The Obstructed Cotton Bowl Preview

We finally are getting near to the Playoff games. Instead of making it New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve, College football put it on a few days before. I guess that works for me….

This year’s Playoff marks a few things: the four teams in (Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma) went a combined 50-1 (the lone loss was by Oklahoma who exacted the revenge in the Big 12 title game against Texas). It marks the first time that we not only have one, not two, but three undefeated teams going into it. And now we have a 50% chance that we will see our first 15-0 team in college football in the Playoff era (Alabama or Clemson) or 14-0 team (Notre Dame). So it should be fun all around. The first preview is Clemson and Notre Dame. I will do the Alabama-Oklahoma preview later today or tomorrow.

COTTON BOWL: #2 CLEMSON VS. #3 NOTRE DAME, 4:00, ESPN: This game is going to be one I’ve had a slightly tough time figuring out. People are just automatically handing Clemson the W while some are saying Notre Dame is going to pull off the shocker. I can see it both ways. Clemson from a talent standpoint is probably better. However, anything happens on a football field. Notre Dame has played to their opponents levels at times (Ball State, Vanderbilt, USC) while getting up for their bigger opponents (Michigan, Syracuse) and showing they are legit. Obviously the look will be to an Irish fan they will get up for Clemson and I don’t dispute that. But will it be enough to overtake Clemson?

CLEMSON WINS IF:

  1. SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: Easier said than done. Notre Dame save for the USC game hasn’t been down much in the season. If you want to see how the Irish respond to it, attack early. Clemson has a lot of weapons and firepower so it is possible they try for a knockout blow early.
  2. KEEP IAN BOOK UNCOMFORTABLE: Since Notre Dame named him the starter he has been on top of it and done a great job directing the offense. The way you change it is if you have a pass rush constantly getting at Book. And Clemson has that as well. If they can jump after the Irish quarterback, it may be a long game for Notre Dame.
  3. TAKE THE POINTS WHEN THEY CAN: One thing that at times Dabo Swinney does and can be frustrating is not take up points when they have the chance (i.e. go for it deep within opponents territories on 4th downs). I know you need to be aggressive at times, but sometimes when you leave points out there, it really comes back to bite them. I’m thinking of a game Clemson had with A&M had the Aggies not fumbled it at the goal line late where Clemson opted not to kick a late field goal to add to their lead at half. Instead they went for it and failed. It also dictated the tempo for the second half for Texas A&M. If they do that here, I don’t know if lightning will strike twice here for Clemson. And while Notre Dame has a good offense, it is not Oklahoma or Alabama where they HAVE to trade touchdowns.

NOTRE DAME WINS IF:

  1. THEY PROTECT BOOK: Clemson’s defense is good, but the secondary at times can be suspect. If the Tigers pass rush is shut down or they do not dictate the tempo, the secondary gets exposed. Back to the Texas A&M game where it seemed like Clemson was getting gashed and ran out of gas at the end of the game. And that was when the pass rush was still decent if I am not mistaken.
  2. THEY KEEP TREVOR LAWRENCE OFF THE FIELD: Goes back to the first one. Book gets protected, they get a few first downs, it really will wear out the Tigers defense. And it will not give Lawrence the rhythm THAT he needs. Notre Dame’s defense is pretty good, but Lawrence can show he can throw against the better defenses. But anything to keep Lawrence from taking over the game will be huge and anything that keeps him off the field will be keeping him from taking over the game.
  3. BRIAN KELLY HAS AN A+ GAMEPLAN: Kelly has been a polarizing character at Notre Dame since he took over. The years he has the Irish as a top 5-10 program he looks like he is a genius coach and fans are off his back. The years he is 8-4, 7-5, or worse he is the worst coach in Irish history. A part of it is I think is how his gameplans have been. In other words, play the odds to his advantage, don’t take any unnecessary risks, and put trust into your leaders on the field. Getting up for Clemson isn’t going to be hard for Notre Dame, but keeping the mistakes down is going to be a key factor whether the Irish will be playing in the National Championship game or going home. So Kelly has to find a plan where the mistakes will be cut down as much as possible.

OVERALL PREDICTION: When I saw this as the “official” game (I think we all had it penned after the conference championship games were over), I said Clemson would win in a blowout. I don’t think the Irish have the same talent or the horses as the Tigers have. But, Notre Dame will be up for this game. And I think Kelly will have them prepared well. Again, it will be if Notre Dame can protect Ian Book and to me that will decide the game. Clemson will get their points. But the Irish need to limit that by finding ways to keep the Tigers offense standing on the sidelines. I think this game will be close for three quarters and the Irish frustrate Clemson on both sides of the ball. But I do think Lawrence will make the plays he needs to make down the stretch and I do think the defense will get to Book in the second half where Book will have problems making plays and forcing passes. Clemson pulls away in the 4th quarter. CLEMSON 34, NOTRE DAME 24

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

Twitter

Facebook

Advertisements

The Obstructed Preview for Notre Dame-2018

I often put Notre Dame under the ACC blog and would have done it this time but wanted to put my ACC predictions out as I was already a day late in my own obstructed world.  Anyway, time for everybody’s favorite (or hated) independent football school in the nation: Notre Dame.

The Irish will always be considered a top 15 program in the nation on a yearly basis, but many will always view them as not being a top 5 program anymore, thanks to a few things: 1. They zero in more on the academic aspect of things 2. They aren’t truly affiliated with a conference, which will sting them when it comes to the votes by the playoff committee and 3. Brian Kelly.

Brian Kelly is one of the most scrutinized coaches in college football and while I haven’t ever taken a poll to Notre Dame fans about their take on Kelly, the ones I know are definitely not fans of Kelly and pray that the Irish just can him.  For me, as an outsider who isn’t a Notre Dame fan, I don’t see Kelly taking the Irish to the promised land, but I also don’t think he is worse than what Charlie Weis was or Tyrone Willingham was.  So will Kelly keep his job in South Bend for another year?

Irish

The Irish last year did a great job of bouncing back from their 2016 disaster as Kelly hired the right guys in place, notably Chip Long and Mike Elko to run the offense and defense respectively.  When Notre Dame was rolling up through early November, Long and Elko looked to be studs, smacking the likes of Michigan State, USC, and NC State, all of whom had great years.  The Irish offense was led by Josh Adams, who ran like crazy last year and should have gotten more Heisman consideration than what he really had.  And Adams took pressure off of quarterback Brandon Wimbush.  However, Wimbush’s struggles with his completion rate and now Adams in the NFL, questions abound if he is the guy.  Dexter Williams takes over for Adams at running back so time will tell if he helps out Wimbush.  Wimbush, for as electric as he is, needs to get his receivers involved in the games, which really showed late in the season when Miami thumped them, Navy gave them fits and then Stanford took them down.  That has to improve for both Wimbush and Kelly’s sake.

On the defensive side the Irish will return 9 starters, but Mike Elko has left for Texas A&M, meaning LB coach Clark Lea takes over.  It’s a good move, but he will have to really continue what Elko did in South Bend, and that is build off that defense.  There has been talk that the secondary is an issue, but I’m more inclined to think that the pass rush will help the secondary out big time if Notre Dame wants to keep building off which means the defensive line needs to come up with more sacks than the 24 they put out last year (83rd in the nation).  If the Irish can rush the quarterback better then watch out for what Notre Dame can actually do on that side.

Notre Dame’s schedule is always a tough one on a yearly basis, though after the Michigan game in the opening week, they have a couple of games where they can prep themselves before Stanford comes in and then a trip to Virginia Tech right after.  However, things are very manageable save for the Virginia Tech trip and their last game of the year at USC.  Also, that Northwestern game in Evanston will be an intriguing one.  If Kelly can manage a run where he goes 10-2 (which is very possible), the Irish could see a New Year’s Six game and until the USC game perhaps a playoff spot so once again, they can be contenders.  But it will be how far Wimbush can take them.

BEST CASE RECORD: 11-1.  WORST CASE RECORD: 7-5.  MY PREDICTION: 10-2.  The Virginia Tech and USC games I feel will trip up the Irish, but if they can bring down the Hokies, watch out.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

Twitter

Facebook

College Football Playoff Predictions (Week 8)

Geary’s College Football Playoff Predictions (Week 8)

 Article by Jack Geary

With most teams having 5 games left in the season, I have finally decided to piece together my playoff predictions for the 2017 College Football Season. Albeit, so much has occurred this year that it makes it much easier to predict the final 4 teams. Michigan has disappeared, the ACC has pretty much deceased, and the PAC 12 has turned into hot garbage. Although, with 5 weeks left, there is still so much to be unraveled. Without further ado, these are my 2017/2018 College Football Playoff Predictions.

(AP rankings were used to address ranked teams)

       1. Alabama

Remaining Tough Games: #23 LSU, #19 Auburn, and MAYBE #3 Georgia (SEC championship)

Reason why they will be in the playoffs: It’s Alabama. Seriously, everyone expects Bama to be in the playoffs. Coming in at 5\4 favorites to win the national championship, the Crimson Tide are expected to cruise to the playoffs. Although, a potential SEC championship game against Georgia could be a shockingly tough game for the Tide. Still, never bet against Saban. Alabama is the most complete team in college football and should own the #1 seed heading into the playoffs.

       2. Penn State

Remaining Tough Games: #6 Ohio State, #16 Michigan State

Reason why they will be in the playoffs: The matchup against Ohio State on Saturday will be the defining game for Penn State’s season. Penn State has a couple of matchups they need to survive in and they will be sitting in the Big ten championship. The Nittany Lions need to limit turnovers and continue to play outstanding defense to get to the playoffs. Penn State will beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, Mark it!

       3. Georgia

Remaining Tough Games: #19 Auburn, MAYBE #1 Alabama

Reason why they will be in the playoffs: Georgia’s road to an undefeated regular season isn’t that daunting. Beat Auburn and you get to face Bama in the SEC championship. I’m banking on Georgia making it a game against Bama in the SEC championship. Everyone on the playoff committee should be fired if a 12-1 Georgia team with a hard fought loss to Alabama is left out of the playoffs. 

       4. Notre Dame

Remaining Tough Games: #14 NC State, #8 Miami, #20 Stanford

Reason why they will be in the playoffs: Those who have been following me throughout this season know that I have been huge on this Notre Dame. After a completely dominating performance against USC, the nation is starting to recognize the Irish as a playoff threat. Although, Notre Dame has a grueling schedule still on the table, I believe they can handle it. ND wins out and sneaks into the playoffs, Mark it. Bring on Bama…


Overview: Only two conferences being represented in the college football playoff would be pandemonium. No Big 12, no ACC, and no PAC 12. It’s possible and it’s my prediction. Let the rest of the season unfold…