NCAA College Football CFP SemiFinal Games

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NCAA CFP SemiFinal Games

All times Eastern

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Saturday, December 28

CFP SemiFinal - Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl
4:00 pm #4 Oklahoma vs. #1 LSU (-13 1/2, 75 1/2) - This will be familiar territory for the LSU Tigers. It is on this very field that they defeated the Georgia Bulldogs to capture the SEC championship three weeks ago (December 7). Winning handily, 37-10, the victory earned the 13-0 Tigers the #1 spot in the CFP poll.

Quarterback Joe Burrow has thrown for 4,715 yards and 48 TDs this season and won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide. Burrow gives the Tigers exceptional leadership at the QB spot and he has plenty of savvy and useful teammates to carry the offense.RB Clyde Edwards-Hellaire led the Tigers in rushing, with 1,290 yards and 16 TDs, but is listed as questionable for the game. He's a key element in the offensive scheme and it's likely that he will play, but for how many snaps and how effective he will be are questions that will need to be answered on the field.

Defensively, the Tigers are not exactly top notch, but, because of their offense, they don't have to be. They're ranked 27th in points allowed, giving up an average of 21.2 points per game. The offense scores at a rate of 47.8 ppg, third nationally, and they led the nation in yards (7,206). Oklahoma doesn't have adequate defenders to stop or even slow down the LSU offensive juggernaut.

The 12-1 Sooners, led by QB Jalen Hurts, a Heisman candidate, also have a ton of offense, finishing one yard behind LSU in total yardage on the year. They average 43.2 points per game, sixth nationally. They're going to be on the move from start to finish. Only TCU has held them under 30 points and it's probable that the Tigers won't be able to either. Oklahoma's sole loss was a 48-41 defeat at Kansas State.

Allowing 24.5 points per outing, the Sooners' defense is probably better than what the stats suggest. They played in the wide-open Big 12, where the focus is on offense, not defense, so they should not be sold short.

The Sooners played three ranked teams and beat them all, including Baylor twice. Their big rivalry games against Texas (34-27) and Oklahoma State (34-16) were contrasting margins of victory. They had to go to overtime to defeat Baylor in the Big 12 championship, 30-23, but they proved to have a champion's heart.

LSU played five ranked foes and beat them all. Their closest encounters were at Alabama (46-41), against Auburn (23-20), and at a neutral location vs. Texas (45-38).

Bottom line: LSU is certainly a powerhouse, but the Sooners will test their defense throughout. Hurts is as dangerous a runner as he is a passer and LSU will be hard-pressed to contain him. Oklahoma could provide an upset. Certainly, they can keep the game closer than the huge spread afforded them.

Coin Flip: Oklahoma

Prediction: Tigers 42 Sooners 36

CFP SemiFinal - Playstation Fiesta Bowl
8:00 pm #3 Clemson (-2, 63 1/2) vs. #2 Ohio State - Two undefeated teams, one winner. That's what this game comes down to as the champions of the ACC and Big Ten clash to advance to the national championship.

As the line indicates, this is about as tough a game to pick as there has been all season. Clemson probably ended up as the favorite due to their incredibly efficient defense, which led the nation, allowing a mere 10.6 points per game and the fact that they are defending national champions, having defeated Alabama last season in a 44-16 shocker. Critics argue that Clemson's schedule this season was soft, but some of the scores were eye-popping, like their 59-7 win over Boston College, or their 52-14 smothering of Georgia Tech. The Tigers did play two ranked foes, defeating Texas A&M, 24-10, in week two, and absolutely crushing Virginia, 62-17, in the ACC championship game.

Led by QB Trevor Lawrence (3172 yards passing, 34 TD) and running back Travis Etienne (1500 rushing, 17), the Tigers have been held under 38 points just twice this season, in the A&M win and at North Carolina, where the Tigers prevailed in their closest game of the season by far, 21-20. They were third nationally, scoring 47.8 points per game.

The Buckeyes led the nation in scoring, posting 48.7 points per game and were tied for second with Georgia defensively, allowing 12.5 yards per game. That speaks to the quality of this team, playing in the tough Big Ten conference. Quarterback Justin Fields, a Heisman Trophy finalist, threw for 2,953 yards and 40 TDs. Stud running back, J.K. Dobbins, racked up 1,829 yards rushing and 20 TDs. He is a relentless back with good speed who carries behind one of the most powerful offensive lines in the country.

Ohio State played four ranked foes (Wisconsin twice), all from the Big Ten, and defeated them all handily. The closest anybody came to beating the Buckeyes was Penn State, in a 28-17 Buckeye victory. Ohio state captured the Big Ten title with a 34-21 win over Wisconsin.

The Buckeyes are as good as Clemson if not better, and may prove to be the best team in the country. They should be able to move the ball up and down the field, though Clemson will no doubt be tough in the red zone. The ground game will be essential to both teams, but the Buckeyes may have an edge with their huge offensive line. This game should be close, and may come down to coaching decisions, special teams and turnovers, any of which could be crucial. The defenses will show up, and a late stand is probably going to be needed to secure a win.

Coin Flip: Ohio State

Prediction: Buckeyes 31 Tigers 30

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