One of the best things about college football is that every game during the regular season means something. One of the worst thing about college football is the “Bowl Season.” Other than the Final Four Playoff, no one cares about these games. You want proof, I will give anyone a gift certificate if they can name each team from the Birmingham Bowl, the Belk Bowl, and the Valero Alamo Bowl. We have 4 teams battling for the national championships #1 Alabama vs #4 Washington and #2 Clemson vs #3 Ohio State.
#1 Alabama (13-0) vs #4 Washington (12-1): The Crimson Tide are looking for their 5th national championship since 2009. They are doing all this with a freshman quarterback. Jalen Hurts completed 65.3% of his passes, passed for 2,592 yards and rushed for 841. He is the ultimate dual threat quarterback and had 44 total touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. His poise, maturity, and playmaking ability are that of a seasoned veteran. RB, Damien Harris averages 7.5 yards per carry. Alabama’s defense is downright scary, not just for their ability to push teams around but to score. The Tide have scored 13 touchdowns on defense and special teams and at least 7 of their defensive players have scored at least one touchdown this season.
The Huskies ran through the PAC-12 quicker than most expected. Head coach Chris Petersen has taken this program to the playoffs in three short years. He had tremendous success building Boise State into a national powerhouse and that formula has transferred over to Washington. QB, Jake Browning had 42 touchdown passes and only 7 interceptions (His 176.5 passing efficiency, was fifth-best in the country). WR John Ross and Dante Pettis have combined for over 1800 yards receiving and 31 touchdown receptions.
The problem that former LSU coach, Les Miles had with Alabama, is that he constantly tried to beat the Tide at their strength, by running the ball and playing good defense. It is part of the reason why Miles was fired this season. Washington must play this game the way they played all season, spread the ball out and throw over 40 times. If they can do this, they have a chance to win. Peterson and Nick Saban will have trick plays and both will be aggressive going for it on 4th down. The Tide are favored by 14 points. Peterson will not get outcoached and that is saying a lot considering he is going up against an all-time great in Saban. I like Washington to keep this game close but Bama’s size and strength will eventually wear them down. My heart tells me Washington but my mind tells me Bama. Always go with your head. Saban is the only coach in the country that can beat you 48-45 or 10-6.
Alabama pulls away at the end 45-31.
#2 Clemson (12-1) vs #3 Ohio State (11-1): Last season in the national championship game, Dabo Swinney was outcoached by Nick Saban and the Tide won 45-40. This is not a knock on Dabo, he never coached in a game with that much pressure and it showed. There are no excuses this year, but it won’t get easier. We all know Urban Meyer is an elite coach. Both teams struggled during the regular season. It was almost as if neither team had a second or third gear. But with that said, they combined for a 23-2 record. So even if they looked lethargic, their talent level was so deep they got away with it. I expect both teams to come out and play their best games of the season. Quarterback, Deshaun Watson completed 67.5 % of his passes and had 43 total touchdowns. He took a step back this season with his decision making and threw 15 interceptions. He cannot turn the ball over and expect to win this game. Wayne Gallman rushed for 15 touchdowns and Mike Williams had over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions. But I look for senior TE, Jordan Leggett to have a monster game. He had 7 receiving touchdowns and should be Watson’s security blanket all game.
Critics say J.T. Barrett underachieved this year. I don’t know how that is possible He threw for 2,428 yards and rushed for 847. He had 33 combined touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Running back, Mike Webber averages 6.1 rushes per attempt.
I give the talent edge, slightly to the Tigers and the coaching edge, slightly to the Buckeyes.
I had Clemson facing Alabama in my pre-season article and nothing has changed my mind.
In a high scoring game, I expect Watson and Leggett to be the difference
Clemson wins 37-31.
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