On the day before 2017 began, four teams played for the chance to be in the college football championship. #1 ranked Alabama was to take on #4 Washington in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia at 3 p.m. This game would be followed by a battle between #2 Clemson and #3 Ohio in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona at 7 p.m. The two winning teams would be set for a showdown in the championship on Jan. 9 in Tampa, Florida. All four teams have had tremendous seasons and deserved their spot in these games, but they would now have to prove that they were one of the top two college football teams in the country to move on.
“It was a brutal game, but I’m glad that Ohio State made it so far,” junior Jordan Armour-Foster said.
The first game to be played was the Peach Bowl, with Alabama clearly being favored to go on to the championship as shown by their top ranking. However, it would be the Washington Huskies who would strike first and put some points on the board. About midway through the first quarter, the Huskies drove down the field and connected for a touchdown pass while also making the extra point kick. The Huskies were up 7-0, but unfortunately for them it would be the last time they scored. Alabama quickly responded and got a touchdown of their own to bring the score to an equal 7-7. They would then recover a fumble, but could not quite break through the Washington defense. Alabama settled for a field goal to start the second quarter and got their first lead of the game with the score at 10-7. As the first half came to a close, it would be the Alabama defense who was able to score some points as they forced a pick-six and the field goal unit was able to put in the extra point. The two teams went into the half with Alabama starting to take control with the score at 17-7, although neither offense had really taken control. Both teams remained scoreless when they came out during the third quarter as mistakes hindered both teams. Alabama would then essentially end the game early in the fourth quarter with a long touchdown run that would put the score at 24-7. The Alabama Crimson Tide would win with the same score as both teams continued to struggle on offense.
Shortly after the Crimson Tide sealed their bid to play in the college football playoffs, Clemson and Ohio took to the field for the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. This game was supposed to be more evenly matched than the earlier playoff game, but definitely did not turn out as expected. The Ohio State Buckeyes would miss an opportunity early after intercepting a pass and then missing a field goal. Clemson would make no such mistake and would be the first to draw blood with a field goal that put the score at 3-0. Ohio State would miss another field goal and Clemson would come to score a touchdown with an extra point this time to give them the lead at the end of the first quarter at 10-0. In the second quarter, Clemson intercepted the ball, but was unable to take advantage of their situation. However, the Clemson Tigers were able to come back and score a touchdown a little while later. The two teams then went into halftime with Clemson starting to look like they were running away with the game with a score of 17-0. The game would start the third quarter more calmly, with the exception of a fumble by Ohio and a subsequent missed field goal by Clemson. With less than five minutes in the third quarter, Clemson would strike quickly for another touchdown that now put the gap at a seemingly insurmountable 24-0. Clemson would strike one more time with an interception that would be turned into a touchdown two plays later. The game would end with Clemson taking the big win with a final score of 30-0.
“I think Alabama will take the national championship because defense wins championships and I think they have the best in the nation,”junior Claudio Benedi said.
With the two qualifying games now done and dusted, #1 Alabama is set to face off against #2 Clemson. This will be a welcome rematch for the Clemson Tigers, as the two teams played in the college football championship last year with Alabama taking a 45-40 victory. Alabama had a solid game against the Washington Huskies, but was unable to get the offense moving in the way that was been expected from the team that has won the national championship four times in the last seven years. Clemson was not without its mistakes either, but were able to completely dismantle a Buckeye team that was meant to be a challenge. Be sure to watch as Alabama and Clemson face-off in the College Football Championship on Jan. 9 in Tampa, Florida.