If the Final Four of the College Football Playoff’s participants look familiar, well, they should. The games are on New Year’s Day and they feature familiar fare in Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.
Top-seeded Alabama will meet fourth-seeded Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl while second-seeded Clemson will square off against third-seeded Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
The seventh version of the College Football Playoff is following in the footsteps of versions one through six. These four schools have now accounted for 61% of the berths in the seven-year history of the event (17 of 28). Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State represent five of the six championships won in the CFP era. Notre Dame is playing in its second playoff in three years. However, this is the first time the quartet has been here at the same time.
One storyline is that we will likely get a rematch in the National Title game. If Alabama and Clemson win their semifinals (they are both favored) they would meet in the CFP for the fifth time. Three of the previous four meetings were for the national championship.
Alabama has too much offense for Notre Dame. I saw an amazing stat this week regarding the Crimson Tide. Did you know that Alabama is averaging a touchdown for every 10.8 offensive plays? No wonder the Tide has been scoring over 50 points on a regular basis of late. Meanwhile, it usually takes Notre Dame two games to produce 50 points.
Clemson should also win big in the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State. It has taken a while but the Tigers are rolling. The running game that hadn’t done much since October went for 219 yards against Notre Dame last week in the ACC Title Game. Trevor Lawrence is back at a high level after missing five weeks between COVID-19 and game cancellations.
What sets the Clemson offense apart is Lawrence’s ability to run. He went for 90 yards against Notre Dame and is the Tigers’ second-leading rusher. Ohio State should remember how Lawrence broke open last season’s Fiesta Bowl semifinal with 107 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Clemson has the best defense among the playoff teams. It will pressure Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields who has shown he is prone to turnovers this year.
Ohio State may stay close in the first half before Clemson wears them down. Then comes the Alabama/Clemson rematch.
We will talk about that in a few weeks.