College football fans, the Playoff is finally here!
The two semifinal games will be played today, with the winners facing off in the championship game on Monday, January 12. Here are my predictions for the two titanic matchups.
Rose Bowl (5:10/4:10c, ESPN)
(2) Oregon Ducks (12-1) vs. (3) Florida State Seminoles (13-0)
Line: Oregon by 8. O/U: 71.5.
The first of the two semifinal games might be one of the most highly anticipated matchups in college football history. The defending champion Seminoles, led by last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, have won 29 straight games. Their last loss was back in November 2012, against rival Florida.
That said, the Seminoles have not been what they were expected to be. Many felt that they would be dominant all season long. However, they have had seven games decided by six points or less. They faced several double-digit deficits all season long, and had they played in a tougher conference, many believe the ‘Noles would have lost multiple games.
But, Florida State is still the nation’s only undefeated team. They have a knack for winning, and while Winston has struggled this season (17 interceptions) , he is still money in the fourth quarter.
However, I believe the Pac-12 Champion Ducks, led by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota (3,783 pass yards, 669 rush yards, 52 total touchdowns), a freshman running back in Royce Freeman (1,299 yards, 16 touchdowns), and the second-best scoring offense in college football, will be too much for the Seminoles. I see the game being competitive for a few quarters, before the Ducks pull away late. Prediction: Oregon 45, Florida State 34.
Allstate Sugar Bowl (8:50/7:50c, ESPN)
Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1)
Line: Alabama by 9. O/U: 58.5
The other semifinal matchup is one that not many people believe will be close. After all, Alabama was dominant on many occasions this season, while Ohio State is on to its third quarterback!
Well, allow me to remind you that the third-stringer, Cardale Jones, threw three touchdowns in a 59-0 rout of previously formidable Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. Oh, and that the team has outscored opponents by an average score of 45 to 21. Also, the team boasts one of college football’s most underrated running backs in Ezekiel Elliott (1,402 yards, 12 touchdowns), and deep threat Devin Smith (799 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns, 26.6 yards per catch). They may not be the best team in the country, but they earned the opportunity to be here.
As for Alabama, the team usually plays close in the first half, and pulls away in the second. They have played some close games, but have the ability to blow opponents out. Led by their running back duo of TJ Yeldon and Derrick Henry (1,827 combined rushing yards, 20 combined rushing touchdowns). Quarterback Blake Sims (3,250 passing yards, 321 rushing yards, 32 total touchdowns) has been pretty solid of late, and Biletnikoff Award recipient Amari Cooper (115 receptions, 1,656 yards, 14 touchdowns) is widely regarded the best receiver in college football.
Ultimately, I see this game going the same way A lot of Alabama games seem to go. They’ll play close for a few quarters, before pulling away late. Props to Ohio State for sneaking in past TCU. But, the party ends for them now. Prediction: Alabama 45, Ohio State 28.