BCS Bowls Preview

BCS Bowl Previews

It’s that time of year again. The holiday lights are up, last minute shopping is being done, and college football bowl games are being played. Let’s take a look into the BCS matchups, the last games of the BCS era.

Rose Bowl– Stanford vs. Michigan State (January 1st- 5pm ET, ESPN)

The Grand-daddy of them all, as it is called, celebrates the centennial anniversary of this prestigious bowl. And what better teams to mark the occasion than two physical, hard-nosed, old fashioned programs in Stanford and Michigan State. Practically mirror images of each other, these two teams both present stout defenses and powerful ground games. Michigan State enters the game off of a huge win against Ohio State, the Spartans have a high sense of confidence heading into the Rose Bowl. Stanford themselves come off of a convincing win against Arizona State.

Winner-Stanford. The big difference between these two programs is how they perform in big games. Michigan State is just 2-1 against Top 25 teams, while Stanford is an impressive 7-0 against ranked teams. Nonetheless, this game is surely one to watch.

Fiesta Bowl– UCF vs. Baylor (January 1st- 8:30pm ET, ESPN)

Similar to Northern Illinois last year, UCF gained the highest ranking non-power conference schools, and therefore, a BCS berth. Also similar to Northern Illinois, they are predicted to be torn apart. Except for an uncharacteristic poor offensive showing against Oklahoma State, Baylor has scored at least 30 points in all of its games and at least 50 in seven of those contests. Bryce Petty paces the strong Baylor offense, but his counterpart Blake Bortles leads UCF’s underrated offense. The one advantage the Knights have over Baylor is their defense, which ranks 13th nationally in scoring defense  at 19.6 PPG.

Winner- Baylor. Although UCF has had one of their best seasons in program history, not many teams can handle the offensive firepower of Baylor, let alone a defense that has not only faced two Top 25 teams and barely won one of two. The Baylor offense will be too much for UCF to handle.

Sugar Bowl– Oklahoma vs. Alabama (January 2nd- 8:30pm ET, ESPN)

After one of the craziest finishes in Iron Bowl and college football history, Alabama’s loss dropped them from the National Championship race to just a BCS berth. Oklahoma has had a decent season, except for a blowout loss to Baylor and a tough loss to Texas in the Red River Rivalry. Alabama is expected to take this game, but the X-factor is Oklahoma QB Blake Bell. The two games in which Alabama’s praised defense has allowed more than 30 points were against Texas A&M and Auburn, led by Johnny Manziel and Nick Marshall, respectively. Both of these quarterbacks have the ability to escape the pocket and pick up yardage on the ground, and Alabama has trouble containing scrambling QBs.

Winner- Alabama. Although they have had trouble containing scramblers, Blake Bell has not established himself as a quality quarterback, and he has not faced a fierce SEC defense. Also, Oklahoma’s two losses have come to two strong running attacks in Texas and Baylor, and Alabama’s run game is very good as well.

Cotton Bowl– Oklahoma State vs. Missouri (January 3rd- 7:30pm ET, FOX)

Both teams were in the Top 5 late in the season, but Oklahoma State lost its last regular season game to Oklahoma and Missouri lost to Auburn in the SEC Championship game. Neither team has superstars that jump out at you and can single-handedly win a game, but both these teams play together and get the job done. After leaving the Big 12 for the SEC two years ago, Missouri faces their former Big 12 foe for the first time since shifting conferences. Both programs enter the game off of season-altering losses, and will look to bounce back.

Winner-Missouri. Even after giving up 304 rushing yards to Heisman finalist Tre Mason, this Missouri Tiger group is still hard to stop. The one big advantage Missouri has over the Cowboys- and most teams- is their two athletic wide receivers: 6’6” Dorial Green-Beckham and 6’4” L’Damian Washington. These vertical threats should propel Missouri to a Cotton Bowl victory.

Orange Bowl– Clemson vs. Ohio State (January 3rd- 8:30pm ET, ESPN

After losing the B1G Championship game that would have boosted them into the BCS National Championship, Ohio State takes on Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Both teams are led by dual threat quarterbacks, Tajh Boyd for Clemson and Braxton Miller for Ohio State. Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins is the Tigers’ main weapon, while Carlos Hyde and Miller lead the Buckeyes’ third ranked rushing attack.

Winner- Ohio State. Clemson is only 1-2 against Top 25 teams, showing that they are not very capable of winning high-pressure games, and Ohio State is sure to bring their A-game. The skill players of Ohio State are just too good for Clemson to be able to contain.

BCS National Championship– Auburn vs. Florida State (January 6th- 8:30pm ET, ESPN)

After going 3-9 last season, Auburn has experienced one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history (with a little help from the football gods), led by rookie coach Gus Malzahn. On the other side, Heisman winner Jameis Winston leads the undefeated Seminoles. The matchup to watch will be Florida State’s defense against Auburn’s running attack, which averages 338 ypg, tops in the country. Also, the Florida State receiving corps are one of the best in football, led by Kelvin Benjamin, Rashad greene, and Kenny Shaw.

Winner- Florida State. The Seminoles averaged an astounding 53 ppg this season. If that’s not enough to show their dominance, they average an unreal 10.7 ppg allowed, best in the country.

Florida State have allowed more than 17 points only once this season, and allowed less than 10 points seven times. The overall dominance of Florida State is too much for the Auburn Tigers, and the Seminoles will win the final BCS National Championship.

 

College Football Conference Championship Previews

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Questions and speculations never cease to arise towards the end of the college football season. The final games before the bowl matchups are released are the conference championships. Here is what to look for in each of the power conference showdowns.

 

ACC- Duke vs. Florida State (8pm ET, ABC)

Out of all the power conference championships, this game is the biggest yawner. This game features a matchup that pits the top team in the land against a football team that is not at all known for their football program. The equivalent of a cinderella story in March Madness, Duke has launched itself to its first Top 25 ranking in quite some time. The one event that could give Duke a shot is Heisman hopeful Jameis Winston being convicted of his possible sexual assault charges, which is highly unlikely.

Winner- Florida State. The overall strength of the Seminoles is much too challenging for the Blue Devils. This win will propel Florida State into the BCS National Championship.

 

B1G (Big 10)- Ohio State vs. Michigan State (8pm ET, FOX)

This matchup consists of the third best scoring offense in the nation (Ohio State), and the fourth best scoring defense (Michigan State). Similar to the Stanford-Oregon game earlier this year, Michigan State’s potent defense will attempt to slow down Ohio State’s outstanding offense, led by dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller. With a win, Ohio State will clinch their spot in the BCS National Championship. Michigan State will earn a spot in the 100th Rose Bowl with a victory.

Winner- Ohio State. The matchup we all want to see is the Ohio State offense against the Michigan State defense. However, the winner of this game will be whoever has the better squad on the other side of the ball for each team. Michigan State’s offense is much less powerful than Ohio State’s underrated defense, which leads the country in sacks and yards for loss.

 

Pac 12- Stanford at Arizona State (7:45pm ET, ESPN)

The only power conference to have the conference championship at the home of one of their universities. Although Stanford beat the Sun Devils earlier this year, that was at Stanford and Arizona State has greatly improved over the course of the season. And with this game in Arizona, home-field advantage will surely be a factor, especially in a game with what’s at stake. Arizona State averages 43 points a game, but Stanford has faced and conquered a similar opponent in Oregon. The winner earns a spot in the 100th Rose Bowl.

Winner- Stanford. Arizona State does have many factors that could help them, like coming off of a convincing win over their biggest rival, and home-field advantage, but there might not be a team outside of the SEC that can match the physicality of Stanford. Of course my Stanford bias might impact my prediction, but in the end the team that played better wins, and Arizona State cannot match up with Stanford’s hard nosed style of play.

 

SEC- Auburn vs. Missouri (4pm ET, CBS)

After two miraculous victories, Auburn has somehow placed itself into the SEC Championship game. If either Florida State or Ohio State loses, the winner of this game will likely earn a spot in the National Championship. Both teams have top 20 rushing offenses, and underrated but strong defenses. Neither team was predicted to have a shot in this game, but now they can show the country who they are.

Winner-Missouri. Auburn is a so-called “team of destiny” after wins from two plays in two games that never really happen. Auburn’s biggest strength is their running attack, which is 5th in the nation. Missouri’s defense is surprisingly strong against the run, which should force Nick Marshall to become a passer, which he isn’t.