Photo by John Nanako

The new college football playoff was an overwhelming success this past year. The ratings were outstanding, and the two new semifinal games were a huge hit for college football fans.

The fourth seeded Ohio State Buckeyes won the national championship, and they are the favorite to win again this year.  Their championship last year was a major surprise after they suffered an early loss to Virginia Tech.

They also lost their top two quarterbacks during the year. Third string Buckeye quarterback, Cardale Jones, became a national star after his performance against the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the New Year’s Day semifinal game, and he will be fighting for a starting position this year.

This year the College Football Playoff semifinal games will be on New Year’s Eve at the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl. Last year a team was represented from each of the ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences. Two teams from the Big-12 (Baylor and TCU) were 11-1 and were passed over for Ohio State who went 12-1 and played in and won a conference championship game.

Other than Ohio State, the top teams to watch this football season are Auburn, Alabama, Baylor, Clemson, Oregon, Southern Cal and TCU.

The race for the 2015 Heisman Trophy will be a different one than past years. The past five winners have been quarterbacks, but two favorites to win this year are Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott and UGA running back Nick Chubb.

TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin and USC quarterback Cody Kessler are notable quarterbacks who could win. After rushing for over 2000 yards and leading his team to the Big Ten Championship, the 2015 Heisman Trophy will likely be won by Elliott. Expect Arizona’s Scooby Wright III to clean sweep the defensive player of the year awards for the second straight year.

As for predictions for this year, the 2015 ACC Championship game likely will be played between Clemson and Tech, led by redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thomas. The Championship will serve as a rematch from earlier in the year in Death Valley where the Tigers won. This time Tech will prevail 38-28 and represent the ACC in the Chik-fil-A Bowl Game.

In the Big 12, TCU will win their rematch against Baylor and go undefeated throughout the regular season to become the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. Baylor will finish the year at 11-1 but miss out on playoff for second straight year.

The Big Ten Conference will once again come down to a game in the regular season between Michigan State and Ohio State. Ohio State will win again and crush Wisconsin for another Big Ten Championship. Ohio State will finish the year at 12-1 with their one blemish at Virginia Tech but still make the College Football Playoff as the third seed.

Despite the loss of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, Oregon will beat 11-1 Southern Cal in the Pac-12 championship for the second time in two weeks and finish the year 13-0. The Ducks will be named the second seed in the college football playoff.

In the SEC, Auburn will win the SEC West division with a victory over archrival Alabama. UGA will clinch the SEC East early in the season with wins over South Carolina, Missouri and Florida.

Auburn at 11-1 will beat 10-2 UGA again to clinch the fourth seed in the College Football Playoff. Georgia will finish the year at 10-3 but still earn a bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Teams that will miss the playoff but participate in the other New Year’s Six bowl games will be Alabama, Baylor, Boise State, Clemson, Michigan State, Southern California, Tech and UGA.

As for the College Football Playoffs, the committee will select  No. 1 TCU to play No. 4 Auburn in the Cotton Bowl and No. 2  Oregon to play No. 3 Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.

The CFP national championship game will be played between TCU and Ohio State in the University of Phoenix Stadium. Led by the QB duo of J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, Ohio State will win 41-34 to win their second straight national championship. The Buckeyes will become the first team since Alabama (2011-12) to win back to back national championships.

After the game, Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer will announce his retirement to spend more time with his family.