Fansportish: 2015 College Football Playoff Semifinals Preview and Picks

Here at Fangirlish we’re no stranger to sports, but this does mark the official kickoff of sports coverage on Fangirlish as we continue to expand the site. We couldn’t be more excited because if there’s anything that is equal to our obsession with all things entertainment, it’s sports. Because as sports fans know nothing quite says fanatic like sports fans.

With the College Football Playoff kicking off today with semifinal action between (4) Oklahoma vs. (1) Clemson at 4pm and (3) Michigan State vs. (2) Alabama at 8pm, we’re breaking down each match-up and sharing our picks for the games, and making our predictions for who will face off in the National Championship on Jan. 11.

Orange Bowl: (4) Oklahoma vs. (1) Clemson

Dec. 31, 4pm, ESPN

Another year, another bowl match-up between Clemson and Oklahoma, only this time there’s a shot at the National Championship on the line. When the Tigers and Sooners met last season at the Russell Athletic Bowl, Clemson routed Oklahoma 40-6. This will be the fifth meeting between the schools with the record currently split 2-2, but Clemson has won both bowl match-ups — first in 1989 and then last year.

Alyssa’s Pick: Oklahoma 37, Clemson 34

Why Clemson Will Win:

More than anything else, Clemson has succeeded with a healthy dose of consistency on both sides of the football. This season Clemson has outscored its opponents 500-263. Clemson’s offense is led by Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson, who excels both outside the pocket and as a pocket passer. With the potential to become college football’s lone undefeated team at 15-0, if Clemson is to prevail it’ll be behind the arm — or legs — of Watson, which is in the main reason that they’re in the position to win a national championship.

Why Oklahoma Will Win:

While the Sooners have a dominant defense it’s their offense that is leading the way in their pursuit of a national championship. Following a loss to Texas midseason, the Sooners rebounded with seven straight wins. In those last seven games, Oklahoma has garnered 500 yards or more on offense. With a potent passing game led by quarterback Baker Mayfield and a solid ground game, the Sooners can win behind a balanced offensive attack and minimizing mistakes.

Lizzie’s Pick: Oklahoma 30, Clemson 24

Why Clemson Will Win:

One word, Deshaun Watson. He can do everything. He’s been doing everything all year. There’s no reason to think that in the biggest game of the year he’ll somehow not get it done. Sure, that happens sometimes. But it rarely happens to guys as good as Watson, or guys with as many different ways of complicating Oklahoma’s life. Let’s all remember that Watson is the reason why Clemson is where they’re are, and that the comparisons to Cam Newton are more than warranted. This kid can do it all, and chances are, he will.

Why Oklahoma Will Win:

As scary as Watson can be (and is), the thing that makes the Sooners the team to beat here is balance. Balance is a very boring word. I mean, you don’t win games by being a balanced team, right? Except you do. With a very good defense, and a very good offense. Which, sounds basic, but in the Sooner’s case, it’s true. They’re the only team to rate in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. You need both facets of the game to click in big games, and that’s why I think the Sooners take home this one.

Cotton Bowl: (3) Michigan State vs. (2) Alabama

Dec. 31, 8pm, ESPN

Heading into the 2015 Cotton Bowl, the stakes are pretty high for Alabama and Michigan State with a chance to play for the National Championship on the line. Considering the only other time that Alabama and Michigan State played each other was in the 2011 Capital One Bowl, which resulted in a 49-7 rout of the Spartans, this will definitely be a different experience for both teams that are coming off solid seasons. Alabama hasn’t been talked about as much as in year’s past, but they continue to impress when it matters most. Michigan State, on the other hand, has been a team that has been talked about all season for its unlikely victories and impressive run to the final four.

Alyssa’s Pick: Alabama 27, Michigan State 17

Why Alabama Will Win:

Alabama’s defense has emerged as a powerhouse unit this season after solid units in the past few years. While Michigan State’s offensive line has done a solid job at protecting quarterback Connor Cook this season, the Crimson Tide’s pass rush has been sensational at getting to the quarterback nabbing 46 sacks this season. On the offensive side of the ball, Alabama is a well-rounded unit with a powerhouse back in Derrick Henry, but going against a good run defense in the Spartans it might be Alabama’s passing game that takes flight. If Alabama is going to win then they’re going to need to get after the Spartans on offense and pull out those long scoring drives to keep the Spartans of the field.

Why Michigan State Will Win:

If there’s anything that Michigan State has been one of the best at this season it’s been doing all the little things right, including limiting penalties and turnovers that can spell doom for teams. While the Spartans aren’t going to run it down your throat, this offense under quarterback Connor Cook is able to keep drives alive and score points. If Michigan State is going to emerge victorious they’re going to need to control the line on defense, sustain drives, and not Alabama best them on time of possession.

Lizzie’s Pick: Michigan State 24, Alabama 21

Why Alabama Will Win:

Because they’re good? I mean, they’re so good that they’re boring sometimes. They have the best RB in college football and a very talented front seven on defense, so if they can dominate the game clock and limit the time Cook has to test their suspect secondary, they should be good. Now, they just have to do both those things.

Why Michigan State Will Win:

It’s all up to Connor Cook and the secondary. That’s it, that’s the game. With Cook back to normal, and a secondary that can make some big stops, Michigan can take this game, no problem. Well, okay, not exactly no problem. I’d be a big upset. But this has been the year of surprises, so why not another one here? The Spartans have been told they’re not good enough over and over again, and their program has been built on proving people wrong. This would be the big one.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION

Alyssa’s Pick: (4) Oklahoma vs. (2) Alabama

Lizzie’s Pick: (4) Oklahoma vs. (3) Michigan State

Alyssa Barbieri

Senior Managing Editor

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment. Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes. Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters. TV Editor and Sports Editor. I write about DCTV, This Is Us and so much more.
Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.

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