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College Football Playoffs Semifinals

No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. No. 2 Clemson (13-0),
Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas
Saturday, 4 p.m. EST (ESPN)
Line: Clemson by 12 1/2.
Series Record: Clemson leads 2-1
WHAT’S AT STAKE
A spot in the College Football Playoff national championship game. Clemson will try to get into the title game for the third time in four years — the Tigers beat Alabama for the 2016 national championship after losing to the Crimson Tide in 2015. Notre Dame, playing in its first CFP semifinal game, will try to reach 13 wins for the first time in program history. The Fighting Irish last played for the national championship in 2012. They last won it in 1988.
KEY MATCHUP
Clemson freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence against Notre Dame’s pass defense with All-America cornerback Julian Love and safety Alohi Gilman. The Irish have allowed only 198 yards passing per game and seven touchdowns passes — only two TDs in the past six games. Lawrence, who became the starter in the fifth game, has thrown for 2,606 yards and an ACC high 24 TDs with only four interceptions.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Notre Dame: Ian Book is 8-0 as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, with at least two TDs in each of those games, since taking over that role in mid-September. Book has completed 70 percent of his passes (197 of 280) for 2,468 yards with 19 TDs and six interceptions.
Clemson: Senior Albert Huggins and sophomore Nyles Pinckney, the players taking on bigger roles with 6-foot-4, 350-pound All-America defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence out because of an NCAA suspension for a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs. Huggins and Pinckney both have 24 tackles — Huggins in 307 defensive snaps and Pinckney in 285 snaps. Lawrence has 44 tackles in 460 snaps.
FACTS & FIGURES
This will be the eighth Cotton Bowl appearance for the Irish, who haven’t played in any other bowl game more often. They are 5-2 in the Cotton Bowl. … Notre Dame senior RB Dexter Williams is only 59 yards away from a 1,000-yard rushing season. He also has 12 rushing TDs after playing only eight games. … Clemson and Notre Dame both have 13-game winning streaks. Only Central Florida (25) and Alabama (15) have longer active streaks. … The Tigers average 6.75 yards per carry, and allow only 2.4 yards per rush on defense. They lead the nation in both categories — something that hasn’t been done the last 10 years.

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1)
Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Saturday, 8 p.m. EST (ESPN)
Line: Alabama by 14.
Series Record: Oklahoma, 3-1-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The winner goes to the national championship game in Santa Clara, California on Jan. 7 against either No. 2 Clemson or No. 3 Notre Dame.
KEY MATCHUP
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa vs. Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray. It’s Tagovailoa vs. Murray — for real, not the Tagovailoa vs. Kyler Murray quarterback matchup which is fun to talk about except for the fact that one will exert absolutely no influence over the other. For Oklahoma to be successful, Kenneth Murray (who enters this game with a whopping 140 tackles) is probably going to have make the Alabama QB think about where he’s at more than a few times.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Alabama: WR Jerry Jeudy was picked as the nation’s best receiver in 2018, and the South Florida native will surely be amped for this.
Oklahoma: K/P Austin Seibert is a touchback machine on kickoffs and has been automatic on placekicks. The Sooners can’t have empty drives against Alabama, so Seibert’s number might get called often.
FACTS & FIGURES
The last time Oklahoma was this big of an underdog was Jan. 2, 2014, when the Sooners were getting 17 points from oddsmakers going into the Sugar Bowl — against Alabama. The Sooners won 45-31. … Oklahoma is 12-7 in past Orange Bowls. Alabama is 4-4. … Over the last 10 seasons, Alabama has spent more weeks as the nation’s No. 1 team (82) than the rest of the teams in the country combined (79). … Kyler Murray is going to try to buck a trend. The last three Oklahoma quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy — Jason White in 2003, Sam Bradford in 2008 and Baker Mayfield last year — saw their teams lose in the ensuing bowl game. … Alabama’s senior class already has 54 wins, an NCAA record; the previous mark was 53, set by the 2017 senior class at Alabama.