Happy New Year's Eve! It's the second year of the College Football Playoff, and the first year in which the semifinals are being played on the last day of the year. The playoff games will be played on New Year's Eve eight times between now and 2025 (so get used to it!).
Here is the viewing schedule for today's semifinals:
Afternoon (3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.)
Oklahoma at Clemson (4:00 p.m., ESPN): The Orange Bowl is a rematch of last year's Russell Athletic Bowl, except this time with a national championship game berth on the line. The last time these two met Clemson walloped Oklahoma, 40-6, but this is a different Oklahoma team, one with a new offensive coordinator (Lincoln Riley) and a new quarterback (Baker Mayfield). The Sooners and the Tigers both have explosive ability on the offensive side of the ball and play solid defense, with both teams ranking in the top 15 in total offense (Oklahoma at #6, Clemson at #11) and top 30 in total defense (Clemson at #7, Oklahoma at #29).
Evening (7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.)
Michigan State at Alabama (8:00 p.m., ESPN): Nick Saban faces another former assistant, still never having been defeated by one, when his Crimson Tide meet Mark Dantonio's Spartans in the Cotton Bowl. Michigan State went to the Big Ten Championship Game after defeating Michigan and Ohio State on their final plays as time expired, despite never leading in either game up until that point. The Spartans crafted a 22 play drive against Iowa in the championship game, capping it with a one yard touchdown run at the end of the fourth quarter to pull ahead and send themselves to the playoffs. Michigan State has a fine run defense that will certainly be tested by Alabama's Heisman Trophy winning running back Derrick Henry. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will also have his hands full with Alabama's stout defense, which is ranked #2 in total defense.