2014 BCS Bowl Viewing Guide


Jameis Winston's Seminoles enter the national championship favored over their SEC foes.

The dream matchup between Florida State and Alabama fell much like poor Cade Foster’s kick.

Black Friday blew up the BCS bowl picture, sending Bama to New Orleans to play the day after New Year’s instead of the following Monday in primetime. That’s where cross-state nemesis Auburn faces the nation’s sole undefeated squad led by Heisman winner Jameis Winston.

And there’s every reason this could prove equally entertaining.

When FBS teams with near-perfect records wait roughly a month to face an unfamiliar opponent, we could see anything. We watch each BCS bowl because what looks like an Oklahoma-Connecticut Fiesta on surface could easily turn into an Oklahoma-Boise State Fiesta, as you feel like an idiot for going to that holiday party instead (without first pestering the host about their cable situation).

Each BCS bowl game features teams and sublime talents that no one should go through this college football season without catching live at least once. So here you go America,

Your 2014 BCS Bowl Viewing Guide

Lines from Bovada. Times ET.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio

Matchup: Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1)

Time and TV Info: Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. on ESPN

Where: Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Point Spread: Stanford favored by 4.5

What to Watch: What this game lacks in star power it makes up for in holistic vibe. Spread offenses and wild bursts of scoring are the face of “entertaining” college football in the 21st century, yet these two squads both prefer three yards and a cloud of dust. And it’s working.

Well, technically it’s 5 yards and a cloud of dust for Stanford and 4.4 for Michigan State so these offense can hum. The Cardinal have found success with their latest trench-punisher to follow in the footsteps of Stepfan Taylor and Toby Gerhart. Tyler Gaffney helped Stanford secure the Pac-12 title with a 133-yard, three-touchdown performance against Arizona State.

Sledding downhill will come tough against a Michigan State defense that ranks tops in the country. It’s not exactly the early-2000s Miami defense as far as names and draft status, but does include four players on ESPN.com’s 2013 All-Big Ten Team. Connor Cook seized the quarterback reins this season and the Spartan offense has improved under the sophomore.

Prediction: Stanford 16, Michigan State 10


Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

Matchup: Baylor (11-1) vs. UCF (11-1)

Time and TV Info: Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Point Spread: Baylor favored by 17

What to Watch: There is something fun about seeing two schools make their first ever BCS bowl appearance and the type of excitement it brings to those fanbases — though this could feel much more like a home game for the Bears from the heart of Texas than the Knights of Central Florida.

Regardless, Bryce Petty’s execution of Art Briles’ offense should be a treat to watch. Many are expecting Baylor to run up the score on UCF as they boast the second-most efficient quarterback and second-highest average point differential in college football, with only Winston and the Seminoles ranking higher. Upon getting a lead the Bears can lean on college football’s most electric back in Lache Seastrunk.

Blake Bortles won the America Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year award over Teddy Bridgewater and gives Central Florida a chance against Baylor, but it’s a slim one.

Prediction: Baylor 55, CFU 34


Allstate Sugar Bowl

Matchup: Alabama (11-1) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)

Time and TV Info: Jan. 2 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans

Point Spread: Alabama favored by 15.5

What to Watch: The last time Alabama fell one game short of the national title came in 2007, when the Crimson tide lost to Florida in the SEC championship before throwing out a dud in the Sugar Bowl. ‘Bama came out flat in that contest and it’s hard to imagine Nick Saban forgot the experience. On paper, Heisman finalist A.J. McCarron and arguably the nation’s stingiest defense should be favored by two touchdowns against a powerhouse that has frankly underwhelmed in 2013.

Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon seems destined for an early-round draft selection but the key this game will be Oklahoma’s ground game. Oklahoma’s quarterback platoon only produced the 99th-ranked pass attack in college football, so if running backs Brennan Clay and Roy Finch are stifled early then Alabama will likely rout the Sooners. Oklahoma’s stacked LB corps hope to slow down the Crimson Tide’s rolling boulder of a run game and that battle should be fun to watch.

Prediction: Alabama 48, Oklahoma 16


Discover Orange Bowl

Matchup: Ohio State (12-1) vs. Clemson (10-2)

Time and TV Info: Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. on ESPN

Where: Sun Life Stadium in Davie, Fla.

Point Spread: Ohio State favored by 3

What to Watch: All the talk about Ohio State just cruising through an easy schedule has to eat at Urban Meyer. I mean, just look at the guy. Killing that pizza. The next object of Urban’s fury will be the ACC’s second bowl selection and another squad that’s looked prolific up until they hit the upper echelon of competition. It seemed Clemson had a marquee win over No. 5 Georgia early on but now that squad’s in the Gator Bowl. Meanwhile, Ohio State blew its signature moment in the Big Ten title game.

Meyer’s 4-0 career record in BCS bowl games combined with OSU’s plethora of talent do justify being deemed the favorite. Carlos Hyde could start in an NFL backfield someday while Ryan Shazier further bolsters Buckeye LB prestige by earning an AP first-team All-America nod. Braxton Miller gives one of the nation’s most prolific run offenses a dual-threat at quarterback, topping 1,000 via both ground and air.

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd is far more dangerous passing, however, and will likely top 3,500 yards and 30 touchdown by the season’s final snap. Blistering wide out Sammy Watkins may join Boyd as first-round picks in the coming NFL draft. Ohio State ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten in pass defense and can be exploited here on the big stage.

Prediction: Clemson 26, Ohio State 24


Vizio BCS National Championship Game

Matchup: Florida State (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1)

Time and TV Info: Jan. 6 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN

Where: Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Point Spread: Florida State favored by 8.5

What to Watch: Auburn’s triple-option might give Florida State’s defense the one question they can’t solve. No one in the SEC has.

The Tigers lead the nation in rushing by a wide margin at more than 335 yards per game. Gus Malzahn has proved a wizard of the SEC in the past and did it again in 2013 with quarterback Nick Marshall, Heisman finalist running back Tre Mason and — often his third “option” when he passes out of the triple — Sammie Coates. Their 88th-ranked defense has been nullified by their knack for making the last play in shootouts.

Florida State appears, on paper, to give the nation its best shot yet at breaking the SEC’s seven-year claim to bragging rights. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy at just age 19, which makes me feel old and terrible. On defense, the Seminoles bring in future NFLers by the truckload. Headed up front by All-American Timmy Jernigan and in the back by fellow All-American Lamarcus Joyner, this unit must really get flummoxed by the triple-option for an offense with little pass threat to gash them.

Prediction: Florida State 24, Auburn 20


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