National Championship Mini-Preview: Alabama vs. Clemson

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9Jan 2017
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National Championship Mini-Preview: Alabama vs. Clemson

Artavis Scott

WHEN AND WHERE TO WATCH

The game will start shortly after 8:00 p.m. The broadcast will be on ESPN with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder, and Tom Rinaldi in their various booth and sideline roles.

ALABAMA ROSTER NOTES

  • Players offered by Michigan: DT Jonathan Allen, CB Shyheim Carter, LB Ben Davis, CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, TE Miller Forristall, WR Robert Foster, LB Terrell Hall, DE Da’shawn Hand, RB Damien Harris, TE Hale Hentges, CB Nigel Knott, CB Jared Mayden, LB Joshua McMillon, RB Bo Scarbrough, TE Irv Smith, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, OT Jonah Williams, LB Mack Wilson
  • RB Damien Harris is a one-time Michigan commit

CLEMSON ROSTER NOTES

  • Players offered by Clemson: DE Austin Bryant, WR T.J. Chase, DE Clelin Ferrell, OT Jake Fruhmorgen, OG Zach Giella, OT Mitch Hyatt, CB Trayvon Mullen, S Tanner Muse, LB Dorian O’Daniel, WR Diondre Overton, DT Scott Pagano, WR Artavis Scott,
  • WR Artavis Scott was a high school teammate of Michigan center Mason Cole

THINGS TO WATCH

  • Alabama could become the first team to go 15-0.
  • Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 in last year’s national championship game.
  • Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was hired for that role next year, but he steps in early after offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin left for the head coaching job at FAU. Sarkisian was just an offensive analyst on staff prior to this promotion.

RANDOM NOTE

  • I saw Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney at a clinic a couple years ago. After that and reading about him, I really like the guy. He seems like a very down-to-Earth type of person, and he’s genuine in his passion for the game of football. I also saw Nick Saban at a clinic several years ago, and I was not as impressed. I know Saban has had a lot more success, but Swinney’s a tough guy not to like, in my opinion.

THOUGHTS ON THE GAME

  • Clemson lost a lot of talent last year. I know every elite team does, but their personnel losses were significant on the defensive line and in the defensive backfield. They’ve got a puncher’s chance, and I love their wide receivers.
  • Alabama is very good at every level. Clemson has an obvious advantage at QB with Deshaun Watson over Jalen Hurts, and they also have an advantage at WR. But that’s about it.
  • Alabama 38, Clemson 34

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11Jan 2016
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National Championship: Alabama vs. Clemson players to watch

The national championship game will be played tonight. It starts at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN. Here are some roster notes. If you’re like me at all, you might want to keep an eye on a few guys who were recruited by Michigan.

ALABAMA

  • DE Jonathan Allen, QB Blake Barnett, CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, LB Reuben Foster, WR Robert Foster, DE Da’Shawn Hand, RB Damien Harris, TE Hale HentgesCB Cyrus Jones, C Ryan Kelly, LB Dillon Lee, S Geno Matias-Smith, LB Joshua McMillon, OT Cam Robinson, RB Bo Scarbrough, CB Kendall Sheffield, CB Maurice Smith, LB Adonis Thomas, DE Dalvin Tomlinson
  • RB Damien Harris is a former Michigan commit
  • Player from the state of Michigan: walk-on OL Chris Posa from Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary’s

CLEMSON

  • DE Clelin Ferrell, OT Jake Fruhmorgen, C Zach Giella, OT Mitch Hyatt, WR Ray-Ray McCloud III, S Tanner Muse, LB Dorian O’Daniel, DT Scott Pagano, WR Charone Peake, WR Artavis Scott
  • Zero Clemson Tigers are from the state of Michigan
  • Clemson has just six (6!) players on their roster from north of North Carolina. There are 2 from Maryland, 2 from Virginia, 1 from New York, and 1 from Massachusetts.

FINAL PREDICTION

  • Alabama 30, Clemson 21

Starters are in bold

13Jan 2015
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Quick Thoughts on the National Championship Game

This is my only positive thought about Oregon at this point.

In case you didn’t watch, Ohio State beat Oregon in the national championship game, 42-20. Oregon jumped out to a 7-0 lead, and then things were bad after that.

  • For having a mobile quarterback themselves, Oregon did a terrible job of hemming in Cardale Jones. Their outside linebackers and defensive ends kept flying 10 yards upfield, which allowed Jones to step up in the pocket and/or escape contain. Maybe it was their goal to speed rush and try to rattle Jones, but the Ducks never adjusted.
  • Ezekiel Elliott is a man. He had 220 or more yards in the final three games of the year, including 36 carries for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns against Oregon. He’s not the most elusive guy around, but he has a good combination of speed and power.
  • On the plus side, Urban Meyer went 9-4 following his first national championship at Florida. Unfortunately, he then went 13-1 following his second. Ohio State does not appear poised for a drop-off, because many of their best players (Ezekiel Elliott, Jalin Marshall, Darron Lee, Joey Bosa, J.T. Barrett) are too young to declare for the NFL Draft. However, there could be some turnover with the quarterback position (Braxton Miller to another school, Cardale Jones thinking about the draft) and some early entrants. But the Buckeyes recruit well and will most likely reload.
  • The Big Ten has had a bad rap for getting pushed around in recent years, but the Buckeyes demolished Oregon up front. Aside from the pressure put on Oregon QB Marcus Mariota and the inability to create seams up front, the defining moment was when Jones scrambled up the middle and ran right through the tackle – I mean the nose tackle – of the Ducks, Alex Balducci.
  • The Ducks flat-out laid an egg. They racked up penalties, made immature choices, had a poor game plan, dropped passes, etc. This was my concern when I pointed out that Meyer was 8-2 in bowl games and 2-0 in national championships, while Helfrich was in just his second year. Meyer’s team was mentally and physically prepared to win the game, while Oregon was not.
12Jan 2015
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Michigan-centric preview of National Championship Game: Ohio State vs. Oregon

Marcus Mariota

Whenever I watch a college or pro football game, I always have Michigan in the back of my mind. I was rooting for the Cardinals over the Panthers in last week’s playoffs because the Cardinals have Larry Foote, Kenny Demens, etc. Obviously, I was disappointed. This past Saturday night, I was rooting for the New England Patriots because of Tom Brady; Fitzgerald Toussaint just doesn’t have the same place in my heart.

So here’s a look at Ohio State vs. Oregon (8:30 p.m. EST on ESPN) from a Michigan fan’s point of view:

OHIO STATE PLAYERS FROM MICHIGAN
CB Damon Webb

OHIO STATE PLAYERS RECRUITED BY MICHIGAN
CB Eli Apple, OT Darryl Baldwin, TE Marcus Baugh, DT Michael Bennett, LB Kyle Berger, LB Devan Bogard, LB Dante Booker, DE Joey Bosa, CB Cam Burrows, CB Gareon Conley*, OT Taylor Decker, OT Kyle Dodson, RB Bri’onte Dunn, LB Curtis Grant, OG Joel Hale, TE Jeff Heuerman, DT Michael Hill, S Malik Hooker, DE Sam Hubbard, QB Cardale Jones, OT Jamarco Jones, OG Demetrius Knox, CB Marshon Lattimore, OT Evan Lisle, QB Braxton Miller, DE Steve Miller, OG Billy Price, CB Armani Reeves, DE Chris Rock#, DT Tommy Schutt, WR Devin Smith, S Erick Smith, DE Noah Spence, S Ron Tanner, OT Kyle Trout, TE Nick Vannett, DT Adolphus Washington, CB Damon Webb, LB Camren Williams

Hit the jump for some further info on tonight’s game.

OREGON PLAYERS FROM MICHIGAN
OT Jake Fisher*, CB Dior Mathis

OREGON PLAYERS RECRUITED BY MICHIGAN
WR Devon Allen, DT Arik Armstead, TE Evan Baylis, WR Jaylen Brown, TE Pharaoh Brown*, WR Darren Carrington, OT Jake Fisher*, OG Cameron Hunt, S Mattrell McGraw, WR Dwayne Stanford, LB Jimmie Swain, OT Andre Yruretagoyena

WHOM YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR
Michigan. Duh.

WHOM YOU SHOULD ROOT AGAINST
Ohio State. Yes, it would be good for the conference to win a national championship, but I did not grow up as a fan of the conference. I grew up loving Michigan and hating Ohio State, and you don’t root for good things to happen to people you hate.

RELEVANT STATISTICAL RANKINGS
Rushing offense: Ohio State #10, Oregon #18
Passing offense: Oregon #11, Ohio State #52
Scoring offense: Oregon #2, Ohio State #5
Rushing defense: Ohio State #34, Oregon #51
Passing defense: Ohio State #16, Oregon #111
Scoring defense: Ohio State #26, Oregon #27

STORY LINES TO IMPACT THE GAME

  • Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won the Heisman this year with some ridiculous statistics. He was 280/408 (68.6%) for 4,121 yards, 40 touchdowns, and just 3 interceptions. He is also Oregon’s #2 rusher with 125 carries for 731 yards (5.9 yards/carry) and 15 touchdowns.
  • Mariota’s top target from the past two games is suspended for the national championship. Darren Carrington (14 catches, 291 yards, 3 touchdowns) was a huge big-play threat and Oregon’s second-leading receiver this year.
  • Oregon has also lost #3 receiver Devon Allen (41 catches, 684 yards, 7 touchdowns) and top tight end Pharaoh Brown (25 catches, 420 yards, 6 touchdowns), both to injury. 
  • Ohio State is down to their second (or third) string quarterback after Braxton Miller hurt his shoulder in August and then J.T. Barrett broke his ankle against Michigan in the regular season finale. Cardale Jones led the team to a 59-0 win over Wisconsin and a 42-35 win over Alabama since Barrett’s injury.
  • Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is 2-0 in national championship games and 8-2 in bowls altogether.
  • Oregon coach Mark Helfrich has not coached in a national championship game but he is 2-0 in bowl games.

PREDICTION
I’m really up in the air on this one. On the one hand, it seems crazy that Ohio State could win a championship with their third-stringer at the most important position on the field. On the other hand, Oregon has its own problems (numerous injuries at wide receiver) and a coach in his first national championship game and just his second year as a head man. It pains me to say this, but I’m picking based on Urban Meyer’s past history as a big-game head coach:
Ohio State 41, Oregon 38

*One-time Michigan commit
#Played at Michigan for a year

6Jan 2014
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Preview: Auburn vs. Florida State

I won’t waste a ton of time putting together a statistical primer for tonight’s national championship game, because I haven’t watched either team in great depth this season. But I do like to keep track of guys who were recruited by Michigan and how they’re doing, so here’s a look at some names that might be familiar to you:

FLORIDA STATE
CB Ronald Darby: 8 starts, 12 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, 3 pass breakups
DT Eddie Goldman: 12 starts, 16 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks
OT Bobby Hart: 13 starts
DT Timmy Jernigan: 13 starts, 54 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 pass breakup
LB Christian Jones: 11 starts, 49 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception
CB Lamarcus Joyner: 13 starts, 64 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles
OG Josue Matias: 13 starts
WR Kenny Shaw: 7 starts, 52 catches, 929 yards, 17.9 yards/catch, 6 touchdowns; 9.7 yards/punt return
CB Nick Waisome: 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 pass breakups
RB James Wilder, Jr.: 1 start, 78 tackles, 542 yards, 6.9 yards/carry, 8 touchdowns
RB Karlos Williams: 86 carries, 705 yards, 8.2 yards/carry, 11 touchdowns

AUBURN
DT Montravius Adams: 20 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack
WR Quan Bray: 6 starts, 20 catches, 191 yards, 9.6 yards/catch, 3 touchdowns
OT Shane Callahan: Played in 2 games
DE Elijah Daniel: 9 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks
OT Jordan Diamond: Played in 4 games
LB Kris Frost: 1 start, 52 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
TE Brandon Fulse: 5 starts, 1 catch, 5 yards
OG Alex Kozan: 13 starts
RB Tre Mason: 11 starts, 283 carries, 1621 yards, 5.7 yards/carry, 22 touchdowns
CB Jonathan Mincy: 13 starts, 54 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, 12 pass breakups
WR Trovon Reed: 2 starts, 10 catches, 98 yards, 9.8 yards/catch
OT Greg Robinson: 13 starts
OT Avery Young: 6 starts