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Clemson vs. Oklahoma: Orange Bowl Pittsburgh Steelers fan viewing guide

The NCAA College Playoffs are upon us, and there are some players playing on the biggest college stage who might be of interest to Steelers fans. Check out who, what position and why they might be of interest to the black and gold.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The College Football Playoffs are here! After years of haphazard methodology for the selection of the national championship team, CFB is in its second year of a playoff format to determine who plays in the National Championship on Monday, January 11.

The first playoff game is the Orange Bowl, airing on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. ET and featuring top-ranked, undefeated Clemson battling No. 4 Oklahoma (11-1).

Why the game matters

The winner of the game goes to the National Championship on Monday, January 11 to play the winner of the Alabama vs. Michigan State game that takes place Thursday night. Aside from a chance to be crowned best team in college football, both contenders have much on the line.

The Clemson tigers are the Cincinnati Bengals of college football, having such a strong reputation for choking that people have coined the term "Clemsoning" to refer to their knack for snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. A new Clemson emerged in 2015, one that has been able to win consistently and play top-level football. A victory on Thursday not only means a chance at a national title, but it can also dispel any residual doubts about the team's ability to compete at a high level and under pressure.

The Oklahoma Sooners lost only one game during the 2015 season in a fluky game against the comparatively lackluster Texas Longhorns. Despite an impressive slew of victories, including a decisive victory against Oklahoma State which they won 58-23, the Sooners have not received as much buzz or hype as the other three playoff teams. Critics have pointed to their strength of schedule and near-loss to TCU 29-30. A victory against Clemson will prove that Oklahoma is an elite team, not just a good team with an easy schedule.

Players to Watch

Even if you aren't a fan of college football, the Orange Bowl is worth watching. Both teams have are packed with talented players, many of whom will eventually find their way to the NFL.

DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson

A  redshirt junior, Lawson  has had 9.5 sacks this season and is one of the best edge rushers in college football. Lawson is a dynamic athlete who possesses speed, power, and strength. Watch for him to terrorize the Sooners offensive line and keep their quarterback under continual pressure. He has declared for the draft.

QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Watson finished third in Heisman voting this year and is one of the most talented quarterbacks in college football. He is a dual threat, able to pass with accuracy and confound opposing defenses with his ability to rush. In fact, he has the second most rushing yards on the Tigers squad with 887.

TE Jordan Leggett, Clemson

Also a junior, Leggett has NFL size at 6'5" and 255 pounds. Jordan is a receiving tight end who has been a threat in the endzone, scoring seven touchdowns so far this season. He could be tough for the Sooners to stop.

CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson

Alexander is a 5'11", 195-pound redshirt sophomore who will be tasked with shutting down Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Sterling Shepard. This matchup will be one ofo the most intense of the game.

WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma

Sterling Shepard is a senior wide receiver who has had an insanely productive 2015 season with over 1201 total receiving yards, 11 touchdowns, and an average of 15.2 yards per play. He performed well as a junior, tallying 970 yards and averaging 19.0 yards per play, so his 2015 productivity is not an anomaly. If Clemson cannot contain Shepard, the Sooners will likely win the game.

RB Samaje Perin, Oklahoma

The bowling-ball-like sophomore is on a roll after a slow start to his season. In the last three games he's averaged 24 cariries for an astouding 162 yards.

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma

Striker is a senior outside linebacker who stands only 6'0" and weighs 222 pounds. He has terrorized quarterbacks throughout the season, totaling 7.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries. He is one of the scariest players on the Oklahoma defense and will pose a challenge to the Tigers offense.