College Football Playoffs and Bowl Season Roundup

By Adam Przeslak, sports editor.

The 2017-18 college football bowl season featured some exciting matchups but has now come to an end. The Big Ten faired extremely well this bowl season, finishing with an overall 7-1 record, despite this being the first year of the college football playoffs where a Big Ten team wasn’t invited to fill one of the four playoff spots.

Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines played outlier to the other Big Ten teams, putting the one loss in the 7-1 record. The Wolverines fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks 26-19 in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. Oddly enough, this was a rematch of an Outback Bowl game that took place five years ago to the exact day. Both this year’s Outback Bowl and the one five years ago resulted in a frustrating loss for Michigan.

18th ranked Michigan State dominated the 21st Washington State Cougars. Both teams entered with 9-3 overall records which made the two seem pretty even on paper. However, once they met in San Diego at the Holiday Bowl it was clear that the Spartans were a step above their Pac-12 opponents. The Spartans had the biggest victory of any Big Ten team this bowl season knocking off the Cougars in a 42-7 fashion.

The only other Michigan school to make a bowl game was the 8-4 Central Michigan Chippewas. Neither Eastern Michigan or Western Michigan racked up enough wins to become bowl eligible. CMU faced off against the Wyoming Cowboys in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22. The Chippewas finished the regular season on a five game win streak and ranked second in the MAC west. However, they could not muster up enough momentum to push them past the Cowboys and were defeated 37-14.

The college football playoffs brought in the new year with a bang. On Jan. 1, it was the Georgia Bulldogs and Oklahoma Sooners facing off in the Rose Bowl. The first round matchup dramatically dragged on through four quarters of football and two overtimes before the Bulldogs emerged victorious. Later that night the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled over the Clemson Tigers in the Sugar Bowl to cement their place in the National Championship game.

The second half of the Sugar Bowl pitted a very shaky Tigers offense against a fierce Alabama defense. Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne stole the spotlight when he intercepted a tipped pass and returned the ball 42 yards. Payne would have ran for more had he not been horse-collared by a Clemson player. Then, on the ensuing drive, Alabama coach Nick Saban placed Payne back on the field for an offensive play. The defensive tackle then ran for the front pylon of the endzone and caught a 1-yard pass for a touchdown. The Crimson Tide held Clemson to just two field goals while putting on offensive and defensive shows of their own, winning 24-6.

Alabama and Georgia face off in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta tonight at 8 P.M. on ESPN. This will be the first National Championship game since the beginning of the college football playoffs to feature two teams from the same conference, both from the SEC. This is also Alabama’s third straight appearance in the National Championship game.

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