1. Alabama vs. 4. Washington
Washington is a great story. Quarterback Jake Browning put up great numbers and was a Heisman candidate for a large portion of the season. One reason for that success, speedy wide out John Ross, who is seen as a likely first round pick in the upcoming draft. Head coach Chris Peterson took over this job and was tasked with rebuilding this program, and making the playoff in his 3rd season puts him well ahead of schedule. The Huskies feature one of the most talented secondaries in the nation, featuring first round bound corner Sidney Jones, along with fellow corner Kevin King and All American safety Budda Baker.
That’s all great, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are going up against the best team in the nation, and possibly one of the best of all time. Alabama’s defense alone features future NFL starters at every level, including linebackers Tim Williams and Rueben Foster and Jonathan Allen, a consensus top 5 pick in April. True freshman Jalen Hurd has been nearly unstoppable both running and throwing the ball, and Lane Kiffin will continue to coach the offense throughout the playoff even after taking the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic.
It was a nice season for the Huskies, but they will be run over by the Crimson Tide. Hopefully they can make it a game.
Prediction: Alabama 35 Washington 14
2. Clemson vs. 3. Ohio State
Unlike the 1 vs 4 matchup, this should be a much more competitive game. This game will come down to how the high-powered Clemson offense fairs against the dominating Ohio State defense. Dual threat, Heisman runner up Deshaun Watson has plenty of weapons at his disposal, including wide receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, tight end Jordan Leggett, and running back Wayne Gallman. They’ll have a tough time against the loaded Buckeye secondary, led by All-American safety Malik Hooker, along with potential first round cornerbacks Marshone Lattimore and Gareon Conley.
On the other side, the Ohio State offense, led by quarterback JT Barrett and All-American all-purpose player Curtis Samuel, will have to open up the playbook in order to score on Brent Venable’s defense. The Tigers defensive line presents a big challenge to the Buckeyes Oline, with ACC defensive rookie of the year Dexter Lawrence and All-Americans Carlos Watkins and Christian Wilkins going against the Buckeyes own All-Americans, center Pat Elfein and guard Billy Price.
Clemson hasn’t seen a defense like this before, and even though Ohio State’s offense has struggled at times this season, they’ll be able to score enough to secure the victory. Urban Meyer wins this chess match against Dabo Sweeney with some sort of ballsy play call.
Prediction: Ohio State 24 Clemson 21
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