It’s officially the best time of year for football fans. The bowl season is here and there are plenty of massive matchups that will be sure to gather the family around the big screen. The best of the best will face off to determine who is for real and who is still a step behind. The playoff committee already has had fans on the edge of their seats with the final four selection and now all that is left is to play the games. I want to break down some of the biggest games including our local schools and give my synopsis on how they might play out.
Capital One Orange Bowl
Entering the season many people including myself thought that this could be Coach Paul Johnson’s final season at the helm of Georgia Tech. It seemed like the always unpredictable Jackets could either flop their way to a 6-6 record, or do something special to save PJ’s job; it looks like they chose the latter. Tech finished 10-3 and helped Coach Johnson secure a 4-year contract extension. They will have a tough test against formerly No. 1 ranked Mississippi State. By now you should know how Tech wins games; the triple option. Justin Thomas has dazzled at quarterback passing for 1,594 yards and rushing for 965. Seniors Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days both finished with over 750 yards rushing. Mississippi State has a stingy defense that allows under 20 points per game and is led on offense by Dak Prescott who has amassed 3,970 yards and 38 touchdowns. Tech will challenge the Bulldogs tough defense with their rushing onslaught. Mississippi State opens as a 7-point favorite. I could see this game going either way, but I think the Bulldogs’ balance will be too much in the end for Georgia Tech. Prediction: Miss St.
A familiar face will greet the Dawgs in Charlotte. Todd Grantham leads a Louisville defense that once went four straight games without allowing an offensive touchdown this season. The quarterback position has been a rotating door for the Cards and has stymied them in losses to Virginia and Clemson. Georgia benefited from playing in the weak SEC East but did not win the division. Injuries and suspensions have riddled the backfield, but Nick Chubb has emerged as a star with 1,281 yards rushing. The Dawgs come in averaging 255 yards a game rushing, but Louisville allows the third fewest in the nation at 93.7. If Louisville can receive solid quarterback play on offense and force Hutson Mason to beat them, Grantham should be headed for success, but it is easier said than done to stop Georgia’s run game. UGA is a 6.5 point favorite in what could be a low scoring affair. I think the Cards could surprise Georgia with their defense, but Louisville’s lack of stability at the quarterback position is too much for me. Prediction: UGA
Final Four Playoff
The stage is set: No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Ohio State. No. 2 Oregon vs No. 3 Florida State. There has not been one single dominant team this season, so it is anybody’s ballgame. I would have liked to see TCU in over Ohio State due to the Buckeyes’ brutal loss against Virginia Tech and the fact that they are down to their third string quarterback. Though I don’t believe that Alabama is the unbeatable team that many figure them to be, I think they will be able to handle Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes.
The real national championship in my opinion is Florida State vs Oregon. The nation’s two top ranked NFL quarterback prospects will duke it out to see who advances to the finals and possibly even who will be selected first overall. Florida State will need to come out strong like they did against Georgia Tech, but they will also need to get some stops. This game is a complete toss-up, but I feel like whoever wins will go on to win the championship. Alabama has shown cracks and was exposed badly in the Sugar Bowl last year. Florida State has enough blue chippers and Oregon has Ifo Ekpre-Olomu to shut down Bama’s one dimensional passing game. Prediction: FSU/Oregon