SPORTING ALERT – College Football Playoff semifinals will take place on New Year’s Eve at Georgia Dome and the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Defending champion and top-ranked Alabama will take on No. 4 Washington in the first College Football Playoff semifinal – Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – and it will be live on ESPN at 3 PM ET.
The second College Football Playoff semis will see No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State doing battle in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., starting at 7:00 PM on ESPN.
NO. 1 ALABAMA v NO. 4 WASHINGTON
The Crimson Tide (13-0) are yet to lose this season, while dominating their opponents on a weekly basis and the pundits don’t expect the Huskies (12-1) to slow them down either.
Alabama has been super dominant this season and leads the FBS in a number of categories, including rushing yards against, which sits at 63 yards per game.
The Tide have 68.1 percent chance to beat Washington on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, but coach Nick Saban isn’t expecting any handouts.
A victory for Alabama would secure a place in the championship game for a second successive year and Saban wants his players to realise that this isn’t just a bowl game.
“What I’ve learned about this game is your mindset of: Is this a bowl game or is this a playoff game?” Saban told reporters.
“I think every player has to decide for himself (and) every coach has to decide for himself because we are trying to create a balance for everyone in our organization because it is a playoff game.”
Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has thrown for 2,592 yards with 22 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 841 yards and 12 scores on the ground.
Jake Browning leads the Washington offense and he is expected to be a handful for the Tide, who hasn’t faced a quarterback of his calibre so far this season.
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- The Huskies enter the New Year’s Eve game on a three-game winning streak.
- Alabama has won 25 games straight since losing to Ole Miss in September 2015.
Bowl Game To Watch
The second game of the day between No. 2 Clemson and the third-ranked Ohio State could possibly be the most intriguing game of the season.
The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl will see two accomplished quarterbacks going head-to-head with both confident about their team’s chances.
J.T. Barrett will lead the Ohio State (11-1) offense and he will have a very good supporting cast as well.
Barrett has thrown for 2,428 yards, 25 touchdowns and five interceptions this season and also rushed for 847 yards and nine touchdowns.
Running back Mike Weber has carried the ball 177 times this season 1,072 yards and nine touchdowns, while versatile runner and receiver Curtis Samuel is expected to generate lots of problems for the Tigers.
Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson has passed for 3,914 yards with 37 touchdowns this season for Clemson (12-1). The junior who is playing his final game for the Tigers, has also run for 529 yards and six TDs.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Buckeyes have a 55 percent chance to beat Clemson, which comes in with a 45 percent chance.
The winner of the Fiesta Bowl will advance to the national championship game on Jan. 9 and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney believes his team is right where they need to be at this stage of the season.
“We’ve set out to be right here where we are,” said Swinney. “We look forward to playing on the big stage.”
Heisman Winner Jackson To Star Again?
In a non-college football playoff bowl games on Saturday, Heisman Trophy winning Lamar Jackson will lead No. 13 Louisville against No. 20 LSU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.
Jackson has been remarkable this year for the Cardinals (9-3) – throwing for 3,390 yards, 30 touchdowns and rushed for another 1,538 yards with 21 touchdowns.
ESPN’s Football Power Index is giving Louisville a 51.5 percent chance to win against LSU, which will be led by Ed Orgeron for the first time since he was named head coach of the Tigers.
While Louisville will sport its best player for Saturday, LSU will be without its top man.
Running back Leonard Fournette will not play against the Cardinals, which means Derrius Guice, who was the team’s leading runner with the ball this term with 1,249 yards and 14 touchdowns, is expected to do the bulk of the work on the ground again.
Elsewhere, Georgia Tech and Kentucky will battle in the TaxSlayer Bowl, live on ESPN and streaming on WatchESPN, starting at 11:00 am.
College Football Playoff and Bowl schedule
December. 31, 2016
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
No. 20 LSU vs. No. 13 Louisville
11 a.m., ABC, WatchESPN
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky
11 a.m., ESPN, WatchESPN
EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: College Football Playoff semifinal
No. 4 Washington vs. No. 1 Alabama
3 p.m., ESPN, WatchESPN
Georgia Dome, Atlanta
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: College Football Playoff semifinal
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson
7 p.m., ESPN, WatchESPN
The University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.