The second annual college football playoff starts today at 3:00 PM Jayhawk Time, right in the middle of the afternoon on what is a work day for many people. It's just so unusual for the NCAA to screw something up though, I'm willing to look past it. This open thread will serve as your place to discuss the action as it unfolds tonight and tomorrow. Here's a preview of what you'll be watching, if you're so inclined
(4) Oklahoma vs (1) Clemson
When: 3:00 PM Jayhawk Time
Where: Miami, FL
Line: Oklahoma -4.5
Despite Clemson coming in as the 1 seed and the only undefeated team in FBS, Oklahoma comes into this game as the favorite to win. The toughness of the ACC schedule has been questioned where Clemson is concerned, and a 3-4 showing to date in the postseason hasn't done anything to allay those concerns. Oklahoma's sole loss of the season came at the hands of a dreadful Texas team, but they've shown few weaknesses since that game, reeling off seven straight wins by a combined score of 335-136. Clemson's games down the stretch have generally been a little tighter. Still, both sides have a slew of NFL talent and potent offenses, so this could be a fun game to watch, especially for fans of fast-paced football and gaudy box scores (the over-under is about twenty points higher than the nightcap).
(3) Michigan State vs (2) Alabama
When: 7:00 PM Jayhawk Time
Where: Arlington, TX
Line: Alabama -10
Few people are giving Michigan State a chance in this one. Michigan State is certainly the luckiest of the four teams in the playoff, having won two games (Michigan and Ohio State) in flukey fashion despite never leading in regulation, and relying on a nine minute, 22 play drive to come back and beat Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. Like Oklahoma, their only loss on the season was a questionable one, coming at the hands of a struggling Nebraska team. Still, Michigan State enters the game with nation's 13th best defense, according to S&P+, and won't hand over points easily. On the other side, Alabama suffered an early-season loss to Ole Miss that created some doubt as to the quality of this year's team, but as he always does, Nick Saban silenced his critics by leading Alabama to wins in their next ten games, with only one being decided by single digits. As a result, they're ten point favorites to move on to the championship game. With Michigan State's tough front seven, and Alabama's hard-nosed, run-heavy offense, this game should be a good one for fans of gritty, old school college football.