By: Joe Cardoso
So, after weeks of exciting action and endless debate between fan bases it comes down to four. Bowl season has been underway since December 17th, and no disrespect to the other bowl games but most fans are waiting for the final four. This year the playoff semifinals take place at Fiesta Bowl as Ohio State takes on Clemson and Peach Bowl where Alabama plays Washington. You have three programs that are used to being here and playing under the bright lights and an upstart that is on a mission to make sure we remember who they are. All the teams made it in different ways but the point is they made it, and now have a chance to seize the opportunity. How do these team’s matchup?
Ohio State Vs Clemson:
Ohio State Buckeyes: Coming into the season the only sure thing about the Buckeyes was that they were young at some positions. Urban Myer leans on Junior QB J.T. Barrett who is 26-3 as a starter to led an average offense. I know, I know they led the Big Ten in total offense and scoring what does he mean average? I mean when they face a tough stingy defense. Think I’m crazy? Check the Penn State and Michigan game tape, I’ll wait. Clemson will have to try and contain running back Curtis Samuel and his eye-popping 7.7 yards per carry. Also, I look for Marcus Baugh at tight end to play a big part in this game. The Buckeye have the 4th best defense in the country, the strength being the secondary and will be ready for the Tigers. One thing about an Urban Myer coached team, it won’t take the opponent lightly and will not be out coached.
Clemson Tigers: When the final seconds ticked away on last year’s National title game vs Alabama a lot of us including yours truly thought the Tigers would be back again. Well here we are and so is two time Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson. The loss to Pittsburgh seemed to have been the wakeup call they needed all season. The Tigers have a great front seven that can pressure the QB and stop the run and they are hungry for a shot at redemption. Write these names down Carlos Watkins, Christian Wilkins, and Dexter Lawrence who was the ACC defensive rookie of the year. My question for Clemson is can they produce any type of a run game? And are the two 100-yard rushing games by Wayne Gallman a sign of things to come? In the end, it comes down to Watson and how he performs.
My Pick: Ohio State 27-24
Washington Huskies: Not too many people knew who Chris Petersen was before this season. Well after the job he has done so far bringing the Washington Huskies back from the dead a lot more people know him now. This team has a strong run game and one of the best quarterback’s in the country Jake Browning. I became a true believer in the Huskies when they punched Stanford in the face to the tune of a 44-6 win. In a common theme with all four of these teams, they have a nasty defense. They can win a variety of ways and with ultra-burner John Ross a big play is always moments away. This isn’t like any other team the Tide have faced, and with Petersen and his wild style who knows what will happen. If you haven’t stayed up and watched the Huskies shame on you but don’t miss this game.
Alabama Crimson Tide: So, what do the Tide have going for them you ask. A hall of fame coach in Nick Saban, a freshmen QB who plays anything like one, stable of running backs, and a dominant defense. I laugh when I see all the “We Want Bama” signs. It’s fun and cool until it’s around 5 pm on a Saturday and your team is getting its butt handed to them by the Tide. Saban has 4 rings already and this may be his BEST TEAM EVER. I cannot say enough about Hurst and his play think about the pressure he faces each week and kid handles it like a boss. One second it’s up tempo, and then it’s old school pro-style offense how do you want it? I would need a whole other article to talk about the beasts that play on defense where I see at least 8 that will be playing on Sunday’s. How many non-offensive touchdowns did they have this year? For the Washington game, I will say the Tide cannot start slow the longer the Huskies are in the game the harder it will be for Alabama. We praise the Tide a ton and they have earned it but don’t assume this game will be a cakewalk.
My Pick: Alabama 34-21
At the end of the day, I don’t have a dog in the race but I want exciting and drama filled games. We all waited so long for this format of playoffs in college football and don’t want blowouts. Look out for my National Championship game preview. Happy Holidays and let’s get it on!
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