Time for the big bowl games
UNDATED - The two national semifinal games in the college football playoff are being played today. Serving as the appetizer for football fans is the Peach Bowl in Atlanta this afternoon with a pair of ranked schools squaring off.
That opening contest has No. 14 Houston facing ninth-ranked Florida State.
The Cougars, who have dominated the series between the two schools with wins in 12 of 15 games, enter the contest 12-1 while the FSU Seminoles are 10-2. With a win the Florida State seniors would become only the second class in the nation with 50 wins, following the Boise State teams from between 2008-11.
The Peach Bowl has a noon start. From there things get rocking as the Orange Bowl and then the Cotton Bowl take center stage. The winners of those games will advance to the national championship game on Jan. 11 in Glendale, Arizona.
First up is the Orange Bowl and it features a rematch of last year's Russell Athletic Bowl game when top-ranked Clemson destroyed No. 4 Oklahoma 40-6. The Sooners blew any chance of winning that game when they turned the ball over numerous times.
This year the Tigers enter the game 13-0 while the Sooners are 11-1. Clemson is looking for its first-ever national championship in football and if the Tigers win tonight and then take the title, they would become the first school to finish a season 15-0.
Following the Orange Bowl attention shifts to Arlington, Texas, and the Cotton Bowl which has second-ranked Alabama playing No. 3 Michigan State. Each team comes into the game with a record of 12-1. A year ago the Crimson Tigers were in this same position, a win away from appearing in the inaugural championship game. That dream was spoiled when Ohio State, with a third-string quarterback in charge, beat the Tigers. The MSU Spartans have won a major bowl game in each of the last two seasons, the Rose and Cotton.
Connor Cook, the top senior quarterback in the nation this season, passed for 24 touchdowns this year for MSU and in Alabama he is facing a versatile and deep defense.
A question about his game is how well Alabama might do if the score is close. While Michigan State has thrived in close games, Alabama has played few.