2014 College Football Bowl Preview & College Playoff Predictions

December 19, 2014 0

College Football

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; the college football bowl season is upon us once more. This year there are a whopping 38 bowl games including the new 4-team playoff for the National Championship. The fun starts this Saturday December 20th and finished up with the National Championship game on January 12th in Arlington Texas. To get you ready for all the bowl games, we have a little preview of all of the games in order by date and predictions for the playoff. Enjoy!

Dec. 20:
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4). The Nevada Wolf Pack are led by Sr. QB Cody Fajardo who was also the team’s leading rusher this season. ULL’s Sr. QB Terrance Broadway threw for 12 TDs this season and rushed for over 600 yards as well. Nevada’s defense had 26 turnovers and their plus-11 margin is tied for 11th in the country this season. The Ragin’ Cajuns of ULL are no strangers to the New Orleans Bowl, they’ve played and won it the past three years and would love to make it a 4th. This a battle between two run-heavy teams.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Utah St (9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5). The strength of the Utah St Aggies is on defense, where they’re one of the countries best against the run. Sr. LB Zach Vigil was the MWC defensive player of the year and was 9th in the country in tackles while Sr. safety Frankie Sutera was tied for 3rd in the country with 7 INTS. Utah St lost three QBs to injury this season and current QB, FR. Kent Myers, took over 6 games ago. The Miners of UTEP are led by So. RB Aaron Jones whose rushing total of 1,233 yards this season is sixth in UTEP history. Sr. RB Nate Jeffery also rushed for 513 yards this season and the Miners had the 34th best rushing offense this season. This will is a battle of a strong run defense (USU) versus a solid run game (UTEP).

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado St (10-2). Utah, ranked 22nd in the country, was hit hard with injuries this year as Sr. WR Dres Anderson & Jr. QB Kendal Thompson both suffered season-ending knee injuries. Current QB Jr. Travis Wilson split time with Thompson to start the season and he threw for 17 TDs & 4 INTs this season. The Utes defense led the country with 52 sacks this season. The Colorado St Rams are led by Sr. QB Garret Grayson, one of the most underrated in the country. Grayson threw for 32 TDs and CSU had the 8th best passing offense and 22nd best scoring offense in the country this season. So. WR Rashard Higgins led the country with 17 receiving TDs. The Rams will be coached in this game by offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin, since head coach Jim McElwain has left to become Florida’s next head coach. This is a battle between a strong defense (Utah) and high powered offense (CSU).

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3). The Broncos of Western Michigan had one of the best turnarounds from last year where they finished 1-11 on the season. Freshman RB Jarvion Franklin was a big reason for the turnaround. The young star rushed for 1,525 rushing yards (good for 9th nationally) and rushed for 24 TDs (only Heisman Trophy candidate Melvin Gordon rushed for more). The Air Force Falcons also had a resurgent year after last season’s 2-10 campaign. The Falcons are known for their rushing attack. Air Force had 5 ball carriers with 60 or more carries and ranked 8th nationally with 272.2 rushing yards per game. So. RB Jacobi Owens led the team in rushing yards but will miss the game due to a foot injury. This is a battle between two closely matched teams looking to put an exclamation point on their season.

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6). The South Alabama Jaguars are making their first ever bowl appearance. Shockingly they have only had a football program since 2009 and only started playing in the FBS in 2012. Sr. QB Brandon Bridge threw for 14 TDs this season and 6 INTs. South Alabama lost 4 of their final 5 games. The Falcons of Bowling Green are led by So. QB James Knapke who threw for 13 TDs and 12 INTs. Freshman WR. Roger Lewis had 69 catches for 956 yards & 5 TDs. Bowling Green’s defense has given up more than 50 points in 3 games this season. This, the first ever Camellia Bowl, is a battle between two pretty mediocre teams.

Dec 22:
Miami Beach Bowl: BYU (8-4) vs. Memphis (9-3). The BYU Cougars looked strong to start the season, winning their first 4 games. Then star Jr. QB Taysom Hill was lost for the season and the Cougars went on to lose 4 straight games before winning 4 straight to end the season. Sr. QB Christian Stewart threw for 22 TDs and 6 INTs replacing Hill. BYU’s offense was 20th in the nation in scoring averaging 36.2 points per game. The Tigers of Memphis came roaring back this season after winning only ten games total in the previous 4 seasons. So. QB Paxton Lynch threw for 2,725 yards & 18 TDs. He also ran for 10 scores and didn’t throw an interception in the Tigers’ final six games. The Tigers’ defense was ranked 5th nationally in points against only allowing 17.1 points per game. This, the first ever Miami Beach Bowl, is a battle between teams with both solid offenses and defenses.

Dec 23:
Boca Raton Bowl: Marshall (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois (11-2). The Thundering Herd of Marshall’s dynamic offense is ranked 2nd in the country with 563.4 yards per game & 5th in scoring. Sr. QB Rakeem Cato, who holds all the school’s QB records, was one of the top QBs in the country this year throwing for 3,622 yards & 37 TDs. Marshall also has the country’s 6th leading rusher in Jr. Devon Johnson. The Northern Illinois Huskies are led by So. QB Drew Hare who passed for 17 TDS * just 2 INTs and also rushed for 850 yards this season & 8 TDs. Sr. RB Cameron Stingily had a team-leading 895 rushing yars & 13 TDs. NIU’s defense forced 10 turnovers in their final 2 games. This is a battle between a dynamic overall offense (Marshall) and a strong rushing game (Northern Illinois) with both teams having solid defenses.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: Navy (7-5) vs. San Diego St (7-5). The Navy Midshipmen have the country’s 2nd best rushing offense averaging 345.1 yards per game. Sr. QB Keenan Reynolds was the team’s leading rusher with 1182 yards and 21 TDs (he also threw for 8 TDs). Navy’s triple-option offense only scored less than 20 points once this season. The Aztecs of San Diego St are led on offense by So. RB Donnel Pumphrey who rushed for 1755 yards and 19 TDs this season. SDST’s defense was ranked #1 in the Mountain West this season and 14th in the country in points against with 20.1 per game. They are led on defense by So. LB Calvin Munson who had 78 tackles and 4 INTs. This is a battle between a team who loves to run (Navy) and a team with solid defense (San Diego St).

Dec 24:
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl: Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5). The Central Michigan Chippewas are led by S. QB Cooper Rush who threw for 20 TDs & 12 INTs. Sr. RB Thomas Rawls rushed for 1103 yards and 10 TDs. CMU had the #1 ranked defense in the Mid-American Conference. The Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky are led by Sr. QB Brandon Doughty who led the country throwing 44 TDs this season to just 10 INTs. WKU threw for the 3rd most passing yards this season and are the 6th ranked scoring offense in the country at 44 points per game. Jr. WR Jared Dangerfield caught 10 TD passes this season. This, the first ever Bahamas Bowl, will be a battle between a high powered offense (WKU) and a solid defense (CMU).

Hawaii Bowl: Fresno St (6-7) vs. Rice (7-5). The Fresno St Bulldogs are led by Jr. QB Brian Burrell who passed for 22 TDs and 16 INTs. Sr. WR Josh Harper had over 1000 yards receiving and 7 TDs this season. In 40 career games Harper has caught 29 TDs, only three active players have done better. FSU had to win their final 3 games to become bowl eligible and they are the only bowl team sporting a losing record since they lost in the MWC championship. The Owls of Rice are led by Jr. QB Driphus Jackson who threw for 21 TDs and 8 INTs. Sr. WR Jordan Taylor had 781 receiving yards and 6 TDs this season. Rice won 6 straights games from late September to early November to earn bowl eligibility. This is a battle between teams who both lost their first 3 games and got better as the season went on.

Dec 26:
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5). Illinois Fighting Illini So. QB Wes Lunt was benched at the end of the season after being ineffective after returning from injury. Lunt had 14 TDs this season and his replacement Sr. QB Riley O’Toole threw 9 TDs. Look for Illinois to go with the hot hand. Fr. WR Mike Dudek had 965 yards receiving & 6 TDs this season. Illinois had the country’s 108th ranked defense. The Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech are led by Sr. QB Cody Sokol who passed for 29 TDs & 13 INTs. Jr. RB Kenneth Dixon rushed for 1236 yards & 21 TDs. Dixon scored in all but one game this season and was one of the top 10 backs this year. La Tech’s defense led the country in takeaways this season with 40. This is a battle between one of the country’s worst defenses (Illinois) and one of the country’s top scoring offenses (La Tech).

Quick Lane Bowl: Rutgers (7-5) vs. North Carolina (6-6). The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are led by Sr. QB Gary Nova who passed for 20 TDs and 12 INTs this season. Jr. WR Leonte Carroo had 1043 receiving yards and 10 TDs. Rutgers defense ranks 50th nationally in the red zone, allowing scores 81.3 percent of the time. The Tar Heels of North Carolina are led by Jr. QB Marquise Williams who passed for 20 TDs and 9 INTs this season. Williams was also the team’s leading rusher running for 737 yards and 12 TDs. North Carolina’s red-zone offense has scored touchdowns 75.5 percent of the time, which is the best in the country this season. This, the first ever Quick Lane Bowl, is a battle between a team that exceeded expectations and no one expected to be here (Rutgers) and a team who has not lived up to expectations (North Carolina).

Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl: NC State (7-5) vs. UCF (9-3). The Wolfpack of NC State are led by Jr. QB Jacoby Brissett who passed for 22 TDs and ran for 3 this season. He is one of 3 QBs this year with 20 or more passing touchdowns, 300 or more rushing yards and no more than five interceptions. Jr. RB Shadrach Thorton rushed for 811 yards & 9 TDs this season. The UCF Knights are led by So. QB Justin Holman who passed for 20 TDs and 13 INTs this season. UCF has one of the country’s best defenses ranking 9th in points allowed only allowing 17.9 points per game this season. The defense is led by Sr. LB Terrance Plummer who led the team with 92 tackles this season and also had 4 sacks and 1 INT. This is a battle between one of the country’s most efficient QBs this season (NC ST) and one of the country’s best defenses (UCF).

Dec 27:
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6). The Cincinnati Bearcats are led by So. QB Gunner Kiel who passed for 30 TDs & 11 INTs this season. Jr. WR Mekale McKay led the team with 690 yards receiving & 8 TDs. The Bearcats passing offense was ranked 13th in the country this season with 300.2 yards per game. The Hokies of Virginia Tech are led on offense by Jr. QB Michael Brewer who threw for 17 TDs & 14 INTs. Virginia Tech’s offense ranked 70th in pass yards, 96th in rush yards, and 98th in points per game this season. Their defense however was impressive this season ranking 17th in the country in points as well as yards allowed per game. This is a battle between a dynamic passing offense (Cincinnati) and a strong defense (VT).

Hyundai Sun Bowl: Arizona St (9-3) vs. Duke (9-3). The Sun Devils of Arizona St used two QBs in their final game this season, and while Sr. QB Taylor Kelly will likely start the bowl game, don’t be surprised if Jr. QB Mike Bercovici plays as well. Kelly threw for 20 TDs & 5 INTs while Bercovici passed for 12 & 4 INTs. Jr. WR Jaelen Strong had 1062 receiving yards & 10 TDs. Jr. RB DJ Foster rushed for 9 TDs & caught 3 this season. ASU had the 18th best scoring offense in the country this year averaging 37.0 points per game. The Duke Blue Devils are led by Sr. QB Anthony Boone who threw for 17 TDs & 7 INTs. Sr. WR Jamison Crowder had 942 yards receiving & 6 TDs this year. Duke’s defense gave up just 20.6 points per game this year, which was ranked 20th nationally. This is a battle between a team who can really score (ASU) and a team who can really shut offenses down (Duke).

Duck Commander Independence Bowl: Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6). The Miami Hurricanes are led on offense by Freshman QB Brad Kaaya who threw for 25 TDs & 11 INTs. Jr. RB Duke Johnson rushed for 1520 yards and 10 TDs. He averaged 7 yards a carry which was 7th best in the country. Miami comes in on a 3 game losing streak and only beat two teams with winning records this season. The Gamecocks of South Carolina are led by Sr. QB Dylan Thompson who threw for 24 TDs & 11 INTs. South Carolina’s passing offense was ranked 21st in the country with 281.4 yards per game. So. WR Pharoh Cooper had 966 yards receiving and 8 TDs. He also had 198 rushing yards and two more scores. This is a battle between two teams with both decent offenses and disappointing seasons.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6). The Boston College Eagles are led by Sr. QB Tyler Murphy who broke the ACC record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,079 this season. Murphy also scored 10 rushing TDs and passed for 11 TDs this season. B.C. had the country’s 15th best rush offense this season. Fr. RB Jon Hillman rushed for 712 yards & 12 TDs. Boston College’s defense was ranked 18th nationally only allowing 20.5 points per game and was 4th against the run. The Nittany Lions of Penn State are led on offense by So. QB Christian Hackenberg who threw for 8 TDs & 15 INTs this seaason. Penn State’s defense was ranked 8th nationally in points allowed this season only allowing 17.7 per game and PSU had the country’s top run defense. Sr. LB Mike Hull led the Big Ten with 134 tackles this season. This is a battle between two of the country’s best defenses.

National University Holiday Bowl: Nebraska (9-3) vs. USC (8-4). The Nebraska Cornhuskers are led on offense by So. QB Tommy Armstrong Jr who threw for 19 TDs and 11 INTs this season. He also rushed for 664 yards and 5 TDs. Sr. RB Ameer Abdullah rushed for 1523 yards this season and 18 TDs. The Huskers had the 17th best rushing offense this season with 248.3 yards per game. Nebraska will be playing without Coach Bo Pelini who was fired when the regular season ended and interim coach. The Trojans of USC are led by Jr. QB Cody Kessler who threw for 36 TDs & only 4 INTs this season. Jr. WR Nelson Agholor had 97 receptions for 1223 yards & 11 TDs this season. Both defenses are in the top 50 for points against this year statistically. This is a battle between a strong run offense (Nebraska) and a strong passing offense (USC).

Dec 29:
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Texas AM (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5). The Texas AM Aggies are led by Freshman QB Kyle Allen who threw for 12 TDs & 6 INTs this season. Allen took over for So. Kenny Hill, who was benched during the season. Hill threw for 23 TDs & 8 INTs. The Aggies as a team had the country’s 12th best passing offense with 306.4 yards per game. Freshman DE Myles Garrett broke Jadeveon Clowney’s SEC freshman sack record with 11 this season. The West Virginia Mountaineers are led by Sr. QB Clint Trickett who threw for 18 TDs and 10 INTs this season. Sr. WR Kevin White had 9 TDs this season and led the Big 12 with 102 catches for 1,318 yards. WVU was 9th in the country in passing yards per game with 314.6 this season. This is a battle of two of the better passing teams in college football this season.

Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma (8-4) vs. Clemson (9-3). The Sooners of Oklahoma are led by So. QB Trevor Knight who passed for 14 TDs & 9 INTs this season. Freshman RB Samaje Perine rushed for 1579 yards and 21 TDs this season. Perine set the NCAA single game rushing record with 427 yards against Kansas this season. The Sooners had the 9th best rushing offense this season and were a top 50 team defensively in points against. The Clemson Tigers are led by Sr. Cole Stoudt who was benched this season after throwing 6 TDs and 10 INTs. Freshman QB Deshaun Watson, who threw for 14 TDs & only 2 INTs will miss the game due to injury. Freshman RB Wayne Gallman rushed for 714 yards & 4 TDs this season. Clemson was 7th in the country in points against only allowing 17.6 points per game this season. Sr. DE Vic Beasley was 9th in the country in sacks and 7th in tackles for loss this season. This is the battle between a strong run game (OU) and a very strong defense (Clemson).

AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Arkansas (6-6) vs. Texas (6-6). The Arkansas Razorbacks are led on offense by Jr. QB Brandon Allen who threw for 18 TDs & 5 INTs this season. Arkansas had 2 1,000 yard rushers this season; Jr. Jonathan Williams rushed for 1085 yards & 11 TDs and So. Alex Collins had 1024 yards & 12 TDs. Arkansas’s defense was ranked 15th in points against only allowing 20.3 points per game. The Longhorns of Texas are led by So. QB Tyrone Swoopes who threw for 13 TDs & 10 INTs. Sr. WR John Harris had 1015 receiving yards and 7 TDs. Texas’s defense was ranked 33rd in points against this season allowing 23.3 points per game. This is a battle between two solid defenses but a team with a much better run game (Arkansas).

Dec 30:
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Notre Dame (7-5) vs. LSU (8-4). The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are led by Sr. QB Everett Golson who threw for 29 TDs & 14 INTs this season. So. QB Malik Zaire, who came in for Golson in their final game, will also play in the bowl game. So. WR William Fuller had 1037 yards receiving and 14 TDs this year.The Irish started the season 6-0 but lost 5 of their final 6 games including 4 straight to end the season. The LSU Tigers are led by So. QB Anthony Jennings who threw for 10 TDs & 7 INTs this season. Freshman RB Leonard Fournette had 891 rushing yards and 8 TDs this season. LSU had the country’s 3rd best defense in terms of points allowed; only giving up an average of 16.4 points per game. This is a battle between a team with one of the country’s stingiest defenses (LSU) and a team who is trending the wrong direction & has a QB issue (ND).

Belk Bowl: Georgia (9-3) vs. Louisville (9-3). The Georgia Bulldogs are led by Sr. QB Hutson Mason who threw for 20 TDs & only 4 INTs this season. Fr. RB Nick Chubb rushed for 1281 yards & TDs & Jr. Todd Gurley rushed for 911 yards & 9 TDs. The Georgia offense was ranked 13th in rushing and 8th in scoring averaging 41.7 points per game. They also had the 25th ranked defense in terms of points against. The Cardinals of Louisville will be led by one of two freshman QBs, Kyle Bolin (3 TDs/1 INT) or Reggie Bonnafon (5 TDs/3 INTs). So. QB Will Gardner was lost to injury. Louisville’s defense is ranked 18th nationally in points against only allowing 20.5 points per game. So. S Gerod Holliman had14 interceptions this season, matching the NCAA single-season record. This is a battle between two strong defenses, but one offense (Georgia) looks more certain at this point.

Foster Farms Bowl: Maryland (7-5) vs. Stanford (7-5). The Maryland Terrapins are led on offense by Sr. QB C.J. Brown who threw for 13 TDs & 9 INTs this season. Jr. WR Stefon Diggs missed a few games and still had 654 yards receiving and 5 TDs. Diggs was 2nd in the Big Ten in receptions per game with 5.8. The Stanford Cardinal are led on offense by Sr. QB Kevin Hogan who threw for 17 TDs & 8 INTs this season. Sr. Wr. Devon Cajuste had 510 receiving yards and 4 TDs and had an average of 17 yards per catch. The Cardinal offense was the 2nd stingiest in the country allowing only 16 points per game and the Cardinal are 6th in the country as a team in sacks. This is a battle between one of the country’s best defenses (Stanford) and an average across the board type of team (Maryland).

Dec 31:
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Ole Miss (9-3) vs. TCU (11-1). The Rebels of Ole Miss are led by Sr. QB Bo Wallace who threw for 22 TDs & 11 INTs. Wallace also rushed for 5 TDs as well. Sr. WR Vince Sanders had 696 receiving yards and 6 TDs this year. Ole Miss had the 30th best passing offense at 275.6 yards per game. The Rebels also gave up the fewest points per game in all of college football only allowing 13.8 points per. The Horned Frogs of TCU are led by Jr. QB Trevone Boykin who threw for 30 TDs and 7 INTs this season. Boykin also rushed for 642 yards & 8 TDs. Jr. WR Josh Doctson had 959 receiving yards and 9 TDs this season. TCU had the 7th best passing and 2nd overall highest scoring offense at 46.8 points per game this year. Their defense was ranked 16th in points allowed only giving up 20.3 per. This is a battle between two really good offenses and defenses.

VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: Boise St (11-2) vs. Arizona (10-3). The Broncos of Boise St are led by Sr. QB Grant Hedrick who threw for 22 TDs & 13 INTs this season. Hedrick also rushed for 563 yards & 8 TDs. Jr. RB Jay Ajayi had 1689 rushing and 25 rushing TDs this season which was the 2nd most in the country. The Broncos had the country’s 9th highest scoring offense at 39.8 points per game. The Arizona Wildcats are led by freshman QB Anu Solomon who threw for 27 TDs & 7 INTs this season. Freshman RB Nick Wilson rushed for 1289 yards & 15 TDs this season. So. WR Cayleb Jones had 902 receiving yards & 9 TDs this season. The Wildcats had the 28th ranked passing and scoring offense this season. So. LB Scooby Wright had 28 tackles for losses this season & 14 sacks which was 1st and 3rd respectively in the country. This is a battle between two exciting offenses.

Capital One Orange Bowl: Mississippi St (10-2) vs. Georgia Tech (10-3). The Mississippi St Bulldogs are led by Jr. QB Dak Prescott who threw for 24 TDs & 10 INTs this season. Prescott also rushed for 939 yards and 11 TDs. Jr. RB Josh Robinson had 1128 rushing yards and 11 TDs. Mississippi St had the 15th best scoring offense in the country this season averaging 37.2 points per game. The Bulldogs also were the 10th best defense in the country only allowing 19.4 points per. The Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech are led by So. QB Justin Thomas who threw for 17 TDs and 5 INTs this season. Thomas also led the team in rushing with 965 yards & 5 TDs. Thomas will be without leading receiver DeAndre Smelter (7 TDs). The Yellow Jackets had the 3rd best rushing offense at 333.6 yards per and the 18th best scoring offense at 37 points per game. Their passing game however ranked 122nd. This is a battle between a team with a more balanced offense (MSU) & a team that just loves to run the ball with their triple option (GT).

Jan 1:
Outback Bowl: Auburn (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (10-3). The Tigers of Auburn are led by Sr. QB Nick Marshall who threw for 18 TDs & 7 INTs this season. Marshall was also the team’s 2nd leading rusher, running for 780 yards & 11 TDs. Sr. RB Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for 1482 yards & 11 TDs. The Tigers had the 12th best rushing offense this season averaging 258.5 yards per game. The Wisconsin Badgers are led by Jr. QB Joel Stave who threw for 8 TDs & 7 INTs this season. Heisman finalist Jr. RB Melvin Gordon had 2336 rushing yards & an NCAA leading 26 TDs. His backup, Corey Clement had 844 yards & 9 TDs as well. Wisconsin had the 4th best rush offense this season at 314 yards per game. The Badgers also had the 13th best offense in points against only allowing 20 points per. Former coach & current AD Barry Alvarez will coach the bowl game after Coach Gary Andersen left the team. This is a battle between two strong running games.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Michigan St (10-2) vs. Baylor (11-1). The Michigan St Spartans are led by Jr. QB Connor Cook who passed for 22 TDs & 6 INTs this season. Sr. WR Tony Lippett had 1124 yards receiving and 11 TDs this season. Sr. RB Jeremy Langford had 1360 yards rushing and 19 TDs. MSU had the country’s 7th highest scoring offense at 43.1 points per game. The Spartans also had the 12th best defense only allowing 19.9 points per. The Bears of Baylor are led by Sr. QB Bryce Petty who threw for 26 TDs & 6 INTs this season. So. WR Corey Coleman had 969 receiving yards & 10 TDs. So. RB Shock Linwood had 1226 yards rushing and 16 TDs on the year. Baylor was the top scoring offense in all of college football averaging 48.8 points per game this season; they were also the #5 passing team. This is a battle of a top-10 offenses but one team has a better defense (MSU).

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: Missouri (10-3) vs. Minnesota (8-4). The Missouri Tigers are led on offense by So. QB Maty Mauk who threw for 23 TDs & 11 INTs this season and ran for 336 yards. Sr. WR Bud Sasser had 935 receiving yards & 10 TDs on this season. Jr. RB Russell Hansbrough had 970 yards rushing & 9 TDs this year. The Tigers had the 26th best defense in points allowed, giving up 21.4 per game. Jr. DE Shane Ray and Sr. DE Markus Golden combined for 22 sacks. The Golden Gophers of Minnesota are led by So. QB Mitch Leidner who threw for 10 TDs & 8 INTs this season. He also rushed for 462 yards & 10 TDs. So. TE Maxx Williams had 7 TDs on the year. Sr. RB David Cobb had 1545 yards rushing & 13 TDs on the season. Minnesota had the 27th best rushing offense this season averaging 224.6 yards per game. This is a battle between a solid defense (Missouri) and a solid rush offense (Minnesota).

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual: (playoff semifinal) Oregon (12-1) vs. Florida St (13-0). The Oregon Ducks are led by this year’s Heisman Trophy Winner Jr. QB Marcus Mariota who threw for 38 TDs & only 2 INTs this season. Mariota also rushed for 669 yards & 14 TDs. Freshman RB Royce Freeman rushed for 1299 yards and 16 TDs this year. The offense had 5 players catch 5 or more TDs this season. Oregon’s offense was 11th in passing and 3rd overall in scoring this season averaging 46.3 points per game. The Ducks however will be without top CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu who is out for the rest of the season, and that will affect their defense which was ranked 29th in points allowed giving up 22.5 points per. The Seminoles of Florida St are led by last year’s Heisman winner So. QB Jameis Winston who threw for 24 TDs & 17 INTs this season. He also rushed for 3 TDs this year. Sr. WR Rashad Green had 1306 yards receiving & 7 TDs on the year. Freshman RB Dalvin Cook rushed 905 yards & 8 TDs. Sr. RB Karlos Williams rushed for 609 yards & 10 TDs as well. FSU’s passing game ranked 14th in the country with 299.8 yards per game through the air. This is a battle between a team with the best QB in college football this year looking to get over the hump finally (Oregon), and the defending national champions who still have their very good QB (FSU).

Allstate Sugar Bowl: (playoff semifinal) Alabama (12-1) vs. Ohio St (12-1). The Alabama Crimson Tide are led by Sr. QB Blake Sims who threw for 26 TDs & 7 INTs this season. Heisman finalist Jr. WR Amari Cooper had 1656 yards receiving and 14 TDs on the year. Cooper had almost twice as many receptions as the team’s 2nd& 3rd leading receivers combined. Jr. RB TJ Yeldon & So. RB Derrick Henry both had over 850 yards & 10 rushing TDs. The Tide offense was ranked 17th in points scored with 37.1 per game. Alabama’s defense was the 4th stingiest in the country only allowing 16.6 points per. The Buckeyes of Ohio St. will be led by So. QB Cardale Jones who took over after both Braxton Miller & J.T Barrett went down with injuries. Jones has thrown 5 TDs and 0 INTs so far. So. RB Ezekiel Elliot rushed for 1402 yards & 12 TDs this season. The Buckeyes had the 11th best rushing offense and the 4th highest scoring team in the country averaging 45.2 points per, but both of those were in part because of Barrett. OSU had the 23rd best defense in terms of points allowed only allowing 21.2 points per game. This is a battle between a team both strong on offense & defense (Alabama) and a team with strong defense but question marks on offense due to injury (Ohio St).

Jan 2:
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6). The Houston Cougars are led by So. QB Greg Ward Jr who threw for 9 TDs & 7 INTs after taking over for the benched John O’Korn. Ward also rushed for 481 yards & 6 TDs. Jr. RB Kenneth Farrow rushed for 934 yards & 12 TDs. Houston’s defense was the 11th stingiest in the country only allowing 19.5 yards per game this season. Houston’s head coach Tony Levine was fired after this season & Defensive coordinator David Gibbs will coach the team in this game. The Panthers of Pittsburgh are led on offense by So. QB Chat Voytik who threw for 15 TDs & 7 INTs this season. So. WR Tyler Boyd had 1149 receiving yards with 8 TDs. So. RB James Conner rushed for 1675 yards & 24 TDs this season (which was 3rd in the country). The Panthers had the 16th best rushing offense this season with 251.3 yards per game, but had the 105th ranked passing attack. This is the battle of a strong defense (Houston) and a strong running game (Pittsburgh).

TaxSlayer Bowl: Iowa (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6). The Hawkeyes of Iowa are led by Jr. QB Jake Rudock who passed for 16 TDs & 5 INTs this season. Sr. RB Mark Weisman rushed for 802 yards & 14 TDs this year. Iowa’s defense was ranked 41st in points allowed giving up 24 points per game this season. Jr. DE Drew Ott had 8 sacks & 12 tackles for losses this season. The Tennessee Volunteers are led by So. QB Joshua Dobbs who passed for 8 TDs & 5 INTs after taking over for the injured Justin Worley. Dobbs also rushed for 393 yards & 6 TDs on the season. Freshman RB Jalen Hurd rushed for 777 yards & 3 TDs this year. Tennessee’s defense is ranked 40th in the country in points allowed giving up 23.9 points per game this season. Defensive Ends Jr. Curt Maggitt and Freshman Derek Barnett combined for 21 sacks this season. This is a battle between two teams who are strong defensively.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Kansas St (9-3) vs. UCLA (9-3). The Kansas St Wildcats are led by Sr. QB Jake Waters who passed for 20 TDs & 6 INTs this season. Waters also rushed for 471 yards & 8 TDs. Sr. WR Tyler Lockett had 1351 yards receiving & 9 TDs on the season. So. RB Charles Jones rushed for 521 yards & 13 TDs this year. KSU’s offense was ranked 23rd in scoring at 35.8 points per game & their defense was 27th in points against only giving up 21.8 points per. The Bruins of UCLA are led by Jr. QB Brett Hundley who passed for 21 TDs & 5 INTs this season. Hundley also rushed for 548 yards & 8 TDs this year. So. RB Paul Perkins rushed for 1378 yards & 7 TDs on the season. Jr. WR Jordan Payton had 896 receiving yards & 7 TDs this season. UCLA had the 42nd best offense in the country scoring 32.9 points per this season. This is a battle between two of the better QBs in the country.

TicketCity Cactus Bowl: Washington (8-5) vs. Oklahoma St (6-6). The Huskies of Washington are led by So. QB Cyler Miles who threw for 16 TDs & 3 INTs this season. Miles also rushed for 280 yards & 4 TDs. So. RB Dwayne Washington rushed for 655 yards & 9 TDs this season. The Huskies had the 47th ranked defense in points against, allowing 24.4 points per game. Sr. LB Hau’oli Kikana led the nation in sacks this year with 18. The Oklahoma St Cowboys are led by Freshman QB Mason Rudolph who threw for 4 TDs & 3 INTs after taking over for the injured Jr. Daxx Garman. Garman threw for 12 TDs & INTs, and could possible play as well. Sr. RB Desmond Roland rushed for 647 yards & 10 TDs on the year. OSU lost 5 of their final 6 games but stunned Oklahoma at the end of the season to become bowl eligible. This is a battle between an average offensive team (OKST) & a team with a solid defense (Washington).

Jan 3:
Birmingham Bowl: East Carolina (8-4) vs. Florida (6-5). The Pirates of East Carolina are led by Sr. QB Shane Carden who threw for 28 TDs & 8 INTs this season. He also rushed for 6 TDs. Sr. WR Justin Hardy had 1334 receiving yards & 9 TDs on the season. Sr. RB Breon Allen rushed for 869 yards & 8 TDs this year. East Carolina had the 2nd best passing offense in the country at 367.3 yards per game and had the 15th best scoring offense averaging 37.2 points per. The Florida Gators are led by Freshman QB Treon Harris who took over for Jeff Driskel this season. Harris threw for 7 TDs & 3 INTs and rushed for another 3. Jr. RB Matt Jones and So. RB Kelvin Taylor each rushed for 6 TDs this season. Florida’s defense is ranked 24th in points against allowing 21.2 points per game this season. Florida will be coached by defensive coordinator DJ Durkin after head coach Will Muschamp was fired. This is a battle between one of the country’s best passing attacks (ECU) and a strong defense (Florida).

Jan 4:
GoDaddy Bowl: Toledo (8-4) vs. Arkansas St (7-5). The Toledo Rockets are led by So. QB Logan Woodside who threw for 19 TDs & 7 INTs this season. So RB Kareem Hunt rushed for 1360 yards & 11 INTs this season. Freshman RB Terry Swanson rushed for 732 yards & 6 TDs on the year. The Rockets had 33rd highest scoring offense and 18th best rushing offense this season averaging 247.3 yards per game. The Red Wolves of Arkansas St are led by Jr. QB Fredi Knighten who passed for 19 TDs & 7 INTs this season. Knighten also rushed for 775 yards & 11 TDs. Jr. RB Michael Gordon rushed for 1064 yards & 13 TDs on the season. The Red Wolves had the 25th best rushing attack in the country this season and the 21st highest scoring averaging 36.1 points per game. This is Arkansas St’s 4th straight season playing in the GoDaddy Bowl & they’ve won their previous two. This is a battle between two strong and evenly matched offenses.

Jan 12:
College Football National Championship Presented by ATT: Teams TBD

Playoff Prediction:
Oregon over Florida St: Oregon will beat a Florida State team that while undefeated, has underperformed for most of the season. While their defenses are evenly matched, Oregon’s offense is much more dynamic than FSU’s who has had problems with turnovers and running the ball. Prediction: Oregon 35   FSU 21

Alabama over Ohio St: Alabama will be too much for OSU to handle and the Tide will roll. OSU’s 3rd string QB is no match for a dominate Alabama defense and the dynamic WR Amari Cooper will cause fits for OSU’s defense. Prediction: Alabama 31   OSU 13

Oregon over Alabama: The Oregon Ducks led by Heisman winner Marcus Mariota finally get the monkey off their back and win the school’s first National Championship in what will be a very close game. I give Oregon the edge because I think they’re dynamic offense will be the deciding factor. Prediction: Oregon 28   Alabama 24

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