What Joel Klatt thinks Ohio State, TCU should do to drag off upsets in CFP semis

After weeks of pondering, analyzing and finding out, the School Soccer Playoff is lastly upon us.

FOX Sports activities lead faculty soccer analyst Joel Klatt has executed all of his homework, and on the newest episode of the “Joel Klatt Show,” he shared keys for every workforce within the semifinals, in addition to his picks for every recreation. 

Peach Bowl: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State (8 p.m. ET)

Three keys for Georgia

1. Let the O-line work: “This is an offensive line that owns it very well. They protected the quarterback very well. They run the ball very well. They’ve only given up seven sacks all season long. That’s partly great protection, that’s partly always playing with the lead, that’s partly playing on schedule — throwing the ball on your terms rather than on the opposition’s terms. They’ve been able to do that because they run the ball so successfully. They average 5.5 yards per carry, that’s eighth in the country. So, they’re really good up front. … Basically, you’ve got to know that they play the game, for the most part, on their terms. And they do that mostly because of great line play.”

2. Large Recreation Bennett: “What’s really special about [Stetson] Bennett is what he does in big games. When he needs to play well, he does it. Going back to last year’s playoff, in his last five games against top-15 teams, he’s completed 72% of his passes for roughly 287 yards per game, with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. In fact, he’s got 15 total touchdowns and two total turnovers.”

3. Lock down the passing recreation: “They have shown you can get after them in the passing game a little. It’s not like they’re 100th in passing defense. It’s not like they’re bad in passing defense. But, if you’ve got the right type of system and the right type of quarterback, who’s a veteran and knows what he’s doing, and maybe even more in particular the right type of receivers to attack and win the 1-on-1s, which is the key: winning the 1-on-1s on the outside. You can throw the ball against Georgia. Tennessee wasn’t able to do that this year, but what we did see last year was Alabama do that, and they were on the way to doing that again in the championship game. We saw LSU do that in the SEC Championship Game. They were very dynamic in that game, from a yards perspective and a big plays perspective. They allowed 10 pass plays of at least 20 yards to LSU, that’s the most in the Kirby Smart era. That’s not a very good trend when you’re about to face a passing game that’s better than LSU.”

Ohio State vs. Georgia: Peach Bowl Preview

Three keys for Ohio State

1. Execution! “I believe that their game plan early in the game is going to give them opportunities to be successful both throwing the ball and running the ball. They’ve got to take advantage of that. Watch the execution early. The biggest thing they struggled with against Michigan wasn’t that they didn’t have things open, it was that they didn’t execute those things.”

2. Take it outdoors: “They’ve got to do everything in their power to negate the line of scrimmage. Why? Because Jalen Carter is in there. We saw them struggle a little bit running the football against the interior of the Michigan defense, and I think the interior of the Georgia defense is actually better. So, what do they have to do? They’ve got to get on the perimeter.”

3. Bend, do not break: “I think they should play a more bend-don’t-break style of defense. A similar defense like they’re going to face or like they just faced in Michigan. You look at some of the best defenses in the country from a scoring perspective, you see teams that know how to get off the field in the red zone. It seemed like there was all the emphasis for Ohio State was to stop Michigan dead in its tracks, and it couldn’t stop the big play because of it.”

Klatt’s choose and why: “The biggest key in the game, which favors Georgia, is what Ohio State does in the red zone. Every time Ohio State struggles … what happens, they generally struggle in the red zone on offense. They were 1-of-4 in the red zone scoring touchdowns against Michigan. … Ohio State, when they struggle in the red zone, they lose. If they struggle scoring touchdowns in the red zone this week, they will lose. And guess who they’re going to face? The No. 1 red zone touchdown percentage defense in the country.”

“For that reason, I’m picking Georgia in this game. I think Georgia wins, but I would take the Buckeyes and the 6.5 points.”

Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU (4:30 p.m. ET)

Three keys for Michigan

1. Beat them up: “This is what I would tell Michigan: ‘Be the bully.’ The Frogs have been tested and they’re gritty. They’re not your equal at the line of scrimmage, so be the bully. I don’t think Michigan needs to be cute at all. Michigan, be yourself. Test them. Hammer away with those body shots. You’re the tougher team.”

2. Take your photographs: “Be aggressive. This is one thing I’m looking at toward the end of the year, and I’m like ‘You know, if there was one thing I’d want to see more out of their offense,’ it’d be the play-action pass. They’re so good running the football and J.J. McCarthy is one of the best quarterbacks in the country at play-action pass that this is a moment where you can get some big plays.”

3. Do not let Duggan run: “For their defense, this defense is built to face a team like TCU. TCU has a good NFL-style running back. They’ve got a quarterback that can get loose and use his legs. They’ve got a really good matchup problem on the outside in Quentin Johnston. So this defense, what do you need? You need hybrid players. You need to spy the quarterback. Well, they can do that. When they’re in their nickel defense, I’d expect guys like Mike Sainristril to be in there spying Max Duggan at times. Their linebacker corps spying at times. … The one thing you can’t do is allow Max Duggan to get going with his legs.”

Michigan vs. TCU: Fiesta Bowl Preview

Michigan vs. TCU: Fiesta Bowl Preview

Three keys for TCU

1. Get out entrance early: “This is just a team that won’t stop. Five second-half comebacks. I thought they were going to complete their sixth in that Big 12 Championship Game. I find it fascinating that TCU won’t get panicked if they’re down in the first half and yet there’s no better second-half team than Michigan. So, what do they have to do? TCU has to get a lead. They’ve got to play from the front. This cannot be a game in which they go down a couple of scores and now Max is going to run around. They need to capture a lead.”

2. Go deep!: “Allow Max Duggan to throw the ball down the field, and he’s one of the best in college football in doing that. He’s got 68 attempts of 20 yards down the field or more, and he’s very efficient at completing those. In fact, he’s thrown 18 touchdowns on throws that were 20 yards down the field or more. That’s the most in all of college football this year. So, let him sit there … Test those secondary players on Michigan. If Will Johnson is out there, and they want to put the young corner on Quentin Johnston, go after it right away. Test him. Those shots right away are critical.”

3. Arrange Duggan to run: “They’re going to have to find a way to allow Max Duggan to threaten the defense with his legs. So, create big plays in the passing game and get Duggan loose on the edge. Part of that is going to be their ability to run the ball outside of Duggan. If they can do that with Kendre Miller, great. Not many teams have been able to run the football and Michigan doesn’t really care if you run it kind of good because they’re great in the red zone.”

Klatt’s choose and why: “This is a tough matchup for TCU. … I think Michigan’s going to win. For TCU, they’re going to have to play a game that is different than what they want to play. This is a team that comes back in the second half, and you can’t do that against Michigan in the run game.”

“I think Michigan wins and covers the 7.5 points.”

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