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College Football: 2014-15 Bowl Game Predictions

Josh SachnoffContributor IIIAugust 27, 2014

College Football: 2014-15 Bowl Game Predictions

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    USA TODAY Sports

    It’s the best time of the year. College bowl season will make the transition from the controversial BCS era to the new and hopefully improved College Football Playoff system. 

    The new College Football Playoff will include six bowl games, with two of them being semifinal games. This season, the New Year’s Six will start with the Peach, Fiesta and Orange Bowls on Dec. 31 and be followed by the Cotton, Rose and Sugar Bowls on Jan. 1. The Rose and Sugar Bowl will hold semifinal games consisting of the top four teams. The two winners in those games will play for the College Football Playoff Championship on Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

    Regarding the other lower-tier bowl games, the Bahamas, Boca Raton, Camellia, Miami Beach and Quick Lane Bowls have been added to the bowl schedule this season. 

    With an exciting college football season just one day away, who will win the 2014-15 national title?

Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl

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    South Carolina senior quarterback Dylan Thompson
    South Carolina senior quarterback Dylan ThompsonAssociated Press

    Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl

    When: Wed., Dec. 31, 2014

    Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia

    Who: South Carolina vs. Marshall

     

    Steve Spurrier never quite reached a BCS bowl game with South Carolina, but he will finally get an opportunity to compete in a major bowl game this season. The Gamecocks have the talent surrounding senior quarterback Dylan Thompson to be one of the best teams in the country. 

    Matching up with the Gamecocks in Atlanta will be the Marshall Thundering Herd, who will play in their first major bowl game, after finishing the regular season as the highest ranked Group of Five team. The Thundering Herd will look to all-conference senior quarterback Rakeem Cato to lead the way, along with senior wide receiver Tommy Shuler. An undefeated regular season would give Marshall its best season since 1999. 

    If Cato can find ways to get into the end zone against a physical South Carolina defense, the nation could witness a mid-major underdog upset an SEC team in a major bowl game for the third time in seven years, the last being when TCU knocked off Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl in 2011.

Fiesta Bowl

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    Stanford senior wide receiver Ty Montgomery
    Stanford senior wide receiver Ty MontgomeryAssociated Press

    Fiesta Bowl

    When: Wed., Dec. 31, 2014

    Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

    Who: Oklahoma vs. Stanford

     

    It will be a rematch from the 2009 Sun Bowl, as the Sooners and Cardinal will battle it out in the desert. 

    Oklahoma will head to Glendale with its third Big 12 title in five years and be out to prove that it was snubbed in the first College Football Playoff. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight will likely have his biggest test of the season against a stingy Stanford defense that has given up an average of 19 points in its last two bowl games. 

    The Cardinal will be the second team selected from the Pac-12 to play in one of the six major bowl games, with Oregon being the other. Fourth-year head coach David Shaw will have his Cardinal in their fifth consecutive major bowl game and in hope of another 11-win season. 

    While Oklahoma will air it out and look to outscore Stanford, the Cardinal will slow the game down as usual and try to wear out a Mike Stoops-coached defense.

Orange Bowl

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    Auburn senior quarterback Nick Marshall
    Auburn senior quarterback Nick MarshallMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Orange Bowl

    When: Wed., Dec. 31, 2014

    Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

    Who: Virginia Tech vs. Auburn

     

    It will be exactly a decade ago that these two teams faced off in the Sugar Bowl.

    Auburn, after playing for a national championship a year ago, will find itself playing in a major bowl game again. Led by senior quarterback Nick Marshall, the Tigers will boast an explosive offense that is capable of racking points up again this season. 

    While much of the focus will be on Auburn’s offense, Virginia Tech will make its way to Miami for the first time since 2010, after surprising the country with a second-place finish in the ACC. Defense will again be key for the Hokies' success, but watch for Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer to be a solid replacement for an underachieving Logan Thomas. 

    If Frank Beamer’s team can keep Auburn from finding the end zone, it could be an intense, low-scoring matchup decided late in the fourth quarter.

Cotton Bowl

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    Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty
    Baylor senior quarterback Bryce PettyAssociated Press

    Cotton Bowl

    When: Thurs., Jan. 1, 2015

    Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

    Who: Baylor vs. Ohio State

     

    Jerry World will welcome two teams that know how to light up a scoreboard. 

    Baylor will make the short trip to Arlington in hope of winning its first major bowl game in school history, after being outscored by Central Florida, 52-42, in the Fiesta Bowl exactly a year ago. The Bears offense, which will consist of senior quarterback Bryce Petty and senior wide receiver Antwan Goodley, will look to be an offensive juggernaut against the Buckeye defense. 

    With the loss of dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller for the season, Ohio State will play in the Cotton Bowl rather than be in the final four of the College Football Playoff. Redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, who should lead the Buckeyes to at least 10 wins during the regular season, will need to rely on playmakers Corey Smith and Devin Smith to help the offense score points against a Baylor defense led by linebacker Bryce Hager. 

    While Buckeye nation will make the trip down south, this game is basically in Baylor’s backyard. Fans should be in for a good ol’ Texas shootout on New Year’s Day.

Semifinal: Rose Bowl

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    Michigan State junior quarterback Connor Cook
    Michigan State junior quarterback Connor CookUSA TODAY Sports

    Semifinal: Rose Bowl

    When: Thurs., Jan. 1, 2015

    Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

    Who: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Michigan State

     

    The Crimson Tide will be back in contention for their fourth national championship in six years under Nick Saban. Replacing a star quarterback in AJ McCarron is never easy, but somehow Jake Coker or Blake Sims will help lead Alabama to this point. It also helps that both quarterbacks have playmakers in T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper. The defense, though, will likely be the main factor in this matchup.

    Michigan State, much like Alabama, has focused on being tough defensively and keeping opponents off the scoreboard. In the past three seasons, both programs have had top-10 defenses. 

    Sparty, led by junior quarterback Connor Cook, will crack the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings with its second straight Big Ten title. It will be another New Year’s Day at the Rose Bowl for a physical Michigan State squad that not only has a stout defense, but a fine offense as well.

Semifinal: Sugar Bowl

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    Oregon junior quarterback Marcus Mariota
    Oregon junior quarterback Marcus MariotaUSA TODAY Sports

    Semifinal: Sugar Bowl

    When: Thurs., Jan. 1, 2015

    Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

    Who: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Oregon 

     

    Down in New Orleans, it will be two of the best quarterbacks in the country squaring off in what could be a shootout. 

    Jameis Winston and Co. will come in riding high after another ACC championship. The toughest part for Florida State is that it will have to go through a dangerous Oregon squad just to advance to the College Football Playoff Championship.

    Marcus Mariota and the Ducks will be the last team to make the playoff by edging out Oklahoma. The Pac-12 champions hope to advance to their second national title since 2010, but will the offense be as dynamic against stronger competition? 

    Expect a high-scoring affair that will be decided by a key defensive stop in the fourth quarter. This has the makings to be one of the best bowl games of the season. 

College Football Playoff National Championship

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    Alabama junior running back T.J. Yeldon
    Alabama junior running back T.J. YeldonKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    College Football Playoff Championship

    When: Mon., Jan. 12, 2015

    Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

    Who: Florida State vs. Alabama  

     

    The 'Noles will get their chance to take down the SEC, as well as the state of Alabama, for the second year in a row. The biggest matchup in the first College Football Playoff Championship will be Florida State’s explosive offense against Alabama’s stout defense. 

    Unlike last year’s BCS championship, Winston is going to have his hands full against potentially the best defense he’s faced since starting for the Seminoles. Not to mention, he could be up against former backup quarterback Jacob Coker, which would be a major storyline leading up to this game.

    With a lot on the line, Famous Jameis will go down to the Crimson Tide when it’s all said and done because of another solid defensive performance. It will be the third consecutive Alabama starting quarterback to win a national championship and the eighth time in nine seasons the SEC will be a national champion.

The Rest of the Bowl Games

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    Georgia junior running back Todd Gurley.
    Georgia junior running back Todd Gurley.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    New Orleans Bowl          

    Dec. 20, 2014          

    UL-Monroe vs. North Texas          

     

    New Mexico Bowl            

    Dec. 20, 2014    

    Middle Tennessee vs. San Diego State

     

    Las Vegas Bowl            

    Dec. 20, 2014       

    Boise State vs. Oregon State

     

    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl   

    Dec. 20, 2014     

    Northern Illinois vs. Colorado State 

     

    Camellia Bowl              

    Dec. 20, 2014            

    South Alabama vs. Ohio 

     

    Miami Beach Bowl        

    Dec. 22, 2014              

    BYU vs. East Carolina   

     

    Boca Raton Bowl        

    Dec. 23, 2014            

    Buffalo vs. Texas-San Antonio

     

    Poinsettia Bowl            

    Dec. 23, 2014            

    Fresno State vs. Navy 

     

    Bahamas Bowl              

    Dec. 24, 2014                

    Toledo vs. SMU 

     

    Hawaii Bowl                  

    Dec. 24, 2014        

    Utah State vs. Western Kentucky  

     

    Heart of Dallas Bowl        

    Dec. 26, 2014                

    Rice vs. Indiana 

     

    Quick Lane Bowl                

    Dec. 26, 2014              

    Minnesota vs. Duke  

     

    St. Petersburg Bowl          

    Dec. 26, 2014              

    Pittsburgh vs. UCF

     

    Military Bowl                

    Dec. 27, 2014          

    Georgia Tech vs. Houston                                

     

    Sun Bowl                          

    Dec. 27, 2014        

    Washington vs. Miami (FL)   

     

    Independence Bowl          

    Dec. 27, 2014        

    Vanderbilt vs. NC State   

     

    Pinstripe Bowl                  

    Dec. 27, 2014        

    Maryland vs. Louisville 

     

    Holiday Bowl                    

    Dec. 27, 2014                      

    Iowa vs. USC

     

    Liberty Bowl                    

    Dec. 29, 2014              

    Florida vs. Oklahoma State

     

    Russell Athletic Bowl      

    Dec. 29, 2014            

    Texas vs. Notre Dame 

     

    Texas Bowl                        

    Dec. 29, 2014                

    Texas A&M vs. TCU

     

    Music City Bowl      

    Dec. 30, 2014        

    Missouri vs. North Carolina   

     

    Belk Bowl              

    Dec. 30, 2014          

    Mississippi State vs. Clemson 

     

    San Francisco Bowl      

    Dec. 30, 2014    

    Northwestern vs. Arizona State  

     

    Capital One Bowl        

    Jan. 1, 2015              

    Georgia vs. Wisconsin

     

    Outback Bowl              

    Jan. 1, 2015                

    Michigan vs. LSU  

     

    Armed Forces Bowl      

    Jan. 2, 2015        

    Tulane vs. Washington State* 

     

    TaxSlayer Bowl            

    Jan. 2, 2015        

    Nebraska  vs. Ole Miss

     

    Alamo Bowl                    

    Jan. 2, 2015      

    Kansas State vs. UCLA  

     

    Cactus Bowl                  

    Jan. 2, 2015        

    Texas Tech vs. Arizona  

     

    Birmingham Bowl        

    Jan. 3, 2015    

    Tennessee vs. Cincinnati  

     

    GoDaddy Bowl          

    Jan. 4, 2015      

    Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Bowling Green 

     

    - indicates fill-in team  

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