College Football Playoffs Semifinal Predictions; Can Bama Be Stopped

BY Fansided and Jake Mastroianni/FanSided via Fly War Eagle • December 30, 2016

Jan 15, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the Nike mural depicting the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes football teams. The mural was painted by artist Mark Paul Deren during the college football playoffs weekend in Dallas, TX. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Here we take a look at the semifinal matchups of the College Football Playoffs and give our prediction for each game on Saturday.

I know it’s been a while since we’ve seen a meaningful game, but the College Football Playoffs are finally here with Alabama and Washington kicking things off on Saturday afternoon.

It’s been a difficult season for the SEC, but Alabama can still bring home another championship to the conference with two more wins.

Washington came out of nowhere to win the Pac 12 and sneak into the College Football Playoffs as the four seed. We’ll see if they came to play or if they’re just happy to be there.

Clemson returns to the College Football Playoffs looking to get revenge after losing in the championship game last year to Alabama. Deshaun Watson returns and hopes to prove all the doubters wrong.

The inaugural College Football Playoffs champions return in Ohio State who made it in despite not even playing in their conference championship game. They should be well rested for this one.

The Crimson Tide are the clear favorite heading into Saturday’s semifinal matchups, but I wouldn’t be surprised – or upset – if the mighty are dethroned. It’s just too difficult to win that many football games in a row.

Let’s hope for some excitement because this bowl season has been a bore.

Now let’s take a closer look at each matchup and give our prediction.

Alabama vs. Washington – 2 p.m. CT – ESPN – Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

The Georgia Dome has become a second home for Alabama as they seem to play in there at least twice a season. They’ll definitely have the home-field advantage over Washington in this one as they’ll have to travel across the country to play this game.

The Crimson Tide has been the most dominant team in the country all season, led at quarterback by true freshman Jalen Hurts. He’s thrown for 2,592 yards and 22 touchdowns, but also thrown 9 interceptions. The quarterback has also rushed for 841 yards and 12 touchdowns on a team-high 162 carries.

They have three strong running backs in Damien Harris, Joshua Jacobs and Bo Scarbrough, but none of them has taken over the lead role this year.

Alabama also possesses three great receivers in ArDarius Stewart, Calvin Ridley and O.J. Howard. The three have combined for 155 catches, 2,024 yards and 17 touchdowns.

And then of course Alabama boasts the best defense in the country led by linebacker Reuben Foster.

They are the best team in the country for a reason, but we’ll see if they can finish out the perfect season. Lane Kiffin leaving could have a huge impact on the offense, and be somewhat of a distraction. But Alabama has dealt with that in the past and still won, most recently last year when Kirby Smart took the job at Georgia and then finished out the year with Alabama.

Chris Peterson has done a magnificent job at Washington bringing the Huskies to national prominence so quickly.

They’ve been a high flying offense scoring at least 31 points in their 12 wins. In their only loss of the season, which came against USC, they managed to score just 16 points.

Dec 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Washington Huskies tight end Darrell Daniels (15) celebrates with wide receiver John Ross (1) after scoring on a 15-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes during the Pac-12 championship at Levi

They are led on offense by quarterback Jake Browning who has thrown for 3,280 yards and 42 touchdowns. His favorite target is John Ross who has 1,122 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. Dante Pettis has been a go-to target as well with 50 catches for 796 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Running back Myles Gaskin has been solid all season rushing for 1,339 yards and 10 touchdowns. Lavon Coleman is averaging 7.8 yards per carry this season while running for 836 yards and 7 touchdowns.

So the Huskie have the playmakers on offense to get it done, but they haven’t seen a defense like this all year.

The key for Washington in this game will be protecting Browning long enough to let his receivers get downfield. Everybody knows that’s what Washington has to do to win, but saying it and doing it against Alabama are two totally different things.

Prediction: Alabama – 38 Washington 17

Dec 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) walks off the field after a game against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the ACC Championship college football game at Camping World Stadium. Clemson Tigers won 42-35. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State vs. Clemson – 6 p.m. CT – ESPN – PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

This might be the most entertaining bowl game of the College Football Playoffs. Both teams have struggled with consistency this year. Everyone thought Clemson would come back and roll over everyone, but that hasn’t been the case.

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    Meanwhile, I’m not sure as much was expected of Ohio State, but they got through the season with just one loss – even though that one loss kept them from winning the Big 10.

    The Buckeyes aren’t as potent on offense as you might think, and they rely heavily on quarterback J.T. Barrett. He’s accounted for 33 of the teams 59 offensive touchdowns this year.

    Mike Weber did rush for over 1,000 yards and scored 9 touchdowns, but there is no Ezekiel Elliott on this team. Curtis Samuel is a very good receiver with 822 receiving yards, but the next closest to him on the team is Noah Brown with 385 yards.

    Ohio State will really have to depend on their defense in this game. They surrendered just 14.2 points per game this season, which was third best in the country.

    Clemson was ranked 12th giving up just 18.4 points per game this year, so it could come down to who has the better offense.

    Both teams averaged over 40 points per game this season, but I feel like the Tigers have more weapons with Deshaun Watson at quarterback, Wayne Gallman at running back and Mike Williams at receiver.

    Watson threw for 3,914 yards and 37 touchdowns this year, while rushing for 529 yards and 6 more scores. He has thrown a lot of interceptions this year giving it to the other team 15 times. He can’t do that in this game and expect to win.

    Prediction: Clemson – 27 Ohio State – 24

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