SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2020

As bowl season quickly approaches, some games carry more importance than the rest. Obviously, the best games come from ranked teams of a close skill level. Some games are better than others due to their attacking offenses or stifling defenses which will be on display in the national semi-final games. Both the semifinal games contain teams ranked no lower than #4 in the nation and are sure to excite fans and alumni all over the country. It is not a coincidence that all these teams were in the College Football Playoff conversation at one time or another, because those teams create the best matchups. The lowest ranked team included in these games is Baylor, who comes in at #17, yet they peaked at #2 eight weeks earlier, meaning that even the “worst” teams involved have great potential. Represented here are only teams from the Power 5 conferences minus Notre Dame, who is independent, with the Big 12 and Big 10 housing 3 each and the SEC with one team. No team will play a team from the same conference and all Power 5 conferences are in the Playoff except the Pac-12; however, all teams are conference champions. Here are the top bowl games that will stretch all the way from early December to mid January.

#15 OREGON vs #11 TCU

What may have been a semifinal game last year has now turned into somewhat of a consolation bowl for two top 15 teams. TCU looked the part of a real contender early in the season but was plagued with injuries on both sides of the ball and did not have an amazing defense to begin the season either. Oregon had to cope with the loss of their Heisman winning quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who has since departed to the NFL. Both teams have played tough schedules all year and have each faced a playoff team, MSU for Oregon and OU for TCU, both resulting in close losses. Both teams have plenty of NFL draft prospects such as Josh Doctson and DeForest Buckner who will most likely go in the first round. Vernon Adams, Mariota’s successor has finally begun to excel and he gives his team the edge in this matchup which will see Oregon take it in this 2016 matchup.

#15 OREGON vs #11 TCU

What may have been a semifinal game last year has now turned into somewhat of a consolation bowl for two top 15 teams. TCU looked the part of a real contender early in the season but was plagued with injuries on both sides of the ball and did not have an amazing defense to begin the season either. Oregon had to cope with the loss of their Heisman winning quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who has since departed to the NFL. Both teams have played tough schedules all year and have each faced a playoff team, MSU for Oregon and OU for TCU, both resulting in close losses. Both teams have plenty of NFL draft prospects such as Josh Doctson and DeForest Buckner who will most likely go in the first round. Vernon Adams, Mariota’s successor has finally begun to excel and he gives his team the edge in this matchup which will see Oregon take it in this 2016 matchup.

#8 NOTRE DAME vs #7 OHIO STATE

Notre Dame (ND) and OSU have always been consistent powerhouses and both almost made the College Football Playoff if not for a single loss each. ND had a similar roster change with quarterbacks this year as OSU had last year, and although it occurred earlier in the season, it has had a similar effect. Deshone Kizer, ND’s quarterback, who came from nowhere, has had an immense effect on his team and has filled in nicely for Malik Zaire —who was playing amazing before a season ending injury. OSU, which is somewhat in a slump and still hungover from last season’s championship, has not taken their season seriously enough. Although they wanted and may have deserved a shot at the Playoff they got the next best thing. OSU seems like they will be playing with a vengeance and will take this game on New Year’s Day.

#5 STANFORD vs #6 IOWA

Iowa and Stanford have both surpassed preseason expectations. Iowa was not even close to being ranked at the start of the season, but worked hard to make their way into the playoff after going undefeated in the regular season. Despite going into the game as very heavy underdogs and facing the first real challenge of the season, they played to the very end and lost by little, earning national respect. Stanford was supposed to finish behind Oregon and UCLA this season in the Pac 12, yet they somehow found a way to stay relevant for what seems like forever. Boasting Heisman hopeful Christian McCaffrey and perhaps the best offensive line in college football, Stanford was counted out after a season opening loss against Northwestern, where the team looked slow and sloppy. Despite that, they went on an amazing run nearly making it to the Playoff if it had not been for a loss to rival Oregon. The more experienced of the two should win this battle which is Stanford in this case, who is practically playing on a home field.

#1 CLEMSON vs #4 OKLAHOMA

The Orange Bowl in Miami will feature Clemson, who has held the #1 spot for a majority of the year, against OU, who snuck into the top four two weeks ago, taking a much different path to the Playoff. Despite this, OU is still likely to be favored barring any important injuries. Clemson has great players including quarterback and Heisman hopeful Deshaun Watson, linebacker Shaq Lawson and cornerback Mackensie Alexander. On the other end, OU has another Heisman hopeful quarterback Baker Mayfield, playing alongside runningback Samaje Perine and cornerback Zack Sanchez. Without playing a conference championship, OU was guaranteed a spot in the Playoff before any team, but also lost a week of prep and had over a month without football before this game. Surprisingly, Clemson and OU met in a bowl game last season, which was ultimately embarrassing for OU, who lost 40-6. But do not expect to see the same type of result this time around. Although they may start slow and with some rust, Oklahoma should pull away at some point in the game or by just enough to give Clemson their first loss of the season.

#2 ALABAMA vs #3 MICHIGAN STATE

Oklahoma should make quick work of Clemson which makes this semifinal game much more interesting. Unlike last year when OSU played Alabama, fans have a better idea of how this game will play out. Alabama may seem like an overpowering favorite in this matchup, but will probably be in a dogfight against MSU, as they are peaking at the end of the season. In past years, MSU had amazing bowl game performances, winning the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl back to back while miraculously losing almost no major players. On the other hand, Alabama got blown out against OU two years ago and last year against OSU. This trend seems like it will continue and have Connor Cook and MSU prevail.

#4 OKLAHOMA vs #3 MICHIGAN STATE

An unexpected matchup between both of the lower seeds, this should be an amazing game between two teams with differing personalities. Michigan State (MSU), who played the role of spoiler all season, snuck into the playoff as this year’s “destiny” team after ruining the season of Michigan, Ohio State (OSU) and Iowa. Oklahoma (OU) did the same to Baylor, Texas Christian University (TCU) and Oklahoma State, but in a different fashion, by taking an early lead and never letting go. Both teams have NFL prospects and some experience, but MSU takes the edge in that category. OU, however, does not play with luck like MSU does, and will thus not make mistakes. However, MSU does not need luck against OU and may have the Big 10 win both of the first two College Football Playoff Championships. MSU and destiny will prevail for the second year in a row over OU just as OSU did so over Oregon last year.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Senior at Palo Alto High School. 2nd year in Campanile newspaper. Likes writing about sports.

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