2. Cotton Bowl – (2) Clemson vs. (3) Notre Dame
For the fourth straight season, Clemson will be making an appearance in the College Football Playoffs and will face-off against Notre Dame, who is making the schools first appearance.
Clemson has opened up as a big favorite in the Cotton Bowl, but don’t count out the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is undefeated and will field the ninth-ranked scoring defense in the country, but no one has been able to slow down the Clemson offense to date. For Notre Dame to do so, they have to rattle freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who replaced Kelly Bryant early in the season. It has worked twice this season when Syracuse and Boston College both held the Tigers to 27 points, but getting over that point total to secure a victory proves to be just as difficult as slowing down their offense.
Clemson is one of the best defensive teams in the country and will field loads of NFL talent in the Cotton Bowl. It all starts with their defensive front, which has sacked opposing quarterbacks on 9.9 percent of dropbacks, allowed only 4.08 yards per play, and help opponents to 13.7 points per game, all of which rank in the top-six in the nation. However, they have shown vulnerability in the secondary, which is where Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book will look to take advantage. If the Fighting Irish offensive line can give Book some time, this game could go down to the wire.
Clemson looks poised to reach their third National Championship game in four years, but Notre Dame should cover this big spread. I’m not sure Clemson fans will ever feel like they have a possibility of losing, but the Fighting Irish will keep this within 10 points.
1. Orange Bowl – (1) Alabama vs. (4) Oklahoma
There was absolutely no doubt what game would top this list. In a battle of the top two Heisman vote-getter, Alabama and Oklahoma will over-shadow every bowl game this year and be the talk of college football until they meet on Dec. 29. Although Alabama should win this game with ease, it’s the storylines surrounding the game that will have fans anxiously waiting for this game to kickoff.
To start, quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa have already gotten to know each other heading into to the Orange Bowl on the awards circuit. Tagovailoa won the Walter Camp and Maxwell but Murray took the Heisman and Davey O’Brien. Alabama will want to get revenge on Tagovailoa’s behalf against the Sooners defense that has been a civ all year.
Aside from the personal match-up between the two, they both lead two of the nations best offenses. No one is really sure if Oklahoma can continue to put up 40-plus points against a defense as good as Alabama’s, but it’s not going to be something you’ll want to miss. Murray and the Oklahoma offense will likely slip-up at times, but still, expect a high scoring game when these teams face off.
Alabama is a 14-point favorite and expected to win back-to-back National Championships, but this game will feature so many big plays it will keep you interested until the clock hits triple zeroes.