College Football Playoff Semifinals

New Year’s Eve is just days away now, starting off the New Year, and of course, the College Football Playoff. The playoffs are set to be big, maybe even bigger than last year, as the B1G Ten looks to be the champions for two straight years.

The first semifinal game includes top ranked Clemson Tigers who will take on 4th ranked Oklahoma in the Capital One Orange Bowl. The game will be held at Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, in Miami, Florida. The game will start at 4pm ET and will be broadcasted on ESPN.

The 1st ranked, winners of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Clemson Tigers are 13-0 this year, including 24-22 win at home over 6th ranked Notre Dame earlier this year and beating 10th ranked North Carolina in the Conference Championship. The Clemson Tigers has had a fairly easy schedule this year, only playing 3 ranked teams all year and only 4 teams with 8 or more wins before the bowl season started.

The Oklahoma Sooners are 11-1 this year, with the single loss to Texas early in the season.  The Sooners have been very good outside of their loss to Texas, including winning by 10 in Waco, to beat the Baylor Bears, beating TCU only by 1, but the following week beating rivals Oklahoma State by 35 to clinch the Big 12. All 3 teams the Sooners faced were and still are top 20 teams. Not to mentions, these were in the last 3 games.

Both of these teams have looked very good this year, and this game will live up to all the hype that has been surrounding it. Oklahoma is favored by 3.5 in this game. As many experts say, this will be a very good game. My question is, will the Clemson defense be able to stop the Sooners offense? Oklahoma has one of the best offenses in the country, and Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield has one of the best arms in College Football. You can ask the same question on the Sooners defense too. Is Oklahoma’s front seven strong enough to get to Deshaun Watson, the duel quarterback threat and Heisman Finalist?

This is going to be a very high scoring game, both teams scoring almost every possession, but Oklahoma will win this game and will be heading out to Arizona, but only by 2 points. Oklahoma has more experience in tight, high scoring games this year. I also think the Sooners coach, Bob Stoops knows how to coach in championship games. Final score 44-42.

Now onto the other semifinal matchup. The 2nd best team in the country, the Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the 3rd place Michigan State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. The game will be held at the famous AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The game will also be broadcasted by ESPN, and kickoff is at 8pm ET.

The Crimson Tide, has well, looked like the Crimson Tide. Alabama is 12-1 this year and has been dominant over teams this year. The only loss of the season was way back in week 3, losing to Ole Miss by 6. After that point, Alabama was dominating. The Crimson Tide have held 9 out of the 13 teams they’ve played to 15 points or less. They also held LSU to only 16 points this year. They’ve only let 2 team’s score above 20 points on them. Ole Miss and Texas A&M. I do have a question for Alabama though. How good are the teams you have beaten so far? Ever since the win over 2nd ranked LSU, LSU fell out of the top 25. They beat 17th ranked Mississippi State, but they also fell out of the top 25. I really don’t know how good this Alabama team because they haven’t played a team that is so dominate this year.

If anyone has had a roller coaster season, it’s the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans started the season strong with a win over 7th ranked Oregon at home. Then the Spartans only beat Purdue by 3 (Purdue won a total of 2 games this year) and only beat Rutgers by 7. Both teams didn’t make it to a bowl game.

Then they played Michigan. If you call yourself a sports fan, then you better know how this game ended. This play is for sure the most famous play of all time for Michigan State football. Jalen Watts-Jackson, the player who picked up the ball and ran it in for the touchdown, broke his hip and is out for the season. 3 weeks later, the Spartans traveled to Nebraska to play the Corn Huskers. A very controversial play ended the game. Tommy Armstrong threw a 30 yard pass to Brandon Rielly, who ran out of bounds then caught the ball back in bounds, what is an illegal play. The refs said that he was forced out of bounds, then came back in for the touchdown. Michigan State lost 39-38.

The following game Connor Cook hurt his throwing shoulder vs Maryland, forcing Cook to sit out against at the time 3rd ranked Ohio State in Columbus. The Spartans game in as 15 point underdogs. Not a problem for Sparty, backup QB Tyler O’Connor filled in for Cook, as Coach Mark Dantonio helped Michigan State to win with a field goal from Michael Geiger as time expired. MSU won 17-14.

Two weeks after the win in Columbus, Michigan State traveled to Indianapolis to play Iowa for the B1G Ten Championship. The winner was pretty much guaranteed a ticket to the College Football Playoff. With about 9:30 left in the game, Michigan State got the ball at their own 18 yard line, and down by 4. The epic 22 play, 82 yard drive ended with Freshman RB L.J Scott scoring the TD with 27 seconds left in the game. The Spartans beat Iowa 16-13, improving to 12-1, and punching their ticket to the College Football Playoff.

I think that this game will be better than most people think. I think in 60 years, I will be telling my grandkids about this epic matchup. Almost every expert I’ve heard talking about this game has had Alabama easily win over MSU. That’s not going to happen, especially under a coach like Mark Dantonio. This is going to be classic football. No spread options, throwing the ball 85 yards in the air crap. This game will be heavy running, strong defenses, and mainly toughness. Old school football. Nick Saban and Mark Dantonio are both top 5 coaches in the country and both of these teams will be ready for this game. I personally think that if Michigan State can Derrick Henry off the field as much as possible, then they will win this game. The problem is that we don’t know how healthy Connor Cook is going to be, and Alabama has one of the best front seven’s in the country. Michigan State’s front seven will also need to show up too, which has also been very good especially in the past 4 games.

I do think Michigan State will win this game. Connor Cook will be healthy and he will be ready to go on New Year’s Eve. I also think that Michigan State has more experience in tight games this year, winning 5 out of 13 games this year by 4 points or less. Also, the way Michigan State’s front seven has played the last couple games has been very impressive and I do believe they will come out and stop Derrick Henry, forcing Coker to throw the ball. The final score will be 13-10 Michigan State, punching there ticket to Arizona.

No matter what the outcome of the games on New Year’s Eve, they will be exciting to watch. Happy New Year!

Peter Sznewajs

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2 comments on “College Football Playoff Semifinals
  1. DT says:

    Wow. This piece goes deep on the key match ups and players. I now feel like I am ready for tomorrow. Thanks for writing. It should be a great couple of games.

  2. SPARTY says:

    Great Predictions

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