The College Football Playoff is set to finally begin on New Year’s Eve.
The Peach Bowl matchup between #1 Alabama and #4 Washington.
The Fiesta Bowl Matchup between #2 Clemson and #3 Ohio State.
After a month of speculation and hype about if Washington should’ve made it or if Ohio State shouldn’t have made it, we can finally get to the actual games.
All four teams earned their right respectively to be one of the four and now they get to prove that the committee got it correct.
Peach Bowl: Alabama vs Washington
The defending national champion Crimson Tide cruised to an undefeated record and a SEC championship while maintaining their #1 ranking for the entire season.
The Nick Saban led team had the fortunate luck that the SEC had a tough year with no clear cut competition to them.
True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has been the major vocal point for the Tide offense. With 2,563 passing yards and 21 touchdowns as well as 841 yards and touchdowns on the ground.
Wide receivers Ardarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley are his go to targets in the pass attack. With a combined 1,550 yards and 14 touchdowns, they’re one of the best receiving duos in the country.
Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster are projected top ten picks in April’s NFL Draft are the leaders of the defense. A combined 25 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks between the two keep quarterbacks on their toes.
The Washington Huskies were a major surprise this season. Head coach Chris Petersen has re-shaped the program since taking it over in 2014. Led by sophomore quarterback Jake Browning, the Huskies went 12-1 and won the PAC-12 championship.
While many questioned if they belonged amongst the top four teams in the nation, their resume can’t be overlooked. They beat four teams who were ranked at the time (Stanford, Utah, Washington State and Colorado) and their only loss was to USC who’s now 9th in the country.
They absolutely belong and it’ll be interesting to see how they matchup against Alabama. Chris Petersen knows what it’s like to be the underdog from his time at Boise State where they shocked the world against Oklahoma in 2007.
Prediction:Alabama 38 Washington 17
Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs Clemson
The rematch from the 2014 Orange Bowl where Clemson beat Ohio State 40-35. The coaches remain the same in Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and the teams are still just as talented although they’re very different.
The Clemson Tigers are led by Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson at quarterback. This will be Watson’s final start before heading to the NFL and I’m sure many scouts will be in Arizona to see Watson against an elite defense like Ohio State’s.
Watson had another monster season with 3,914 yards, 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He toned down his running game but still ended up with 524 yards and six touchdowns.
His go to target is Mike Williams who could go in the first round of the draft. At 6’4 and 220 pounds, he’s got the prototypical size to be an elite receiver. After missing most of last season with a neck injury, he came back with 84 catches for 1,171 yards and ten touchdowns.
He’ll be in for a tough matchup against Ohio State’s secondary which is arguably the best in the country.
With three potential first round picks in cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore as well as safety Malik Hooker (stated he will return to school), they’ve wreaked havoc on offenses all season long.
In order for Ohio State to win, they’ll have to have a phenomenal performance from quarterback J.T. Barrett.
He struggled down the stretch but still found ways to win. His inaccurate passing showed up against Michigan but his mobility set up the Buckeyes to pull off the win in double overtime.
If Barrett struggles throwing, get the ball in the hands of the two best playmakers: running back Mike Weber and H-Back Curtis Samuel.
Weber ran for 1,072 yards and nine touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. As for Samuel, he had his breakout year for the Buckeyes with 1,526 total yards from scrimmage and fifteen touchdowns.
Put the ball in the hands of your playmakers and it gives you the best chance to win.
Prediction: Ohio State 35 Clemson 24