National championship: Projections favor Alabama, Clemson over Georgia, Ohio State and UCF

The College Football Playoff is getting Alabama-Clemson IV, and it's the third time in the playoff era that these two teams will be meeting in the national championship. With No. 1 Alabama besting No. 4 Oklahoma 45-34 and No. 2 Clemson handling No. 3 Notre Dame 30-3 in the semifinals, these two programs are head and shoulders above everyone else right now. 

But what would it look like if this season's national championship, played on Monday, Jan. 7, was different? What if Georgia, Ohio State or UCF -- the three teams that at least had an argument to make the final four -- wound up in the title game against either the Crimson Tide or Tigers? 

According to our simulations from SportsLine data analyst Stephen Oh, the upcoming national championship would still go chalk if it involved either Alabama or Clemson. Below is a table for all six possible matchups with accompanying win percentages and average scores. One thing to keep in mind is that you have to suspend a little disbelief here because we're going straight to the title game; we're not recreating the entire playoff field. These are numbers in a vacuum and should treated as such. 

MatchupWin percentageAvg. score

Alabama

81

32

Georgia

19

19

MatchupWin percentageAvg. core

Alabama

83

35

Ohio State

17

19

MatchupWin percentageAvg. score

Alabama

89

38

UCF

11

18

MatchupWin percentageAvg. score

Clemson

59

25

Georgia

41

22

MatchupWin percentageAvg. score

Clemson

61

27

Ohio State

39

22

MatchupWin percentageAvg. score

Clemson

67

29

UCF

33

21

As you can see, Alabama would still be sizable favorites against the three different opponents. Then again, Alabama would be a double-digit favorite against most teams in college football (for the record, Las Vegas books have the Tide as a 6.5-point favorite against the Tigers). Either way, Alabama would be projected to win at least 81 percent of the time in all three matchups with average scores ranging from 13 points against Georgia -- the Tide needed a thrilling comeback to beat the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game 35-28 -- to 20 points against UCF. 

Conversely, the Clemson projections run a little closer, which is to be expected. A Clemson-Georgia matchup would be the closest of all with an average point differential of only a field goal. However, a matchup with Ohio State or UCF still projects to end in single digits with the Tigers never winning more than 67 percent of the time. 

These are simulations, though, and Clemson just easily covered against Notre Dame, while Oklahoma kicked down the back door in its semifinal against Alabama. It would certainly be fun to get some different matchups in the championship game down the road, and if college football eventually expands to an eight-team playoff, maybe that'll happen. 

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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