On New Year’s Eve, the semifinal round of the College Football Playoffs featured two incredibly exciting, high scoring affairs between the best teams in the country. While some players may be disappointed with not advancing, there should be plenty who should be thrilled with how they played.
Dee Winters, Linebacker, TCU: Dee Winters came into this game as TCU’s most intriguing weapon on defense. The speedy, but undersized linebacker was used as a blitzer all season and it was a big question how he would fare against a physical Michigan offensive line. Winters… uh… adequately answered those questions with a dominant performance where he made three tackles for a loss and picked off a pass, returning it for a touchdown. Winters made an impact on run blitzes, using his speed and size to knife between blockers to bring down runners in the backfield. He has a very specific skill set, but he showed he has the speed, instincts and tenacity to play at a high level.
Quentin Johnston, Wide Receiver, TCU: Quentin Johnston had exactly the game TCU needed from him in this big game. Johnston caught six passes for over 160 yards and a touchdown, including a short pass he took 73 yards to the house when he outran the entire Michigan defense. It is clear that Johnston’s size/speed combination was too much for Michigan to contain.
Dylan Horton, Edge, TCU: Dylan Horton had the game of his life against Michigan, sacking JJ McCarthy four times. Horton was relentless, disciplined and was a key part of TCU’s big play defensive performance.
CJ Stroud, Quarterback, Ohio State: CJ Stroud probably isn’t happy with moral victories, but the young passer played the best game of his life on the biggest possible stage. Georgia’s defense was always going to test Stroud, and he responded as well as he could have. He was poised, decisive, accurate and aggressive. He made plays inside and out of the pocket, including a scramble at the end of the game that should have set up a game winning field goal. Stroud showed what kind of player he can be at the top of his game, and that type is a franchise quarterback.
Luke Wypler, Center, Ohio State: No one made more money in these games than Luke Wypler. Ohio State’s center handled Jalen Carter, who was invisible for much of the game/ Wypler’s dominance as a pass protector allowed CJ Stroud to dice up Georgia’s secondary. Wypler has been a solid payer all season, but he showed dominance in the biggest game of the year.