Photo courtesy of Alabama athletics
As we continue on with predicting every bowl game for the 2020 season, we now hit the big boys.
Part III of our predictions´ series continues on with the New Year´s Six and College Football Playoff semifinals.
New Year’s Six
Goodyear Cotton Bowl
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Florida
The Cotton Bowl is probably the most fun non-playoff New Year’s Six match-up we have on the slate these next few days. No. 6 vs. No. 7. High-powered offense vs. high-powered offense. Big 12 champion vs. SEC runner-up. Buckle up.
A battle of two fantastic quarterback is also on tap for this one in Jerry’s World. Heisman Trophy finalist Kyle Trask of the Gators will square off against up-and-coming redshirt freshman stud Spencer Rattler. Rattler isn´t Baker Mayfield, or Kyler Murray, or even Jalen Hurts. But because he follows those three superstars, he came in with quite the high expectations.
He´s legit though, and so is Trask. But with Florida losing its top three receivers, including tight end Kyle Pitts to the NFL Draft, and Oklahoma being so comfortable in Arlington, just winning the Big 12 there a little less than three weeks ago, the Sooners have the clear-cut advantage in this firepower match-up.
Boomer Sooner in a high-scoring fiasco.
Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Florida 28
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
No. 9 Georgia vs. No. 8 Cincinnati
Another extremely intriguing match-up will kick off 2021 in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
The eighth-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats will look to finish 2020 off perfect after winning The American, and will face off against a ninth-ranked Georgia squad that has quietly stayed in the top 10 after some early setbacks.
This one will feature a lethal Cincinnati offense led by star quarterback Desmond Ridder. He´ll be squaring off against a power Georgia defense that allows just 20 points per game and gives up just 2.3 yards per carry on the ground.
It’s power vs. power, and this game very well could be the most competitive of the New Year’s Six. The Bearcats will play angry after the disrespect shown by the College Football Playoff Committee. Coordinator Marcus Freeman´s defense will slow down Georgia quarterback JT Daniels just enough to shock the Bulldogs, finish the year 10-0, and become 2020’s UCF.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Georgia 21
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
No. 25 Oregon vs. No. 10 Iowa State
This one is a head-scratcher. We know who the Iowa State Cyclones are, but who really are the Oregon Ducks?
Mario Cristobal’s team is just one of two Pac-12 teams to go bowling, and finds itself 4-2 after a disappointing 5-game regular season. The Ducks ultimately upset the USC Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship, although they didn’t even win their division.
The Ducks served as a fill-in for Pac-12 North champion Washington, who was unable to play in the game due to COVID-19 issues. Oregon won the title game and secured an automatic berth to the Fiesta Bowl.
Matt Campbell’s team has had a little different type of season. The Cyclones finished the regular season 8-2 before falling in the Big 12 Championship in a 27-21 heartbreaker that would’ve been the second victory over Oklahoma this season.
Brock Purdy and Breece Hall are absolutely electric for Iowa State, and they´ll come into this one hungry. Oregon will play fast and fresh as it is just getting into midseason form. But the Cyclones will be too much on both sides of the ball. Iowa State for the win.
Prediction: Iowa State 34, Oregon 27
Capital One Orange Bowl
No. 13 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Texas A&M
The last time the North Carolina Tar Heels played a football game, it was in this exact stadium. The result? A 62-26 demolition of the Miami Hurricanes.
A big part of that, was the fact that North Carolina’s stud running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter combined for over 500 yards. Both of them though, are gone. Both opted out of the bowl game to begin to prepare for the NFL Draft. Wide receiver Dyami Brown and linebacker Chazz Surratt are out as well, leaving Carolina shorthanded defensively and completely depleted on the offense with the exception of quarterback Sam Howell and receiver Dazz Newsome.
Isaiah Spiller and the Texas A&M offense will take advantage of Surratt´s absence, and a solid Aggie defense will now have an easier go-around against a typical lights-out offense.
Howell will keep the Tar Heels in the game, but Kellen Mond will torch that average North Carolina secondary. Texas A&M will prove to the committee why it should´ve been in the College Football Playoff. The Aggies will take it out on the Tar Heels.
Prediction: Texas A&M 38, North Carolina 20
College Football Playoff — Jan. 1
College Football Playoff Semifinal: Rose Bowl
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. No. 1 Alabama
Now, to the really big ones — the ones that matter so much that a national championship trophy is on the line. Our first College Football Playoff semifinal will feature Notre Dame and Alabama. In the Rose Bowl. In Texas….
This one on paper doesn’t look to be all that competitive. Notre Dame did beat Clemson earlier this year in the regular season, but that was without Trevor Lawrence and multiple starters on defense for the Tigers. The follow-up with Clemson didn’t go so well, as the Tigers demolished the Fighting Irish, 34-10 in the ACC Championship. Alabama, on the other hand, is coming in with all the momentum at 11-0 and another SEC championship under its belt.
Clark Lea’s Notre Dame defense is legit, but is it able to stop Alabama Heisman finalists Mac Jones and DeVonta Smith? We don’t think so. Don’t forget about running back Najee Harris as well.
Ian Book and the Fighting Irish may hang around for a little while in this one, but after a bit of time, the talent gap will begin to show. The Crimson Tide will keep rolling back to another national title game under Nick Saban.
Prediction: Alabama 45, Notre Dame 24
College Football Playoff Semifinal: Allstate Sugar Bowl
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson
The ACC champion Clemson Tigers are on a roll. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is playing well. Brent Venables’ defense is playing stoutly. All is well for head coach Dabo Swinney and company.
Quarterback Justin Fields and the Big Ten champion Ohio State Buckeyes will try their best to fend off the scorching hot Tigers, as they’ll look to avenge last year’s heartbreaking 29-23 defeat in the Fiesta Bowl — also a semifinal match-up.
You can look at all the X’s and O’s and the in’s and out’s of each statistic for both of these teams. But essentially, this one will come down to quarterback play. Fields is good; don´t get us wrong. But Lawrence is just on a whole other level. Ohio State will be fresher having only played six games, but Lawrence will be the difference-maker in New Orleans.
The Tigers will beat Ohio State yet again and set themselves up for another championship match-up with the Crimson Tide.
Prediction: Clemson 35, Ohio State 27