March Madness 2018: College football bracket Final Four and national champion – CBSSports.com


The Final Four is going down Saturday with the national championship set for Monday evening. While the single-elimination NCAA Tournament format is not necessarily the best way to determine a champion, it does heighten the competition and allow for Cinderella surprises that can rock the sport. In other words, it’s a lot of fun and makes good on the “March Madness” moniker, which is why the college football staff here at CBS Sports certainly feels left out and wants to get in on the fun.

Using our final rankings from the CBS Sports 130, we seeded the top 64 college football teams and spread them across four regions for a March Madness tournament of the college football variety. In consultation with our expert bracketologist Jerry Palm, we provided location preferences to the top seeds and aligned the others in a similar fashion to how the NCAA Selection Committee would do so. Of course, when it comes to football, it is more difficult to ensure conference opponents do not play until later in the tournament — but we did our best.

Our 64-team bracket started out well enough with expected upsets — though far less than the NCAA Tournament itself — but now that we have advanced to the Final Four, the chalk is aplenty. With three No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed (sorry, UCF) remaining, how will it all play out?

Graphic illustrations below courtesy of Michael Meredith

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Final Four by Ben Kercheval 

How did we get here? Check out the brackets for the first two rounds as well as the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

(1) Alabama def. (2) Wisconsin — The Badgers made it this far without commanding a ton of national respect, but they got here by playing lights-out defense and grinding away with the run. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook even put together a nice string of games throwing the ball. In the end, though, speed kills and Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley is a matchup nightmare for most teams. It’s a close battle — closer than the experts predicted — but Ridley is the difference maker in a 28-20 win for the Crimson Tide. 

(1) Georgia def. (1) Oklahoma — Baker Mayfield still goes off on Georgia’s defense, proving that he can put up video game numbers anytime, anywhere, anyplace. However, the Sooners have no answer for the Bulldogs’ run game. It’s a complete mismatch that Oklahoma couldn’t scheme their way out of if they tried. Georgia fends off Oklahoma, 38-34. 

National championship: (1) Alabama def. (1) Georgia — We added 60 more teams and the potential for upsets, and yet, we still wind up here with an all-SEC national championship that is everything college football wants in a game (except for conference diversity). As the full-time starter, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa leads an Alabama offense that has more “boom or bust” excitement to it. Though Georgia receiver Javon Wims makes a case for the game’s MVP, Tagovailoa rises to the occasion and makes one more play in a 37-34 victory. Alabama wins its fifth national championship under coach Nick Saban, who removes all doubt as the greatest college football coach ever. 

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