College Football Playoff Preview:

Matt Kennedy, Editor

On New Year’s Day the 2018 year starts and also the final four of the NCAA football season commences. The four teams featured are:

1: Clemson Tigers

2: Oklahoma Sooners

3: Georgia Bulldogs

4: Alabama Crimson Tide

Every year there are two of six bowls chosen to be in the playoff(aka the New Year’s Six). It’s a rotation basically. The two bowl games this year will be The Rose Bowl and The Sugar Bowl.

The Rose Bowl (grandaddy of them all) will feature Oklahoma and Georgia. Let’s start with Oklahoma. The Sooners are riding the hot hand of Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield and an explosive offense. Lincoln Riley has had the toughest task of replacing an excellent coach of Bob Stoops. For his first year it definitely is not a bad start, yet many question his leadership when attitude issues have been abound with this Oklahoma team (most importantly Mayfield).

The Bulldogs meanwhile have a young QB who has a lot of potential (Jake Fromm). The 5-Star QB out of Houston County High School has earned coach Kirby Smart’s interest. Also, playing with a great running back like Nick Chubb is not a bad gig to have.

The Sugar Bowl will feature Alabama and Clemson. Yes, here we go again. These two teams are butting heads for the third time in the past 3 years. Swinney vs. Saban has been quite a site to see the last two years in the playoff. Swinney grew up in Alabama and played WR at the program. He also was an assistant coach in 2001.

Saban meanwhile after going to the NFL to coach the Miami Dolphins, and spending time at Michigan State, is now the head honcho of the Crimson Tide. He has made Alabama a perennial powerhouse and will not want to lose to the Tigers again.

It’s funny how some of Alabama’s greatest rivalries ever since Saban came has been LSU, Auburn, and Clemson. They all have the same nickname: Tigers.

Here are some of the weaknesses that can make these top teams fold in the playoff:

Oklahoma: While Oklahoma may have a quarterback maybe better than Johnny Manziel in college, their defense is suspect since they play in the high scoring Big 12.  The Sooners are battle tested by beating Ohio State, but have given up a ton of yards per game to teams that they should be beating handily. Their lone loss against Iowa State they let up 449 total yards allowed in a loss. Many people say defense wins championships but with Baker Mayfield, that might not be the case.

Georgia: Every other team has made the playoff besides the Bulldogs. Oklahoma, Alabama, and Clemson all have experience. Will the Bulldogs falter under pressure with a wide-eyed Freshman QB? Kirby Smart will also get his defense ready to roll. The question is if the Bulldogs mentally are prepared to go the distance.

Alabama: A greatly coached team and has been in winning championship mode yet they have had injuries. Their linebacking core as deep as it is has been hampered to the extreme this season. They also have not had the toughest of schedules even compared to other SEC teams. Unless dreadlock-haired QB Jalen Hurts can pull the Tide away, they might have tough sledding in New Orleans.

Clemson: The 2017 National Champions with Houston Texans star rookie QB Deshaun Watson were pretty amazing. But, can they bring that firepower back? Junior QB Kelly Bryant has been a great surprise this year from being a 3-star recruit. The only problem with Clemson is that they play in the weak ACC conference. They proved themselves by beating the pesky Auburn Tigers in non-conference play and creamed the rebuilt Miami Hurricanes. Will that be enough to beat the Alabama empire that Saban has built?

Happy New Year and Happy Bowl Season.

For more information on the other bowl games and the times, dates, locations, and channels for all the games look here: