curator & Coach returns for one more skate of games. Here’s our thoughts on the CFB Playoff and New Year’s Day (oh...and Florida-Michigan)
Curator Sam Burnham Cotton Bowl - Clemson vs Notre Dame The Irish built a schedule that would have been close to insurmountable any of the last 20 seasons. How they managed to schedule that many perennial powers who just happened to e suffering down years, I’ll never know. What they did with what they had to work with was win. They enter the playoff without a loss. They beat everyone placed before them and that is all anyone could ask of them. And now, with everyone talking about QB controversies and transfers, there remains one truth. Ian Book is the quarterback. And he’s not bad. So let his back up transfer and let the field general lead his team. What we will see in Dallas is if the Irish made it this far because of an unlikely schedule or if they are a true playoff contender. While I can't argue that they've earned their place in the playoff, I'm not convinced they are ready for the task at hand. The last time they were in a similar situation, they were ill prepared for an Alabama juggernaut that steamrolled over them
Across the field, Clemson will be without three suspended players. But I believe that the Tigers are on a tier with Alabama. I would have loved to see them playing Georgia this post season. Trevor Lawrence, the freshman sensation who ran the previous starter clear out of town, is going to be a tougher QB with better weapons than any other Notre Dame has seen this year. I figure if you run this match up 10 times, Clemson will win at least 8 of them.
This season really doesn’t need the three team playoff. A Clemson vs Bama game is our destiny. The Irish are a good football team but this time, they’re just outgunned.
Orange Bowl - Alabama vs Oklahoma When I get past the apparent controversy surrounding bowl officials allegedly stuffing the trophy with California oranges, the story of this game remains unchanged. Once the cleats hit the grass there will be a few indisputable truths:
1) Both teams have incredible offenses, Oklahoma's led by Heisman winner Kyler Murray and Alabama's led by Murray's top contender, Tua Tagovaiola
2) Alabama has an effective defense with size, speed, and tenacity.
3) Oklahoma has no defense at all.
That will be the measure of victory. Oklahoma will put points on the scoreboard. But Bama’s defense will limit them. There will be nothing the Sooners can do to keep the Tide out of the end zone. The Tide rolls and big.
Coach Drew Burnham Cotton Bowl - Clemson vs Notre Dame Notre Dame is a team who seems to play to the level of their opponents. They have been less than impressive against some less than impressive competition, yet have also shined when the lights were the brightest. They beat 3 teams this year who played in a Power 5 conference championsip game (Pitt, Northwestern and Stanford). 2 of those wins were by at least 2 scores. A night game in Blacksburg, a less than inviting environment, culminated in a 3 touchdown victory for the Irish. A matchup against a tough Syracuse team saw the Irish surrender only 3 points to an offense who came into the game averaging over 40. (They scored 23 in a game at Clemson.) This point could continue, but I feel that it is thoroughly made: the Irish answer the bell. Many people have voiced their opinion that they don’t belong in this game, but I simply don’t think that’s true. They’ve won their fair share of big games and will be ready for this matchup. Clemson has held serve this season doing exactly what everyone expected them to do. They’ve become the 2ndhousehold name in college football. Their defense has been stifling, especially against the run. They’ve only allowed 8 rushing touchdowns all season and their opponents average less than 2.5 yards per carry. They are ultra-athletic in the back end of their defense and making their opponents one dimensional has played right into Clemson’s hand. A dominating key to that run stopping has been All American DT Dexter Lawrence who will not be dressed for the Tigers due to a positive test for a banned substance. He is the catalyst in the middle and is a major problem for offenses.
With Lawrence out, can Notre Dame sustain just enough of a run game to be able to set up the big play? I really believe that one piece will be a major deciding factor in this game. This one may be closer than you think.
Orange Bowl - Alabama vs Oklahoma This capsule should be short and sweet. This game is all about 1 thing and it has NOTHING to do with anyone from the State of Hawaii. Oklahoma is known to score a lot of points. Alabama is known to field one of the most stingy defenses in the country every single year. Can Oklahoma and the Heisman Trophy winner score enough points to outlast the Tide? It is an extraordinarily similar circumstance to the Rose Bowl game last year. Oklahoma jumped out to a huge lead on Georgia before running out of gas and ultimately losing in overtime. Expect more of the same fireworks. I just wonder if they can have enough bullets in their gun to fire enough shots to take down the Tide. If this one turns into a true shootout, Alabama might just be in trouble.
Curator's Picks (77-64)
Clemson over Notre Dame Alabama over Oklahoma Florida over Michigan Miss State over Iowa LSU overUCF Kentucky over Penn State OhioState over Washington UGA over Texas
Coach's Picks (77-64)
Notre Dame over Clemson Alabama over Oklahoma Michigan over Florida Miss State over Iowa UCF over LSU Penn State over Kentucky Washington over Ohio State UGA over Texas