The 2015 season college football playoff championship game is set after Clemson handled the Oklahoma running game in an impressive Orange Bowl victory, while Alabama destroyed Michigan State in the second semi final, taking place as part of the Cotton Bowl, shutting the Spartans out. In the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, Houston surprised Florida State.
#4 Oklahoma (11-2) 17 #1 Clemson (14-0) 37 (Orange Bowl semifinal): Things started out well for Oklahoma with an early touchdown by Samaje Perine, but the Tigers did the one thing they needed to in order to stop Oklahoma: They didn’t let anything else come from the running game, holding the Sooners to just 67 yards on 33 carries. So even without a great passing day from Deshaun Watson (187 yards, one touchdown, one interception), Clemson controlled the clock and rushed for 312 yards, led by Wayne Gallman with two touchdowns and another one by Watson himself.
#3 Michigan State (12-2) 0 #2 Alabama (13-1) 38 (Cotton Bowl semifinal): The beating people were afraid of, suggesting the actual best team in the Big Ten wasn’t the one in the playoffs. The Spartans turned the ball over twice and got only 239 yards of offense, with Jake Coker putting on a show, completing 25-of-30 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Derrick Henry scored two touchdowns but rushed for just 75 yards. If Alabama smooth through an opponent so easily without him having a big day, Clemson need to worry, although they’ve shown they can slow down a running game.
#18 Houston (13-1) 38 #9 Florida State (10-3) 24 (Peach Bowl): What a season for the Cougars, showing there’s quality in the American conference, forcing five turnovers off of the Seminoles, including four interceptions from Sean Maguire. Dalvin Cook was held to only 33 yards on 18 carries, and with the defense taking care of their end of the deal, Greg Ward Jr. with a touchdown pass and two rushing touchdowns didn’t have too much work to do.
What follows on January 1 is about the fun and prestige of bowl games, not anything that actually determines something. Northwestern and Tennessee open the day in the Outback bowl, followed by Michigan and Florida resuming their bowl game rivalry in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. A big Fiesta Bowl clash between Notre Dame and Ohio State starts at the same time, followed by Stanford facing Iowa in the Rose Bowl and the day ends with Oklahoma State playing against Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl.