Peach Bowl: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs #4 Washington Huskies
When: December 31st, 2 PM CT
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
Alabama comes in undefeated with more talent than they’ve had yet under Saban. Washington finally looks like the national contender they were in the past. Both squads run pro-style offenses and have stout, run-crushing defenses.
Washington’s head coach Chris Peterson is a genius who manages to get the best out of his players. He won the hearts of the college football world when he led Boise State to multiple BCS bowl wins. After some shakeup last year as the new Huskies coach (many of his starters were true freshmen recruits), this year has seen the team grow into a dominant force.
On the other hand, the Alabama empire is ruling college football with an iron fist under Nick Saban. True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts of Channelview, Texas often starts slow, but he picks up speed in the second half of games. Look for Washington to have scouted all of his tendencies and capitalize on his mistakes. The same can be said for Alabama’s D when facing off against Washington QB Jake Browning, who has all the tools to make big plays but has turned the ball over a few times towards the season’s end.
An outside factor to consider: Lane Kiffin is staying through the playoff as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, though he has accepted the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic. Kiffin was instrumental in the Tide’s playoff run last year, especially with his schematic exploitation of Clemson’s secondary. Hopefully for Alabama he can maintain that standard of excellence.
Who takes it?:
Bama’s O-line is sturdier than Washington’s, which should play the deciding role in field position and time of possession. Special teams is a Peterson specialty, but Alabama has more defensive and special teams scores than anybody. Washington will push Alabama to their limit, but the Crimson Tide will prevail in the end. 31-24, Bama
Fiesta Bowl: #2 Clemson Tigers vs #3 Ohio State Buckeyes
When: December 31st, 6 PM CT
Where: Glendale, Arizona
Clemson returns to the College Football Playoff after their perfect season fell just short in last year’s Championship game loss. THE Ohio State University is back after missing out on the playoffs last year after suffering a heartbreaking loss to Michigan State in the Big 10 Championship. Expect fireworks and/or shutdowns in this rematch of 2014’s Orange Bowl.
Tigers’ junior quarterback Deshaun Watson’s numbers are down this year. Clemson lost a number of starters to the draft on both sides of the ball, an have relied on heads up defensive and special teams plays to maintain their success. The Tigers looked beatable this year but found a way to win all but one game. In this regard, as well as most others, they are much like their opponent.
They face another team whose offense lives and dies by its dual-threat QB. This philosophy has always been a staple of Urban Meyer’s teams, and it is hard to argue with his results. That said, the Buckeyes are loaded with supporting talent and should have no problem spreading the ball around.
Who takes it?:
Clemson’s defensive coordinator Brent Venables loves to bring pressure of all types, but the option game and run/pass ability of OSU’s Watson could severely negate that. Clemson kicker Greg Huegel has come up big for his team throughout the year, and could salvage any stalled drives for the Tigers, thus keeping the game close. The Buckeyes are beatable, but not as much as the Tigers. 35-30, tOSU