NCAA Football: Most Intriguing Bowl Games of the Season

 
The 2014 NCAA Football season has been a terrific one to say the least. There have been plenty of fantastic games which featured high scoring shootouts, massive upsets and low scoring defensive battles this season and it made for some great drama. This season marks the arrival of the College Football Playoff, which features the Nation’s top four teams, all battling it out to become the 2014 National Champions. This season, the nation’s second and third ranked teams will battle in the Rose Bowl with the winner of that game earning a spot in the National Championship game. The nation’s first and fourth ranked teams will battle it out in the Sugar Bowl and the winner of that game will also earn a spot in the National Championship game.
 
There are plenty of fantastic Bowl Games to watch this Holiday Season, including the two playoff games and with that being said, here are some of the best and most intriguing Bowl Games to watch this season.
Peach Bowl – #9 Ole Miss Rebels (9 – 3) vs.  #6 TCU Horned Frogs (11 – 1)
The Ole Miss Rebels have had a fantastic season and one may say that the only reason that they endured a late season slump was due to several injuries to their very talented starters on both offense and defense. The Rebels started the season off on a 7-0 run, and then they slipped and lost three out of their last five games. The Rebels are led by QB Bo Wallace, RB Jaylen Walton and WR Vince Sanders on offence. They come into this game ranking 36th in the country in terms of overall offense. The Rebels have proven that they can pass the ball effectively; however, they haven’t had much of a run game this season. On the other side of the ball, the Rebels defense ranks 12th in in the country in terms of overall production. Their secondary has played fantastic all season and they have looked good stopping the run, as well.
 
The TCU Horned Frogs have been one of the biggest surprise teams of the 2014 season as they have won eleven games, most of which in remarkable fashion. The Horned Frogs come into this game on a 7-game winning streak, where they have outscored their opponents 333 – 129, an insane margin of points. Heisman candidate, QB Trevone Boykin, RB B.J. Catalon and WR’s Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee lead the TCU offensive attack, which ranks 4th in the nation in terms of overall production. On the other side of the ball, the TCU defense ranks 33rdin the country in terms of overall production. They have been a defense that can stop the run; however, they have struggled considerably in their pass defense this season.
 
If the Rebels of Ole Miss want to be successful in this game, they will need to get their offence going early, especially their passing offense. However, this game might come down to their defense and if it stands up and makes stops against the high-powered TCU offense, they have a shot at winning. TCU does have a shot at turning this game into a shootout and if that happen, the Horned Frogs offense is built to withstand that and the Ole Miss offense simply isn’t. This game is a classic battle between a high-powered offense and stout defense.
Game details: Kickoff on Wednesday, December 31st at 12:30pm from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
Orange Bowl – #7 Mississippi State Bulldogs (10 – 2) vs.  #12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10 – 3)
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are coming off one of their best seasons in school history, a season which saw them win ten games and at one point, sit atop the table in the National Standings. The Bulldogs started this season at 9-0 and then fell off a tad as they lost two of their last three games. Dual threat QB Dak Prescott, RB Josh Robinson and WR De’Runnya Wilson lead the Bulldogs offense which ranks 9th in the nation in terms of overall production. The Bulldogs are truly a run-first team; but, they have proven that they are not scared to throw the ball deep either. On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs defense ranks a mere 80th in the nation in terms of overall defense, largely due to the fact that they have struggled mightily in the pass defense this season and rank near the bottom in that category when compared to all the schools.
 
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are one of this season’s most surprising teams. They come into this game with a record of 10-3, with their last game ending in a defeat to Florida State in the ACC Championship game. Dual threat QB Justin Thomas, RB’s Synjyn Days, Zach Laskey and WR DeAndre Smelter lead the Georgia Tech offense, which ranks 22nd in the nation in terms of overall offensive production. The Yellow Jackets have one of the country’s best rushing attacks; however, they have struggled at times in the passing game when they rely too much on the run game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Yellow Jackets rank 63rd in the nation in terms of overall production and have looked no better than average at stopping both the run and the pass.
 
If the Bulldogs want to be successful in this game, they will need their defense to show up and show up big. Their defense will need to try and limit the fantastic Georgia Tech rushing attack by stacking the box and attacking the line of scrimmage. QB Dak Prescott will find a way to score on the Yellow Jackets so the offense isn’t the main concern, it’s their defense. If the Yellow Jackets want to be effective in this game, they will need to expose the Mississippi State secondary and attack them in the air with their pass offense. The Yellow Jackets cannot rely solely on their run against their foes from the SEC. This game could go either way, one thing is for sure though, it will come down to which team plays the better defense throughout the game.
Game details: Kickoff on Wednesday, December 31st at 8:00pm from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Cotton Bowl – #8 Michigan State Spartans (10 – 2) vs. #5 Baylor Bears (11 – 1)
The Michigan State Spartans are coming off yet another solid season in the BIG 10 having only lost two games; the Spartans came really close to heading to another Rose Bowl Game. QB Connor Cook, RB’s Jeremy Langford, Nick Hill and WR Tony Lippett lead the Spartans offense which ranks 12th in the nation in terms of overall production. The Spartans are a textbook power football team that runs the ball with authority and can set up smart passing plays to help their offense function smoothly. On the other side of the ball, the Spartans rank 6th in the nation in over defense and they have proven that they can stop the run and disrupt the passing game.
 
The Baylor Bears are coming off yet another fantastic season, as they have claimed the BIG 12 title and have lost only one game this entire season. The 2014 season is a bittersweet one for the Bears because they, alongside conference foes, TCU, have been left out of the top 4. QB Bryce Petty, RB Shock Linwood, WR’s Corey Coleman, KD Cannon and Antwan Goodley lead the dynamic Baylor offense, which ranks 1st in the nation in terms of overall offense. The Bears have proven that they have one of the nation’s premiers passing attacks; however, they can also run the ball very effectively. On the other side of the ball, the Baylor defense ranks 40thin the country in terms of overall defense. The Bears can stop the run; though, they have had some serious trouble this season when it comes to defending against the pass.
 
If the Michigan State Spartans want to be successful in this game, it all starts with their defense. Their defense must show up and be able to execute at a very high level, if they want to stop the Baylor offense and win this game. Their front seven will need to pressure Bryce Petty into making tough throws; however, their secondary will also have to be on their game, as they will try to contain three of the nation’s best wide receivers. If the Baylor Bears want to be successful in this game, they will need to stop Michigan State’s elite rushing attack. If they can limit the rushing attack and expose the Spartan defense on the other side of the ball, they have a good shot at winning this game. This match-up should make for a great game between two of the nation’s best offenses and defenses.
Game details: Kickoff on Thursday, January 1st at 12:30pm from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Rose Bowl – #3 Florida State Seminoles (13 – 0) vs.  #2 Oregon Ducks (12 – 1)
The Florida State Seminoles have had another great-undefeated season. This is the second consecutive undefeated season that Florida State has had, last season ended with the ‘Noles winning the final BCS National Championship game. Dual Threat QB Jameis Winston, RB’s Dalvin Cook, Karlos Williams, WR Rashad Greene and TE Nick O’Leary lead the very balanced Seminoles offense, which ranks 42nd in the nation in terms of overall offense. The Seminoles have proven that they have a tremendous passing attack, however, people often forget that they also have two running backs that can break a game wide open. On the other side of the ball, Florida State ranks 49th in the country in terms of overall defensive production. The Seminoles have been able to defend against the pass, though when it comes to their run defense, they have been gashed at times.
 
The Oregon Ducks are coming off yet another phenomenal season as they clinched the PAC 12 title and only suffered one loss this entire season. The Ducks are led by the Heisman Trophy winning QB Marcus Mariota, RB’s Royce Freeman, Thomas Tyner and WR Devon Allen on the offensive side of the ball. The Oregon offense comes into the game ranked 3rd in the nation in terms of overall offense and has looked good both passing the ball and running the ball. On the flip side, the Oregon defense comes into this game ranked 81st in the nation in terms of overall defense. Their defense has looked ok when it comes to stopping the run, but, their secondary hasn’t looked all to great this season and has been known to give up big plays down field.
 
If the Seminoles want to be successful in this game, they will need their defense to step up first and foremost in hopes of stopping that high-octane Oregon offense. However, they will need QB Jameis Winston on his game for this one in case it turns into a shootout, he will need to try and match the Ducks score for score. If the Ducks want to be effective in this game, it all starts with their offensive line. The line has been banged up this season and at times has looked almost non-existent, but if the O-line can hold up and give Mariota time, they have a great shot. Oregon will also need their secondary to step-up big time and prevent big plays down field and they must stay out of penalty trouble. This game could go either way, however, the ‘Noles have been here before and are on a serious streak and if they can take advantage of the Oregon secondary, they could walk away with this game. Watch out for the two Seminole RB’s Karlos Williams and Dalvin Cook, they could be big factors in this game.
Game details: Kickoff on Thursday, January 1st at 5:00pm from the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.
Sugar Bowl– #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-1) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (12 – 1)
Despite losing their top two QB’s this season, the Ohio State Buckeyes have had another fantastic season in 2014 after only losing one game and claiming the BIG 10 title. The Buckeyes are now lead by QB Cardale Jones, RB Ezekiel ElliotWR’s Devin Smith and Michael Thomas on the offensive side of the ball. Coming into this game, the Buckeyes offense ranks 8th in the nation in terms of overall offense because they are both dangerous when it comes to passing the ball and especially running the ball. On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes defense ranks 15th in the nation in terms of overall defense. Their defense has proven that they can stop the run with that fantastic defensive line; however, they are no slouches in pass coverage either.
 
The Alabama Crimson Tide are also coming off another eccentric season in 2014 where they won twelve games and lost only one, which was to the hands of the Ole Miss Rebels in the fifth week of the season. The Tide are led by dual threat QB Blake Sims, RB’s T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henryand WR Amari Cooper on the offensive side of the ball. The Alabama offense comes into this game ranked 15th in the nation in terms of overall offensive and they have proven that they can both pass the ball and run the ball with authority. The Alabama defense ranks 10th in the nation in terms of overall defense. The Tide defense are solid in pass defense, however, they are tops in the nation when it comes to running the ball.
 
If the Buckeyes want to be successful in this game, they will need QB Cardale Jones to have a very accurate day passing the ball because the Buckeyes cannot only depend on their rushing game against the Tide. The Buckeyes defensive backs will need to play on high alert and prevent any big plays to Amari Cooper. If the Tide want to be successful in this game, they will also need their passing game to get going and try to take advantage of the Ohio State secondary because they also cannot depend solely on the rushing attack because the Buckeyes have a very stout defensive line. The Tide have a slight edge in this game because they have been playing like more of a complete team, however, don’t count out the Buckeyes in this one, you know they will be prepared for this tilt.
Game details: Kickoff on Thursday, January 1st at 8:30pm from The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Matt Kassabian
Twitter: @PassDaKassabian

Author: Matthew Kassabian

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