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Brandon Rink | Anderson Independent Mail | December 30, 2015

How do College Football Playoff teams stack up

  The College Football Playoff semifinals are Thursday, Dec. 31.

The College Football Playoff committee ranked the elite in college football over a six-week period, and only Clemson and Alabama were left standing after the first edition of poll on Nov. 3.

How did they get there?

Well, Clemson -- armed with a Heisman finalist QB in Deshaun Watson -- notched three wins over top-10 teams in the CFP's final rankings with a nation-best 14 top-25 NCAA-tracked stats.

MORE: Top plays from the 2015 season

Stacked with talent from repeated recruiting conquests, Alabama overcame an early home loss to Ole Miss on the strength of a punishing defense (No. 2 in yards per play allowed) and Heisman winner running back Derrick Henry (1,986 yards/23 TD).

Three-seed Michigan State and four-seed Oklahoma both stacked their resumes with big wins.

The Spartans, while far from overpowering statistically, have four top-15 wins, which leads their Playoff peers.

The Sooners -- the only team nationally in the top-10 in offensive and defensive yards per play -- capped a torrid stretch with top-25 wins at Baylor (44-34) and Oklahoma State (58-23) and edged TCU at home (30-29).

Here's more on what made these teams elite in 2015.

1. Clemson

2015 Record: 13-0 (ACC Champion).

Good-to-great wins at the time (AP Top-25 -- 3): Notre Dame (6; 24-22), Florida State (16; 23-13), North Carolina (10; 45-37 at neutral site).

Good-to-great wins in retrospect (CFP Top-25 -- 3): Notre Dame (8), Florida State (9), North Carolina (10).

2015 Blue Chip Ratio: 13 (47 percent); 2015 class rating (247Sports Composite): 8.

Stats to watch (2015 ranks): Yards per play -- 21. Scoring D -- 18. Def. Yards per play -- 9. 3rd down D -- 2. Field position advantage -- 111.

2,800-yard passer: Deshaun Watson (3,512 yards/8.5 yards per attempt, 30 TD-11 INTs); 700-yard rushers/receivers: RB Wayne Gallman (1,332 RY/10 TD), WR Artavis Scott (805 RecY/5 TD). 40 catches or more: Scott (84), WR Charone Peake (40 catches/563 yards/5 TD); 80 carries or more: Gallman (243), Watson (163/887 yards/11 TD); 5 sacks or more: DE Shaq Lawson (9.5), DE Kevin Dodd (8), LB B.J. Goodson (5.5). 65 tackles or more: Goodson (126), LB Ben Boulware (120), S T.J. Green (98), Lawson (78), Dodd (73), S Jayron Kearse (68), DT Christian Wilkins (72). 8 TFL or more: Lawson (22.5), Goodson (14); 5 PBUs or more: CB Cordrea Tankersley (9), Kearse (8), Boulware (6), CB Mackensie Alexander (5). 70% FG rate: K Greg Huegel (88).

2. Alabama

2015 Record: 12-1 (SEC Champion).

Good-to-great wins at the time (AP Top-25 -- 5): Wisconsin (20; 35-17 at neutral site), at Georgia (8; 38-10), at Texas A&M (9; 41-23), LSU (2; 30-16), Florida (18; 29-15 at neutral site).

Good-to-great wins in retrospect (CFP Top-25 -- 3): Florida (19), LSU (20), Tennessee (23; 19-14).

2015 Blue Chip Ratio: 1 (77 percent); 2015 class rating (247Sports Composite): 1.

Stats to watch (2015 ranks): Yards per play -- 55. Scoring D -- 3. Def. Yards per play -- 2. 3rd down D -- 6. Field position advantage -- 16.

2,800-yard passer: N/A; 700-yard rushers/receivers: RB Derrick Henry (1,986 RY/23 TD), WR Calvin Ridley (893 RecY/5 TD). 40 catches or more: Ridley (75), WR ArDarius Steward (54 catches/600 yards/4 TD); 80 carries or more: Henry (339); 5 sacks or more: DE Jonathan Allen (10), LB Tim Williams (9.5), LB Ryan Anderson (5). 65 tackles or more: LB Reggie Ragland (90). 8 TFL or more: Allen (12.5), Williams (11.5), Anderson (9.5); 5 PBUs or more: LB Reuben Foster (8), DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (8), CB Cyrus Jones (7), Ragland (6). 70% FG rate: K Adam Griffith (72.4).

3. Michigan State

2015 Record: 12-1 (Big Ten Champion).

Good-to-great wins at the time (AP Top-25 -- 4): Oregon (7; 31-28), at Michigan (12; 27-23), at Ohio State (3; 17-14), Iowa (4; 16-13 at neutral site).

Good-to-great wins in retrospect (CFP Top-25 -- 4): Iowa (5), Ohio State (7), Michigan (14), Oregon (15).

2015 Blue Chip Ratio: NR (21 percent); 2015 class rating (247Sports Composite): 22.

Stats to watch (2015 ranks): Yards per play -- 72. Scoring D -- 19. Def. Yards per play -- 52. 3rd down D: 35. Field position advantage -- 21.

2,800-yard passer: Connor Cook (2,912 yards/24 TD-5 INT/7.9 YPA; 700-yard rushers/receivers: WR Aaron Burbridge (1,219 RecY/7 TD). 40 catches or more: Burbridge (80), WR R.J. Shelton (41/484 yards/4 TD); 80 carries or more: RB L.J. Scott (140/691 yards/11 TD), RB Gerald Holmes (108/534 yards/8 TD), RB Madre London (114/489 yards/3 TD); 5 sacks or more: DE Shilique Calhoun (10.5). 65 tackles or more: LB Riley Bullough (95), LB Darien Harris (82), S Montae Nicholson (76), LB Jon Reschke (74), S Demetrious Cox (72). 8 TFL or more: Calhoun (14.5), DT Malik McDowell (12); 5 PBUs or more: CB Arjen Colquhoun (10), Cox (7), DE Lawrence Thomas (5). 70% FG rate: N/A.

4. Oklahoma

2015 Record: 11-1 (Big 12 Champion).

Good-to-great wins at the time (AP Top-25 -- 5): at Tennessee (23; 31-24 2 OT), West Virginia (23; 44-24), at Baylor (6, 44-34), TCU (18; 30-29), at Oklahoma State (11; 58-23).

Good-to-great wins in retrospect (CFP Top-25 -- 4): TCU (11), Oklahoma State (16), Baylor (17), Tennessee (23).

2015 Blue Chip Ratio: 17 (37 percent); 2015 class rating (247Sports Composite): 15.

Stats to watch (2015 ranks): Yards per play -- 9. Scoring D -- 21. Def. Yards per play -- 9. 3rd down D -- 79. Field position advantage -- 27.

2,800-yard passer: Baker Mayfield (3,389/35 TD-5 INT/9.6 YPA); 700-yard rushers/receivers: RB Samaje Perine (1,291 RY/15 TD), RB Joe Mixon (749 RY/7 TD), WR Sterling Shepard (1,201 RecY/11 TD). 40 catches or more: Shepard (79), WR Dede Westbrook (42/674 yards/4 TD), WR Durron Neal (42/527 yards/3 TD); 80 carries or more: Perine (211), Mayfield (131), Mixon (110); 5 sacks or more: LB Eric Striker (7.5), DE Charles Tapper (7), DE Charles Walker (6). 65 tackles or more: LB Dominique Alexander (91), LB Jordan Evans (79). 8 TFL or more: Striker (16), Tapper (10); 5 PBUs or more: CB Zack Sanchez (7). 70% FG rate: Austin Seibert (77.3).