College Football Playoff Preview and Predictions
Notre Dame Vs. Clemson
Kickoff: 4:00 P.M. EST
Spread: Clemson -11
Preview: A major topic of discussion leading up to this game has been Notre Dame’s very week strength of schedule, but they have passed every test that they faced. Notre Dame beat a very good Michigan team to open the season, and finished off the season strong with wins against Syracuse and USC. The best decision that Notre Dame HC and Dodd Trophy Coach of the Year Brian Kelly made this season was inserting Ian Book at quarterback, replacing incumbent starter Brandon Wimbush who struggled with accuracy the past two seasons. While Book isn’t the runner that Wimbush is, Book has revamped Notre Dame’s aerial attack. RB Dexter Williams has had a breakout season, but with Clemson’s dominant defensive line (even with Dexter Lawrence suspended for testing positive for a PED), don’t be surprised to see Notre Dame try and get big WRs Chase Claypool and Miles Boykin involved early and often. Clemson, led by true freshman QB and future No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, is in the midst of a 4-year streak of reaching the playoff, only failing to reach the playoff in its inaugural season. Clemson has depth and is strong at every position, but does not have great QB depth since Kelly Bryant decided to transfer early in the season. Syracuse gave Clemson a real scare early in the season when Lawrence exited the game early due to injury, but Clemson has been dominant ever since, winning every game since Syracuse by double digits. Clemson RB Travis Etienne will face his toughest competition this season against a strong defensive front of Notre Dame led by Jerry Tillery at DT and LB Te’Von Coney. Clemson WRs Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers, Hunter Renfrow, and Justyn Ross face tough competition as well against Notre Dame DBs Troy Pride and Julian Love. I think Notre Dame is going to be very competitive throughout the game and give Clemson a real test. Notre Dame is a lot better than they get credit for and is by far the best competition that Clemson has faced all season. I think Clemson just squeaks by Notre Dame in this one.
Prediction: Clemson 31 – Notre Dame 27
Oklahoma Vs. Alabama
Kickoff: 8:00 P.M. EST
Spread: Alabama -14
Preview: This might be Nick Saban’s best team that he has had at Bama, which is amazing to think about considering he has won 5 championships there. Bama has NFL talent at every position, and while this team couldn’t beat in NFL team, if you take every player on their roster and fast forward 5 years, you could very possibly have a Super Bowl caliber team. This game is a battle of the Heisman Trophy winner and runner-up, Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa respectively. Tagovailoa will look to exploit Oklahoma and their Big 12 defense through the air with WRs Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs along with breakout TE Irv Smith. Alabama has a major advantage upfront with OL Jonah Williams and C Ross Pierschbacher, who will pave the way for Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris, and Najee Harris against an Oklahoma defense that allowed KANSAS to run for 348 yards! I can see Damien Harris having a big game as he is more of a speed guy compared to Jacobs and Najee Harris. Murray, the No. 9 overall pick in last year’s MLB draft, faces an Alabama defense rich with NFL talent led by DT Quinnen Williams. Murray has a big decision to make when it comes to football vs. baseball and this game could be a big decider when it comes to his future. If Murray is able to have a good game against the Crimson Tide, the Heisman winner will see his stock explode even more than it already has. Another aspect of the game to watch when it comes to evaluating NFL talent is the Alabama DL (Isaiah Buggs, Quinnen Williams, Raekwon Davis) vs. Oklamoma OL (Cody Ford, Bobby Evans, Ben Powers). I think Alabama is just too much for Oklahoma in this one.
Prediction: Alabama 45 – Oklahoma 28