Meg’s Monologue: Playoff Semifinals Predictions

Meg Gross, Opinion Editor

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For college football fans everywhere, their favorite time of year is quickly coming up, the College Football Playoffs. In this year’s playoffs, we will see four conference champions, Ohio State, LSU, Clemson, and Oklahoma, compete for the national title. 

Peach Bowl – (1) LSU v.s. (4) Oklahoma

In their first qualification for the playoffs, LSU has become a 13-point favorite over the Oklahoma Sooners, which I think is about right. Essentially, this game is a showdown between two of the most explosive offenses of this season.  

For LSU, quarterback and Heisman winner Joe Burrow has been key to the Tigers’ success, leading the team to an undefeated 13-0 season with impressive wins over Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn, almost completely transforming LSU’s offense. Another key player for the Tigers will be wide receiver Ja’marr Chase, who leads the country in total receiving yards and touchdowns. Between Lawrence and Chase, LSU’s offense could be hard to stop. But don’t forget about running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. With an impressive 89 yard rush against Arkansas, Edwards-Helaire ran for 1,250 yards this season, averaging 6.5 yards per rush, showing LSU’s dominance in both the passing and running games. For Oklahoma, Arkansas transfer and quarterback Jalen Hurts sped up the Sooners’ offense, even leading the team in total rushing yards. With the speed of receiver CeeDee Lamb, who takes 3rd nationally in receiving touchdowns, Oklahoma’s offense is also a force to be reckoned with. With these two offensive powerhouses, the deciding factor in this game will come down to the better defense. 

After hiring Alex Grinch at defensive coordinator, Oklahoma’s defense has gone from being ranked 114th to 24th nationally, but is it enough to stop an offense as strong as LSU’S? My guess is no. Over the season, Oklahoma has allowed 222 points against non-AP ranked opponents, including a one-touchdown loss to Kansas State. With an offense like LSU’s, which no one defense can seem to figure out, against a defense like Oklahoma, expect a win from LSU. 

Fiesta Bowl – (2) Ohio State v.s. (3) Clemson

This might be one of the closest matchups we’ve seen all season. Both teams have proven to dominate on both sides of the ball, with a star quarterback for each team.

But when I look at Clemson’s 2019 season, I’m embarrassed for them. Arguably the hardest team they’ve played this year was Texas A&M, and the closest game was against North Carolina, which really demonstrates how bad of a conference the ACC is. No wonder Clemson is 13-0. That being said, Ohio State will be the hardest team Clemson has played this season, and they haven’t quite seen a team as strong. 

I really like Ohio State’s chances for this one, despite Clemson opening as a slight 2-point favorite. What’s different about the Buckeyes is that they dominate in both offense and defense.

In head coach Ryan Day’s first full season at Ohio State, he’s led the Buckeyes to a 13-0 record with impressive wins over Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Ohio State should make use of running back JK Dobbins, considering that in games where Dobbins runs for over 100 yards, the Buckeyes are 18-0. Along with Dobbins, quarterback Justin Fields has been an Ohio State star player, having thrown only one interception throughout the entire regular season with a 92.4 QBR, and it doesn’t stop there. The Buckeyes have one of the top defenses in the country. At defensive end, Chase Young leads the nation in sacks and takes second in forced fumbles. so it might be safe to say that Clemson’s offensive tackles are going to have a hard time blocking Young. 

For Clemson to lock in the win, their defense will need to put a big stops on the Buckeye running game, which may not be too difficult considering that this season Ohio State has run the ball 63% of the time, according to NCAA.com. It’s not a secret that quarterback Trevor Lawrence is a dominant passer, which Ohio State will prepare for. So if the Tigers hand the ball off to running back Travis Etienne, they could shock the Buckeye defense. Etienne has run for an impressive 1,500 yards this season, averaging and leading with 8.2 yards per rush. 

In an extremely close game with a matchup of two powerhouses, I see Ohio State taking this one. Ohio State has proven within a season how they can turn around their defense, and with offensive stars like Fields and Dobbins, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. 

December 28 will be a day jam-packed with college football, and I can’t wait to see how each game plays out.