It is that time of the year again. The College Football Playoffs are here. The four teams have been announced and now it is time to analyze, predict, guess, mess around with a crystal ball and do pretty much anything you can do to see if we can accurately pick these games. For these four teams, they all have one star player. Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield, Conner Cook, and for Alabama, they have Heisman winner Derrick Henry. In every bowl game or playoff game however, there is one player for each team who rises up and helps lead his team to victory. Let’s see who those players may be this playoff season.
Alabama- Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley
Calvin Ridley has had a great year as one of Alabama’s best receivers, but has been overshadowed by Derrick Henry’s huge year and Jake Coker‘s surprisingly good year. Ridley has caught 75 passes for 893 yards and 5 touchdowns and has been a huge factor in why this Alabama team is number 2 in the country. A big focus for the Michigan State defense will be stopping Derrick Henry and the run offense, so if Coker is on target, Ridley could be poised to have a huge game and help his team win this semifinal.
Michigan State- Center Jack Allen
This Michigan State offense has had a great year, led by Conner Cook, Aaron Burbridge and the nice running back duo of LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes. However, there have been some guys who have been overlooked on this team…the offensive line. Specifically Jack Allen and Jack Conklin, who were named First Team All Big Ten. We all know that Conner Cook will have a good game, but if Jack Allen and this offensive line can open up some running lanes and get the run game going, this Michigan State offense has the potential to have an amazing game against a good but sometimes inconsistent Alabama defense.
Oklahoma- Running Back Samaje Perine
Most people know Perine as the guy who ran for over 400 yards in one game last year, but this year the sophomore back has shown everyone so much more. Running for 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns on 211 carries, but the most impressive stat to me is that he averages a little over 6 yards per carry. Every time he touches the ball, there is a chance for him break it big and that is the explosiveness this team needs against a statistically better Clemson defense. This defense will put an emphasis on getting pressure on Mayfield and forcing him into mistakes, so Perine needs to have a good game so that this Oklahoma offense is not one-dimensional and takes some pressure off of Mayfield.
Clemson- Running Back Wayne Gallman
As you can tell, I pretty much think whichever running back has a better game will win the Oklahoma/Clemson match up. Gallman actually had slightly better numbers than Perine in the regular season, running for 1,332 yards and 10 touchdowns on 243 carries. He also has 18 catches for 152 yards and 1 touchdown. Just like the Clemson defense on Mayfield, the Oklahoma defense will be focused heavily on the Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson, so this is a great chance for Gallman to have the game of his life.
Orange Bowl: Oklahoma- 28 vs. Clemson- 17
Cotton Bowl: Michigan State- 31 vs. Alabama- 21
National Championship: Oklahoma- 35 vs. Michigan State- 28
National Champion- Oklahoma
Spark Sports NCAA Analyst