The regular season for College Football is over! Now, the playoffs are officially set! Last Sunday afternoon, the College Football Playoff Committee released the rankings of the top four teams who qualified for this season’s playoffs. The playoffs will tip off on New Year’s Eve at the University of Arizona Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Both games will be airing on ESPN, so this is the best way to end 2015 before you go out to party and ring in the New Year. These four teams will play in the Playoff Semifinal for a chance to advance to the National Championship. This year’s College Football Playoff features some very talented teams that all can present strong cases on why they could be crowned the National Champions on January 11, 2016.
1. Clemson (13-0) vs. 4. Oklahoma (11-1)
The Clemson Tigers has really taken College Football by surprise this season. They finished the regular season with a 13-0 record and the ACC title. The Tigers have nearly dominated the teams they have faced during the season. Clemson has quickly become the College Football version of “The Greatest Show on Turf.” Quarterback Deshaun Watson, a Heisman candidate, has put up some remarkable stats. Watson has 3,512 yards, 30 touchdowns and only 11 picks. Sophomore running back Wayne Gallman has put some great numbers too; Gallman has 1,332 rushing yards, 152 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns (10 rushing, 1 receiving). Most pundits praise Clemson for their high-powered offense but the Tigers also have a good defense. They are ranked 7th overall defense in the country. The Tigers are 5th in passing, but they give up plenty of yards on the ground as they ranked 23rd in rushing.
The Oklahoma Sooners are back into contender status. The Sooners finished with an 11-1 record and captured the Big 12 Championship. Junior quarterback Baker Mayfield has had a spectacular year that has been off the charts. Mayfield has 3,389 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard has had a tremendous season with 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns, and running back Samaje Perine has also had a great season with 1,291 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. But, the Sooners defense hasn’t been up to par as they are ranked 31st defensively. The Sooners are 32nd against the past and 46th against the run.
2. Alabama (12-1) vs. 3. Michigan State (12-1)
Roll Tide! The Alabama Crimson Tide is in the College Football Playoffs for a 2nd year in a row. The team is looking to atone for last year’s playoff loss to Ohio State. And, they are matched up against another Big Ten team this year; this time it’s the Michigan State Spartans. Alabama has some talents the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Jake Coker has 2,489 yards, 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions this season. But, running back Derrick Henry has had a great year averaging 1,986 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. The Crimson Tide’s real strength is their defense. They are ranked 2nd overall in defense; Alabama is 1st defending the run and 16th defending the pass.
The Michigan State Spartans have had a great season and have pulled off some dramatic wins. They finished the regular season with a 12-1 record, and captured the Big Ten title with a 16-13 come-from-behind win against Iowa. This team has major talent on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Connor Cook, a soon-to-be top NFL pick, has had a Heisman-type season with 2,921 yards, 24 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Also, wide receiver Aaron Burbridge has had a stellar year with 1,219 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns, and running back L.J. Scott has been pretty solid with 691 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. The Spartans are ranked 26th overall in total defense. They are 7th in the country defending the run but only 70th defending the pass. But, the Spartans have a great defense that is quick and can apply pressure to the quarterback and shut down the run.
Orange Bowl: Clemson over Oklahoma
Cotton Bowl: Michigan State over Alabama
2016 College Football Playoff National Championship:
Michigan State over Clemson
By Quentin Congress