Bowl Season for college football continues this Friday with the first round of the College Football Playoff on tap, along with a sprinkling of some other watchable matchups. The Playoff is largely a meeting of the perennial titans of college football, although there’s more than a decent chance the two underdogs upset Alabama and Clemson. The Clemson game in particular should prove to be a must watch, as it should likely feature a duel between quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. As always, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects and enjoy the weekend.
No. 9 Georgia vs. No. 8 Cincinnati
12:00 P.M. EST, ESPN
Cincinnati should be highly praised for the season they just had, going undefeated and finishing ranked in the top ten. Luke Fickell has also done a tremendous job accumulating talent, with statuesque junior quarterback Desmond Ridder, as well as defensive players such as safety James Wiggins and edge rusher Myjai Sanders. The Bearcats have to prove they deserve to run with the big boys and Georgia is certainly one of those teams. The Bulldogs faltered against Alabama and Florida, but are still a talented defensive team with defensive back Richard LeCounte and the team leader in sacks, Azeez Ojulari.
Auburn vs. No. 14 Northwestern
1:00 P.M. EST, ABC
Two teams headed in very different directions, Northwestern is a well-coached team with a championship-worthy defense, while Auburn fired their coach. Neither team’s offense is to be feared quite frankly, although the Wildcats do have one of the best offensive linemen in the country in Rashawn Slater. Both teams are known for their defense, particularly in the secondary. For Northwestern, that’s due to cornerback Greg Newsome and safety Travis Whillock. For Auburn, it’s because of their pair of cover corners Smoke Monday and Roger McCreary.
No. 4 Notre Dame vs. No. 1 Alabama
4:00 P.M. EST, ESPN
Coming off an ACC Championship loss to Clemson, the Fighting Irish are looking for redemption, while Alabama is hoping they continue to bulldoze all comers. Notre Dame is known for their athletic front seven defenders, including linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, as well as pass rushers Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Daelin Hayes. Offensively though, don’t forget about tackle Liam Eichenberg and my personal draft crush, tight end Tommy Tremble. On the other end, Alabama’s offense is borderline unstoppable, led by their version of the triplets: quarterback Mac Jones, wide receiver DeVonta Smith and another draft crush of mine in running back Najee Harris. Alabama’s defense continues to be notable, mostly thanks to linebacker Dylan Moses and cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson
8:00 P.M. EST, ESPN
This game will be an offensive track meet between quarterbacks Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence. For Fields, he can depend on versatile receiver Chris Olave, along with a dominating interior offensive line. Lawrence has his own favorite target in receivers Amari Rodgers, while running back Travis Etienne is among the top five this year at his position. Senior wideout Cornell Powell has also come into his own in 2020, with three 100-yard games since late October. Defensively, the Tigers aren’t nearly as dangerous as they have been in previous years, although Derion Kendrick is one of the top cornerbacks in the nation.