2018 College Football Playoff National Championship preview

The SEC is going to win the National Championship, it’s just a matter of which team. Both Georgia and Alabama were able to win their semi-final matchups and now will go to Atlanta for the big game. Nick Saban will go up against his former defensive coordinator for a shot at his fifth national championship. Here is the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship preview:

4 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1)

2018 College Football Playoff National Championship preview

Jalen Hurts (Photo by seccountry.com)

Alabama didn’t struggle at all with Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. Saban had his team ready to play with the defense not even allowing a touchdown. A lot of critics said that Alabama didn’t deserve to be in the College Football Playoff, but they used that as fuel to beat Clemson. Now they find themselves in the same position most great Alabama teams find themselves in: a chance to win a National Championship.

The offense wasn’t explosive, but got the job done against Clemson. Jalen Hurts completed 66.7% of his passes for 120 yards and two scores. He did what he has been doing all year, protecting the football and moving the chains. Hurts still has just one interception on the season. Protecting the ball will be at a premium once again when he goes up a very good Georgia defense.

Top receiver Calvin Ridley wasn’t the most productive he’s ever been, but had four receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown. Surprisingly defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne scored the other receiving touchdown when he was in as a fullback on the goal line. They have talent at the wide receiver position, especially with Ridley, but the key is making the most of their chances since Alabama isn’t the greatest passing offense.

Only three rushers got the ball in the semi-final against Clemson. Damien Harris led the way, like he has all year, with 77 rushing yards. Hurts added 40, while Bo Scarbrough could only muster 24 yards on 12 carries. They played an elite defensive front in Clemson, so this wasn’t a great surprise. Georgia’s defense is good, but the defensive line isn’t nearly as good as Clemson’s, so Alabama should have more success running the ball.

The defense stepped up to the challenge against Clemson and held the Tigers to under 200 total yards. They allowed wide receiver Deon Cain to do well, but for the most part didn’t let receivers get separation and completely shut down the running game. Rashaan Evans stepped up at linebacker with nine tackles, which was needed due to a lot of injuries at the linebacker position for Alabama. There are a lot of good players on this defense, who will have to step up against the Bulldog’s great running backs.

3 Georgia Bulldogs (13-1)

2018 College Football Playoff National Championship preview

Nick Chubb (Photo by fanragsports.com)

Georgia looked like they were going to lose to Oklahoma right before the half, when they were down by 17 points. They were fortunate to get a field goal before the break and then the defense started to play up to their potential in the second half. The game went into two overtime periods. In the second, Bulldog linebacker Lorenzo Carter blocked a field goal attempt and then Sony Michel ran in a touchdown to seal the victory for the Bulldogs.

Jake Fromm also did a great job of protecting the football with 210 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. If he can protect the football and help move it a little bit, the offense usually does well with the great running backs they have. He completed 20 of 29 passes in the game and didn’t waste too many opportunities.

The top receiver for the Bulldogs against Oklahoma was Javon Wims, who had six receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. Sony Michel showed again that he can do more than run the ball with four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. Like Alabama, the passing game isn’t the strong point of the team. The Bulldogs’ strongest position on offense is running back.

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are the most dynamic duo of running backs in the history of college football. It is a great one-two punch, but Georgia also has freshman D’Andre Swift in the mix as well. Chubb and Michel had great games in the semi-final with 367 total yards and six touchdowns between the two. While Chubb is the more physical runner, Michel is multi-talented and has great quickness. They compliment each other really well and will need to have good games against Alabama.

The defense started off slow against Mayfield, but in the second half looked completely different. Oklahoma was only able to score 14 second half points, with seven of them coming from a defensive touchdown. While they allowed 48 points, no one is going to completely stop Oklahoma’s offense, but they hope to slow it down like Georgia did.

Roquan Smith had a rough first half, but when he stepped it up in the second half, the whole defense played better. He led the team with 11 total tackles. Smith did a good job spying on Mayfield, which will also come in hand against Alabama and Hurts. The other linebackers of Georgia are special too and will have to aid the defensive front in stopping the run.

Prediction

Beating Alabama at their own game is very tough and that is what Georgia will have to do. LSU has tried the blue print of having a pro-style offense, running the ball and playing tough defense for a while and have been largely unsuccessful against the Crimson Tide. Alabama definitely has the edge due to their history of beating teams who play similar styles.

Stopping the run is going to be something both teams focus on, which means it will likely come down to which quarterback and receivers can make the most plays. Hurts is the more experienced, has less turnovers and can run the ball well if he is pressured. He also has Calvin Ridley, one of the best receivers in college football, to throw to. The Crimson Tide have the advantage here too.

On defense, Georgia has the better linebackers. They have so many good ones they can’t even get all of them on the field all the time, while Alabama is struggling to stay healthy at the position. On the rest of the defense, Alabama is better than Georgia.

Expect a low-scoring game that centers around that style of running the ball and stopping the run. Alabama will let Hurts run, while feeding Scarbrough and Harris. If it doesn’t work, Hurts will protect the football and get it in Ridley’s hands. The Crimson Tide defense will at least be able to slow down the Georgia running backs, helping them secure the win.

 

 

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

The two best programs in college football the past two seasons are Alabama and Clemson. They produce great players and play in the biggest games. There are a lot of players from this game that will be stars in the NFL. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB

Fitzpatrick has experience at both corner and safety for Alabama, but will fit in better as a safety in the NFL. He has gotten playing time since his freshman season at Alabama and is now a junior. In his three seasons he has 163 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, nine interceptions, 23 passes defended and one forced fumble.

At 6’1″ and 201 pounds, Fitzpatrick has good enough size for the NFL at either position he has played. He likely won’t have to wait long to hear his name called.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Calvin Ridley, WR

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

Calvin Ridley (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

Ridley is one of the best receivers in the draft class, if not the best. He has continued to put up numbers, despite not always having the greatest quarterback play. At Alabama, he has 2,710 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. His best season was his freshman year with Blake Sims at quarterback.

He is 6’1″ and 190 pounds and will need to add some play strength to beat his man off the line of scrimmage. If he isn’t the first wide receiver drafted, Ridley will be shortly after.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Da’Ron Payne, DT

Payne doesn’t have the production of a lot of other prospects, but is asked to do something completely different for Alabama. He is a freakish athlete who takes on multiple blockers and helps stop the run well. He has 94 total tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks in his time at Alabama.

At 6’2″ and 308 pounds, Payne has good size for an interior defensive lineman. He plays nose tackle in Alabama’s 3-4, but can also play defensive tackle in the 4-3 system.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Other notable Alabama prospects: RB Damien Harris (2nd round-4th round), RB Bo Scarbrough (4th round-6th round), G/C Ross Pierschbacher (3rd round-5th round), C Lester Cotton (5th round-7th round), C Bradley Bozeman (3rd round-5th round), DE Da’Shawn Hand (6th round-undrafted free agent), LB Rashaan Evans (3rd round-4th round), LB Shaun Dion Hamilton (3rd round-5th round), CB Anthony Averett (3rd round-5th round), CB Tony Brown (4th round-6th round), S Ronnie Harrison (1st round-2nd round)

Clemson Tigers

Clelin Ferrell, DE

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Sugar Bowl

Clelin Ferrell (Photo by independentmail.com)

Ferrell has been the leading sack-man on the Tigers’ defense this season. That is impressive due to how much talent they have on their roster. In his two years of playing time at Clemson, Ferrell has 106 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks.

At 6’5″ and 265 pounds which is good size for a defensive end in the NFL. He will have to battle some fellow teammates for positioning in the draft class.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Austin Bryant, DE

Bryant is the other half of a great sack tandem of defensive ends. He has 7.5 sacks on the season to make it tough on opposing quarterbacks. In his career, he has 82 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. He has some inconsistency, as some games he will have multiple sacks and some he will have none, but NFL teams can work with that.

He also has solid size at 6’4″ and 265 pounds. The junior could go back to Clemson and work on his consistency, but he already has enough tape to be drafted early in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Christian Wilkins, DT

Wilkins is a leader for Clemson and one of the best defensive tackles in the country. The junior was a big part of the National Championship team last year. He has 133 total tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in his career. Wilkins has shown the ability to rush the passer from the interior, which is appealing to NFL teams.

He is 6’4″ and 310 pounds, which makes his best fit as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Wilkins will be one of the first interior defensive linemen selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-2nd round

Other notable Clemson prospects: WR Deon Cain (3rd round-5th round), WR Hunter Renfrow (5th round-7th round), OT Mitch Hyatt (2nd round-4th round), LB Kendall Joseph (3rd round-5th round), CB Mark Fields (2nd round-4th round), S Van Smith (4th round-6th round)

 

2018 Sugar Bowl preview

The Sugar Bowl features a rematch of the last two National Championship Games. Clemson and Alabama will be fighting for the right to go to a third straight National Championship. While some are upset this game isn’t happening for a title, it will be a great matchup of familiar foes. Here is the 2018 Sugar Bowl preview:

4 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)

2018 Sugar Bowl preview

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Photo by youtube.com)

Alabama lost one game to Auburn and had to watch the SEC Championship Game from home. They were still able to get into the College Football Playoff despite not playing in the final week. Their best wins are over Fresno State, LSU and Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide aren’t just happy to be here, they are in it to win it.

The offense scores 39.1 points per game and is based off of the running game. They rank eighth in the country with 265.3 rushing yards per game. Damien Harris is the leading running back with 110 carries for 906 yards and 11 touchdowns. His backup, Bo Scarbrough, has added 549 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is a dual-threat who has 768 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Hurts isn’t the greatest passer, but has protected the football. He has thrown for 1,940 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception on the season. They have one receiver that produces a lot in Calvin Ridley. Ridley has 896 receiving yards and three touchdown catches.

They have the best scoring defense in the country that allows 11.5 points per game. They are first in rush defense and sixth in pass defense. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the best players in college football. He has 52 total tackles six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception and six passes defended.

1 Clemson Tigers (12-1)

2018 Sugar Bowl preview

Kelly Bryant (Photo by ncaa.com)

The Tigers are the ACC Champions and number one seed in the College Football Playoff. They lost on the road to a bad Syracuse team, but didn’t have their quarterback, Kelly Bryant, for the entire game. Clemson beat nine bowl eligible teams with their best wins coming over Miami, Virginia Tech and Auburn.

Offensively, they scored 35.4 points per game. Their run offense isn’t as good as Alabama’s, but is still solid at 204.1 rushing yards per game. Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster have split carries and done well. Etienne has 744 rushing yards, while Feaser has 659. Bryant is also a threat to run from the quarterback position with 646 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

Bryant is efficient in his passing at 67.4% completion. He has 2,678 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. Three receivers do a lot of damage for the Tigers. Deon Cain leads the team 659 with receiving yards and six touchdowns. Hunter Renfrow leads the team with 55 catches and to go with it, has 571 yards. Ray-Ray McCloud has 502 receiving yards and one touchdown.

The Tigers have the second best scoring defense in the country at 12.8 points per game. They rank 12th against the run and seventh against the pass. Clemson has the most sacks per game at 3.38 this season and are led by the likes of Austin Bryant (7.5 sacks) and Clelin Ferrell (8.5 sacks).

Prediction

While Alabama looks better statistically, Clemson has played the tougher schedule and has still gotten to the College Football Playoff as the number one seed. The defensive line will pressure Hurts and make it hard to throw the ball. Alabama will be one dimensional with the run game, which is easier to stop. Bryant is mobile and can throw, which has caused problems for Alabama’s defense in the past. With all this, Clemson should be able to edge out a win.

Clemson Tigers 34 Alabama Crimson Tide 29

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 5-1

The college football season is about a week away and even the things that most fans take for granted can’t come soon enough. Good guard play, a gunslinger quarterback, hook and ladders and craziness are all things that need to happen sooner rather than later. The rest of the rankings are out and we are down to the top five teams, who will all be trying to make the college football playoff.

For the last installment of the rankings: click here.

5. Penn State Nittany Lions

College football top 25

Saquon Barkley (Photo by youtube.com)

Penn State surprised everyone by going 11-3 and making the Rose Bowl in James Franklin’s third season as the head coach. The good news for the Nittany lions is that they return 16 starters from that team and should be a force in the Big Ten again this season.

Saquon Barkley is one of the best players in college football and returns at running back. He totaled 1,496 rushing yards last year and will produce again this season. Four of his offensive linemen return to help pave the way for him. With that, Barkley should be in the thick of the Heisman race if he can have some big games against good competition.

The quarterback position is filled by Trace McSorley, who was a catalyst to taking their team to the Rose Bowl last season. He threw for 3,614 yards, 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2016, but will need to improve his efficiency. He also provides an extra running threat for Penn State. He has plenty of good targets returning in DaeSean Hamilton, Saeed Blacknall and Mike Gesicki. Gesicki is one of the best tight ends in the country.

On defense, Penn State returns seven starters and brings a little experience back at every level of the defense. Two new starters will be needed at defensive end, but Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran return at defensive tackle. They will be tasked with stopping the run, which they did at an average rate last season.

Jason Cabinda thought about leaving for the NFL draft, but elected to return for his senior season. He is a great linebacker, who will lead the defense this season. Marcus Allen, a safety, also considered leaving early for the NFL, but came back and is the leading returning tackler. With Grant Haley and John Reid returning at the corners, Penn State’s defense should improve this season.

Penn State plays in one of the toughest divisions in all of college football, the Big Ten East, which results in a tough schedule. In all, their tough games will be against Pittsburgh, Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska. While the schedule does have some tough opponents on it, the Nittany Lions should be able to get through the regular season with only a loss or two and put themselves in the conversation for the College Football Playoff.

4. Washington Huskies

College football top 25

Jake Browning (photo by si.com)

The third year at a school must provide some magic, because Chris Petersen took Washington to the College Football Playoff in just his third season as the head coach. Although they lost to Alabama, they have a lot of talent returning this season, which could result in them getting back to the College Football Playoff this season.

Jake Browning is back at quarterback and should have gotten more consideration for the Heisman last season. He threw for 3,430 yards and 43 touchdowns. While John Ross is on to the NFL, Dante Pettis is a good receiver in his own right and will step up. The speedster Chico MClatcher also returns to provide a unique weapon for Browning.

Three offensive line starters return from last year’s team and should be a good unit. Behind them, Myles Gaskin was able to rush for 1,373 yards and 10 touchdowns. He will produce again this season, making Washington’s offense multi-faceted and dynamic.

Only five starters return on defense, but a lot of these players have experience. Greg Gaines returns on the defensive front, while Vita Vea has the potential to be a star at nose tackle and had five sacks last season. Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria are both talented linebackers who are returning.

The “Death Row” secondary needs to be revamped with the departures of Sidney Jones, Kevin King and Budda Baker. JoJo McIntosh and Taylor Rapp both have experience at safety, while Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller will need to play well at corner. Murphy was redshirted last season after being a solid recruit and should have the tools to be a lock-down corner.

Washington plays no one outside of the Pac-12 that is worth noting, but do play Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, Colorado and Washington State in conference. All in all that is a pretty lousy schedule, which will allow the Huskies to escape with only a loss or two before likely heading to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

College football top 25

J.T. Barrett (Photo by sportingnews.com)

The Buckeyes were good enough to get to the College Football Playoff last season, but got blown out by Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. Urban Meyer continually loses talent to the NFL, but has 15 returning starters this season. The goal for Ohio State every season should be to get to the College Football Playoff.

J.T. Barrett is back for what seems like his tenth season at Ohio State. He’s a senior now and has completed 63% of his passes over his career for 6,381 passing yards. The problem is that the people he is throwing to don’t have too much experience. Parris Campbell and Marcus Baugh return, but need to step up their production, while others will need to succeed early in their careers.

Four of five offensive linemen return and are a great unit. Billy Price is a good lineman could have gone pro, but decided to stay on for his senior season. Mike Weber will be a sophomore at running back and had a solid freshman season. He finished 2016 with 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns and will build on that this season.

The front four starters all return and features a lot of talent. Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa are all very good players and are fighting for playing time at the defensive end positions. Lewis led them in sacks with eight. Dre’Mont Jones and Michael Hill return at the tackle position.

Jerome Baker and Chris Worley both are back at linebacker. Baker had 83 tackles last season. The only returning starter in the secondary is Damon Webb at safety. The defense was the third best scoring defense in the country last season and will be great again this season.

Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn State, Iowa and Michigan are all going to be tough games for the Buckeyes. With Urban Meyer as head coach and a talented roster returning, Ohio State should be able to get out of the regular season with at most two losses, but could go undefeated if they reach their potential.

2. Florida State Seminoles

College football top 25

Derwin James (Photo by zimbio.com)

Florida State finished last season at 10-3 and won a thrilling Orange Bowl against Michigan. Jimbo Fisher has a lot of returning talent including some of the best players in all of college football. They have a tough schedule, but should still be able to make the College Football Playoff.

Deondre Francois had a good freshman season, despite bad offensive line play in front of him. He threw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns. Ryan Izzo returns as a starter at tight end, but no starters are back at wide receiver. Nyquan Murray did have 441 receiving yards and five touchdowns last year and will be the go-to-guy this season.

The offensive line only returns two starters, but that may not be such a bad thing given how poorly they played last season. The hope is that Fisher’s recruiting will pay off. Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers will split time in the backfield for the Seminoles. Patrick is a junior and Akers is one of the best freshman in the country.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Seminoles have a lot of key players that should help them improve immensely. Josh Sweat, Derrick Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas all return on the defensive line, but Brian Burns, who didn’t start last year, comes back with 9.5 sacks. Their front four will make plays all year. The linebackers aren’t as talented as in year’s past, but they do have experience with three starters back from last year’s team.

The secondary always produces NFL-level talent. Derwin James sat out most of last season with an injury, but is back this season. He not only is a great NFL Draft Prospect, but if healthy, could be the best defensive player in college football this season. Tarvarus McFadden returns at corner and will be a high draft pick himself.

Florida State should be a team that has the offense and defense take a small step forward from last season. Their schedule is brutal and will give them challenges. They have games against Alabama, Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Florida. The Seminoles should be able to get out of the regular season with only a loss or two, which should put them in the ACC Championship Game, if things fall their way.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

College football top 25

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Photo by draftblaster.com)

Losing in the National Championship Game has left a sour taste in Alabama’s mouth. Nick Saban is ready to lead his team back to prominence again this season and they will have another great season.

Jalen Hurts led the team to the title game last season and will be attempting to throw the ball better this season. Saban has admitted that he should’ve let Hurts throw more last season and it may have cost them. He did manage to throw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns. O.J. Howard and ArDarius Stewart are gone, but Calvin Ridley returns. Other playmakers on the outside need to live up to their recruiting ranking this season.

The offensive line has three starters coming back and will be solid again with all the good recruiting Saban does. Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough return at running back to provide an elite one-two punch. Harris is shiftier, while Scarbrough runs with power. They create a great dynamic.

The defense has five starters that are returning for this season, but Alabama always has talented replacements waiting. Da’Ron Payne returns on the defensive line and will be flanked by Da’Shawn Hand and Josh Frazier. All of which will stop the run well. Shaun Dion Hamilton is back in the middle of the defense to patrol things as the next man in line to be Alabama’s top inside linebacker. Rashaan Evans had four sacks last season from his outside linebacker position.

Minkah Fitzpatrick can do anything in the secondary, but will line up safety this year. Ronnie Harrison will be at the other safety and is the leading returning tackler with 86. Anthony Averett and Trevon Diggs will be the corners and will need to prove to Saban, a former defensive backs coach, that they are up to par with previous Alabama secondary players.

Alabama too has a very tough schedule. Their tough games are against Florida State, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn. While predicting anyone to go undefeated in today’s college football is tough, Alabama should be able to get out of the season with a maximum of two losses and a minimum of none. Either way they will be in the SEC Championship Game and will be in contention for the College Football Playoff.

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2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Preview

It all comes down to this game. A rematch of last year’s National Championship. The Alabama Crimson Tide will take on the Clemson Tigers in the biggest game of the season in Tampa Bay, Florida.

There are so many talented players making this match-up great. Alabama has a lot of defensive NFL prospects, while Clemson has prospects on both sides of the ball.

This game will be a clash of the titans.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama’s team was more thoroughly reviewed before the Peach Bowl.

Jalen Hurts is going to have to complete passes in this game for Alabama to win. In the win over Washington Hurts threw for just 57 yards. Lane Kiffin didn’t have a great game plan and is now off to Florida Atlantic, but Hurts is also to blame. Having Steve Sarkisian calling plays won’t likely help that much, as he is very similar to Kiffin.

National Championship

Reuben Foster (Photo courtesy: Profootballfocus.com)

Alabama has great play-makers as targets for Hurts in Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart and O.J.Howard. That doesn’t matter if he can’t get the ball to them. Hurts is the key to the Alabama offense, because if he can’t complete passes, Clemson’s defense can focus on just stopping the run.

The Crimson Tide rode the hot hand in the Peach Bowl. Damien Harris, along with Hurts, had been the best at running the ball for Alabama. Against the Huskies, big Bo Scarborough rumbled for 180 yards on just 19 carries for two touchdowns. He doesn’t have great vision, but if the holes are there, is tough to bring down at 235 pounds. Between the two of them, either Harris or Scarborough need to produce in this game.

The defense has been dominant for Alabama all season long. They scored ten touchdowns this season and don’t show any signs of stopping. The front seven is great and led by Jonathan Allen. He had a sack, two tackles for loss and one fumble recovery against Washington. Reuben Foster is one of the best inside linebacker prospects in a while. With pass rushing help from Tim Williams, the front seven is stacked with great players.

Eddie Jackson, the safety, will be out for this game, but the secondary has done well without him in the past few games. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey will be the ones making plays for Alabama in the secondary. Both have plenty of experience and should feel a sense of pride after allowing Clemson to score 40 points in last years National Championship Game.

Clemson Tigers

Clemson was more thoroughly reviewed before the Fiesta Bowl.

The Tigers have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Deshaun Watson. He is dynamic with his legs and pretty good with his arm. He will have to use both effectively to beat Alabama. Watson only rushed or 57 yards against Ohio State, but had two rushing touchdowns. With Ohio State playing so poorly, he didn’t need to run much more. He did, however, throw two interceptions. This has been a big theme all season long, as his decision making has been questionable at best. With 17 interceptions thrown on the year, his main priority has to be protecting the football against a good Alabama secondary.

National Championship

Mike Williams (Photo courtesy: si.com)

Mike Williams is the good news for Watson. He is the top NFL Draft prospect at the wide receiver position and creates match-up problems for opposing teams. With other productive players like Hunter Renfrow, Jordan Leggett and Artavis Scott on the team, opponents can’t really double team Williams much either. If Watson makes a bad decision, these guys have to turn into defenders and knock the ball down to keep possession of the football.

There are a lot of good running backs in college football, but Wayne Gallman might be the most underrated of all of them. He did decently in the Fiesta Bowl with 85 rushing yards and a touchdown. Going up against that Crimson Tide front seven will be tough, but if Gallman can keep chipping away early with four and five yard runs, he should be able to bust one loose late in the game.

Clemson’s defense haven’t scored as much as Alabama’s, but they are coming off one of the best performances of the season, holding Ohio State to no points.

The Tigers also had a great defensive line this season, which is led by Carlos Watkins. He has 10.5 sacks with two coming against Ohio State. Watkins is one of the best interior pass rushers in college football.

Ben Boulware leads the linebacking core. The senior had 81 total tackles in the 2015 season and has 110 this season. He only had three total tackles in last year’s National Championship, but will have to do more to help stop the Alabama rushing attack in this game.

In the secondary Jadar Johnson is a safety that covers the whole field and has five interceptions on the season. The corners, specifically Cordrea Tankersley, shut down opposing wide receivers.

Prediction

Both teams have distractions going into this game. A new offensive coordinator for Alabama. A mini-scandal for Clemson’s defense after Christian Wilkins violated Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel during the Fiesta Bowl. Keeping that stuff out of their minds and focusing on the game is imperative.

The quarterbacks will be the key in this game. Can Hurts complete passes? Can Watson make good decisions and protect the football? Both have tall orders, as they go up against great defenses.

Alabama’s rush defense is the best in the country and holds opposing teams to just 62 yards per game. That is 61 yards better than what Clemson’s good run defense holds opponents to. The last time a team held a team to below that number of rushing yards was 2008.

All of Nick Saban’s national title teams with the Crimson Tide have been featured the top rush defense, besides the 2009 season, when they placed second to National Runner-up Texas. In the years since 2009 that they didn’t win it all, Alabama didn’t finish as the top rush defense in the country (once finished second in 2014 in that span).

National Championship

Nick Saban (Photo courtesy: sltrib.com)

That classic Alabama rush defense will save the day and be the difference-maker. Gallman will be shut down by Alabama. Watson will probably have a good rushing performance, but it won’t be enough.

When the run game is shut down by Alabama’s run defense, Watson will throw and be intercepted in a key situation. The Crimson Tide will run the clock out and be champions once again in another close game against Clemson.

 

Alabama Crimson Tide 38 Clemson Tigers 33

 

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2016 Peach Bowl Preview

The first of the National Semi-Finals, the Peach Bowl pits an undefeated Alabama team against a one loss Washington team.

Washington Huskies’ Offense

Peach Bowl

Jake Browning (Photo courtesy: ncaa.com)

The Huskies won every game on their schedule, besides a match-up against USC, who was very hot at the time. They beat five bowl eligible teams, which included very good wins over Colorado, Washington State and Utah. Washington is coming into this game on a three game win streak.

Jake Browning should have gotten more national attention this year. He threw for 3,280 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He is very efficient with the ball and hits his receivers with great accuracy. His arm isn’t the strongest, so he won’t be able to challenge Alabama’s secondary downfield.

Wide receiver John Ross is one of the fastest players in college football and has gashed defenses for 1,122 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. Alabama will need to have safety help on Ross’ side of the field. Dante Pettis has also had a successful season with 796 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

Myles Gaskin is another player who has been overlooked by the national media. He has rushed for 1,339 yards and 10 touchdowns. When he needs a breather, Lavon Coleman heads in. He is averaging 7.8 yards per carry and seven touchdowns as a nice change of pace for the Huskies.

Washington Huskies’ Defense

Peach Bowl

Sidney Jones (Photo courtesy: withthefirstpick.com)

Washington has a great run defense, allowing 124 yards per game. The pass defense is equally good, giving up 193 yards per contest.

The strength of the Husky defense is the secondary. They have multiple draft prospects including Sidney Jones and Budda Baker. For Washington to win they need to provide run support and force turnovers.

Alabama Crimson Tide Offense

Peach Bowl

Jalen Hurts (Photo courtesy: usatoday.com)

The Crimson Tide beat everyone on their schedule to get to the College Football Playoff. One of the most impressive things about this team is that they beat 10 bowl teams this season. They have a win over USC, the team that beat Washington. Alabama is the most battle-tested team in the country.

Jalen Hurts was able to win the starting quarterback job as a true freshman. He has had a superb year with 2,592 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Hurts does damage with his arm, but is sucks the life out of a defense with his legs. He has 841 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns. He has to be contained by Washington.

ArDarius Stewart, Calvin Ridley and O.J. Howard are all good targets for Hurts. All of these players will need to have a big game against a great Washington secondary. Stewart leads the team in yardage (852), touchdowns (eight) and yards per catch (16.4). Ridley is a play-maker with 727 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Howard doesn’t have a lot of production and is under-utilized, but he had a great National Championship Game last season.

Running back Damien Harris is the leading rusher for Alabama. He has 986 rushing yards on a whopping 7.5 yards per carry. Harris and Hurts pick up a lot of the yardage, but Bo Scarborough pounds the ball into the end zone when the Crimson Tide gets close. He has seven rushing touchdowns on the season.

Alabama Crimson Tide Defense

Peach Bowl

Jonathan Allen (Photo courtesy: pigskinproject.com)

Alabama has the best run defense in the country and has given up 824 yards in 13 games. That alone makes them a great defense, but the pass defense is also elite with 186 yards allowed. If defenses win championships, Alabama has to be the overwhelming favorite.

Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams both have 8.5 sacks on the season and create havoc for opposing quarterbacks. Reuben Foster is one of the best linebackers in the country behind them and is a great run stopper with 94 total tackles and 12 tackles for loss. The secondary will be without Eddie Jackson, so the rest of the players will have to be fundamentally sound.

Prediction

Alabama’s defense is going to swarm to the football and play good defense. Harris and Hurts will run the football well. Washington will keep things close and will use a lot of trick plays, but will fall just short.

 

Alabama Crimson Tide 37 Washington Huskies 29

 

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