Predicting the College Football Playoff Winner
The College Football Playoffs are right around the corner, with the best four teams in the college game all vying for a national championship title. Some of the most exciting young players in the nation will be pitting their skills against one another and the games will certainly be very exciting for the millions of spectators who will be tuning in. This is only the second edition of the College Football Playoff event as it replaced the Bowl Championship Series in 2014.
The four teams who have earned their spots in this year’s edition of the playoffs are the Clemson Tigers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Oklahoma Sooners and Michigan State Spartans. The Sooners have actually had a week longer to rest than the other three teams and this may or may not prove to be important as the games get underway.
Either way, all of the teams will have had a few weeks to rest before the playoffs. This could mean that certain players might be a little rusty. This means that pre-game preparation is absolutely key for every single one of these squads.
Breaking Down the Matchups
So let’s take a look at the two semi-final games that we’ll be able to enjoy very soon. First up, there’s the Orange Bowl which will feature the Clemson Tigers going up against the Oklahoma Sooners. This game will occur at 4pm on New Year’s Eve.
The second game gets going later that day at 8pm; this will be the Cotton Bowl and will see the Alabama Crimson Tide matching up against the Michigan State Spartans. Now let’s take a closer look at each of these matchups and make some predictions about the most likely results.
Predicting the Orange Bowl
As the Orange Bowl will be kicking off first, we’ll begin with that game. Both of the teams involved are incredibly prolific in terms of offensive play, which should help to ensure that this will be a high-scoring clash. In fact, the statistics show that between them, these two teams have earned 84.3 points per game on average. The Sooners account for 45.6 of those points, while the Tigers have managed 38.7.
The Sooners have also been in very impressive form in the second half of the season in particular; they put up 63 points against Texas Tech in October, 62 against Kansas later that month and ended the season with 58 points against Oklahoma State.
The Tigers may have scored less points on average than their opponents, but they have still been immensely impressive all season long. They put in a battling performance in their most recent game, a 45-37 win against the Tar Heels, and also proved that they could dominate teams in an incredible 58-0 win against the Hurricanes in October. They’ve shown determination all season long and will hope to take that attitude into the playoffs.
The form of both teams is reliant on their quarterbacks. For the Tigers, it’s the breakout star Deshaun Watson who has been leading the charge. The 20-year old finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy but did manage to claim the Davey O’Brien Award for being the best signal caller in the college game.
Watson’s Oklahoma counterpart, Baker Mayfield, has been impressive as well having thrown for 3,389 yards as well as earning 35 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. The influence of these signal callers, combined with the offensive efficiency of both teams, should ensure that fans see plenty of points on the board. Our prediction is a narrow victory for Clemson.
Predicting the Cotton Bowl
Now let’s move on to the Cotton Bowl, which has all the ingredients to be a more tame and defensive affair than the previous clash. Both the Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan State Spartans have tended to favour running the ball rather than focusing on the passing side of the game. The similar tactical approach employed by both teams could result in a very entertaining matchup for fans.
The Crimson Tide were the best rushing team in the SEC with 2,707 yards in total, but the Spartans have been impressive when rushing as well. To make things more interesting, the Spartans are the better passing side of the two.
If there’s one name that will be on everyone’s lips before this game kicks off, it’ll be the Crimson Tide’s running back, Derrick Henry. Henry won the 2015 Heisman Trophy recently after an incredible, record-breaking season.
In the most recent couple of games for Alabama, Henry got the ball 90 times with 460 yards and a couple of touchdowns too. He’s a very exciting player who looks set to forge an exciting career in the NFL. Fans and coaches will be keeping an eye on him during the Cotton Bowl and he could be the catalyst for an Alabama victory.
In terms of signal callers, the Michigan State Spartans probably have the best option of the two teams. Connor Cook has been excellent in 2015. The Spartans have made use of their speedy running backs to great effect, with Cook throwing for 24 touchdowns and 2,921 yards. He also managed 5 interceptions and has the potential to be an influential presence in this year’s Cotton Bowl.
On the Alabama side, there’s Jake Coker. Coker has put up 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions this season. Those numbers are decent, but not too exciting, so fans will be looking to other players, like Derrick Henry, to make things happen for their squad.
For our prediction, we have to go with a blowout Alabama victory. The Crimson Tide head into this match ranked as relatively strong favorites, but the Spartans do have the talent and potential to keep the game close for a quarter or two.
Enjoy all of the Bowls, including the Playoff this weekend!