The time college football fans have been waiting for is finally here: the College Football Playoff. The bracket has officially been released and play begins on New Year’s Eve. Debates continue to go on whether certain teams got snubbed or if the whole entire thing is rigged. (It is not, Ohio State fans.) Luckily for me Penn State lost all hope of qualifying after dropping the season opener to Temple.
Overall this season has been very unpredictable to say the least, as only two of the teams in the playoff started in the top ten (Alabama 3rd and Michigan State 5th). Clemson started out at the 12th spot, and Oklahoma followed all the way back at 19th. The playoff picture is set in stone with the opening game between current number 1 seed and undefeated Clemson against 4-seed Oklahoma who is currently favored by four points. Next up is the more favorable matchup of Nick Saban and Alabama versus Mark Dantonio and Michigan State. Let’s dive deeper into the games and get some background on the teams who are still fighting for the highly craved national championship.
#1 Clemson vs #4 Oklahoma, 4:00 p.m. on ESPN
This game is destined for greatness as undefeated Clemson battles the one loss, red hot Oklahoma Sooners. Clemson is led by Deshaun Watson who is know across the country as one of defense’s worst nightmares. Besides being able to score a large number of points, Clemson is even more known for their defense as they have only had three games all season where they allowed more then 27 points.
On the other side the Oklahoma Sooners have been playing some of the best football in the nation and ended their season with consecutive wins over Baylor, TCU, and rival Oklahoma State. Freshman Baker Mayfield has become one of the nation’s fan favorites and rightfully so. The kid can flat out ball. He continues to fool defenses at will and excels at giving defensive coordinators major headaches. Along with Mayfield the Sooners’ offense receives much help from the two headed monster of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Together the two have combined for over seventeen hundred yards to go along with 21 touchdowns.
This game could end up being one for the ages, and I predict the Oklahoma Sooners will be too much for Clemson as they will pull out a tight win 31-27.
#2 Alabama vs #3 Michigan State 8:00 p.m. on ESPN
The night game brings a different flavor as we get to watch two of the teams that find themselves at the top of the rankings year after year after year. Both teams are led by two of the best coaches to ever coach football at the college level. Alabama has made its name under Nick Saban by having a deadly defense mixed with an NFL-sized offensive line followed by a NFL ready running back. This season is no different as they have Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry who is the top running back in the nation. Henry has rushed for over 100 yards in every game this season except for three. However, Alabama does have a major weakness that can be found at quarterback. Jake Coker is the man under center and, to say the least, he is super average. The other three teams in the playoff have quarterbacks who are NFL prospects but not Alabama. Unfortunately the quarterback position is huge in winning a championship, so we will have to wait and see if Coker can silence all the haters, myself included.
As far as Michigan State, they are very lucky to be in the spot they are currently in. They escaped a tight game with Michigan that came down to the worst play of the entire NCAA season a returned “punt” for a touchdown as the clock expired. The Spartans are led by senior Connor Cook (even though I believe Damion Terry is better) who is putting together a season that Spartan fans will remember forever. The Spartans don’t have a clear front runner at running back but LJ Scott, Gerald Holmes, Madre London, and Cathedral Prep grad Delton Williams all make large contributions. Michigan State’s success can be credited to their defense who only allowed one team to reach over 30 points all season, not to mention they held the defending national champs to a mere 14 points.
Once again we have another great matchup between two of the best college football programs ever, but I believe Alabama will get the best of the Spartans 38-24.
For sports fans this New Year’s Eve will certainly be a great way to end the year. It features teams that have dominated over the past couple years along with teams who are starting to make a name for their programs of late. The playoffs are an opportunity for these student-athletes to get their names down as some of the best to ever play game. Make sure you don’t miss out on some of the best games of the 2015 season and tune in this New Year’s Eve.
The College Football Playoff National Championship will be played on Monday, Jan. 11, and I predict the Oklahoma Sooners will be victorious over the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31.