It has been a fascinating year in college football.
Deion Sanders took over the sport for a few months before his Colorado Buffaloes lost eight of their final nine games to end the season, the “Conference of Champions” became the two-team only conference and State of Florida became the first undefeated Power 5 conference champion to be left out of the College Football Playoff.
All of the storylines have led to the final edition of the four-team CFP, which has the potential to be the best semifinals in the CFP’s 10-year history.
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Let’s take a look at the New Year’s Day matchups with the winners playing for the National Championship in Houston on January 8.
Rose Bowl – No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 4 Alabama, 5 p.m. ET
It’s a showdown between two traditional powers in “The Granddaddy of Them All.”
In what looks like a classic, Michigan and Alabama will meet in the Rose Bowl with a 13-game winning streak and 11 games on the line.
Michigan looks to bounce back from its performance in last year’s CFP after a tumultuous season.
Coach Jim Harbaugh He was suspended by the school for the first three games of the season before missing the final three games of the year after the Big Ten targeted him over sign-stealing allegations.
With or without Harbaugh, the Wolverines have been perfect and accomplished on the defensive side of the football.
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Michigan has allowed the fewest points per game (9.5) and has limited opponents to just 239.7 yards per game.
After starting the year with a very soft schedule, Michigan finished the year against two top-10 teams before shutting out No. 16 Iowa in the Big Ten title game.
They need quarterback JJ McCarthy to have one of his best games to beat a hot Alabama team.
In Michigan’s first seven games of the season. McCarthy threw for 14 touchdowns while averaging 10.6 yards per pass attempt, according to The Athletic. In the last six games, McCarthy threw just five touchdowns and averaged 7.7 yards per pass attempt.
The Crimson Tide comes into the CFP winning 11 straight games, a winning streak that can be attributed primarily to the quarterback. Jalen Milroe play.
Since you sat down against South Florida In Week 3, Milroe has been spectacular, throwing for 2,269 yards, 18 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
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Milroe’s ability to make plays with his legs (12 rushing touchdowns) makes Alabama’s offense dangerous for Michigan as they prepare for a quarterback rarely seen in the Big Ten.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a quarterback like this,” Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter said, according to USA Today.
The New Year’s Day showdown at the Rose Bowl will be one college football fans won’t want to miss.
Sugar Bowl – No. 2 Washington vs. No. 3 Texas, 8:45 p.m. ET
Longhorns fans can finally say that “Texas is back.”
It’s been 13 years since Texas last played for a national championship, and Steve Sarkisian He has his team on the verge of reaching the top of the sport.
Texas entered the 2023 college football season as the villains of the Big 12 as they prepare to leave the conference for the SEC in 2024. After winning the program’s first conference championship since 2009, Texas has a chance to make the definitive exit.
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“We have a chance to be legends,” senior linebacker David Gbenda said. “So why not be cool?”
The Longhorns enter Monday’s game against Washington with an offense ranked in the top 10 in yards per game and a defense ranked in the top 15 in points allowed per game.
The offense is led by the quarterback. Quinn Ewerswho has shown significant improvements in his second season under Sarkisian.
After missing two games due to injury, Ewers enters the CFP with great enthusiasm, throwing for 1,246 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions in the final four games of the year.
Ewers has thrown for 3,161 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2023, and the second-year QB dramatically improved his completion percentage, going from completing 58.1% of his passes in 2022 to 70.7% in 2023.
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Texas’ defense has been elite at stopping the run, allowing just 80.3 rushing yards per game, fourth-best in the country.
They will face a Washington team led by a Heisman Trophy finalist and an offense that can get up and down the field.
The Huskies finished the year 13-0 for the first time in program history as they prepare to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024.
Michael Penix Jr. led the nation’s top passing offense (343.8 yards per game) while throwing for 4,218 yards, 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
While the washington offensive Slowed down in the second half of the season, the Huskies found a way to win close games, winning their last four games by a combined 15 points.
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Their receiving core is elite, led by two 1,000-yard receivers in Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk.
“It’s the touchdowns. It’s the movement of the chains in the big, big moments. There have been so many that we forget a lot of them.” [them] and you take for granted the gaudy statistics he has,” Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer said of Odunze. “Over and over again, think about how many times he’s stepped up when you really needed him to. Many times you think about when you lose soccer games or didn’t have the big moment. You remember them. “I don’t remember Rome not having arrived.”
And while Washington is known for its passing attack, running back Dillon Johnson has been strong in the second half, averaging 136.6 yards per game over the last five games, including a 256-yard performance. against USC.
With a secondary allowing 263.2 passing yards per game (120th in the country), college football fans could be in for a high-scoring adventure in New Orleans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.