The matchups are set for the biggest bowl games of the NCAA football season. How do the teams stack up and who will walk away the victors?
Orange Bowl – Ohio State vs. Clemson
Their untimely loss to MichiganState could make it difficult for OhioState to summon their best effort in the Orange Bowl. Urban Meyer has always been good about that, so the Buckeyes should play well. The real wild card is Clemson. On paper they match up well with Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins leading an offense that can score quickly. The question is can the Tigers defense stop a dominant OSU ground game led by Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde? This game has the potential to become a real shootout.
Result: OSU 38, CLEM 27
Sugar Bowl – Oklahoma vs. Alabama
Two old school powerhouses meeting head to head. Amazingly the Sugar Bowl will mark just the fifth time in NCAA football history that Oklahoma and Alabama have met in a game. The Sooner hold a slim advantage with two victories and one of the games ending in a tie. This latest meeting is interesting in contrasts. Oklahoma has a couple losses on their record but come off a huge win against rival Oklahoma State while the Crimson Tide are still smarting from seeing rival Auburn steal their chances at a third-straight national title in the Iron Bowl. Alabama should be the favorite with a well-rounded roster led by Heisman hopeful A.J. McCarron at quarterback. The Sooners are riding a fierce running game and an underrated defense.
Result: OK 17, ALA 31
Fiesta Bowl – UCF vs. Baylor
Two programs nobody really saw coming. One thing about the Fiesta Bowl is it tends to create some very memorable games, and there’s reason to believe UCF and Baylor will oblige. The Bears rode one of the most dynamic offenses in college football to their bowl berth, sparked by junior quarterback Bryce Petty and a highly effective ground attack. Central Florida meanwhile owes most of its success to surprise star quarterback Blake Bortles, who has developed a rather impressive reputation in the clutch. On paper things look decidedly in favor of Baylor, but UCF owns some quality victories for good teams in 2013 including Louisville and PennState. If the Knights defense doesn’t get run over, Bortles could create some of his late-game magic.
Result: UCF 28, BAY 27
Rose Bowl – Stanford vs. Michigan State
Defense seems like a forgotten past time in modern football, but not for these two programs. For the second-straight year the Stanford Cardinal will play in the Rose Bowl, hoping to defend their crown against the streaking Michigan State Spartans and their #1 defense. Both sides have big momentum wins to feed off of, Stanford over ArizonaState and MichiganState over OhioState. The field will see loads of quality defensive talent on the field including Trent Murphy who leads the nation in sacks and outstanding cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Points will be at a premium in this game and it could very well come down to who makes fewer mistakes. It’s worth noting Stanford has thrown nine interceptions on the year. The Spartans have thrown five.
Result: STAN 23, MSU 20
BCS National Championship – Florida State vs. Auburn
Two very different teams square off in the national title game. FloridaState and Heisman favorite Jameis Winston await the Cinderella Auburn Tigers. The Seminoles have rarely been tested in 2013 as they cruised to a ACC title. Meanwhile Gus Malzahn and his dynamic offense led by fellow Heisman candidate Nick Marshall have engineered some of the most exciting victories in NCAA football this year, including an improbable Hail Mary deliverance against Georgia and last-second stunner of Alabama. Belief and momentum belong to Auburn, but the matchup seems to favor FSU. Winston heads a balanced and potent offense, but the key difference between the two teams is FloridaState has an athletic, suffocating defense led by several potential first round picks. The Tigers have lived most of the season by being aggressive and hoping for a few stops. Such matchups rarely end well for the team that can do it on both sides of the ball.
Result: FSU 42, AUB 24