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College Football Playoff: Previewing LSU/Oklahoma and Clemson/Ohio State

Today we preview the College Football Playoff semi-final matchups and breakdown four exciting 2020 NFL Draft prospects.

NCAA Football: College Footall Playoff-Selection Sunday Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings, Faithful! Welcome to the 2019 College Football Playoff! After months of speculation, rankings, wild finishes, upsets, arguments, and another rollercoaster of a season, we are left with the top four teams in college football. This year the college football playoff features the SEC champions #1 LSU Tigers. The Big 10 champions, #2 Ohio State Buckeyes, the ACC champions, #3 Clemson Tigers, and the Big 12 champions, #4 Oklahoma Sooners.

ACC Football Championship - Clemson v Virginia Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There are so many storylines for each of these teams. For LSU, they enter their first-ever college football playoff led by Heisman Trophy winner and projected top overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Joe Burrow. Ohio State and Clemson meet in the Fiesta Bowl. The last time these two squared off, it was in this very bowl game where Clemson dominated the Buckeyes 31-0. Lastly, we have the Oklahoma Sooners who have made a third consecutive College Football Playoff. Clemson has won twenty-eight straight games and has a chance to defend their national title. Ohio State will look to avenge a nightmare of a loss to Clemson, while LSU looks to complete a near-flawless season navigating through the challenging and competitive SEC conference. Oklahoma will look to win their first-ever college football playoff game in their fourth attempt.

Big Ten Football Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

If one thing is for certain this year, the committee got the four teams right. Now, all that needs to happen is the action on the field. Which two teams will come out victorious and have the opportunity to play for a national championship in New Orleans in January? We will shortly find out. Let’s meet some prospects and preview each semi-final showdown!

SEC Championship - Georgia v LSU Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Chick-Fil-A-Peach Bowl:

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Peach Bowl - Washington v Alabama Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How to watch

#1 LSU (13-0) vs #4 Oklahoma (12-1)

Date: Saturday, Dec. 28 | Time: 1:00 p.m. PT
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Georgia)
Online Streaming: ESPN
Line: LSU -14.0


SEC Championship - Georgia v LSU Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

I find it hard to believe that LSU is going to cover a fourteen-point spread. Oklahoma has one of the most lethal offenses in the nation. LSU has shown some gaps and holes in their defense this season. Expect a high scoring game that will be closer than you think. However, the difference in this game is Joe Burrow and the Oklahoma defense. I’ll take the quarterback who had one of the best statistical seasons of all time. LSU wins a shootout in Atlanta.

Prospects Spotlight:

Justin Jefferson, WR, No. 2 – LSU
Height: 6’3” – Weight: 192
2019 Stats: 1,207 yards, 88 receptions, 14 tocuhdowns, 13.7 AVG.

Justin Jefferson is a mismatch nightmare with his size, speed, and point catch abilities. So far, in 2019, Jefferson has recorded 55 receptions, for 819 yards, and nine touchdowns. His upside is outstanding, and his ability to stretch the field and constantly make plays at the second and third level is quite valuable. Has strong and reliable hands, and can secure additional yards after the reception. Jefferson has been one of the best if not THE best big-play producer in the country this season. If Sanders is not re-signed, Jefferson would be a great fit in the Niner’s offensive plans. He would add a nice contrasting style compared to George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. Between the three of them, defenses would have a hard time trying to cover all three receiving threats at multiple levels on the field. Keep an eye on Jefferson because he might just end up at the very end of the first round.

Kenneth Murray, LB, No. 9 – Oklahoma
Height: 6’2” – Weight: 243 lbs. – Projected 40: 4.65
2019 Stats: 95 Tackles, 4 Sacks, 3 Passes Deflected.

Kenneth Murray is a physical freak, which utilizes proficient sideline-to-sideline speed to make a strong presence on the field. He has natural football instincts and a knack for putting himself in a position where the play is occurring. On tape, Murray is flying all over the field. His horizontal speed is what will have the attention of scouts and evaluators, and what should help with the transition to the pro level. At times Murray can get overly-aggressive, which can place him out of position. Murray has demonstrated his ability to defend against the run and the pass. He is a clean tackler in open field, often finishing quickly and not allowing the ball carrier to gain additional yards. In a notoriously poor defense, Murray is one of the few shining lights. Murray has played his way into the first round.

Playstation Fiesta Bowl:

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Fiesta Bowl - Washington v Penn St Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How to watch

#2 Ohio State (13-0) vs #3 Clemson (13-0)

Date: Saturday, Dec. 28 | Time: 5:00 p.m. PT
Location: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)
Online Streaming: ESPN
Line: Clemson -2.0


COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 CFP Semifinal at the Cotton Bowl Classic - Clemson v Notre Dame Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Boy oh boy, do this game have CLASSIC written all over it. You have the number one (Trevor Lawrence) and number two (Justin Fields) overall prospects from the same recruiting class squaring off in the most important position in all of sports. You have the best pass rusher in Chase Young against perhaps the most experienced offensive line in the playoff. There is an embarrassment of riches on both offenses and defenses for both teams. This one is really tough to call, and it seems like the team who has the ball last is going to pull out a victory here. What I have learned is you don’t invest in the thing, you invest in the person, and ultimately, I believe the arm and big-game experience of Trevor Lawrence make the slightest difference here. Give me the playoff battle-tested Clemson Tigers in a game that should absolutely come down to the wire.

Prospect Spotlight:

Travis Etienne, RB, #9, - Clemson
Height: 5’10” - Weight: 200 lbs.
2019 Stats: 1,500 yards, 8.2 AVG. 17 Touchdowns, 298 reception yards, 29 receptions, 2 touchdowns.

Travis Etienne is an explosive, versatile, and elusive tailback in the Clemson rushing attack. Etienne’s ability to break and evade tackles and continue to gain yards after initial contact has been consistent with Etienne throughout much of his college career. Etienne has incredible leg drive and forward motion. He can drive the ball beyond the edge and find holes along the offensive line. Throughout the season, Etienne has become a far better receiving weapon. His initial burst, vision, and ability to break tackles and fight for yards after initial contact is a sight to see. Etienne is shaping out to be a well-rounded three-down back and an offensive weapon who will transition well to any offense at the next level. Etienne could very well go at the back-end of the first round.

Shaun Wade, CB, No. 24 – Ohio State
Height: 6’1” – Weight: 193 lbs.
2019 Stats: 25 tackles, 2 sacs, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, 8 passes deflected.

You’ll have to forgive me if this is all for nothing because Wade is a redshirt sophomore, and there is a chance he returns to Ohio State in 2020. However, Wade’s stock continues to rise, and he continues to play at a high level. Wade has a physical presence on the football field. He gets himself involved both in passing and rushing plays, and on multiple occasions, has demonstrated his ability to blitz successfully in designed packages. His play on the field has been far more impressive than his numbers and stats lead on. Wade has efficient speed for the position and can defend the receiver at all three levels on the field. Wade can knock a receiver off of their route and eliminate them play. Wade is still very raw and has areas to improve his game. We will have to take a wait-and-approach to see if Wade declares for the draft or returns to school. Should he declare, the San Francisco 49ers should take a close look at Wade towards the end of the first round.

Who are YOU excited to see in the 2019 College Football Playoff Semi-Finals? Please share in the comments below!