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NCAA College Football 2014-15 Major Bowls Picks - late games

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Fearless Rick's 2014-14 College Football Major Bowls - late Games

Rick Gagliano | January 1, 2015

All times Eastern - Click here for early games.

Rose Bowl
Florida State vs. Oregon (-10, 71)
Playoff Semifinal Game, Pasadena, CA, Rose Bowl, Thu., Jan. 1, 5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN - Winner moves on to play the winner of the Sugar Bowl, in the first national college football playoff. The national championship will be decided on Monday, January 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (aka Cowboy Stadium).

Repeat ACC Champion Florida State is also looking to repeat as national champion, but, despite another 13-0 record, the road has been rougher this season than last year, which culminated in a 34-31 win over Auburn, easily the closest score of the entire season. To get an idea of how overwhelming the Seminoles were in 2013, consider that only Boston College came within two touchdowns in a 48-34 Florida State victory. The next-closest score was a 27-point win over Miami (41-14).

This season has been far more competitive, with Florida State having to rally late in games on a number of occasions, but, QB Jameis Winston and his pals have come through each and every time. Florida State has won seven games by seven points or fewer, including each of the last four (at Miami, 30-26; Boston College, 20-17; Florida, 24-19; and over Georgia Tech, 37-35, in the ACC championship.

The Seminoles may be viewed as the most vulnerable undefeated team in the history of sports, yet, they've won 27 straight, and, until somebody knocks them off, making them an underdog - in any game - is probably the most foolhardy proposition in the history of sports.

But, here we are, with the 'Noles a 10-point underdog to the 12-1 Oregon Ducks, led by this year's Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota (Winston won last year), an impressive team with an explosive offense and an improved defense.

Oregon was the third-highest scoring team in the nation - behind Baylor and TCU - running up an average of 46.3 points per game. Their schedule was somewhat imposing, considering the number of PAC-12 teams that were solid and/or ranked this year.

Oregon's only defeat was a 31-24 loss to Arizona on October 2, but the Ducks avenged that with a 51-13 trouncing of the Wildcats in the PAC-12 championship. They've won eight straight, including convincing wins over UCLA (42-30), Stanford (45-16), and Utah (51-27).

While the Ducks are an imposing bunch, the stats tell another story. Florida State averaged 34.8 points per game, and the two teams are virtually even on defense, with Oregon allowing 22.5 points per contest to Florida State's 23.0, though the Seminoles actually allowed fewer yards per game (378 to 414).

No way Oregon is going to dominate the Seminoles and they may find - like 13 other opponents did this season - on the wrong end of the score at the end.

Prediction: Seminoles 30 Ducks 27


--- Story continues below ---


Sugar Bowl
Ohio State vs. Alabama (-10, 58)
Playoff Semifinal Game, New Orleans, LA, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Thu., Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN - This is the second part f the national championship playoff series, the winner to face the Rose Bowl champion (Oregon or Florida State) on January 12.

For all the hype and history surrounding Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide, this is another game in which statistics speak louder than the line. Alabama was insalled as a ten-point favorite early on and the number stuck like glue, even though the Buckeyes have the same record 12-1, and won their conference championship in smashing style (59-0 over Wisconsin), despite being on their third string quarterback, Cardale Jones having replaced T.J. Barrett, who himself was a replacement for Braxton Miller. Both Miller and Barrett succumbed to injuries, though Barrett led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 mark.

Alabama's only loss this season was at Mississippi, on October 4, a 23-17 setback for the Tide, though defenders of the Alabama program are likely to point out that the game was only the second conference game for the Tide and that quarterback Blake Sims hadn't been fully immersed into his role.

Excuses aside, the Tide rolled to eight straight wins, though they were not without incident. In fact, the very next week, Arkansas nearly pulled off the upset, Alabama prevailing, 14-13, in what was their second consecutive road game. Alabama shut out Texas A&M, 59-0, but had a close call at LSU, winning, 20-13 in overtime on November 8. They also beat Mississippi State by five, 25-20, though the score was closer than the actual game.

In the annual Iron Bowl against Auburn, Alabama trailed at home, 26-21, at the half, but rallied to a 55-44 victory, securing the SEC West division with the win. A week later, they tore up Missouri, 42-13, are again ranked #1 in most of the polls and have a chance to win yet another national championship. The tide has claimed 15 national titles, six of them by Paul "Bear" Bryant, the last three by current head coach, Nick Saban (2009, 2011, 2012).

Ohio State has won seven national titles, though none under current head coach Urban Meyer, though Meyer won two national championships with the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2008.

This is Meyers' third year as head coach of the Buckeyes. He's compiled a 36-3 mark with Ohio State, including a perfect 12-0 record in 2012, when the Buckeyes were on probation and not allowed to play in any post-season games. Last season, Ohio State lost only their last two games: the Big Ten championship to Michigan State, 34-24, and the Orange Bowl, to Clemson, 40-35.

Once again, similar to the Rose Bowl, the underdog is arguably as good as the favorite. Ohio State was fifth in offense nationally, scoring 45.2 points per game and their defense (21st) gave up just 21.2 points per game.

Alabama was 18th in scoring (36.9 ppg) and fourth in points allowed at 16.6, behind Mississippi, Stanford and LSU.

The numbers don't lie. This should be a close game and it's likely that Ohio State, playing with a considerable chip on their collective shoulders, can prevail.

Prediction: Buckeyes 34 Crimson Tide 27

All times Eastern - Click here for early games

Copyright 2014, 2015, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.

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