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Why USC must help Caleb Williams, other NY6 bowl takeaways from Joel Klatt

While many fans had their eyes focused on the College Football Playoff semifinals, the four other New Year’s Six bowls also featured some compelling action.

No. 6 Tennessee decisively beat No. 7 Clemson in the Orange Bowl. No. 5 Alabama showed its dominance in a win over No. 9 Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. No. 16 Tulane had a comeback win for the ages over No. 10 USC in the Cotton Bowl. And in the Rose Bowl, No. 11 Penn State had a second-half breakthrough to beat No. 8 Utah.

FOX Sports lead college football analyst Joel Klatt broke down all the action in the latest episode of the “Joel Klatt Podcast,” giving a takeaway for each team.

Orange Bowl: Tennessee beats Clemson, 31-14

Tennessee: “That was a really good performance by Tennessee. Josh Heupel’s done an outstanding job at Tennessee and I don’t think they’re going anywhere. I didn’t think this was a flash in the pan for them just because they got Hendon Hooker and some really good receivers. I think this is a blueprint that this can continue. I don’t think Tennessee is going to go anywhere. This is a team and a program that makes that side of the SEC formidable. It’s not just Georgia. I know that Georgia just beat this team, but it’s going to be difficult going forward year in and year out.”

Clemson: “On the Clemson side, I thought it was a bit disappointing. I thought this was going to be a springboard. I thought this was going to mark the first game of next season for them with the momentum they were going to have after benching DJ Uiagalelei and Cade Klubnik goes out there, I thought this was going to be the start of a championship run for them. It might turn out to be that, but they certainly didn’t play well enough in crucial moments. Obviously, missing field goals gets you beat. … Dabo has his work cut out for him. I think he’s in a decent position. That’s a good roster, but I’m not sure if they’re quite as talented as it relates to other teams around the country and where they were three, four years ago.”

Is Clemson no longer elite?

Sugar Bowl: Alabama beats Kansas State, 45-20

Kansas State: “K-State was totally overmatched. K-State is an overachieving program. They overachieved by winning the Big 12 championship. They overachieved for most of the year. I love Deuce Vaughn, by the way. I think Deuce is going to be a really good pro. But when you look at that team, they just did not have what you need to have in order to go beat Alabama or even stay with Alabama, in particular when Alabama has its full slate of players and is motivated to play.”

Alabama: “This dominant win, can it propel them? Yes, it can. Is it going to be the changing of the guard at Alabama? Absolutely yes, it is. The one thing they can rest on is that they’ve done this time and time again. Remember, since Nick Saban won his first title at Alabama, they have not gone three years without a title. So, next year is that year. … The precedent has been that over cycles of recruits, Nick Saban has proven that he is one of the only guys in history that can win national championships over the cycle of multiple recruiting classes. He’s done it with every recruiting class he’s had at Alabama.”

Will Alabama return to the CFP next season?

Will Alabama return to the CFP next season?

Cotton Bowl: Tulane beats USC, 46-45

Tulane: “Tulane, congratulations on a huge win in the Cotton Bowl. I hope that propels you toward success in the next few years. When you take about Group of 5 teams, it takes multiple years to get on the radar and make a playoff push. So, we’ve got another playoff that’s a four-team invitational next year and then we’re going to start moving into an expanded role in 2024. Maybe Tulane is building something very special like we saw at Boise State, UCF and Cincinnati, where they can play at the top end of college football. This is one of those landmark wins where you hope if you’re a Tulane fan propels them into multiple years of success.”

USC: “What a horrendous collapse by USC. No other way to put it. They were up by 15 with just over four minutes left — you’ve got to win that game. You’ve got to actively make plays to lose that game, and it felt like they did. They wasted a marvelous performance from Caleb Williams. This is the scary part for USC, and I really believe in what Lincoln Riley is doing there, the scary part for USC is you’ve got this guy we’re all starting to realize that after winning the Heisman Trophy and seeing him play in that back half of the season, what we’re seeing is this guy’s a generational talent. We might be watching [Patrick] Mahomes 2.0. Even better than what Mahomes was at Texas Tech. This guy’s ability is staggering. You cannot waste it. You’ve got one more year left with this guy. You cannot waste Caleb Williams. So, USC’s got to figure out this defense.”

USC and Tulane: What does the future hold?

USC and Tulane: What does the future hold?

Rose Bowl: Penn State beats Utah, 35-21

Utah: “For the second straight year, Utah fans are going to be left thinking what might have been. For the second straight year [in the Rose Bowl], Cam Rising — who is the catalyst for their success, both as an offense and as a team — goes down and it happened in front of us. When he went down, I knew it did not look good. You could feel the entire side of the stadium, that sideline, the air leave the stadium and Penn State took advantage of that.”

Penn State: “That program has to feel very excited about where they’re going … the best part of Penn State is their youth, and that’s a really scary proposition for the Big Ten and the Big Ten East for next season. That’s a really good young team. Both of those running backs are outstanding. They were able to run the ball very well against Utah, which not many teams were able to do. Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton, really good players. They’ve got what I consider a top-three or four defensive player in the entire Big Ten coming back next year and I know he wasn’t directly a starter, but Abdul Carter is a sensational player. They’ve got to replace Joey Porter Jr., but they’ve been able to do that though in the secondary and bring in different pieces and continue to play at a high level. So, this Penn State team, I think everything’s looking up for them.”

Will Penn State’s success improve the Big Ten next season?

Will Penn State's success improve the Big Ten next season?

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