I expect Alabama will beat Michigan State and advance to the championship game to face Oklahoma, which I think will beat Clemson. However, last year I expected Florida State and Alabama to meet in the championship game and both lost in the semi-final round.
Michigan State and Alabama have similar styles of play. I know the Spartans are good, but I don’t think they are as deep in talent as Alabama is.
Michigan State is really good at stopping the run so I think Alabama won’t be able to run the football up and down the field with its big back. I think the Tide will need to make some big plays passing the ball like it did vs. Florida in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama has some good wide receivers and its quarterback, Jake Coker, looks like he has improved since earlier in the season.
I really like the quarterbacks in the other playoff game. Deshaun Watson is a real difference-maker for Clemson as a runner and passer, but I like the quarterback at Oklahoma a lot, too. Baker Mayfield has led the Sooners to five victories over Top 25 teams this year, including three on the road.
Baker Mayfield is shown in action this season.
In Oklahoma’s last seven games, all wins, the Sooners are averaging 52 points per game so this is a hot team that comes into the playoffs with an excellent chance to win it all. Mayfield is a great competitor and I think he will be the difference in Oklahoma getting past a Clemson team that easily handled the Sooners in a bowl game last season.
I am sure Auburn fans are anxious to get a new defensive coordinator on board as soon as possible. To me the most important thing is who he hires.
Auburn’s head coach also has the assignment of getting his team prepared for a bowl game vs. Memphis, which is one of the best passing teams in the country. The Tigers also have to replace their secondary coach, Travaris Robinson, so that adds to the challenge of playing Memphis.
For the Tigers the season got off to a disappointing start and it didn’t end the way Auburn hoped with losses to Georgia and Alabama. It’s too late to do anything about that now, but there is time to get focused on finishing on a positive note with a bowl victory vs. a good opponent that features a great quarterback.
Memphis lost its head coach so it will have adjustments to make for this game, too, but that is not all that unusual in college football, especially in seasons where there are lot of head coaching changes around the country.