College Football Playoff: Analyzing semifinal games - - The News for South Mississippi

College Football Playoff: Analyzing semifinal games

The winners of Saturday's games will meet Jan. 9  in Tampa, FL, for the championship game. (Source: CFP) The winners of Saturday's games will meet Jan. 9 in Tampa, FL, for the championship game. (Source: CFP)

(RNN) - The College Football Playoffs start on New Year’s Eve, which is stupid. The committee has stubbornly persisted in airing the semifinals on the one day of the year even college football fans have something better to do.

The winners will meet in Tampa, FL, for the championship game on Jan. 9, 2017.

Washington (4) vs. Alabama (1), 3 p.m. ET, ESPN.

There’s not a lot about the afternoon game that's likely to make the casual fan forget to ice the champagne.

No. 1, undefeated Alabama is a 14-point favorite over Washington, which sounds about right. The Tide is scary good.

In interviews this week, most questions reporters asked the Washington kids were along the lines of, “Are you afraid to die?”

You get suspicious when there’s so much unanimity of opinion. 

Alabama's already drawing comparisons to the all-time greatest college football teams, but, like they say in the American West, “There ain’t a horse that cain’t be rode nor a cowboy cain’t be throwed.”

On the other hand, zero horses and few if any cowboys will feature in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. But Washington deserves some respect.

The Huskies will need a flawless performance from their excellent quarterback Jake Browning, the best Alabama has seen this year. He’ll probably have to do it with his arm and go over the top of the Bama defense, and hope for quick scores early.

The Huskies have a good offensive line and all, and Myles Gaskin is a great running back, but Alabama’s got at least three first-round draft choices in the front seven who take it personally when other teams try to run.

UW coach Chris Petersen has used the old flattery technique leading up the game, sweet-talking the Crimson Tide like he was trying to sell Nick Saban a full-life insurance policy. Never forget, Petersen came to Washington from Boise State, where he built a career winning games nobody thought he could win.

Here's what to look for:

If you see bunches of guys in crimson jerseys crashing into the Washington backfield making No. 3 run for dear life, Washington's in trouble. If Bama gets ahead and starts running four, five, six running plays in a row, go ahead and start getting ready to go out.

Ohio State (3) vs. Clemson (4), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson has been a Heisman finalist the past two years but, good as he is, he's had some sketchy games this season.

If he’s clicking, Ohio State’s got its hands full. They haven’t seen anybody like this guy, who can maneuver in the pocket and throw a 50-yard strike if he doesn't take off and run for massive gains.

He has a herd of great receivers to work with, including Mike Williams, who is a mutant.

When Clemson’s offense gets rolling, it scores gobs of points and there’s not much you can do about it. And Ohio State’s offense isn’t built for shootouts.

If Watson shows up out of sorts, executes coarsely and appears confused and frustrated, Ohio State’s secondary will catch his passes and run the other way with them, because forcing turnovers is what they do. They like to cause fumbles, too.

The Buckeyes will have to beat the Tigers at the line of scrimmage.

Ohio State is really good at running, and Clemson has giant men in the front seven who are really good at stopping things like that.

Ohio State quarterback J.T.Barrett  is an outstanding runner, but he’s so-so as a passer. He’s probably going to have to throw to keep Clemson loosened up, even with his big, bad offensive line.

Barrett needs time to set up, take a breath, aim at the receiver, and if his offensive line can keep Clemson’s creatures from busting through, Ohio State's going to win.

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