Wide open CFP: Dynamic receivers highlight playoff match ups


A flick of the wrist, a slight shift of the shoulder and they're off.

Talented receivers are a big part of this year's College Football Playoff. Never before has there been four teams in the CFP so prolific at scoring points. And it's in large part due to a growing - think 6-foot or taller - list of game-breaking receivers keen on quick cuts, one-handed grabs and the ability to catch almost any pass thrown their way.

- No. 1 LSU has a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, who have combined for 32 touchdowns this season.

- No. 2 Ohio State features K.J. Hill and Chris Olave. The duo has 21 touchdown catches between them.

- Third-ranked Clemson pairs Tee Higgins with Justyn Hill, a combination that has helped the defending national champions win their past 28 games.

- And Oklahoma showcases CeeDee Lamb. All Lamb has done is average nearly 21 yards a catch and haul in 14 touchdown receptions.

It's the first time the four CFP participants enter the national semifinals averaging more than 43 points a game - which gives offense-crazed fans the promise of two potentially explosive showdowns when LSU faces Oklahoma in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Ohio State takes on Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday.

It was only four years ago LSU was a run-heavy team with Leonard Fournette leading the charge. His 22 touchdowns were more than the 13 the Tigers passed for that 2015 season.

Now, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow has LSU in Air Raid mode with his school-record 48 TD passes.

LSU's Chase won the Biletnikoff award as the game's top receiver. His 18 touchdowns tied the Southeastern Conference's single season mark - one its seems likely he'll obliterate with more games left.

Chase said his route-running has improved considerably this season, particularly because he has gotten better at creating separation early when defensive backs try to disrupt his pass pattern.

All the talented receivers in the CFP have shown great hand-eye coordination.

Perhaps the most talked-about play in Clemson's 62-17 destruction of Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game was Higgins' highlight-reel sideline grab - reaching out of bounds while keeping his toes inbounds to complete the catch.

Typically, Higgins or Ross (he had three TD catches in Clemson's 44-16 blowout of Alabama to win the national title a year ago) has created enough space to catch passes from quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Ross said teams can't put extra defenders on him, given Clemson's deep, talented group of playmakers.

Oklahoma's Lamb also has been a nightmare for defenders, even with his frustration at times when he feels he is not getting the ball when he's open.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said it's Lamb's competitiveness that stands out.

Lamb is "so invested in this team and sometimes he wants it so much you've got to take a deep breath and go on to the next one," Riley said.

At Ohio State, Hill has already surpassed David Boston's career mark with 195 catches. A reception against Clemson will give him another Buckeyes' record with a catch in 49 straight games.