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College Football Championship 2020: Playoff Schedule and Bracket Predictions

Jake RillSenior Analyst IDecember 22, 2019

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) runs down field against Georgia during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
John Amis/Associated Press

We're now less than a week away from the two biggest games of the college football season thus far.

LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma will be playing in College Football Playoff semifinals on Saturday, with the two winners advancing to the national championship. The four teams have only one loss combined this season, and each won its respective conference championship.

Here's everything you need to know about this season's CFP, along with predictions for the semifinal matchups.

           

Information

Peach Bowl

Who: No. 1 LSU (13-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1)

When: Saturday, Dec. 28 at 4 p.m. ET

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta

TV and Live Stream: ESPN and WatchESPN

         

Fiesta Bowl

Who: No. 2 Ohio State (13-0) vs. No. 3 Clemson (13-0)

When: Saturday, Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

TV and Live Stream: ESPN and WatchESPN

           

CFP National Championship

Who: TBD

When: Monday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans

TV and Live Stream: ESPN and WatchESPN

            

Semifinal Predictions

Peach Bowl: LSU over Oklahoma

John Amis/Associated Press

This season, LSU has essentially run a gauntlet of top teams. In order to reach this point, the Tigers defeated Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Georgia, with the victory over the Bulldogs coming in the SEC Championship Game.

It was one of the most difficult schedules in college football this year, but LSU went 13-0 while reaching the College Football Playoff for the first time in program history.

The Tigers have won national championships before, though, with their last coming in 2007. However, there's a major difference between this year's team and past successful LSU squads—its elite offense, which is led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow.

Traditionally, the Tigers are more of a defensive team, but Burrow led them to an incredible offensive campaign this season, as they lead the country with 554.4 total yards per game. The 23-year-old also set the SEC records for passing yards (4,715) and passing touchdowns (48).

However, Oklahoma's offense has been impressive, too. In fact, the Sooners rank second in the nation in total offense (554.2 yards per game) with the Heisman runner-up, quarterback Jalen Hurts, leading their talented unit.

So, this game should be a high-scoring offensive shootout—as many games featuring the Big 12 champion Sooners are—and the victor could be decided by the team that can step up on defense and make some big plays.

That's more likely to be LSU, which held Georgia to 10 points in the SEC Championship Game. Burrow and the Tigers should continue to roll offensively, and with some key defensive stops against Hurts and the Sooners, it will be LSU advancing to the CFP National Championship.

Prediction: LSU 37, Oklahoma 23

           

Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State over Clemson

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

It's no surprise to see Clemson in the College Football Playoff. After missing out in 2014—the first year of the playoff system—the Tigers have made it five consecutive years. And they've had plenty of success, winning the national championship in two of the previous three seasons.

Meanwhile, it's been a while since Ohio State made the CFP. The Buckeyes reached the playoff in 2014 and 2016, but they had missed it the previous two seasons.

The last time Ohio State was in the CFP? It played Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, just like this year. Things didn't go well for the Buckeyes, though, as they lost 31-0 to the eventual champions. 

A lot has changed for Ohio State since then. Urban Meyer retired and Ryan Day has taken over as head coach, and its offense is now led by talented quarterback Justin Fields, who transferred from Georgia prior to this season.

However, this matchup could be decided on the defensive side of the ball. Clemson and Ohio State rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the country in total defense this season, respectively, with each team dominating on its way to winning a conference title.

But the Buckeyes had more difficult obstacles on their path to the Big Ten championship than the Tigers faced while cruising to the ACC title. And that's going to help them as they face Clemson, which will likely be its toughest matchup so far.

Expect Fields to make some big late plays and lead the Buckeyes to their first national championship game appearance since 2014.

Prediction: Ohio State 24, Clemson 17