Following a handful of major bowl games unfolding in the final week of 2015, a slew of high-stake matchups will go down on Thursday, December 31 – otherwise known as New Year’s Eve. Here is the educated breakdown according to our seasoned expert.
UH vs FSU
The University of Houston will take on Florida State in The Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta at noon local time. Houston comes into the matchup with a 12-1 record and a #18 overall ranking. The Seminoles are ranked #9, having finished the season at 10-2. Both marks are testament to the differing levels of competitiveness within each respective conference.
How will the fruit-based fiasco go down? Florida State is likely to try to assert their will on the ground. Sophomore Dalvin Cook has amassed and an insane 1,658 rushing yards on the ground in just over 200 carries this season. It equates to an average of nearly 8 yards per tote, which is normally enough to march any team down any field toward victory throughout the course of any given game on any given night.
Will the young man primed for the NFL be able to dominate this game? The answer to this question will go a long way toward determining the outcome of the showdown. If FSU takes a lead into halftime, expect the squad to come away with a victory. Houston will look to make gains through the air against the 19th-overall ranked passing defense in the nation, which will be a formidable task.
OU vs Clemson
Four hours later, the first game in the 2015 College Football Playoff will unfold when the #4-ranked Oklahoma Sooners take on the #1-ranked Clemson Tigers in Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
The Sooners come into the game at 11-1, their only loss being a bizarre, fluke-ish 60 minutes in Texas against the Longhorns in early October. Clemson successfully ran the board, earning themselves a historic 13-0 record. Their closest call came against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on the first Saturday in October, but Dabo Sweeney and his talented bunch emerged and galvanized themselves for a run that featured four road games in their final seven games.
This matchup will pit two great coaches and two talented squads against one another, and it would almost be unfair to predict the winner. Nonetheless, we are on board with the Clemson Tigers, 34-24.
MSU vs UA
The final major football game of 2015 will unfold at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas at 7:00 PM local time when the Michigan State Spartans take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Cotton Bowl, otherwise known as the second game of the 2015 College Football Playoff.
As always, Michigan State took on a notably challenging non-conference schedule including the likes of the Oregon Ducks and Air Force. They emerged victorious in both September situations by a field goal and two touchdowns, respectively. They went on to mow through their competition, but a bizarre showdown in Lincoln, Nebraska against the Cornhuskers on the first Saturday in November proved to be the only blemish on their impressive record. They left town with a 39-38 loss, but following victories against Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa proved that they belong in this final grouping.
It almost seems redundant to recite the resume that allows Alabama and head coach Nick Saban entry into this exclusive tournament. The team faltered in many ways during a home loss to Ole Miss in mid-September, but they have since righted all wrongs while destroying their competition and allowing more than 15 points only once over the course of their last 10 games.
Taking all this into account, the official prediction for Michigan State versus Alabama is the Crimson Tide by a field goal, 23-20.