January 1, 2015 marks the beginning of the first ever NCAA Division I college football playoff. Up until this point, the #1 and #2 ranked teams at the end of the season would have the only chance to compete in the national championship. Beginning this year, the national champion will be decided by a four team playoff in which two of the BCS Bowls will act as semifinal games. The participants in the inaugural college football playoff are #1 Alabama, #2 Oregon, #3 Florida State, and #4 Ohio State.
#3 Florida State (+9) vs. #2 Oregon in the Rose Bowl (Saturday, January 1 at 5:00 PM)
Defending national champion and undefeated ACC champion Florida State enters the semifinal as only the #3 seed, and a nine point underdog to the Pac 12 champion Oregon Ducks. 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston leads the Seminoles against this year’s Heisman winner Marcus Mariota and the Ducks. After blowing the doors off everyone en route to a championship last year, Florida State has played in several close games this year and have one of the lowest margins of victory for an undefeated team ever. Even so, Florida State has not lost a game since 2012 and continues to find a way to win. Oregon’s lone loss this season came against the Arizona Wildcats back in October, but the Ducks have been rolling since then.
A key matchup to watch for in this game will be Florida State’s defense, which has bailed them out several times this season, against Oregon’s offense, which has continued to light up the scoreboard after the departure of Chip Kelly to the NFL. Jameis Winston will have to get off to a good start in this game; early turnovers will be fatal against an Oregon team that can score in seconds. I love Florida State +9 in this game. I think they are getting no respect because of all the close wins they had season, but this team keeps finding a way to win and I think they will pull the upset and win this game outright as well.
#4 Ohio State (+9) vs #1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl (Saturday, January 1 at 8:30 PM)
The second semifinal features a pair of coaches who are very familiar with each other from the days when they both coached in the SEC. Nick Saban leads perennial powerhouse and SEC champion Alabama against former Florida head coach Urban Meyer and the Big Ten champion Buckeyes. The Crimson Tide’s lone loss this season came against a very good Ole Miss team, while Ohio State’s loss to a bad Virginia Tech team early in the season nearly kept them out of the playoff.
Quarterback Blake Sims has picked up right where A.J. McCarron left off, with the help of wide receiver Amare Cooper, who set SEC records for career receiving yards and touchdowns on his way to being a Heisman finalist. On the other side, Ohio State will depend on third string quarterback Cardale Jones after losing star QB Braxton Miller at the beginning of the season and backup J.T. Barrett against Michigan just a few weeks ago. I think the spread on this game is again too large. Ohio State has shown that they have enough playmakers on offense to win no matter who is at quarterback, and Alabama doesn’t have quite the NFL-like defense it has had in recent national championship years. I think this game is very close but Alabama wins by 3 to 7 points.
Who will play in the national championship this year? Vote in the poll down below.
Thanks to everyone who read this post. Please like the post if you enjoyed reading, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.