New Year’s Eve Bowl Preview
Peach Bowl: #18 Houston Cougars (12-1) vs. #9 Florida State Seminoles (10-2), 12:00 P.M.
Houston became the automatic qualifying team from a team not in a power five conference by only losing to UConn this season. Their quarterback, Greg Ward, played limited snaps in that game due to an injury. Ward is one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in college football and had over 2500 passing yards and over 1000 rushing yards. With Ward at quarterback the Houston offense was able to average 40.6 points per game on the season. The offense for Houston gets most of the publicity, but the defense only allows 20.5 points per game, which is the tied for nineteenth best in the country. They are particularly good at stopping the run, giving up only 116 yards on the ground per game.
Florida State was one freakish play away from being in consideration for the College Football Playoff. They lost to Georgia Tech and Clemson this year, but got still has a chance to have its fourth straight year of twelve wins. The starting quarterback will be Sean Maguire because Everett Golson will not attend the bowl game due to personal reasons. Maguire doesn’t have much experience, but will have running back Dalvin Cook to help him out. Cook was hampered by a hamstring injury all season, but still managed to gain 1658 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He will be a frontrunner for the Heisman trophy next season. The Seminoles have great defense that only allows 15.8 points per game. Safety Jalen Ramsey is the most talented player on the defense and has the potential to be a top five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Seminoles will be able to contain Ward just enough to halt their drives. Ramsey and the defense will show why they are one of the best in the country.
Capital One Orange Bowl: #4 Oklahoma Sooners (11-1) vs. #1 Clemson Tigers (13-0), 4:00 P.M.
Oklahoma lost to Texas, but still managed to make it to the College Football Playoff game. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is the best walk-on in the country and was snubbed by not being invited to the Heisman Trophy Presentation. The Sooners have three great players on offense with, Mayfield, running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Mayfield threw 3389 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. He also creates problems for defenses with his mobility. Perine is a great power running back who rushed for 1291 yards and 15 touchdowns. Shepard is a smaller receiver, but was still able to get open and have 1201 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. Defensively the Sooners turned their horrible pass defense from a year ago into a strength. Cornerback Zack Sanchez has helped hold opponents to 201 passing yards per game, which is impressive considering the number of teams that like to throw the ball in the Big 12. Their rush defense is average, but linebacker Eric Striker will make plays all over the field.
Clemson went undefeated, but now has to deal with three players being sent home from this game due to failed drug tests. The most notable player is wide receiver Desmond Cain, who was the team’s second leading receiver. The Tigers still have quarterback Deshaun Watson, who accounted for 4399 yards and is also a good dual threat quarterback. Running back Wayne Gallman has helped the offense by rushing for 1332 yards and 10 touchdowns. Without Cain for this game the team’s leading receiver, Artavis Scott, will have to step up even more than usual and have more than the 61 receiving yards he averages per game. The Tigers have a slightly better scoring defense than the Sooners, giving up 20.2 points per game. Defensive end Shaq Lawson has been very disruptive and has played his way into being a likely first round pick in the NFL Draft. Safety Jeyon Kearse covers a lot of space with his 6’5” frame and his 4.4 second 40-yard dash time, which is reminiscent of Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor.
Oklahoma has had a lot of things that have happened, which has brought them together as a team. They came together after there was racism on their campus and supported Mayfield when he got snubbed from the Heisman Trophy Presentation. Clemson has the distraction of losing three players for the game. The Sooners will take advantage of this and Mayfield will outplay Watson for the win.
Final Score: Oklahoma 32 Clemson 26
Cotton Bowl: #3 Michigan State Spartans (12-1) vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1), 8:00 P.M.
Michigan State lost to Nebraska, but beat two top five teams in their last three weeks to make the College Football Playoff. Quarterback Connor Cook has been on fire this season throwing for 2921 yards and 24 touchdowns. He did injure his shoulder this season and miss a few games, but it should be fully healed for this game. Cook’s favorite receiver is Aaron Burbridge, who has 1219 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. The Spartans have used a few running backs this season, but the position isn’t a weakness, but rather a deep position group. Michigan State’s offensive line wasn’t good to start the season, but came on strong in the end of the year. The defense gives up 20.5 points per game this season, but still has people thinking that it isn’t as good as defenses in years past. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun has had as good of a season as possible with 10.5 sacks. Their rush defense has been great and their pass defense has been pretty good as well.
Alabama may not be the number one seed, but they are the favorites to win the National Championship. Their defense is what makes this team so impressive. They have the best run defense in the country, as they only allow 74 rushing yards per game, which is the best since the 2011 Alabama team allowed just 72 rushing yards per game. Their pass defense is also good, giving up the seventeenth fewest passing yards per game in the country. Moving cornerback Eddie Jackson to safety this season has improved their pass defense to new heights. On offense running back Derrick Henry has had the greatest rushing year in SEC history by rushing for 1986 yards and 23 touchdowns. The question is still quarterback Jake Coker, who is the least accomplished, but highest recruited quarterback in the Playoff. He passed for 2489 yards, but threw eight crucial interceptions.
This game is a matchup of what college football looked like in the 1980s. It is going to be a physical game that features a lot of running the ball. Alabama will win because their defense is better than Michigan State’s defense. Henry will not be stopped in this game.
Final Score: Alabama 38 Michigan State 28
Post a comment on the story, the forum or contact me on twitter @DiTullioJoe.