Bowl Game Schedule 2015-16: Updated Odds and Predictions for Playoffs

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2015

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

For Michigan State, Alabama, Oklahoma and Clemson, the New Year's resolutions this year are pretty simple—win a national championship.

But much like actual resolutions, it will be much easier said than done. So let's break down the two playoff matchups this year, along with taking a look at the full bowl schedule.

Bowl Games 

2015-16 Bowl Schedule
DateTimeBowlMatchupWatch
Dec. 234:30 p.m.San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia BowlBoise State vs. Northern IllinoisESPN
Dec. 238 p.m.GoDaddyBowlBowling Green vs. Georgia SouthernESPN
Dec. 24NoonPopeyes Bahamas BowlMiddle Tennessee vs. Western MichiganESPN
Dec. 248 p.m.Hawai'i BowlCincinnati vs. San Diego StateESPN
Dec. 2611 a.m.St. Petersburg BowlUConn vs. MarshallESPN
Dec. 262 p.m.Hyundai Sun BowlMiami vs. Washington StateCBS
Dec. 262:20 p.m.Zaxby's Heart of Dallas BowlWashington vs. Southern MissESPN
Dec. 263:30 p.m.New Era Pinstripe BowlDuke vs. IndianaABC
Dec. 265:45 p.m.Camping World Independence BowlVirginia Tech vs. TulsaESPN
Dec. 269:15 p.m.Foster Farms BowlNebraska vs. UCLAESPN
Dec. 282:30 p.m.Military BowlPitt vs. NavyESPN
Dec. 285 p.m.Quick Lane BowlCentral Michigan vs. MinnesotaESPN2
Dec. 292 p.m.Lockheed Martin Armed Forces BowlCalifornia vs. Air ForceESPN
Dec. 295:30 p.m.Russell Athletic BowlNorth Carolina vs. BaylorESPN
Dec. 297:30 p.m.NOVA Home Loans Arizona BowlNevada vs. Colorado StateTBD
Dec. 299 p.m.AdvoCare V100 Texas BowlTexas Tech vs. LSUESPN
Dec. 30NoonBirmingham BowlMemphis vs. AuburnESPN
Dec. 303:30 p.m.Belk BowlNC State vs. Mississippi StateESPN
Dec. 307 p.m.Music City BowlLouisville vs. Texas A&MESPN
Dec. 3010:30 p.m.Holiday BowlWisconsin vs. USCESPN
Dec. 31NoonChick-fil-A Peach BowlHouston vs. Florida StateESPN
Dec. 318 p.m.Cotton BowlMichigan State vs. AlabamaESPN
Dec. 314 p.m.Orange BowlOklahoma vs. ClemsonESPN
Jan. 1NoonOutback BowlNorthwestern vs. TennesseeESPN2
Jan. 11 p.m.Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus BowlMichigan vs. FloridaABC
Jan. 11 p.m.Fiesta BowlNotre Dame vs. Ohio StateESPN
Jan. 15 p.m.Rose BowlStanford vs. IowaESPN
Jan. 18:30 p.m.Allstate Sugar BowlOklahoma State vs. Ole MissESPN
Jan. 2NoonTaxSlayer BowlPenn State vs. GeorgiaESPN
Jan. 23:20 p.m.AutoZone Liberty BowlKansas State vs. ArkansasESPN
Jan. 26:45 p.m.Valero Alamo BowlTCU vs. OregonESPN
Jan. 210:15 p.m.Cactus BowlWest Virginia vs. Arizona StateESPN
Jan. 118:30 p.m.College Football Playoff National ChampionshipTBD vs. TBDESPN

Odds

Playoff Odds and Predictions
MatchupOddsPrediction
Michigan State vs. AlabamaAlabama (-9.5)Alabama
Oklahoma vs. ClemsonOklahoma (-1.5)Oklahoma
Source: Oddsshark.com

Michigan State vs. Alabama

In a game featuring two good defenses and running games, it's tough to pick against the team that has the better defense and the better running game.

Alabama, my pick, is giving up just 14.4 points per game (third in the nation) and just 258 yards per game (second). They have the Heisman Trophy winner at running back in Derrick Henry and an offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award as the best offensive line in the country. 

For what it's worth, Michigan State's offensive line was one of the finalists. 

For what it's worth, part two, Michigan State's defensive line is one of the better units in the country. It held Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott to just 33 rushing yards on 12 carries, while Shilique Calhoun leads a group that swarms quarterbacks with 10.5 sacks.

"Their defensive front guys really play well," Alabama coach Nick Saban told Matt Zenitz of AL.com. "Hard to block."

For what it's worth, part three, few teams are better in crunch time than the Spartans, who have seemingly had an angel on their shoulder all season long. Just as Michigan has had. Or Ohio State. Or Iowa. The Spartans have an uncanny knack for winning in the final moments. 

Ah, but Alabama is red hot. The Crimson Tide have held opponents to 16 or fewer points in nine of their last 10 games. Just two teams have scored 20 or more points against them this season. They held Florida to a measly 180 total yards in the SEC title game. They held arguably the most talented running back in the country, Leonard Fournette, to 31 rushing yards on 19 carries in early November.

This one is going to be tight. But Alabama looks pretty unbeatable at the moment.

Prediction: Alabama wins, 21-16

Oklahoma vs. Clemson

One game projects to be a defensive standoff. This one, on the other hand, has all the makings of a shootout. 

You could view this as the clash of quarterbacks.

Clemson's Deshaun Watson was a Heisman finalist and one of the best dual-threat players in the nation, throwing for 3,512 yards, rushing for another 887 and scoring a combined 41 touchdowns. Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield should have been a Heisman finalist, meanwhile, after throwing for 3,389 yards, 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

This game will be much more than that, of course. 

Both teams are very good against the pass. Both teams can get after the quarterback with a strong pass rush. Both teams have come through a tough schedule. 

But Oklahoma seems to have peaked at the right moment. And the key to this game may be that the Sooners generally win the turnover battle, a huge factor in a game between teams this even. 

Expect fireworks. Expect a wild finish. Expect the Sooners to narrowly escape with the win.

Prediction: Oklahoma wins, 41-35

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