The CFP Semifinals Are The Headliners, But Tennessee-Clemson Starts The Weekend Fireworks

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We have thankfully made it to semifinal week in college football, as Georgia, TCU, Michigan and Ohio State all hope to advance to the national championship. But, those four teams aren’t the only one’s to keep an eye on, as the season comes to an end.

Sure, the semifinals will be the main event, which we all hope live up to expectations. But the battle in Miami between Tennessee and Clemson has the potential to be one of the best games of bowl season. We also can’t forget Alabama, which will play Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl, with this being the final game for Bryce Young.

I know some fans are turned-off by all the opt-outs from players in non-semifinal bowl games, but we get to enjoy college football. Sure, some teams will look different, but if you’d like an early look at what 2023 will look like, these ‘other’ games will be fun to watch.

So let’s take a first glance at the remaining games that should be intriguing.

Ohio State And Georgia Battle It Out In Atlanta

Here we go, the semifinal game that will bring in the new year. Ryan Day vs. Kirby Smart for a spot in the national championship. The Bulldogs defense will look to cause chaos for Buckeyes QB CJ Stroud, forcing him into mistakes. As we’ve seen all season, led by Jalen Carter, this Georgia front seven has caused 13-straight teams to abandon their game plan. How will Ohio State ease the pressure off Stroud? It will take the entire offense, not just Marvin Harrison Jr. at wide receiver.

Georgia Bulldogs QB Stetson Bennett celebrates. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

One thing about Georgia is that quarterback Stetson Bennett rarely lets the moment get to his head. Since winning the championship last season, Bennett has led the Bulldogs on a tear through each opponent with his laid back vibes. I expect Georgia to establish a rushing attack and eat the clock, limiting the possessions for CJ Stroud. In the end, it feels like a four quarter game, where Georgia finally puts it away with a late touchdown.

Michigan vs. TCU In The Desert Of Arizona For Final Spot

The run TCU went on before losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship was captivating, to say the least. The story of quarterback Max Duggan and coach Sonny Dykes has been a hit since the Horned Frogs run began, but this should be the end. Michigan is not the type of team to let you hang around until late in the fourth quarter. Behind quarterback J.J. McCarthy, this Wolverine offense will cause TCU multiple problems, especially in the running game.

TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15). . (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I have no doubt that this TCU team will be remembered for a long time, but it doesn’t feel like enough to make it to Los Angeles. Jim Harbaugh and his squad are looking for revenge after last season’s embarrassing loss to Georgia. This game presents the opportunity to potentially enact revenge on the Bulldogs. I like the Michigan offense to cause problems for four quarters against this TCU defense.

Tennessee And Clemson In The Orange Bowl Clash

Two teams that have a lot of questions surrounding them heading into this bowl game. How does Tennessee look without Hendon Hooker against a tough defense? If the Vols can find rhythm on offense behind quarterback Joe Milton, then this game will be fun. Tennessee is also playing without Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman, along with Jeremy Banks on defense. So, the Vols will need a few guys to step up against Clemson’s offense.

Cade Klubnik (2) of the Clemson Tigers. (Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The change at quarterback for Dabo Swinney came at the perfect time, going with Cade Klubnik to lead this squad. Having that spark on offense led the Tigers to an ACC title, while the future looks bright at the position. But, can the Clemson defense stop Tennessee receivers from running wide-open down the field? This will be entertaining, simply because there’s so many unknowns. Josh Heupel can finish an amazing second season with an 11th win of the year, while Clemson can silence some of the critics with an Orange Bowl victory.

Other Intriguing Games To Keep An Eye On

Alabama vs. Kansas State (Dec. 31)

The final game for Bryce Young at Alabama, while Will Anderson Jr. will look to wreak havoc on the Kansas State offense. If you thought the Tide would come into this game uninspired, they don’t have a single opt-out of the Sugar Bowl. This is the goin away party for Bryce Young and I expect Alabama to send him off in style. But, don’t write off Wildcats QB Will Howard, this team will be ready to go.

Notre Dame vs South Carolina (Dec. 30)

I am only intrigued to see what South Carolina can do after the final two wins of the season against Tennessee and Clemson. Yes, Spencer Rattler will play, but the offense will look different without Marshawn Lloyd, Jaheim Bell or Austin Stogner. Can the Gamecocks continue to find offensive success against the Fighting Irish? If those last two games were any indication, they’ll come up with something. A win over Notre Dame to cap the season at nine wins would be massive for Shane Beamer.

Iowa vs. Kentucky (December 31st)

The ONLY reason I am intrigued by this game is to see how many points can actually be scored by two offenses with backup players. I don’t care who wins, I just want to see if these two teams can hit the 31 point over.

Look, all bowl games are fun to watch, given the unknowns, but these were the six games that obviously stuck out to me. Either way, we’ve got a full lineup over the next week, as all roads lead to Los Angels for the National Championship.

Enjoy the rest of bowl season!

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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