College Football Playoff Semifinals Open in Las Vegas, Alabama and Oklahoma Favored
Posted on: December 7, 2015, 03:48h.
Last updated on: December 8, 2015, 08:32h.
The College Football Playoff (CFP) selection committee has paired #1 Clemson (13-0) against #4 Oklahoma (11-1) and #2 Alabama (12-1) against #3 Michigan State (12-1) to decide who will compete for the National Championship on January 11.
Both semifinal games will be played on New Year’s Eve.
The decision was rather easy for those in charge of picking the final four teams.
College football has five “power conferences,” but each team in the Pac-12 had at least two losses, meaning the remaining four conference champions got the nod for the CFP.
Selecting Clemson from the ACC, Alabama from the SEC, the Big Ten’s Michigan State, and Big 12’s Oklahoma was rather predictable.
What wasn’t predictable is how Las Vegas responded.
#1 Clemson Underdog
The Clemson Tigers have been the top-ranked college football program in the country since beating then #16 Florida State in early November.
They had previously beaten a top 10 Notre Dame team, and ended the regular season on Saturday with a 45-37 win over #10 North Carolina to claim the ACC title.
Clemson ran the table to perfection, but Vegas still isn’t convinced.
Oklahoma opened as a 2.5-point favorite over the Tigers despite being the lower ranked team. That’s because many football analysts don’t believe they’re lower ranked in talent.
In fact, the Sooners are one of, if not the hottest teams in NCAA football. Their last three games consisted of beating #6 Baylor, #18 TCU, and #11 Oklahoma Sate.
By all projections, the Tigers and Sooners clash will be neck and neck, the eventual winner likely resting on the arms and legs of quarterbacks Deshaun Watson of Clemson and Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, two leading Heisman candidates.
Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney celebrated his team’s seeding by throwing a massive pizza party for 30,000 fans on Sunday at Memorial Stadium. “I don’t know what happened at the other three schools, but I doubt it was like this,” Swinney said.
Alabama Being Alabama
The only team returning to the CFP is the Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban is chasing his fourth National Championship with Alabama since taking over in 2007.
It’s never smart to bet against a Saban-led squad, which is why the early money has been heavily placed in favor of Alabama over Michigan State.
Just like last year, Alabama has opened as a nine-point favorite. Saban is hoping that unlike last year, the Tide rolls instead of loses as it did to Ohio State in 2014.
Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio and Saban have more in common than just coaching against one another on December 31.
Saban actually hired Dantonio when he was the head coach of Michigan State in 1995.
“I wouldn’t be in this position as a head coach had I not been afforded the opportunity to come to Michigan State by Nick,” Dantonio said over the weekend. “He’s a mentor.”
That doesn’t mean Dantonio doesn’t want to crush his former boss, but the task will be difficult.
Michigan State’s star quarterback Connor Cook is still battling an injured throwing shoulder, and MSU is also only in the position it is thanks to a fluke last-second play against Michigan in October.
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