Hey, The College Football Playoff is Here!

It feels like eons ago since we last saw any of the four College Football Playoff teams play. Three of the four are coming off of victories in their respective conference championship games. So get your last minute trash talking in because come Saturday, the real games start. It’s college football playoff time!

Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma will battle it out in this year’s College Football Playoff in the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl. Alabama has never failed to make the College Football Playoff while Notre Dame is appearing in it’s first. We have two solid games that could see some upsets.

Capital One Orange Bowl

#1 Alabama, champions of the Southeastern Conference against #4 Oklahoma Sooners, champions of the Big 12. This game may see a final score with both teams scoring triple digits. Ok, that may be a little far fetched, but this game will see some scoring.

Oklahoma and Alabama rank one and two in the nation in scoring. The Sooners average just under 50 points per game with 49.5 while Alabama averages 47.9. Defensively, Alabama is pretty good ranking 10th in the nation in yards per game allowing opponents to an average of less than 300 yard per game (295). Oklahoma by comparison is 108th allowing nearly 450 yards per game. And the Sooners pass defense? Is a rather ugly 129th, which is second to last in the country.

Oklahoma boasts the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner and nations top passer in Kyler Murray. Murray who has thrown for over 4,000 yards this year with 40 touchdowns is not only a threat to pass, but to run. There has only been three games this year where Murray hasn’t run for at least 50 yards. And in their game against Kansas, he ran for three touchdowns. The one thing that may slow him down other than a tough Alabama defense is his health. Murray missed the Orange Bowl media day due to an illness.

“He practiced yesterday,” Gundy said. “I think they just thought it’d be best for him to rest a little bit before practice. He should be fine.”

Oklahoma Co-Offensive Coordinator Cale Gundy said at media day.

The illness was not disclosed by the Oklahoma medical staff.

If Oklahoma wants to win, they’re going to have to keep up with Alabama in points and hope to stop them at least one. It really wouldn’t be surprising to see either team score on every offensive possession. But there is one thing going in Oklahoma’s favor if you’re a history buff. Alabama has only beaten Oklahoma once and since that win in their first meeting, Oklahoma has ripped off three straight against the tide. And the last time these two teams met was in the 2014 Sugar Bowl when Oklahoma got it’s largest win over Alabama in school history with a 45-31 win.

History may be on Oklahoma’s side, but defense isn’t. And you know what they say, defense wins championships. MY PICK: Alabama wins 56-45. Kickoff will be 8pm on ESPN.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

#2 Clemson, champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference against #3 Notre Dame. This will be only the third meeting ever between the schools and first since Clemson’s 24-22 win in 2015 in Death Valley. Notre Dame scheduled wouldn’t wow you per say, but they did have the 25th ranked strength of schedule as opposed to Clemson’s 16th. (Per TeamRankings)

Clemson’s high flying offense which features the likes of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne will surely put up yards and points. Notre Dame’s rush defense ranks 98th in the country allowing 133.5 rush yards per game. And their pass defense ranks 36th in the nation. If Etienne can get going in this game, watch out.

This year’s Notre Dame squad has been different. Usually a change in QB means doom for a team but not this one. When Notre Dame made the switch from Brandon Wimbush to Ian Book, this Fighting Irish team took off. The pass offense ranks 31st in the nation which won’t wow you by any means but since Book has taken over full time from week four, his numbers have been terrific. He has 19 TD’s in 9 games and has thrown for nearly 2,500 yards in those games. Clemson ranks 18th in pass defense this year but if Book can find a way to methodically move down the field, Notre Dame could pull of the upset.

Now ironically this game used to be played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. However; the SERVPRO First Responder’s Bowl that was supposed to be played there between Boston College and Boise State yesterday was canceled. Luckily, they play the REAL Cotton Bowl game at Jerry World at AT&T Stadium.

Even though Notre Dame is one of the most historical college football programs in the country, I don’t think that history will carry over. MY PICK: Clemson wins 35-31. Kickoff will be 4pm on ESPN

– Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)

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