Sooners, Tide to advance

By Steve Sell
December 30, 2015

As we continue to wade through the gluttony of basically meaningless bowl games — except to the fans of those who have a horse in the race — we’re getting closer to what we really want to see.

The Final Four.

None of the other games really matter that much, except for Kansas State and the other Big 12 teams since those are schools we follow. After all, when it gets to the point that teams with losing records are invited, you realize the whole process is watered down and in need of re-examination. Before long, there may be a bowl game for every team in the country.

I haven’t paid much attention to the games so far, other than Bowling Green and Georgia Southern as former McPherson College head coach Brian Ward was interim head coach for the Falcons before leaving to become defensive coordinator at Syracuse.

But I am locked in for New Year’s Eve. It starts in the late afternoon with Oklahoma taking on Clemson, with the nightcap matching Alabama and Michigan State.

Oklahoma and Clemson will be the better of the two games. It’s interesting that even though the Tigers are the No. 1-ranked team and the lone undefeated, it’s the Sooners who the majority believe will advance.

Had the semifinals been played after the final week of the season, I would have said the Sooners in a heartbeat. They were really firing on all cylinders offensively as Baker Mayfield was at the height of efficiency and he had a stable of sleek, powerful backs, not to mention some wispy, jet-like receivers. 

But after a month off, you never know how a team is going to react. I’m not sold on Clemson, but its defensive coordinator is Brent Venables, who knows Bob Stoops about as well as anybody since he was once the OU defensive coordinator. And “Big Game Bob” hasn’t exactly won the “big one” in recent years.

However, I still like the Sooners by a touchdown or less, say 35-31.

I believe Alabama is all over Michigan State in the second game. The Crimson Tide has the most stocked roster in the country and it recruits players only if they have four or five stars after their names. Michigan State is a methodical plodder, the epitome of how a Big 10 team is built.

Michigan State will keep it close for a while, but I believe the Tide rolls by a pair of scores, 31-17. 

Oklahoma and Alabama is the most attractive matchup we could have, given their pedigrees. I just hope it works out that way.