December 28, 2016
If you were holding off on watching bowl games until the main course, this is the post you were waiting to read. This features the steak of New Year’s Six games and filet mignon of playoff games for you to devour as 2016 ends and 2017 begins.
Things get going with a dream matchup in the Orange Bowl, which kicks off Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. on ESPN. The Orange Bowl features traditional college football powers the University of Michigan against Florida State University.
How long has it been since the Wolverines were in the Orange Bowl? The last time was 1999 when some guy named Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, and the team beat the University of Alabama.
Florida State is making its second appearance in the Orange Bowl this season after beating the University of Miami in Florida earlier in the year. This is the Seminoles’ 10th trip to the Orange Bowl.
Heisman Trophy finalist Jabrill Peppers does a little bit of everything on defense, offense and special teams for the Wolverines. The Seminoles feature running back Dalvin Cook, who is a threat to take any run to the house.
Expect both teams’ quarterbacks to be under constant pressure. FSU leads the nation in sacks with 47, and Michigan is fourth with 44.
New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, features the two semifinals College Football Playoff games. Before the New Year rings in, we will know who is playing for a title on Jan. 9.
The semifinals begin with the University of Alabama against the University of Washington at 2 p.m. on ESPN in the Peach Bowl. Both teams should have plenty of motivation and have had plenty of time to prepare.
Alabama is one of two teams left in the country and has made it this far with freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and one of the best defenses in college football history. Washington started the season ranked 14th in the Associated Press poll and 18th in the Coaches Poll but are the Pac-12 champions.
Both teams played against the University of Southern California during the regular season. The Crimson Tide overpowered the Trojans for a 52-6 win. USC gave the Huskies their only loss of the season in a 26-13 win.
Washington couldn’t handle USC’s defensive front, and Alabama’s defensive front is even better. That could lead to a lopsided game if the Huskies can’t block.
Hurts has been turnover-prone this season and could keep Washington in the game if he can’t hold on to the ball or if he throws interceptions. Alabama’s defense covers up a lot of his mistakes.
In the second playoff game, the University of Clemson faces Ohio State University at 6 p.m. on ESPN in the Fiesta Bowl. Both teams enter the game with one loss and again should be highly motivated.
NFL talent will be all over the field for both teams. The Tigers have quarterback Deshaun Watson to run the offense, and the Buckeyes’ offense has quarterback J.T. Barrett.
OSU head coach Urban Meyer is behind Alabama head coach Nick Saban in coaching rankings but has the national championships that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney wants to win. Both coaches are at the top of their profession.
In the words of Swinney, this game will be a “BYOG,” or “Bring Your Own Guts” game. Meyer will spend most of the game doubled over with his hands on his knees.
College football will take a break on New Year’s Day as the NFL plays its final week of the regular season.
The Bowl games begin on Jan. 2 at noon on ESPN with the Cotton Bowl. This game features the only other undefeated team in the nation, Western Michigan University, against the University of Wisconsin.
This is the first time that either the Broncos or the Badgers are playing in the Cotton Bowl. Western Michigan won’t fear Big Ten Wisconsin just because they are from the MAC.
The Broncos beat both Northwestern University and the University of Illinois out of the Big Ten. That doesn’t mean the Badgers are going to roll over for the MAC champions.
Expect to see plenty of signs and hear the phrase “row the boat,” which is Western Michigan’s mantra this season. The Broncos will hit some rough seas as it looks to finish undefeated against the 10-3 Badgers.
After the Cotton Bowl, “The Granddaddy of Them All” kicks off at 4 p.m. with the 103rd Rose Bowl. This game features college football blue bloods, Pennsylvania State University, against the University of Southern California.
The Nittany Lions were the surprise Big Ten champions as the only team to knock off Ohio State and are on a nine-game winning streak. The Trojans started the season with a rough 1-3 start before winning eight straight and being the only team to beat Washington.
This game features the traditional matchup of the Big Ten against the Pac-12. Both teams come in playing some of their best football and as hot as any team not in the playoffs.
The Rose Bowl begins in daylight. It is great to watch the second half as the sun goes down and the game ends in under the lights. This is one game not to miss during the bowl games.
Finally, the last New Year’s Six game will be the Sugar Bowl played at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN and the last game on Jan 2. Auburn University out of the SEC worked their way into this game by the rest of the SEC team in contention, losing and the University of Oklahoma is in this game by winning the Big 12.
If you are watching this game, check out the defensive line of the Tigers against the high-powered offense of Baker Mayfield and the Sooners. Oklahoma finished the regular season at 10-2 and undefeated in the Big 12.
The Sooners’ only two losses were blowouts against the University of Houston and Ohio State. Auburn played Clemson, Texas A&M University and the University of Georgia tough in close losses. Alabama soundly beat the Tigers in the Iron Bowl, finishing the regular season 8-4.
Auburn will need its defense to keep this game close because its offense isn’t built to win shootouts. Oklahoma will try to block the Tigers’ dominant defensive line as the Sooners try to pass its way to a big victory.
The last time these two teams meet in the Sugar Bowl was 1972. The Sooners trounced the Tigers 40-22 in that game.
Will history repeat is the question?