2019-20 NCAA College Football Playoff Semifinals Predictions

The New Year’s Eve fireworks will be arriving a little earlier this year, as the College Football Playoff Semifinals get set to kick off this Saturday. Clemson and Oklahoma return to the stage with Clemson being the defending champion, and Oklahoma returning for the 3rdconsecutive year. This year, however, LSU enters the playoff for the first time and dethrones their SEC counterpart in Alabama, and Ohio State returns to the place they thought they should have been last year. This year also features a new feat, where 3 transfer quarterbacks (Joe Burrow, who transferred from Ohio State to LSU; Jalen Hurts, who transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma; and Justin Fields, who transferred from Georgia to Ohio State), are leading their teams into the College Football Playoff. So, will it be a transfer quarterback leading their team to a championship, or will Trevor Lawrence lead Clemson to a repeat?

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: #4 Oklahoma vs. #1 LSU, 4PM EST, ESPN

The first game to kick off the playoff will be the battle of the Heisman winner and runner-up, Burrow and Hurts. This will be Hurts’ fourth time in the College Football Playoff (technically his third since he was backup and did not play last year, but it is his 4thsince he was with Alabama the past 3 years), with his 7thOffensive Coordinator (he had 5 different coordinators at Alabama and two Co-Offensive Coordinators at Oklahoma), coming off his third Conference Championship win. In terms of winning, overcoming adversity, and constantly playing the underdog role, Jalen Hurts might be the most decorated college football player ever. He is the true definition of a winner. While many scouts believe he is not the most NFL-ready QB, he certainly deserves the shot to be a starter on an NFL team come next season after he is drafted.

On the other side is Joe Burrow, Heisman-winning QB who has broken every SEC passing record in the book by a healthy margin, will be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals come April, and will lead the heavily-favored LSU into the Peach Bowl as the #1 team in the country. But things didn’t come that easy for Burrow. Burrow in 2017 was part of the Ohio State College Football Playoff team, where he played backup behind JT Barrett and Dwayne Haskins. At the time, not many people knew who he was, as he was a 3rd-string QB who had been redshirted. In 2018, Ohio State looked to life after Barrett, and then-Head Coach Urban Meyer, chose Dwayne Haskins well before the season began, leading Burrow to go into the transfer process, where LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron, served him to a lobster dinner and got him. Burrow last season led a struggling LSU offense that could barely put up 27 points in a game. This year, under new Offensive Coordinator Joe Barry, he leads the nation’s #1 offense, and has two 1,000+ yard receivers to throw to in JaMarr Chase and Justin Jefferson, and a 1,000+ rusher in Clyde-Edwards Helaire (whom he may not have on Saturday due to injury). The transcendence of Burrow has been one of the most unexpected, but the story is incredible.

Now, to the game. Oklahoma’s wide receiving core, led by CeeDee Lamb, who is regarded by many including me as the best receiver in college football and the upcoming NFL Draft, will cause problems for Derek Stingley and Grant Delpit, the best cornerback and safety in the country, respectively. His speed and quickness is almost Tyreek Hill-like, as he has the ability to take any pass to the house. The problem here for Oklahoma’s offense come with the running backs, who will be led by redshirt sophomore Kennedy Brooks. Brooks is getting the starting nod after Trey Sermon had a season-ending injury midseason against Iowa State, and after Rhamandore Stevenson was one of 3 Sooners players suspended for failed drug tests. Brooks is a great back, but not good enough to lead an already-fringe running game. Hurts will be required to put his head down and run with the ball himself quite a bit, which, as great of a runner as he is, is exactly what LSU wants, is for their linebackers to stop the run and not have to worry about helping out too much in the passing game.

For LSU, the running game will most likely feature Edwards-Helaire (according to Coach O), but even if they don’t have him available, the three backup running backs have had healthy doses of experience in the offense this season and have been very effective in scoring touchdowns, with 9 TDs between the 3 of them. As far as defenses, don’t expect too much of it, this will be a high-scoring game. But as I said earlier, the lack of ability to keep pace could haunt them, much it did for Oklahoma the past few years. Oklahoma is too thin in the run game, and does not have enough talent in the secondary to stop the core of Chase, Jefferson, Thaddeus Moss, and Terrace Marshall. Prediction: 49-41, LSU

Playstation Fiesta Bowl: #3 Clemson vs. #2 Ohio State, 8PM ET, ESPN

The defending champion Clemson Tigers find themselves playing in a playoff game rematch once again, but not against Alabama this time. Clemson instead is squaring off against Ohio State this year, the team with the nation’s best defense and best defensive player in Chase Young. Clemson has been decimated by the media the entire year for having an incredibly weak schedule for an elite Power 5 conference team, yet that criticism hasn’t slowed them down one bit. Coach Dabo Swinney has kept his mouth out of the media trap and instead focused on the field and players and looks to go for back-to-back 15-0 seasons. Trevor Lawrence has had a down year but really picked up last year’s form towards the end of the season, Travis Etienne keeps showing why he could be the best running back in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the Brett Venables-led defense keeps feasting on opposing offenses.

Ohio State, on the other hand, has been Top 2 in the rankings ever since they went into Madison, Wisconsin and won 48-0 on Saturday Night Football back in October. Their electric defense has helped them sport a ball-control oriented offense that is run-first behind JK Dobbins and then uses a lot of 5-wide Spread to pass the ball out of with Justin Fields, a transfer QB from Georgia (Georgia is probably regretting benching him for Jake Fromm, which prompted Fields’ transfer request). Speaking of Fields, another Heisman finalist who has defied odds, he is coming into this game nursing a knee injury he suffered against Michigan back at the end of November, and it hasn’t shown too much improvement since. Fields had a great one-legged performance in the B1G Championship Game against Wisconsin in their 14-point comeback win, however, and despite the knee, looked good for most of the game. Much like in that game, Ohio State will use Dobbins on early downs, and then look towards their Fields and their receivers, such as KJ Hill Jr. and Chris Olave to make plays downfield.

This game comes down to running back play, Dobbins vs. Etienne. Whichever team can control the line of scrimmage better in this one will win the game, as ball control and clock management will be vital. Clemson often goes for this approach in semifinal games, and. Ohio State will need to use this in order to keep Fields healthy, because unlike in 2017, they do not have a Jalen Hurts or Joe Burrow-type guy on their bench that can come in and perform on the big stage. While on paper this matchup would favor Clemson, the Chase Young-led pass rush might be too much for Lawrence and could force him into throwing interceptions, something he has done often this season compared to last. Predcition: 34-31, Ohio State

Why the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Got It Wrong… And Bama-Clemson Part IV Prediction

 

So, yeah, my predictions for the playoff games were bad. Everyone makes mistakes and misjudgments though. I mean, at least I am not Stephen A. Smith where I predict 7 straight NBA Finals wrong, or I am Skip Bayless and never know what sport I am talking about. Anyway, the playoff games gave the College Football Playoff Selection Committee nightmares over how they picked the teams, so here is my take on why they were wrong, and how to solve these problems.

Why They Were Wrong

They didn’t pick Georgia. That’s why there were wrong. Georgia was the 2nd-best team in the SEC, and sure they couldn’t beat Alabama, but given another chance, they probably could. They are the only team in the country who prior to the National Championship could beat Alabama (Clemson being the #2 would play them in the Championship). Now, yes, last night made a bad reflection on that, but Georgia simply didn’t care about the fact that they were playing in the Sugar Bowl. Kinda like how in 2013, when Oklahoma played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and Alabama got smoked. It was because they simply didn’t care. They felt like they should’ve been in the National Championship, despite the memorable ‘Kick 6’ loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Or even last year, when USC played Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. USC felt that even with an 11-2 record, that their losses coming from strongly ranked teams would not be a huge deal, as they ended up winning the Pac-12. However, since they didn’t make the Playoff, they simply showed no desire to win against Ohio State. Should Georgia, like Alabama in 2013, or even USC last year, been in the Playoff? Well, I think yes, but then again, what do I know about how the College Football Playoff works?

Now look, let us be honest here, I should never have picked Notre Dame to beat Clemson. Notre Dame is an Independent, no conference whatsoever, so they do not have to play in a conference title game. I mean, Notre Dame was 12-0 going into last night, whereas every other team going into the playoff played 13. Why is this a big deal? Well, you could say that Notre Dame should’ve had all that extra time to prepare, but then again, they hadn’t played since the week before Conference Championship Weekend, which was November 24thagainst an unranked USC (Southern California, the real USC). Not having played for over a month really took a toll on the team. Ian Book and the offense looked sluggish, and the defense seemed scared of the moment. To me, Notre Dame’s best chance to be prepared for these moments is to join a conference. They should at least try to get more games against Big Ten opponents to get themselves more experience if they can’t agree to join a conference. Them being Independent for all sports except football is concerning to me considering that the hardest sport to get into a playoff in is football, with it only being 4 teams. Speaking of which…

The Playoff Should Be 8 Teams

There is no reason for just 4 teams. I mean seriously? A playoff of just 3 games? Not only were teams like Georgia deserving of making it this year but also teams such as Ohio State had a case to make the playoff. Teams like Michigan and UCF maybe aren’t as deserving, but hey, why not put them in the playoff and see what happens. Here is what the bracket would look like with 8 teams:

brac8

We can speculate on what the outcomes of these could be, but think about how exciting this would be? UCF finally gets Bama (as the self-proclaimed ‘National Champions’ have always wanted), OU and Georgia have a rematch from last year’s classic Playoff game, and Ohio State and Michigan can have the chance to prove to the world that the Big Ten is worthy of a playoff spot. All in all, it would just create a more exciting atmosphere and weeks of anticipation and gameplay.

Clemson vs. Alabama Part IV: Good for College Football? Who Wins?

Clemson and Alabama play for the 4thconsecutive Playoff, and 3 of the past 4 National Championship Games have had this matchup. Right now, the series is 3-1 in favor of Alabama, yet this Clemson team is showing flashes of that 2017 National Championship team that beat Alabama on the last play of the game. The offense, much like this year, is very balanced with Etienne and Lawrence, as they did with Wayne Gallman and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 run. The defense is probably better than it was in 2017, and the receiving core is also very similar. That being said, Alabama’s offense is much better through the air than it was last time, with Tua’s ability to read defenses and extend plays being much better than that of Jalen Hurts, then and now.

I would put my money on Clemson. Trevor Lawrence’s deep ball ability, coupled with his ability to extend plays with his feet and accuracy, he could cause them problems, probably more than even Kyler Murray did. Murray is the type of QB that Alabama can live with because they are more than willing to let a QB of his size, speed, and skillset, beat them with his legs. Sure, he had 309 yards passing, but he also had 108 rushing. Lawrence could get between 350 and 400, and he has a much better receiving core than Murray does with Oklahoma. The deep-ball passing game has hurt Alabama against top teams, most notably against Georgia, when Jake Fromm let it fly all night and burned the Crimson Tide secondary for most of the night. Also unlike Oklahoma, Clemson has a very strong defense, starting with the front seven, led by Kendall Joseph and Christian Wilkins, who should be able to get to Tua with questions of his health, as well as the pass protection of Tua over the past few weeks. It’ll be a much more defensive game and will have a Georgia-Alabama SEC Championship feel to it, but at the end of the day, it is what college football wants, the two best teams going at it on the gridiron. Last year, Clemson got swamped, 24-7, by an Alabama team that was the 4thseed and had no business being in the Playoff, considering they didn’t even win the SEC. However, history has shown that the lower seeded team has won every time. Oh, and Drake repped Alabama, and no team has ever won when Drake reps them. I got Clemson with the upset victory.

Final Result: Clemson for the win.

2018 College Football Playoff: Can the CFP Dominance of Alabama and Clemson Be Stopped?

Over the past few years, it seems like it’s the same-old same-old, Clemson and Alabama making the College Football Playoff, and have played each other the past 3 years, including 2 of the past 3 National Championships. This year, however, features some new headlines. Alabama QB sensation Tua Tagovailoa has an injury to both of his ankles, and Clemson DL Dexter Lawrence, who is probably the best defensive lineman in the country, failed a drug test which will force him to be out vs. Notre Dame. Could this be the year that Oklahoma and Notre Dame take down the dynasties?

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: #2 Clemson vs. #3 Notre Dame, 4PM EST, ESPN

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney benched QB Kelly Bryant in favor of freshman QB Trevor Lawrence, people wondered if this was the beginning of the end for Clemson’s playoff chances. Bryant had been such a valuable piece to the team, going 16-2 in his 18 starts, and taking them to the College Football Playoff the season before. Lawrence, on the other hand, was the #2 recruit according to the ESPN 300, and while he had tons of potential and talent, he was only a freshman. Lawrence, however, took what was a stagnant offense (well, for Clemson, at least), and turned it into an undefeated season, and Clemson scored its most touchdowns ever in Clemson history. To help ease the pressure off of Lawrence, Clemson’s defense was 2ndin scoring, allowing just 13.7 points per game to opponents.

Notre Dame had the same issues with quarterback as well yet did not have the same expectations on them as Clemson did. Senior Brandon Wimbush started off the first 3 games, yet after having a 1:4 TD-to-INT ratio over 3 games, it was time for junior QB Ian Book to come in. Much like with Lawrence for Clemson, Book gave the spark the team needed offensively to compete with the best-of-the-best and give Notre Dame their first College Football Playoff berth.

Notre Dame in their last 5 Bowl Games are 0-5, having lost all by double-digits, but the fact that according to Vegas, Clemson is a 13-point favorite over Notre Dame is beyond me. The game will come down to the run game of both teams against the defensive lines. Can Clemson’s D-Line hold up without Dexter Lawrence against Ian Book and Dexter Williams in the Read Option game, or will Travis Etienne and Co. manhandle Notre Dame. Book and Lawrence will do their things, but Williams vs. Etienne will be the difference. As well as Clemson has run the ball all season, averaging 259 yards per game on the ground, Dexter Lawrence not being out there has resulted in almost double the yards per carry for opposing teams (1.7 yards per carry with Lawrence, 3.0 yards per carry without). He is easily the best defensive lineman in the country, and his absence will be felt. Williams should take advantage of that, and then set up the play-action game for Book to utilize. Notre Dame gets the upset.

Capital One Orange Bowl: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Oklahoma, 8PM EST, ESPN

Much like Clemson and Notre Dame, Alabama switched quarterbacks, this time from Jalen Hurts to Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts had taken the team to back-to-back championships and won both, except in the 2ndone (last year vs. Georgia), he exited the game with an injury, and in came Tua, a Hawaiian kid whom no one had heard about who somehow managed to lead the miracle comeback from 20-7 down in the 4thto win 26-23 in OT. Had the injury not happened, Tua would not be a started, Hurts and Alabama’s dynasty would be over, and we would probably be discussing a Georgia-Oklahoma playoff game, yet instead, Tua’s heroics have us here. Tua, for much of the season, was the Heisman front-runner. Then he injured his ankle, and Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray took the trophy home. Tua then injured his other ankle against Georgia this year in the SEC Championship game, again vs. Georgia, Hurts stepped in, and Hurts led a miracle comeback victory. So, the question becomes yet again, will Tua be healthy, and even if he is, is he better than Hurts?

On the other side, Heisman winner Kyler Murray has his sights set on the National Championship trophy now. He represents Oklahoma as a school that has had back-to-back Heisman winners now (Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield having won last year), and now leads Oklahoma to back-to-back playoff berths. Oklahoma’s one-loss season was criticized by many as a season which wasn’t playoff-worthy, having lost to a Texas team that wasn’t very good at the time. That being said, Oklahoma still has the tools to be able to beat a high-powered team like Alabama.

Much like last year, Oklahoma’s high-flying offense against a top defense in the country looms large. Alabama will come in with their usual gameplan if Tua plays, which is to let Tua be Tua. Alabama coach Nick Saban will be more than happy to see him throw the ball deep against this suspect secondary of Oklahoma. That being said, Oklahoma’s defense has stepped up quite a bit as of late, and if Tua isn’t 100% and still plays, Oklahoma can send pressure and force turnovers. The more turnovers they force, the more Kyler Murray can lead the charge. Time of possession will be the story of the game, but against Alabama, Oklahoma’s defense has to be the best it has ever been and force takeaways. With Tua’s status unknown and Kyler’s Heisman ability, I don’t see a way that Alabama’s offense will be able to match Oklahoma’s scoring ability. 

2019 National Championship: #3 Notre Dame vs. #4 Oklahoma

Assuming this is the National Championship, this would be one of the most entertaining National Championships we have seen in years. Notre Dame would have a chance to continue its glorified history, and Oklahoma could turn themselves into one of the most prestigious college football programs in the country. Notre Dame’s season simply has just been the type that many programs dream of, but I do not believe it will end as a perfect season. Oklahoma’s pro-ready offense is going to be too much for Notre Dame to overcome, but it will surely be one of the best National Championships yet if it happens.

 

College Football: Who Makes it And To What Bowl Game

After the Alabama Crimson Tide shocked the LSU Tigers, the BCS championship and BCS bowl game picture looks very tough to predict. Here are my predictions for what’ll happen during the next remaining weeks and who ends up where, who they will face, and who takes what trophy.

The BCS National Championship Game (Miami Gardens, Florida aka Sun Life Stadium: Home of the Miami Dolphins):

The Alabama Crimson Tide vs. The Oregon Ducks

This will be a BCS Classic. I think because both teams are so good, it’ll be one of the more high-scoring BCS games.

My call: Alabama puts up huge offensive numbers, pull off a squeaker. Oregon takes the early lead, though Alabama’s defense responds as they force some quick drives which result in many 3-and-out’s. AJ McCarron continues his his amazing 2nd half performance as he leads his team to a huge come-from-behind win. Coach Nick Saban wins his 4th title (3rd with Alabama). Final score after 60 minutes: Alabama 14, Oregon 7 

Offensive Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the BCS Championship Game: 

AJ McCarron (Alabama Crimson Tide Quarterback)

Stats (Statistics): 14/20, 168 yards, 1 TD, 5 carries, 50 yards, 1 TD

The Alabama Crimson Tide and the University of Alabama are the 2012-2013 NCAA Football National Champions!

The Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, Arizona aka University of Arizona Wildcats Stadium: Home of the Arizona Wildcats):

The K-State (Kansas State) Wildcats vs. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish 

The Fiesta Bowl will feature 2 teams who love to take long, clock-eating drives which can really demolish the opposing teams defense.

My call: Notre Dame wins in a squeaker thanks to the advantage of their solid defense. Final score after 60 minutes plus 3OTs, Notre Dame 40, K-State 37

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the University of Notre Dame are the 2012-2013 NCAA Football Fiesta Bowl Champions!

The Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, Louisiana aka Mercedes-Benz Superdome: Home of the New Orleans Saints):

The LSU Tigers vs. The Oklahoma Sooners

The Sugar Bowl shows a power defense (LSU) and a struggling defense (Oklahoma), and 2 talented QBs in Zach Mettenberger (LSU) and Landry Jones (Oklahoma).

My call: LSU shows the world how good their offense can be. They will also show how good their defense is without former cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. They should dominate Landry Jones and the high-scoring offense and send him to the NFL WITHOUT any bowl game wins. Final score after 60 minutes: LSU 59, Oklahoma 10

The LSU (Louisiana State) Tigers and Louisiana State University are the 2012-2013 NCAA Football Sugar Bowl Champions!

The Orange Bowl (Miami Gardens, Florida aka Sun Life Stadium: Home of the Miami Dolphins):

The Florida State Seminoles vs. The Louisville Cardinals

The Orange Bowl is a bowl which nearly every year, it features some team from the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference). This year, it should be Florida State.

My call: Both teams offenses will be red-hot, so don’t expect a low-scoring game. Final score after 60 minutes: Louisville 49, Florida State 44

The Louisville Cardinals and the University of Louisville are the 2012-2013 NCAA Football Orange Bowl Champions!

The Rose Bowl (Pasadena, California aka Rose Bowl Stadium: Home of the NCAA Football Rose Bowl):  

The Stanford Cardinal vs. The Ohio State Buckeyes

This Rose Bowl features the number 1 Pac-12 (behind Oregon) and number 1 Big Ten team. This year, it’ll feature RB Stefan Taylor’s Stanford Cardinal, and QB Braxton Miller’s Ohio State Buckeyes.

My call: It’ll be high-scoring for Stanford, and expect Braxton Miller to make a few mistakes as Stefan Taylor and redshirt freshman QB Kevin Hogan (new starter). The Stanford D led by Chase Thomas (Right Outside Linebacker) will pressure Miller. The Stanford QB Kevin Hogan also has big targets such as wide receivers Drew Terrell, Ty Montgomery, tight ends in Levin Toilolo, Zach Ertz, and fullback Ryan Hewitt. Final score after 60 minutes: Stanford 48, Ohio State 37

The Stanford Cardinal and the University of Stanford are the 2012-2013 NCAA Football Rose Bowl Champions!