New Year’s 6 Bowl Preview – Part 1

New Year’s 6 Bowl Preview – Part 1
Reading Time: 5 minutes.

Hopefully you’ve been enjoying Bowl season, however, the games so far have only been the hors d’oeuvres, as the next couple of days brings us the traditional Big 6 New Year’s Eve bowls, including the two national championship semi-finals.

 Orange Bowl: Tennesse v Clemson

Image Credit: Maize n Brew

This really will be an ‘Orange’ Bowl, as both teams traditionally play in Orange, it should also be a fascinating matchup of two teams who had slightly disappointing ends to their seasons, both suffering surprise losses to S Carolina.

Tennessee has had a spectacular season, and are making their 1st appearance in a Big 6 bowl in the CFP era. However, this still represents a disappointment.

As recently as week 10 of the regular season they were ranked No.1 in the committee rankings with a record of 8-0 and having beaten LSU and Alabama had the inside track to the playoffs. However, a loss to Georgia and then S Carolina, met the playoffs have passed them by. It will be interesting to see how the recent disappointments affect their attitude. The bigger loss was QB Hendon Hooker who went down with an ACL injury, prior to which he had been sensational throwing for 27 TD’s v 2 INTs. His replacement Joe Milton is good, but as yet unproven. The Vols will also be hit by top WR Jalin Hyatt’s decision to opt-out of the game, to prepare for the NFL draft. Their defence has been somewhat ‘Jekyll and Hide’ giving up over 50 points to S Carolina and Alabama, keeping LSU to just 13 points, and shutting out Vanderbilt.

For Clemson after regular playoff appearances, an Orange Bowl berth as ACC champions is also something of an anti-climax. The Tigers will also have a new QB, but for entirely different reasons, as they have decided to move on from regular starter D J Uiagalelei and start talented Freshman Cade Klubnik. In the ACC title game, Klubnik showed his immense potential with an 83.3% completion percentage and provided the spark that had been missing. The Clemson offence also features reliable and underrated RB Will Shipley, who rushed for over 1,000 yards with 15 TDs. The defence contains 2 of college football’s best linemen in DE Myles Murphy and DT Bryan Breese, both of who will probably be drafted in the 1st round, and both of whom have agreed to play in this game. 

This should be a fascinating ACC v SEC battle, the key being which QB will impose himself the best. As Klubnik has more raw talent.

  Clemson by 7

Sugar Bowl: Alabama v Kansas State

Image Credit: Canal Street Chronicles

Another intriguing matchup between college football royalty and a true-blue collar team.

One of the reasons predicting bowl winners is so difficult is trying to understand the mentality and motivation of each team going into the game, this being a classic example. 

 For an Alabama team that routinely goes to the playoffs, this season has been a disappointment , although both of their losses came by 3 points or fewer, they haven’t dominated like they expect to. They still have some incredibly talented players on offence in QB Bryce Young and RB Jahmyr Gibbs, but have lacked the usual depth, particularly at WR. Whilst on defence, they have one of the premier players in LB Will Anderson Jr. Both Young and Anderson have indicated they will play in this game, which is unusual for players who will be drafted high in the first round, and may indicate the Tides passion and desire to win this game.

 Kansas State will be delighted with their season and to have reached a major bowl, coming off a magnificence and thrilling Big 12 championship victory over previously unbeaten TCU. So are sure to approach this game with a positive and determined attitude.

 The key on offence is speedster RB Deuce Vaughan who despite being short in stature (5’7″) is huge in terms of big plays, he has over 1,400 yards in rushing. The likely starting QB is Will Howard, who took over from regular Adrian Martinez after the later got injured. Howard has played remarkably well, and was the difference when leading the Wildcats to the Big 12 Championship.

 Much of this game will depend on the attitude of the Crimson Tide. The Wildcats, who will start as underdogs, will come out all guns blazing and eager to make a statement, just as they did in the Big 12 championship game. 

 Kansas State by 7

CFP Semi-Final – Fiesta Bowl: TCU v Michigan

Image Credit: Sporting News

 Not only a Big 6 bowl but also a semi-final for the National Championship, featuring teams built on entirely different philosophies. 

TCU’s unbeaten fairy-tale season suffered a heart-breaking loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game, but they had achieved enough over the regular season to fully justify their place in the elite final 4. It will be interesting to see how they cope with that loss. 

TCU season has been built around their high-powered offence, QB Max Duggan has thrown the ball at will, his favourite target being WR Quentin Johnston, who now ranks as the top pro prospect, whilst on the ground RB Kendre Miller is an excellent alternative. The Frogs offence is based around speed, so it will be a great match up with the Wolverines defence that is built around size, power and strength.

 TCU’s defence has struggled giving up 28 or more points in 7 of its victories. 

 Michigan sees this game as simply the next step to the National Championship, and going further than last year. Their offence is the exact opposite to TCU, as they feature a strong running attack, which in turn is based on one of the best OL’s in the country, and win by simply overpowering and wearing down their opponents. Star RB Blake Corum is out injured, but they run game hasn’t missed a beat as Donovan Edwards has proved to be a more than capable deputy. QB JJ McCarthy hasn’t put up the numbers of Duggan, but has shown he can throw the ball effectively when required, especially in the game against Ohio State.

 The Wolverines have been superb on defence, again using a combination of size, power and strength. they have great depth in numbers especially along the DL, which means they can substitute without losing any effectiveness and wear teams out, later in games. Between them, LB’s Michael Barrett, Jaylen Harrell, Mike Morris and Eyabi Okie have 18 sacks.

 While TCU’s speed offence is fun to watch, and they have an uncanny knack of coming from behind, the all-conquering OL and DL of Michigan will surely win the battle in the trenches, which will ultimately determine the outcome of this game.

 Michigan by 10

Thanks to Andy Normile for producing this College Football preview. We are thrilled to have him on board and you can see more of his work here in the Future!

If you enjoy Andy’s writing find more from him here.

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