This year for the year ever we saw the brand new college football semi-finals play out for the first time with #4 Ohio State beating #1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl while #2 Oregon annihilated #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl. I’m gonna have a look back on these games before putting up another post previewing the inaugural College Football Playoff final.
#2 Oregon 59 #3 Florida State 20 Rose Bowl
For a game with only four points between the teams this one really turned into a blowout in the 3rd quarter after Oregon does what only Oregon can really do which is punish you ruthlessly ever time you give them a short field be it from a turnover or a bad punt, not only do they do that they also do at warp speed and make you put your offense straight away again. Florida State did shoot themselves in the foot by committing the turnovers and if you want to win at this level or any level really you cannot afford to lose the turnover battle and especially against a team like Oregon. It wasn’t just that they committed one turnover, it was that they committed four on successive drives and looked like they had caught a turnover bug or something. It was just so painful to watch as well with Florida State appearing to have quit about two minutes into the fourth quarter with both teams bringing out their backups. To be honest watching this game kind of became painful in the way that watching The UK Office is, you know you’re watching a train wreck but you just can’t tear your eyes away in case you miss something. For the spectacle that the Rose Bowl is with the whole pageantry and everything that goes with it it was disappointin or it to be such a blowout but it did gives us a remarkable of view of what this Oregon team can do another top team when things go their way and showed us the pinnacle of this blur hurry up offense that Chip Kelly created and that Mark Helfrich continued on with Heismann winner Marcus Mariota. Mariota was superb in what was billed as the battle of the Quarterbacks before the game but in the end it really work out like that day. Winston wasn’t terrible with his pick coming off a deflected pass but Mariota was better on the day with 3 total TDs and 1 INT but there was a whole lot else to separate the two. Now that we know it is Winston’s final college game it is a bit disappointing for it to be the first and only time he lost and because of the way he played.
#4 Ohio State 42 #1 Alabama 35 Sugar Bowl
The second semifinal was a whole lot closer than the first game and was a whole lot more fitting for the stage it was set on. The logic coming into the game was that a Nick Saban coached defense simply couldn’t lose to a third string QB when they had three weeks to prepare for them and that the Buckeyes would have no chance of stopping the one man machine that is Amari Cooper. Although these were legitimate concerns coming into the game the turned out to be fairly irrelevant in the game itself. Ohio State got off the mark first with Ezekiel Elliot breaking off a 53 yard run to setup the Buckeyes on the Tide 5 yard line but all they could manage was FG. Then after Ezekiel Elliot fumbled and Landon Collins recovered, Derrick Henry scored a 25 yard TD after Ohio were just overwhelmed up front. Then Cardale Jones unleashed his Howitzer of an arm and hit Devin Spencer for 40 yards on the one yard line only for them to settle for a field goal again to take it to 7-6. ‘Bama drove down the field in typical methodical fashion and scored a 15 yard pass from Blake Sims to Amari Cooper in which Doran Grant was completely sold on a double move by Cooper. When Ohio State punted and then Cardale Jones was intercepted before Alabama ran in another score it really felt like things could get ugly really quickly if Alabama maintained this pace but then just as they looked like they were going to bottle it the Buckeyes turned it on with Ezekiel Elliot running in for a three yard TD and then with the 00:12 left on the clock and knowing that only being a point down going into the locker room could really swing the moment their way Tom Hermann called on the Ballsiest calls I have ever seen by calling a double end around pass with Evan Spencer hitting Michael Thomas perfectly on a Goal line fade. The best part still to come though as the catch and the play Thomas made to keep the ball in-bounds was absolutely ridiculous as he turned his foot and had less than an inch between his foot and the line. That turned out to be a bit of a momentum swinger with Ohio State scoring on their next drive after receiving the kickoff to begin the second half as Cardale Jones exploited Alabama’s secondary again on a 47 yard pass to Devin Spencer who beat his man out wide in Man Coverage. Both teams started to trade punts for a bit before on a 3rd and 7 Luke Fickell guessed that Blake Sims would try and find Amari Cooper on a slant and had DE Steve Miller drop back in coverage right in front of Cooper and picked it off and returned it for a 41 yard score. Alabama managed to recover a bit by forcing the Buckeyes to punt from the back of their endzone and got an insanely fortunate bounce that took about 20 yards off the punt to set them up at Ohio State 23 yard line but it wasn’t to be the momentum changer they seeked. On the very first play after the punt Blake Sims under-threw a ball to Amari Cooper that would have been a certain TD otherwise and instead it resulted Vonn Bell intercepting it. With the imminent attack on their endzone relieved the Buckeyes were able to clear their lines with a deep punt. The game was really put to bed with three and half minutes left in the game when Ezekiel Elliot rushed 85 yards to the Alabama 3 yrad line to setup a 3 yard pass to Michael Thomas. The long run helped Elliot to set a Sugar Bowl record for rushing yards with 230 at 11.5 yards a carry. Although with 3 minutes left the Buckeyes weren’t completely done for the evening with Alabama getting aTd on the ensueing drive to make a one score game. Then after forcing a three and out from the Buckeyes, the Tide had one more chance with one second left on a Hail Mary but Blake Sims was intercepted by Tyvis Powell to seal a historic victory as the Buckeyes stormed the field.