranda now installed as the top Bear.)

Baylor was the only Big 12 team to hold opponents under 20 points per game and under five yards per play.

He has spent only four years of his four decade coaching run in the NFL, serving as linebackers coach for the Detroit Lions from 2005-08.

“I’ve coordinated in high school, junior college, I-AA, I-A,” Snow said. “My last challenge is the National Football League.”

“I haven’t won a game as a head coach without him as my defensive coordinator,” Rhule said of Snow.

Snow will pair with another hot college name in Joe Brady to serve as Carolina’s coordinator tandem, and Rhule likely isn’t done pillaging college football, either, as reports indicated Monday that Baylor defensive tackles coach Frank Okam will follow Rhule and Snow from Waco to Charlotte.

Ex-Georgia DB Otis Reese lands at Ole Miss

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Lane Kiffin landed a recruit over the weekend in the form of Georgia transfer Otis Reese.

A 4-star member of Kirby Smart‘s 2018 class, Reese appeared in 25 games in silver britches, including all 14 this season. He collected 16 tackles as a Bulldog, though he played primarily on special teams.

“Even in my darkest times, I have always believed, the light would shine & it’s TIME!!!” he tweeted over the weekend.

The Leesburg, Ga., native will presumably compete for playing time in the defensive backfield at Ole Miss.

Barring a waiver, he will have to sit out a year and will first compete for the Rebels in 2021.