The College Football Playoff takes place on Saturday December 29th and fans will be chomping at the bit to see which two teams will square off in the title game on January 7th, 2019. Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma have all dominated the competition both at home and on the road this season. The playoff teams are a combined 23-1 on the road or on a neutral field site with the only loss coming by the Sooners to Texas in the Red River rivalry (48-45).
2018 Road/Neutral Field Records of Four Playoff Teams
Alabama won their six road games by an average margin of victory of 33.1 ppg.
Clemson won their six road games by an average margin of victory of 31.8 ppg.
Notre Dame won their six road games by an average margin of victory of 20.5 ppg.
Oklahoma won their five road games by an average margin of victory of 11.0 ppg.
Cotton Bowl 4:00pm EST
#2 Clemson vs. #3 Notre Dame
Notre Dame will look to challenge a Clemson defense that is allowing 99.0 rushing ypg and has given up 183 passing ypg to opposing offenses this season. Notre Dame quarterback, Ian Book, has completed 70% of his passes for 2,468 yards with 19 TD’s and 6 INT’s this year. Look for the Irish to be aggressive early on first and second downs in this contest because of the height differential of their wide receivers. Miles Boykin (6’4), Chase Claypool (6’5) and tight end Alize Mack (6’5) have combined for 136 receptions for 1,783 yards with 15 TD’s this year. Their size can create jump ball opportunities against the smaller defensive backs for the Tigers especially in red zone opportunities and could open up running lanes for Dexter Williams later in the contest. While Trevor Lawrence has had a dynamic season (24 TD passes, 4 INT’s), keep in mind that he still is a freshman-which could be a factor in this contest. Clemson has won the last eight games of 2018 by 38.2 ppg. but expect Notre Dame to push the Tigers to the limit in this contest.
However, in the end the Tigers will prevail and move on to the title game.
Clemson 35 Notre Dame 30
Orange Bowl 8:00pm EST
#1 Alabama vs. # 4 Oklahoma
Alabama is 26-1 against SEC teams over the past three seasons and have won those 26 games by an average margin of victory of 27.5 ppg. This season the Crimson Tide were 9-0 against SEC teams and won those games by 29.8 ppg. The Crimson Tide last played a Big 12 team back on Jan 2nd, 2014. That team, Oklahoma, defeated Alabama 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma will look to push the tempo with Heisman trophy winner, Kyler Murray, at the helm. Murray has completed 70% of his passes for 4,053 yards with 40 TD’s and 7 INT’s this year. Oklahoma is averaging 254 rushing ypg and is passing for 324 ypg entering this contest. Alabama is yielding 117 rushing ypg and 178 passing ypg to opposing quarterbacks. Look for Alabama to force Murray into long third down situations which will make the offense predictable and allow the Crimson Tide’s defense to dial up multiple blitz packages to confuse Murray into reading coverage. This game will be won in the trenches and look for the Sooners to struggle much the way they did in the second half against Georgia last season in the Semi-final game. Alabama’s rushing attack (202.0 ypg) should take over in the second half of the contest and wear down the Sooners smaller defensive front (156.0 rushing ypg) as the game progresses
.Alabama 52 Oklahoma 31
Outback Bowl 12:00pm EST New Year’s Day
Iowa vs. Mississippi State
Bulldogs are only allowing 12.0 ppg and have two dominant defensive linemen in Jeffrey Simmons (59 total tackles) and Montez Sweat (51 total tackles). Mississippi State is allowing 104 rushing ypg and only 164 passing ypg entering this contest. Iowa struggled with the mobility of Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley and look for Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to put pressure on the Hawkeyes defense on the perimeter. Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead understands the personnel of Iowa as he was the Penn State offensive coordinator for two seasons (2016-2017).
MSU 28 Iowa 17
Citrus Bowl 1:00pm EST New Year’s Day
Penn State vs. Kentucky
Kentucky’s offense is not built to play from behind as the Wildcats are averaging 164 passing ypg and are pounding the rock for 202.0 ypg entering this contest. While leading rusher, Benny Snell, will play in this ball game, he has committed to the NFL Draft in May. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorely will look to end his senior season on a high note after a 2018 campaign that saw him complete 53% of his passes for 2,246 yards with 16 TD’s and 6 INT’s this year. Penn State head coach James Franklin is 4-3 in bowl games and has always had his teams prepared in terms of game plans against the opposition.
Penn State 38 Kentucky 21
Fiesta Bowl 1:00pm EST New Year’s Day
LSU vs. UCF
After last season’s bowl win over Auburn (34-27), do not expect the Tigers to take the Knights lightly entering this game. Even without defensive back Greedy Williams not playing in this game, the Tigers are the superior team heading into this contest because of the physicality of the offensive and defensive lines. LSU will look to establish the running game early on to dictate the tempo and intimidate the Knights into surrendering within the first half. The Tigers are averaging 174 rushing ypg and are averaging 217 passing ypg with quarterback Joe Burrow at the helm (57%, 2500 yds, 12 TD’s in 2018). Defensively, LSU will look to force freshman quarterback Darrell Mack into reading coverage. This will allow defensive coordinator Joe Aranda to dial up blitz packages on third downs from the edge to force quick throws underneath coverage. Entering this game, LSU is allowing 139 rushing ypg and 206 passing ypg this year. LSU will start fast because of their offensive speed on the perimeter and force UCF to play from behind which will give their front seven a significant advantage in the trenches.
LSU 48 UCF 31
Rose Bowl 5:00pm EST New Year’s Day
Ohio State vs. Washington
This is one of my best selections for the bowl season. Ohio State will look to send off Urban Meyer with a win in his final game as Buckeyes head coach. Ohio State won their 12 games in 2018 against opponents with a combined overall record of 75-82 or .477%. The Buckeyes will look to carry the momentum from the dominating home win over Michigan and the win over Northwestern in the Big 10 Championship into the Rose Bowl against Washington. Washington won 10 games against 9 opponents (played Utah twice) who had a combined overall record of 50-47 or .515%. The Huskies lost three games this year (all on the road or neutral) to Auburn, Oregon and CAL by a combined total of 10 points. Washington enters this contest allowing 185 passing ypg and has only surrendered 9 passing TD’s all season long while forcing 11 INT’s this year. The secondary has the speed to play man to man coverage against the Ohio State wide receivers led by Parris Campbell. The Huskies are averaging 179 rushing ypg and look for Myles Gaskin to attack a Buckeyes defense that is giving up 161 rushing ypg and allowed 9 teams to rush for 150 yards or more this season. The long lay-off between the championship games could be more of hindrance for Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins in regards with the quarterback to wide receiver relationship.
Washington 37 Ohio State 30
Sugar Bowl 8:45pm EST New Year’s Day
Georgia vs. Texas
This game comes down to the Texas wide receivers of Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey who enter this contest with 144 receptions for over 2,054 receiving yards and 16 TD’s this year. Texas lost four games in 2018 by a total of 21 points and will look to make a statement against one of the better teams in the nation this season in Georgia.
Georgia won 10 games in 2018 against opponents with a combined overall record of 79-54 or. 593% with both losses coming on the road or on a neutral field (LSU & Alabama). The Bulldogs secondary is allowing 180 passing ypg but has not face the size of both receivers (6’4) all year playing in the SEC. The Bulldogs have not been able to force sacks this year and enter this contest with a total of 22 sacks through 13 games this year and will face a mobile quarterback in Sam Ehlinger. Texas is averaging 151 rushing ypg and is passing for 264 ypg with Ehlinger completing 64% of his passes for 3,125 yards with 25 TD’s and 5 INT’s in 2018.
Texas 35 Georgia 28
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