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Scouting the College Football Playoff: 5 intriguing matchups


The College Football Playoff field was revealed by the selection committee on Sunday, and all four teams are loaded with intriguing NFL prospects. Here are five matchups I'm most excited to see in the Dec. 31 semifinal games.

Peach Bowl: Alabama vs. Washington

Alabama TE O.J. Howard vs. Washington S Budda Baker: These are two of my favorite players in the country and they'll see plenty of each other in this matchup. Howard is an explosive tight end who made his mark in the postseason last year. Can he repeat his performance in this year's playoff? Baker is an undersized safety in the mold of Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu. He has the athleticism to match up with Howard but his lack of height could be an issue.

Washington WR John Ross vs. Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey: Humphrey has successfully matched up with some of the top wideouts in the country this fall, and he'll have the opportunity to see another one from Washington. Ross is a dynamic athlete, but he's also a refined route runner. Humphrey has the size/power advantage, but Ross has the quickness to give the talented Tide cornerback some problems.

» What we learned from the College Football Playoff pairings

Alabama coach Nick Saban vs. Washington coach Chris Petersen: Saban is the best coach in college football, but Petersen is known for his ability to get the best out of his team. He built the Boise State program by beating high-profile opponents that were favored to beat his team. Now that he's at Washington, he has the talent to compete with the best of the best in college football. Both of these coaches really excel when they have extra time to gameplan. This will be a fun chess match.

Fiesta Bowl: Clemson vs. Ohio State

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson vs. Ohio State's secondary: Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in college football and he's coming off his best performance of the season. However, the Buckeyes' secondary will be the best one he's seen this fall. They are loaded with long, athletic defenders and they get their hands on a lot of footballs. Malik Hooker is the most talented safety in college football and it will be a blast to watch him battle Watson and an elite set of wide receivers. Mike Williams is one of those wideouts that's open even when he's covered. I'm sure he will be a major focus for co-defensive coordinators Luke Fickell and Greg Schiano.

Clemson RB Wayne Gallman vs. Ohio State RB Curtis Samuel: OK, I know these guys won't be on the field together, but it will be a treat to watch two of the most versatile running backs in the country battle in the same game. Both guys run with speed and power while also making a big impact in the passing game. Samuel is a nightmare to cover out of the slot or backfield, while Gallman is also a capable receiver and outstanding pass protector. Both quarterbacks in this game are productive ball carriers and that could open things up for these talented running backs.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.



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