The College Football Playoff is finally here and the postseason veterans are looking primed to lock up another trip to the title game.
Following a slow start in the first semifinal game on Saturday afternoon, No. 2 Clemson hit halftime holding a 23-3 lead over No. 3 Notre Dame at the Cotton Bowl in a tense battle between the two heavyweights at AT&T Stadium.
The Tigers didn’t really get going until the second quarter but appeared to find their groove once they settled in. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked nothing like a true freshman on the big stage, throwing for 264 yards and two touchdowns while also proving to be quite the threat as a runner with 13 yards on the ground and a handful of key first down pick-ups. Fellow true freshman Justyn Ross was also big early on and wound up with 137 yards and two trips to the end zone.
If there was any area of concern it might be that tailback Travis Etienne only had 19 yards rushing but CU will certainly take that with the lead they have in the locker room.
As for Notre Dame, only having three points hid the fact that their offense was able to move the ball for stretches. QB Ian Book threw for 107 yards despite heavy pressure and Dexter Williams was up to 38 total yards after getting involved both rushing and catching the ball. Still, things slowed down considerably for the group after the clock flipped over to the second quarter after a decent debut.
One other storyline to keep an eye on? The Irish defense loosing a number of starters in the first half.
Cornerback Julian Love missed most of the second quarter for unspecified reasons and could be seen in the injury tent and riding the stationary bike on the sideline. That would be a huge blow because his replacement give up the Ross touchdown catch and to make matters worse, safety Alohi Gilman was shaken up for a few plays before returning and giving up a touchdown. Defensive end Julian Okwara missed time as well.
We’ll see if Brian Kelly’s team can get things into gear after the break but at least so far, we’re seen one of the elite teams in the country this season assert control of the Cotton Bowl to put Clemson 30 minutes away from return to the title game.
And the bad news keeps on coming for Alabama in general and its star quarterback in particular.
Tua Tagovailoa suffered a hip injury toward the end of the first half of the Mississippi State game, still in the game despite Alabama leading 35-7. The junior quarterback, reportedly screaming in pain, was carted off the field and, after being examined inside Davis Wade Stadium, taken away via ambulance for further evaluation.
Tagovailoa was subsequently taken back to Birmingham via helicopter to undergo a series of CAT scans and MRIs to determine the exact extent and nature of the injury. According to one report, the injury is serious and similar to the one that ended Bo Jackson‘s football career.
According to another, Tagiovailoa has been diagnosed with a dislocated hip and will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season, including the postseason.
If the injury is as serious as it seems, the Crimson Tide will turn over its playoff fate, at least under center, to redshirt sophomore Mac Jones.
Iowa State holds a 10-7 lead over No. 19 Texas at the half in Ames, and the game has played out exactly as the score indicates.
The Cyclones zipped down the field on their first possession, moving 59 yards in eight breezy plays, as Brock Purdy found tight end Charlie Kolar wide open in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard score to open the scoring. The Cyclones then closed their half with a 35-yard Connor Assalley field goal with 47 ticks left before halftime.
In between, Iowa State went three-and-out twice, turned it over on downs at the Texas 31 and threw an interception.
Texas has simply not been able to get the ball going, and they’ve hardly tried to throw the ball down field. The ‘Horns went three-and-out on four of their first six possessions, and one of the other two ended in disaster. After D'Shawn Jamison intercepted Purdy at the Iowa State 39, Texas picked up one first down but could not get another. Facing a fourth-and-2 at ISU’s 21, Sam Ehlinger kept it and was stuffed for a loss of a yard. The Longhorns did not throw the ball on any of their six plays in the drive.
Ehlinger went 4-of-7 for 26 yards while Texas rushed a combined 17 times for just 33 yards over UT’s first six tries. After taking over at its own 25, down 10-0 with 47 seconds left in the first half, Ehlinger hit Devin Duvernay for 17 yards, Brennan Eagles for 33, Duvernay again for 11, Eagles again for a 14-yard touchdown.
After gaining just 59 yards on their first 24 snaps, Texas suddenly moved 75 yards in five plays to make it a game again.
Iowa State will receive to open the second half.
This isn’t good. At all.
The biggest story of Week 12 by far is the health of Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a hip injury toward the end of the first half of the Mississippi State as Alabama was up 35-7. The junior quarterback was carted off the field and, after being examined inside Davis Wade Stadium, was taken away via ambulance for further evaluation.
According to al.com, Tagovailoa is being taken back to Birmingham via helicopter to undergo a series of CAT scans and MRIs to determine the exact extent and nature of the injury. One report from Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, though, is ominous, to say the least.
For those unfamiliar, Jackson, a College Football Hall of Famer at Auburn, suffered a severe hip injury in an AFC playoff game in January of 1991 and never played another down of football.
It should be noted that there has been no official word on Tagovailoa’s status from the football program. Thus far, UA has declined to go into any detail as they still await an update on the injury, which could come as early as later on today
When the Navy offense works, the clock bleeds, the ball ticks forward and life becomes living hell for the opponent. When it doesn’t, it can get ugly for the Midshipmen.
It’s been ugly through one half in South Bend.
No. 16 Notre Dame holds a 38-3 lead over No. 21 Navy at the half. The Fighting Irish scored all six times they touched the ball in the half, as Ian Book went a practice-like 11-of-14 for 209 yards with four touchdowns, three of them coming to Chase Claypool. Claypool caught six passes for 97 yards and scores of 47, seven and three yards.
Navy hasn’t been able to get the running game going — they run for just 131 yards on 33 carries — but three fumbles by quarterback Malcolm Perry have proven catastrophic, ending Navy scoring threats and leading directly to three Irish touchdowns. The Middies finally sustained a drive with a minute to play in the half, moving 72 yards in nine snaps to set up a 27-yard Bijan Nichols field goal as time expired.
Navy will receive to open the second half.