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The American


PREVIEW


late, Michigan State edged Iowa in a play-in Big Ten Championship, and Oklahoma had already booked their place with a Big 12 title. But while the Orange and Cotton Bowls found their National title contend- ers, 38 other bowls scrabbled for 76 non-losers... coming up three teams short. Hence the fi rst year when Academic Progress Rates booked teams to bowl games, Nebraska, Minnesota and San Jose with the tie-breaker over the other 5-7 teams. From the Bahamas to Hawai’i, from the Cure Bowl December 19 to the National Champion- ship game on January 11, its the fi nal


A extravaganza of the college football season. College Football Playoff s Capital One Orange Bowl • Dec. 31 • Florida • 4pm


No. 4 Oklahoma v No. 1 Clemson Last year, Ohio State used the No.4 seed to win it all, and nobody will be underestimating 11-1 Oklahoma. Sooners QB Baker Mayfi eld has thrown for 35 scores and just 5 picks, and since their shocking loss to Texas, Oct 19, Oklahoma has averaged 52 points per game. Clemson’s QB DeShaun Watson threw for 30 TDs and ran for 11 more this season. Expect fi reworks in this one – Mayfi eld’s supporting cast of RBs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, plus WR Sterling Shepard means they have the talent to upend the unbeaten Tigers.


Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic • Dec. 31 • Texas • 8pm From walk-on to


championship contender: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfi eld


helped the Sooners to the No.4 seed in his fi rst season there.


PHOTO COURTESY OKLAHOMA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS


64 The American


No. 3 Michigan State v No. 2 Alabama The other semifi nal may be a defensive struggle for the pur- ists, a stern-faced coaching clash between Alabama’s Nick Saban and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio. Both bursting with defensive energy, the Spartans knows how to grind out wins, but Alabama knows even better, and they have RB Der- rick Henry – 23 TDs, 1,986 yards – to fi nally overpower most teams. The Spartans live by their defensive line, however. Could seasoned QB Connor Cook prove to be Sparty’s ace?


nd then there were four... without much contro- versy, either. Clemson and Alabama didn’t trip up


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