Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…because we come here to finish a college football season that I have fucking hated. But it’s time for the best teams in the country to face off to ring in 2015, so here we are again. I’m happy to join all of you again, but my brain is mainly occupied with the news that IT’S HAPPENING.
Fiesta Bowl: #20 Boise State Broncos vs. #10 Arizona Wildcats
First things first, I am very happy for Rich Rodriguez’s success at Arizona. He got screwed over by seemingly everyone in Ann Arbor during his brief tenure as Michigan’s head coach and could have seen his career crater. Instead, he’s landed at a school with a limited history of success and taken them right to the top. Good for him. Go Wildcats.
He’ll be facing perennial giant-killer Boise State, who are in the Fiesta Bowl because they finished the season as the highest ranked non-AQ team. They’ve been good this season, no doubt, but the Fiesta Bowl is probably a bit high as a landing spot for the Broncos. But they match up pretty well with Arizona, since both teams rely on their innovative offenses to carry them past defensive performances that can be spotty. I’m picking Zona to win, though, because of their outstanding individual players. Sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III (what a name!) won every defensive player award for this season, and the Freshman QB/RB tandem of Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson has made the offense hum. Wildcats by 10
Peach Bowl: #9 Ole Miss Rebels vs. #6 TCU Horned Frogs
TCU is so pissed to be here. They entered the last weekend of the season ranked #3 and looking for a spot in the inaugural playoff. Instead they were dropped three spots in the final rankings and will be playing a glorified exhibition in Atlanta. On the other hand, Ole Miss has to be thrilled to be here. Since getting to the Cotton Bowl in back-to-back seasons about 5 years ago the Rebs have been pretty terrible. So a 9-3 season which they capped off by spoiling their arch-rival Mississippi State’s chances to sneak into the playoffs by winning in the Egg Bowl is pretty great. I think that momentum will carry them past a dispirited bunch of Horned Frogs. Rebels by 8
Orange Bowl: #7 Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. #12 Georgia Tech Yellowjackets
The Almost Bowl. Mississippi State almost ran the table, despite all the odds, to grasp a playoff berth. Georgia Tech nearly pulled the upset against Florida State in the ACC Championship. So who comes in to this with their spirits intact? Tough call. The Bulldogs definitely got higher this year, spending several weeks ranked #1 in the country. That makes me wonder if they will be all-in for a bowl game against a tricky triple-option attack. Maybe. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Bulldogs by 3.
Cotton Bowl: #8 Michigan State Spartans vs. #5 Baylor Bears
Our last non-playoff game. The Spartans were the 2nd-best team in the Big Ten from start to finish, but got their staunch defense blown apart in their highest-profile games against Oregon and Ohio State. Not coincidentally, those two teams are in the playoff and Sparty gets a consolation prize. The Bears have been blowing defenses to pieces for years, but found their high-flying attack grounded by West Virginia. It was their only stumble of the year and, judging by the rankings, cost them a playoff berth. So it’s another Almost Bowl! Sparty has been terrifyingly well-rounded since the middle of last year, with an efficient offense grinding away at teams while their innovative Cover-4 defense smothered almost every offense it faced. But Baylor is exactly the type of team that has caused trouble for Sparty in this run. Oregon and Ohio State beat the Spartans by attacking the inside seams and running past the safeties who have to watch for the run even as they run with receivers. Art Briles must have watched that and laughed. He will use it with glee. Bears by 12
Rose Bowl – National Semi-Final: #2 Oregon Beavers vs. #3 Florida State Seminoles
I have one wish for this college football post-season: I want to see this Florida State team fucking demolished. They have been incredibly lucky to win out this Fall, winning 7 games by less than a touchdown and having to come from behind to win in 3 others. That luck seemingly carries over to the rest of their lives, since Florida State players are apparently immune from arrest or prosecution in Tallahassee. (To wit: Jameis Winston said in a FSU-discipline hearing last week that the girl he raped 2 years ago gave her consent by moaning. In related news, I would like every ligament in Jameis Winston’s bosy to explode). So, like, who gives a shit about how good Oregon has been outside of a fluky loss to Arizona back in October. I just want them to take this shitty, immoral, and unbearable Florida State team and pulverize them. Come at me, #FSUTwitter. Ducks by ∞
Sugar Bowl – National Semi-Final: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #4 Ohio State Buckeyes
Just to be clear, I hate FSU more than any other football program right now. But if I had to name two other programs that I have a pure loathing for it would probably be these two. So…I am really on-board the Oregon Ducks train for this playoff. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good match-up! Alabama has been as complete a team as ever in 2014, riding a consistent defense and an offense so uncharacteristically high-flying that it made wide receiver Amari Cooper into a Heisman finalist. He was the first receiver to be invited to the ceremony since Larry Fitzgerald came in 2nd back in 2003. So…yeah. They’re good. Not that the Buckeyes have not been! They lost two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller before the season even started, so the backup J.T. Barrett just went ahead and finished 5th in Heisman voting despite not starting a game prior to August. Then he broke an ankle against Michigan and 3rd-stringer Cardale Jones just fucking bombed Wisconsin for 59 points. (Have I mentioned how excited I am to be getting a world-class coach in Ann Arbor? Boy, do we need it.)
So, uh, this game should actually be pretty awesome and I even think we might get a shootout. God knows who wins that, but I’m pretty sure the losing coach may murder the winner. So…this will be fun. Bama by 1
Images via Mgoblog.com. Al.com, usatthebiglead.files.wordpress.com, mrwright212.files.wordpress.com, img.spokeo.com, collegevisits.org, and sbnation.com.