Four of the most legendary programs in college football – Alabama, Clemson, Ohio and Notre Dame – still hope to win the championship in one of the most chaotic and uncertain seasons and week in sports history.
On Friday, the College Football Playoff matches will take place their semifinals at Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and Rose Bowl in Arlington, Texas. (You read it right; Rose Bowl has been moved from California due to coronavirus cases and public health restrictions.) The winners will advance to the championship match, which will take place on January 11th at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
No. 1 Alabama (11-0) vs No. 4 Notre Dame (10-1)
4 pm ET in Arlington, Texas (moved from Pasadena, California)
The most powerful breed in modern college football wants another crown. But coach Nick Saban’s 14th team makes the attack look easy, and in this way, is strikingly different from some of his predecessors.
Viewers: Three of the Alabama attack stars – Quarterback McJohns, behind Nagy Harris and Devonta Smith – finished the top five in the Heisman Cup this season. (The winner will be announced on Tuesday.) But don’t forget Patrick Sirten II, the young full-back who has allowed 25 yards to receive or less in eight of 11 games this season.
Something Alabama likes: Alabama averages nearly 50 points per game. When Saban won his first championship in Alabama in 2009, in the same season, the Alabama team initially won the Heisman Cup, the tide managed about 32.
Something Alabama hates: Alabama lost seven failures in this short season, nearly double the tally of last season.
Alabama warning light: The narrowest margin of victory for Alabama this season was 6 points, in a win over Florida, and Notre Dame’s defense was better, allowing less than 19 points per game. Saban said this week that Irish fighters would be a “challenge to finish our offensive”, so Alabama fans should feel nervous if they see Will Richard heading over and over again for field shootings. (He’s been great so far – 12 to 12 – but he’s not getting many chances. Jonathan Dowerer of Notre Dame 22 has tried this season.)
Sailing the Pandemic: Apart from disclosing Saban November bout With the virus and Previous false positive For the coach, Alabama hasn’t said much about the prevalence of the pathogen within the soccer program. But Alabama hasn’t had any matches rescheduled due to its virus problems.
Extra point: Saban is pursuing his sixth National Championship title as Crimson Tide head coach, a mark that would equal the record for Bear Bryant in Alabama.
Notre Dame’s only play-off outing, a 2018 semi-final match against ClemsonIt was a disaster: a 30-3 loss. The match against Alabama is one of its best chances for glory, even if the Irish Fighters enter as underdogs.
Viewers: Alabama’s defensive coordinator this week, Ian Bock, the midfielder, said, “It kind of makes them tick” but also highlighted Keren Williams, a sophomore who ran 1,061 yards this season. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, 215-pound full-back, and Kyle Hamilton, sophomore safety student, each have 56 passes each, tied to the captain.
Something that Notre Dame loves: The book has only thrown two objections this season. In the previous 10 seasons that Brian Kelly coached the Irish fighting team, Notre Dame midfielders averaged around 12 interceptions a year.
Something Notre Dame dislikes: History, or at least talk a lot about it. Aside from winning the regular season over Clemson in November, Notre Dame has struggled in marquee matches. There was the 2018 semifinals, but also a 16-point loss to Ohio to end the 2015 season and 28 points loss to Alabama In the Bowl Championship Series 2012 season.
Notre Dame Warning Light: Bock was sacked from a season high of six times in Notre Dame’s loss to Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship match. Nearly two-thirds of Alabama’s 32 sacks have come in the last four games. An early breakout from Alabama might signal a bleak day in front of Fighting Irish, but look out for Notre Dame to try to improve on the running game that only gained 44 yards in the ACC title match.
Sailing the Pandemic: The September match against Wake Forest was postponed because Notre Dame was facing an increase in cases around the football team. The ACC said the match was later canceled “to preserve the integrity” of the league championship match.
Extra point: Typically independent in football, Notre Dame played for ACC for the 2020 season and will become the first team to appear in the qualifiers after losing a League Championship match.
No. 2 Clemson (10-1) vs No. 3 Ohio State (6-0)
8 pm Eastern New Orleans time
Defeated during Last season’s title match At Superdome, the same building they will play on Friday night, Clemson and coach Dabo Sweeney are back in the playoffs for their sixth consecutive season and will face an opponent they defeated in two previous matches. Last season , Clemson has withstood more than Buckeyes, 29-23.
Players to watch: As always with Clemson these days, quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the superstar: a Heisman Cup finalist, expected first pick in the NFL draft and a character like few others in Clemson’s history. But Lawrence quickly spread the credit, bolstering his attack by rolling back Travis Etienne, who set a football division record for most games with a relegation (42) while playing against Boston College in October. It is the only tail in college game with over 500 yards.
Something that Clemson liked: Both sides of the ball. Under Sweeney, who has played extensively in Alabama, Clemson has scored roughly this season 45 points per gameThird best player in sports. The defense likes to rally, with an average of four bags per game – a potential recipe for misery for Justin Fields, a caller from the Ohio State Signal who has fallen three times in the Big Ten Championship match against Northwestern.
Something Clemson hatesThird-degree transfers. The Tigers’ percentage is the worst in the qualifiers, after Clemson had scored 78 out of 167 attempts.
Clemson warning light: The Ohio State defense pass was the worst in the Big Ten. If Lawrence, who did not play in November’s double extra-time loss against Notre Dame because he tested positive for the virus, does not meet his defense, Clemson will almost certainly be in grave danger.
Sailing the epidemicClemson announced Wednesday that its attack coordinator, Tony Elliott, will not participate in the semi-finals due to virus-related protocols, and the university said at least 222 people are associated with its sports division, including LawrenceThey have tested positive for the virus since June. The school did not issue a sports meltdown separately, but Sweeney was furious when a match against Florida was canceled due to a problem with the Seminoles program.
An extra point: Let the talking smack fly. Sweeney ranked Ohio State 11th in this game and did not deviate, announcing this week that he has not put any team in the top 10 if he has not played at least nine matches. He said, “Maybe I can run for Governor of Michigan and have a good chance.” But he also admitted that Ohio has as good a chance as any of the four title teams.
In her fourth play-off appearance, Ohio, which was the last Won the college football title In the 2014 season, it hopes to make up for the time and show off the pandemic has lost.
Players to watch: Quarterback Justin Fields will be looking to cement his place as the top pick after having few chances to show his strength this season. His completion rate outperforms Lawrence’s, but he delivered only 15 landing passes and pushed for another five. White Davis, a 315-pound indoor streak worker, would be crucial to creating a running game, and even with the season shortened, corner back Sean Wade scored nearly half of his career interceptions. Chris Olaf, the wide receiver who missed the Big Ten game, is expected to return.
Something that Ohio likes: Time of acquisition, which should be useful while trying to contain Clemson’s ability to score. Ohio usually controls the ball for more than 33 minutes per game.
Something Ohio hatedDefending the pass is a blatant affair, but that’s just one component of a corrosive defense from last season, when he was the best in the Big Ten. In 2019, when the defense was loaded with players like Chase Young and Jeff Okudah being the second and third pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Ohio State surrendered just 248 yards into the match. this year? 358.
Ohio State Warning Light: Buckeyes whiz in the Big Ten Championship match, which they only got to because of the league Critical Eligibility Base Change. They dominated when they found a hurried attack at 305 yards. They are unlikely to have much luxury time this time. Coach Ryan Day said he would look for a balance between passing and sprinting, but said, “When you start not describing it too hard, then bad things happen.”
Sailing the epidemic: Buckeyes’ team canceled a match in Illinois due to cases within their program, and matches against Maryland and Michigan have also been canceled due to the pandemic.
An extra pointIn his second season at top of Ohio, Day was undefeated – except for last season’s loss to Clemson. Woody Hayes was 10-6-2 in his first two seasons at Columbus, while Urban Mayer was 24-2. Jim Tracel won the national championship to end his second season, when Ohio State won 14-0.