National Championship Game
No. 1 Florida State Seminoles vs. No. 2 Auburn Tigers (Pasadena, CA on January 6th)
Note: Florida State has opened from anywhere between 8-9.5 point favorites in this contest. I think that the Tiger's defensive lapses have bettors favoring the Seminoles by a rather wide margin.
Initial Reaction: I think that this game will play out very similarly to the Iron Bowl. Auburn sports a fantastic offense, but the Seminoles also have a very athletic defense that could cause some issues in the run game for Auburn. The Seminoles also have a great offense that should be able to take advantage of an Auburn defense that hasn't been spectacular this year. My gut tells me to go with Florida State early in the analysis.
No. 4 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 5 Stanford Cardinal (Pasadena, CA on January 1st)
Initial Reaction: This is going to be a defensive slug-fest. These two teams play a very similar style, preferring to use their impregnable defenses and power running games to take the pressure off of the quarterback. Yet watching Spartan quarterback Connor Cook against Ohio State, I think that he can be an X factor in this game and lead the Spartans to a Rose Bowl victory.
Note: Despite the Spartans being ranked ahead in this contest with the Cardinal, Sparty is a 1-3 point underdog early.
No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 12 Clemson Tigers (Miami, FL on January 3rd)
Note: According to 11Warriors, Ohio State has opened as an early favorite over Clemson among betting circles, with the average being a 3 point favorite.
Initial Reaction: This game will probably be the opposite of the Rose Bowl. Clemson and Ohio State both have very explosive offenses but their defenses have often been the cause of the losses. Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins should have a field day against the Buckeye's secondary, but Braxton and Carlos Hyde will find equal success against the Clemson front seven. I like Ohio State's defense to make a couple of big plays in this game, and ultimately they walk away with a victory while both teams score in the mid 40s.
No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (New Orleans, LA on January 2nd)
Initial Reaction: This is a rematch of the title game back in 2003 when Saban coached LSU, and I imagine this game will turn out in a similar fashion. Oklahoma is still searching for the same success it found under Sam Bradford, but they just don't have the ability on offense to keep up against Alabama's defense. Alabama's offense is still very potent, and I just don't see any way the Sooners are able to account for Amari Cooper, OJ Howard, TJ Yeldon and the rest of the Tide offense. Alabama should handle this game fairly easily.
Note: Bettors aren't too confident in Stoops's ability to stop Nick Saban. Alabama has opened as 14.5 point favorites against the Sooners.
No. 6 Baylor Bears vs. No. 15 UCF Knights (Tempe, AZ on January 1st)
Note: This game has the potential to get ugly early with the potency of Baylor's offense. They are favored by more than two touchdowns at this juncture.