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Home / Sports / Winners and Losers of the College Football Playoff Semifinals | Bleacher Report

Winners and Losers of the College Football Playoff Semifinals | Bleacher Report

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    Ron Jenkins / Getty Images

    We all waited for that, even if the end result was anti-climactic.

    After a season of twists, twists, surprises and new superstars, four well-known teams competed as participants in the College Football Playoff.

    Saturday showed us Clemson Vs. Notre Dame and Alabama vs. Oklahoma ̵

    1; four elite programs accustomed to playing big games on massive stages.

    The Cotton Bowl classic between the fighting Irish and Tigers offered two excellent defenses, but Clemson was far too strong on either side of the ball in a simple 30-3 victory. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence played musical targets with all the goals he had achieved in one-sided victory.

    Alabama and Oklahoma, on the other hand, fired the Orange Bowl with a barrage of big offensive games. But after the Crimson Tide scored a 28-0 lead, OU made things interesting before the Tide scored a 45-34 win.

    On January 7th, "Bama-Clemson IV." Founded in Santa Clara, California. 19659004] As always, there were many winners and losers beyond the final results. Let's take a look at the superlatives (and their less impressive colleagues) in the semi-final action on Saturday.

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    Tom Pennington / Getty Images

    You know that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has been thinking about it.

    When he made the difficult decision in late September to name the talented true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence as the starter over the reigning Kelly Bryant, this was with a view to the College Football playoff.

    After all, you have already been in the last four participants For four consecutive years, bigger and bigger things have to be in your head. If the tigers had the best chance of defeating the best teams, they would have to play the most talented quarterback.

    Lawrence was that guy.

    While sharing the action with Bryant, he was brilliant, throwing nine touchdowns for 600 yards and two picks. After Lawrence's great relief performance against Georgia Tech, Swinney took the step and Bryant moved.

    The decision was dropped immediately when Lawrence was hit and injured in a later 27-23 comeback win over Syracuse. But as the season progressed, and the addition of Lawrence helped, the newcomer became a star. Swinney told Holly Rowe of ESPN after defeating Notre Dame:

    It was a tough decision because I love my boys, and it's hard when you know it's the right thing to do it will be a disappointment. But that's my job, to give the team the best chance of winning.

    "We return to the national championship, we are 14-0 and would not be where we are without number 16. He has had a fantastic year, but he has incredible support "Starting with this offensive line."

    Lawrence threw 2,606 yards, 24 touchdowns and only four interceptions before the playoff, showing Moxie beyond his years. His unwavering appearance looked like no game was too big. On Saturday he proved it again.

    39 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns.

    It's just another testament that few coaches know how to push the right keys, like Swinney, who has turned a dynamic recruit to become the leader of most of the dominant programs in college football.

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    Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

    Though Notre Dame is undefeated, there were warning signs throughout the season that the fighting Irishmen could not be among the college football members' top four teams – Some wonder if Ohio State, Georgia or even Central Florida was one of them instead.

    Against Clemson's dominant defense, quarterback Ian Book and Dexter Williams, who had run back, had a great chance of proving to their team that despite an inconspicuous schedule, it was one of them.

    The opportunity did not materialize – especially because they had little leeway against an unmotivated offensive front.

    The defense had the opportunity to prove that she was the leader of a playoff-worthy team, but could not.

    Despite some glimmer of solid games the Irishmen He could muster no consequence to stop Clemson's temporary attack. Although Travis Etienne had run back, he stumbled for much of the game, but ended the race with a 30-3 success.

    In hindsight, it's easy to criticize, and many will dismiss Notre Dame's indignation as competitiveness. Saturday's just that. But we knew the Irish schedule was weak, and as they had occasion for style points over the year , they did not grab her.

    In defense of the College Football Playoff Committee, it would have been impaled if it had retained an undefeated Irishman, but the grumbling will continue. The committee should do it right and there will be questions as to whether it followed the one-sided result.

    (Full disclosure: I've also put the Irish in the top four.)

    Nobody should take anything away from the outstanding season of Notre Dame, but the Irish were outclassed against a Clemson team for the fourth time in a row Episode came into the playoffs. Was the Irishman one of the best in college football?

    They did not play this Saturday.

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    Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

    Though the Heisman trophy is likely to be the Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa For much of the year, Klah Murray showed impressive statistics in Oklahoma, and a spread in the late season brought him the award.

    After spending a few weeks resting his ankle, fellow second -crash Crimson Tide gave a signal caller firm argument that college football's highest individual honor should be his, even though he still would not be 100 Percent was reached.

    In a direct duel between the two best players, Tagovailoa was flawless and made few mistakes as Alabama scored a 28-0 lead on the way to a 45-34 win. He continued the onslaught while the porous Sooners defense had no answers for him or his stable of receivers.

    He has proven that he can perform every roll on his way to 24 of 27 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns. Tagovailoa had full control, threw the deep ball, stretched the field vertically and horizontally, and threw the receivers on.

    After a sluggish start, Murray was also able to comply with the settlement of Heisman. This may be great news as he tried his game against a big, fast and aggressive defense and did it brilliantly.

    He was a handful for Alabama, leading his team off a four-touchdown to close the gap 31-20, and he was the first quarterback to ride 100 meters against an Alabama coached by Nick Saban. Team stormed. Oh, he also threw for 308 feet.

    Hopefully, that's enough to convince Murray that he has to stay with football rather than giving up everything for a baseball career at the Oakland A & # 39; s.

    His efforts were not enough, but still. Tagovailoa plays in a better-defended conference for a better team, and he set Murray's squad on fire with a national appearance in a national championship game and stifled the comeback with a precision drive to open the fourth quarter, in which he won 5 out of 5 Scored 60 meters.

    Tagovailoa was hotter than Murray and won the battle of the two best players of college football. Even more important to him is that Alabama won the game and Clemson will once again play for the title.

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    Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

    Nobody had any questions about Oklahoma's offense with Oklahoma Head Coach throughout the season. Lincoln Riley calls games and Murray leads them out.

    But the defense is a long way from the championship caliber.

    Although OU settled on this side of the ball after a gruesome start, the 28-0 hole suppressed every chance the Sooners had to win.

    The Sooners looked worse against Alabama's elite injury than they had done in the first quarter for some time. Yes, the unit showed improvements after school coordinator Mike Stoops fired earlier this year and had Ruffin call McNeill, but the same problems made heads turn up.

    At a Big 12 conference known only for terrible defenses, only Texas Tech's was worse. National Sooners ranked 107th, which allowed 448.1 yards per competition. Tagovailoa, Alabama's stable of runbacks and elite, was unmasked by players on a national stage.

    "I think our offense really controlled the pace of the game," Saban said in an interview after the game on ESPN. "The only time we were really stopped in the game is we stopped ourselves."

    When Oklahoma was with Alabama and the Crimson defeated Tide, they had to do so by outbidding them in a game shootout. You would be in the minority if you expected the Sooners to win with a total score below 40.

    This tells you that few had confidence in Oklahoma's ability to stop or even slow the tide.

    Alabama did what it wanted From the first piece, which was a 50-yard completion, DeVonta Smith came to Oklahoma's 25-yard line. The Tide overtook the 75-meter, seven-land, touchdown, and it was a sign that something was to be expected in the first half.

    The Sooners got their sea legs after they were hit in the mouth with a quadruped. Touchdown deficit and stormed back, but it was too deep of a hole. Alabama made sure that all players were reminded at a later date that they can score at will if the pedal is depressed.

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    Ron Jenkins / Getty Images

    If anyone told you a sporty talent, whoever used to be a dynamic high school basketball player should be the star of the Cotton Bowl Classic's College Football Playoff game Clemson and Notre Dame, Tigers in the second year, Tee Higgins, would have been suspected.

    That would be a quality pick, but his team-mate -6 "4" genuine freshman-catcher Justyn Ross – stole the show .

    Higgins had an incredible juggling attack and made his own Share in Major Games But Ross Was Ridiculous.

    The Native American native of Phenix City, Alabama chose the tigers for offerings from almost everyone, including the state powers Alabama and Auburn, but he was dedicated to Dabo Swinney & # 39; s Tigers his breakout game on the biggest deer Swinney told ESPN after the game that Ross was "the spark" that set his team in motion.

    Although he was steady and even spectacular at times when he appeared this year, with 34 catches for 699 yards and six touchdowns on Saturday, he was a nightmare for the Irish, who collected more yardage by halftime than he did in any one another game had counted this year.

    First, he burned Notre Dame in a 52-yard ball with a jump ball that hit the defender Donte Vaughn as he ventured over the defender before moving on to the first Touchdown of the game ran into the end zone.

    Later in the first half, the Tiger Tigers lined up in the slot where nobody can guard him. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence brought home a nice ball and Ross took a 42-yard strike, scoring five points for 137 yards and one pair before the break.

    He finished with six catches for 148 when Clemson crossed and stood on the sideline much of the second half to have an injury. On a night that saw the benefit of Tiger's athletes evident, Ross shone as the brightest of the future (and current) stars and the biggest target for Lawrence, who continues to prove he's the real deal.

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    Jeffrey McWhorter / Associated Press

    When Notre Dame's All-American cornerback Julian Love quit the game in the first half, leaving coach Brian Kelly as the "head injury", Donte Vaughn became on the biggest stage of his team encountered life.

    The lights were a bit too bright.

    Vaughn is a good second-time visitor, but he fought Clelson's elitist passers-by. Offspring from Memphis, Tennessee, was on the defending side of two tigers' touchdowns in the first half when they built a 23-3 lead during the break.

    At first he was on an island against husband Justyn Ross, and he could not get away with a 50-50 ball. Then, on a 46-second hit, Vaughn was again forced to lead the difficult life of a college cornerback.

    Although he played good defenders against Tee Higgins, the Tigers receiver made a sweet balance. Handle when falling out of the end zone; A touchdown was arranged and confirmed after a review. Sometimes you can do everything right in Cornerback and still be the goat.

    Kelly lamented Love in a midterm interview with ESPN colleague Tom Rinaldi and referred to three of the big games, two of which were either better or better Worse, Vaughn's Responsibility.

    "He was taken out of the game with a head injury, so that's all I'm told, so he was not back in the game," said Kelly of Love. "You know, we need to take a step forward, they made three big games in the passing game, and that's really the difference, we have to train better and play better in the second half."

    Love returned in the second half, which was great for the Irish.

    But they could not play well enough to overcome the 20-point halftime deficit, and Vaughn will need the short-term memory that every defensive back must have over the frustration of guarding the elite receivers in Swinney's playmaker's stable.

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    Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

    Many of you now know the story.

    Josh Jacobs spent part of his childhood homelessness and was a 3-star player who was easily recruited for a while before Alabama and others came too late to the runner at a small high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Eric Bailey of Tulsa World said Jacobs that former OU coach Bob Stoops came after him just weeks before the day of the national signing, despite being close to Norman. Jacobs was on his way to Alabama at that time.

    "I just want to prove Oklahoma if I stop there when the game is over, that they've missed me," Jacobs told Bailey.

    Mission accomplished.

    Jacobs patiently waited patiently for an outstanding Alabama running after his career, and this year he ended up being in the same rear field as Damien Harris and Najee Harris as part of the offense of each one of them.

    The junior can do anything, and he'll be a big win and maybe even a star in the NFL, maybe next season. He is 5, 10 ", 216 pounds, so he can squeeze between the duels, and he is fast when he reaches the second level – all that, and he is also a force in passing. [19659004] More than anything else, Jacobs has a chip on his shoulder, and he's in great shape after his first contact.

    Everything on Saturday showed up for the flood in a game full of offense became star: quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the extraordinary receivers deserve all the headlines they get, but Jacobs is a jewel that should bring professional techniques to save.

    Jacobs had 15 transfers for 98 yards and was one large portion of it When Alabama had to slow the game down, he added four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown and drove through Sooner's defender as the tide upset the game.

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    Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press [19659003] Blame Alabama. Blame Clemson. Blame any other team for not being at the level of these two.

    It's Ali Frazier. It's Yankees-Red Sox. It's Celtics-Lakers.

    When college football sets for Bama-Clemson IV in Santa Clara, California on January 7, it's debatable whether college football's lack of parity will hurt the sport.

    How much can fans take away from them before they stop worrying?

    Back in 2008, the Crimson Tide beat Clemson 34-10 at the season opener to start the Nick Saban era of dominance and announce their arrival, and they never left. After Dabo Swinney had entrenched himself with the Tigers and his team had rolled down, they were right there.

    In 2016, Alabama won the Tigers 45-40 to win the national championship. Clemson returned to favor in 2017, winning his own title 35-31. Last year, the two teams met in the semi-finals, and Bama dominated in a 24-6 victory.

    They will meet again this year. Ho-hum.

    Will the game get high ratings or will the fans be deaf?

    You've heard the buzz about "Alabama kills college football" and a well-known chorus also surrounds Clemson. While other programs such as Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma can occasionally hit, the finalists have a college football right now.

    They recruit at a high level, many of their stars are underclass, and they have two great coaches at the top of their game. So it does not change that fast.

    Is it good for college football to have two megapower? Will other teams take this opportunity or is this a monopoly that will damage the game?

    Say what you want, but what should you do? Just stop? It is remarkable to see what Alabama and Clemson are doing. But everyone else has to strengthen their games. Currently everyone seems to be playing for third place.

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    Tom Pennington / Getty Images

    No Dexter Lawrence. No problem.

    Like many other teams, a 6 "4", 350-pound all-American caliber defender could be removed from the starting lineup and not feel – not just on the scoreboard, but also as part of a Clemson game Do not be impressed by the suspension of Lawrence, who last week conducted a positive trial for a banned substance.

    The Tigers kept throwing star waves at Notre Dame, and the Irish had no answers, even with a massive, talented offensive line Notre Dame finished with only 248 yards and 88 yards at an average of 2.5 and converted to five out of 17 third downs.

    Book had little time to throw the whole game and stood Constant compulsion.

    Clelin Ferrell took over the field position favorable to Notre Dame after a poor Clemson fight at the beginning of the game and turned him around after being forced and a B ook fumble system had found. Ferrell and others raved constantly with Book and Austin Bryant was consistently a force of competition.

    Swinney and Defense Co-ordinator Brent Venables played big spans, also playing backups that also dominated. Once they forced another fumble to go to the Tigers, but officials determined (incorrectly) the progress.

    When Ferrell and Bryant relaxed on the sideline, backups like Xavier Thomas and Justin Foster showed that they became stars when the other boys went to the NFL. The support of Lawrence, Albert Huggins, was more than enough.

    The bottom line is that Swinney did an extraordinary job of stacking talents all over the field, and the Front 7 tigers are just about all the rest. The Irish had no answers to the size and the sportiness that Clemson shot in and out of the game – even without Lawrence.

    Unless otherwise specified, courtesy of Sports Reference and CFBStats.com. All recruiting information is from 247Sports and the rankings are 247Sports composite.

    Brad Shepard reports on college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brad_Shepard .

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