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College football bowl games preview and live chat, Part III

The College Football Playoffs begin today

Bowl Season for college football continues this Saturday with an exciting day on tap, which includes the first round of the college football playoffs. It’s a much more open field this year, with perennial participant Alabama absent after an injury to their quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and a loss to LSU. That leaves all four teams with at least a chance to get through this weekend’s first round.

As always, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects and enjoy the weekend.

No. 17 Memphis vs. No. 10 Penn State
Cotton Bowl
12:00 PM Eastern, ESPN

Penn State is a somewhat young team, but they sport a top-50 prospect on both sides of the ball. On defense, pass rusher Yetur-Gross Matos had a quiet middle part of the season, but he’s turned it on recently, including two sacks against Ohio State. Offensively, Penn State likes to rely on sophomore receiver KJ Hamler, their big-play, gadget player and one of the more explosive receivers in college football. Despite a hot start, Penn State has looked very mortal at times this season, and the Tigers should at least be able to keep up with them on offense. Senior receiver Antonio Gibson can also run the ball, as attested by the ACC Championship game where he had 32 receiving yards to go with 130 rushing yards.

No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State
Camping World Bowl
12:00 PM Eastern, ABC

The Fighting Irish remain stacked on defense and offense, despite two disappointing losses on the season. On defense, Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem are defensive ends to be reckoned with, while Alohi Gilman is a smart, heady player on the back end of their defense with a penchant for causing turnovers. On offense, Chase Claypool is a huge, 6’5” wide receiver who gets a lot of press, but the real star on offense should be tight end Cole Kmet. Kmet is a complete player at the position, meaning he can block and catch equally well. The junior hasn’t declared, but he could be a second- or third-round draft pick when all is said and done.

No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 LSU
Peach Bowl
4:00 PM Eastern, ESPN

Oklahoma remains a largely offensive-minded team with prospects to match. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, is a first-round prospect at the position who excels with the ball in his hands, and quarterback Jalen Hurts whose incredible college career playing for both Alabama and Oklahoma should afford him to hear his number called very early in April. That isn’t to say the Sooners don’t have any prospects on defense, as linebacker Kenneth Murray may be the best player at his position. LSU is just as stacked, if not more so, with quarterback Joe Burrow as the likely first-overall draft pick. They also have a stacked secondary with corner Kristian Fulton, rangy and impactful safety Grant Delpit.

No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl
8:00 PM Eastern, ESPN

Both Clemson and Ohio State have top ten defenders in linebacker Isaiah Simmons and pass rusher Chase Young, respectively. That’s without mentioning other upper-echelon players like Buckeyes running back J.K. Dobbins and linebacker Malik Harrison. For Clemson, that means Tee Higgins—a big play receiver with magnets for hands. Higgins is liable to make a huge, amazing catch almost every game he’s in.