By: Sam Giacobello | Writer
December 12, 2018
The 2018 NCAA Football regular season came to an end last week, but the excitement is really just getting started. After a relatively unsurprising final week of games, the playoff committee released their last set of rankings before bowl season and the College Football Playoffs.
Alabama (13-0), Clemson (13-0), and Notre Dame (12-0) kept the top three spots after holding their undefeated records. Oklahoma (12-1), held the fourth and final playoff spot over Ohio State (12-1) and Georgia (11-2) following its impressive 39-27 away win over Texas in the Big 12 Championship.
On December 29th, 2018, the semi-finals of the CFP will play out in Dallas and Miami under the eyes of the entire nation. Alabama will take on Oklahoma in the Capital One Orange Bowl, a rematch of the 2014 Cotton Bowl when 11-ranked Oklahoma upset 3-ranked Alabama, while Clemson and Notre Dame will battle it out in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl; after Notre Dame suffered a devastating late loss to the Tigers amid torrential downpours in the 2015 season. Oklahoma will be hoping to continue their three-game win streak against the favorite Crimson Tide, and its hard to count out an Irish side that has much to prove to critics who believe their playoff berth was undeserved without a conference championship.
“I think Notre Dame is a lot better than people think,” senior Jacob Gerhard said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make it to the championship.”
Both games are predicted to be easy wins for the top two teams in the nation; however, Alabama is favored by 14 points and Clemson 11. But all eyes will be on a few key factors that will make or break each of the top four’s seasons.
The Crimson Tide are expected to roll over an Oklahoma team that has allowed more than two times as many points this season as each of the other teams in the playoff. However, all eyes will be on sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, as he looks to take advantage of a weak Sooners defense enough to win against the only offense to score more points than the number one seed. If Nick Saban’s Hawaiian quarterback continues his fine form at the end of this month, the defending national champs should make their fourth consecutive College Football National Championships in only the fifth season of the playoff system.
No matter what happens in the game between Notre Dame and Clemson, both teams and coaches will be happy to know that AT&T Stadium has a dome- so hopefully there won’t be any hurricanes involved this year. Even so, the Irish have it all to prove when they travel to Dallas before the New Year. Beating or at least staying close with Clemson may be the only way Notre Dame can assure they are given fair consideration by the playoff committee in future seasons.
The winners of the two semifinal matchups will play in Santa Clara on January 7th, 2019 in the National Championship game; the 41st and final game of the bowl season. It is unknown who will be playing in that game, but it seems likely that it will be the two most dominant teams of the playoff era. But for Bowl season, the best thing to do for now is to sit down and watch some amazing football games over the next month. “My favorite part is predicting the winners of every bowl game,” sophomore Garrett Carter said. “It’s especially fun watching the lower level games and seeing if I can guess right.”
The 2018 Bowl Season kicks off with the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on December 15th, 2018.