Oklahoma-Georgia, Clemson-Alabama: And the playoff semifinal winners are …

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Baker Mayfield is one of four quarterbacks that could be drafted first. (AP)

Baker. Mayfield. Is. Sick.

No, not ‘‘sick’’ as in the youthful, 2018 application of the word. Frankly, there is no higher compliment an athlete can be paid today than to be deemed ‘‘sick.’’ Unless maybe he’s ‘‘insane.’’

Come to think of it, Oklahoma’s Mayfield — Heisman Trophy winner and easily the most popular player in the college game this season — is both ‘‘sick’’ and ‘‘insane.’’ Hey, some guys just have it all. Yet he’s also sick in the old-fashioned sense of the word, which might mean throwing up, passing out or any number of icky things.

We don’t really know. The spectacular quarterback was kept under wraps for most of the run-up to the College Football Playoff semifinals Monday, which will feature a foursome of once-beaten teams: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia (4 p.m., ESPN) in the Rose Bowl and No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama (7:45 p.m., ESPN) in the Sugar Bowl.


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When he finally poked his head in front of the media Saturday in Pasadena, California, Mayfield was asked how he was feeling.

‘‘Been better,’’ he said.

What’s the problem?

‘‘It’s flulike,’’ he said. ‘‘I wouldn’t say it’s the flu, but it’s pretty much like that.’’

The prognosis?

‘‘I’m not dying,’’ he said.

Amen. Whether Mayfield and all his offensive weapons — wideouts Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb, tight end Mark Andrews, running back Rodney Anderson — can outmaneuver linebacker Roquan Smith and the rest of Georgia’s hellacious defense remains to be seen.

The Bulldogs’ own offense, led by freshman quarterback Jake Fromm — an enormously talented player — and three prime-time backs in Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift, will be all the Sooners’ shaky defense can handle and likely then some. The favored Bulldogs cover the 2½ with elbow room to spare.

And then there’s the game in New Orleans. Goodness, does it get any better? It’s the rubber match to end all rubber matches after the Tigers and Crimson Tide split the last two national championship games.

Only against Alabama could a No. 1-ranked defending national champion be a three-point underdog.

‘‘Well, that’s just a testament to Alabama and the program they’ve been,’’ Tigers defensive lineman Christian Wilkins said. ‘‘They’ve been the model program in college football since as long as I can remember. They’ve earned that. We’re not worried about being the underdog.’’

Sounds almost believable. Wilkins and his mates on the best defensive line in the country have to be oozing confidence. This one should be right up there with the last two in terms of excitement and suspense. Clemson 23, Alabama 20.

The other three New Year’s Day games:

Outback Bowl: Michigan -7½ vs. South Carolina (11 a.m., ESPN2): Two storylines leap off the screen here. One is what the Wolverines can do for their conference, with the Big Ten trying to get to an unheard-of 8-0 this postseason. The other is what they can do for themselves in the quarterback department. Redshirt freshman Brandon Peters will start and, with a good performance, would raise the bar before a competition-filled offseason at the position. Wolverines 24, Gamecocks 21.

Peach Bowl: No. 7 Auburn -10 vs. No. 12 UCF (11:30 a.m., ESPN): Why start respecting the Knights now, right? After all, they’re only 12-0. It’s hard to see an upset here because the Tigers’ outstanding defense will have no choice but to be locked in against an offense that scores about 50 points a game. And Auburn’s running game should wear down UCF’s much smaller front. Knights coach Scott Frost takes a 14-point loss on the chin on his way to take over at his alma mater, Nebraska.

Citrus Bowl: No. 14 Notre Dame +3 vs. No. 17 LSU (noon, Ch. 7, 1000-AM): If you like smashmouth football — and if you don’t, what the heck is wrong with you? — then you’ll dig this one. Irish back Josh Adams and Tigers counterpart Derrius Guice are the bell cows, and one of them is going to be the story of this game. The left side of the Irish’s offensive line, where tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson operate, needs to dominate. Domers do it, 27-23.

Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

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