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2016 College Football Bowl Game Predictions
Michigan vs Florida State
Michigan is a 7-point favorite coming into the game, and they are still fuming from their 2OT loss to OSU. You better believe Jim Harbaugh will have his team ready to play. Michigan, in my opinion is still one of the top 4 teams in the country. They are a 6-point favorite in the FPI.
Florida State, however, lost only three games, and two of which were against top 10 teams. They helped introduce Lamar Jackson to the world, as they were blown out by Louisville. Since their final loss of the season (against Clemson), they have outscored their opponents 145-54 in their final 4 games. They seemed to have turned a corner offensively.
Despite FSU’s turnaround, I am still picking the Wolverines to win and cover the spread in a blowout.
Florida State 24
Clearly I was pretty far off on this pick. Jabrill Peppers was out of this game with an injury, however, he didn't account for that much of a difference. Michigan may have been able to pull out the victory if he was in the game, but we'll never know.
Florida State 33
Washington vs Alabama
Alabama is a 14-point favorite going into this game. ESPN’s stats and info gives them just over a 68% chance to win the game based on the FPI. I do think Bama will win the game, because you just don’t bet against Nick Saban. However, if there is a team in the College Football Playoff that can knock off the Crimson Tide it is Washington in my opinion.
Alabama’s defense has been stifling, but they have given up more than 30 points twice this year. Each time the opposing Quarterback threw for 400 yards or more. This is where Washington lives. They love to throw the ball with Jake Browning, stud quarterback, threw for 3280 yards and 42 Touchdowns this year.
Admittedly I only watched part of one game of the Huskies this year, which was the Pac 12 championship game against Colorado. One red flag about Browning was when he was under pressure, much of that game, he was really bad. He completed just 9/24 passes for 118 yards. He did have 2 TD passes and no interceptions so there were some bright spots, but if Colorado can rattle you that much, what is Alabama going to do?
I think the key for Bama will be getting pressure on Browning with their front four and dropping the rest of their team into coverage. While Washington must be able to get some effective rushing yards to open up the play action game. That is much easier said than done when you’re going up against one of the best collegiate defenses in a long time.
I think Alabama will pull this game out and actually cover the spread late with a defensive touchdown.
Alabama is really really good at football. They gave up 7 points, early in the first quarter, and nothing the rest of the game. They scored yet another defensive touchdown on a pick six late in the 2nd quarter. I picked the spread pretty accurately, but gave Washington too much credit.
Ohio State vs Clemson
Ohio State is a 3-point favorite in this one and I’ve been going back and forth on this game. I think Ohio State is the better team overall, but I don’t like the matchup for them. The Clemson Tigers can score, and they can score in bunches. Deshaun Watson has a chip on his shoulder after losing the Heisman Trophy to Lamar Jackson, who had a spectacular year, and I think he is out for blood. JT Barrett is a capable quarterback, but I’m not so sure that Urban Meyer hasn’t broken him the last couple of years.
The Buckeyes come into the playoff with just one loss, against the Big Ten Champions, Penn State, in what was a close and just strange game. I don’t want to make excuses for OSU, but they probably should be undefeated right now. OSU is a 2-point favorite in the FPI (Football Power Index). All the numbers say to take Ohio State, but I think fate has a title rematch.
Clemson has too much talent, with Watson throwing to Mike Williams, I don’t think there is anyone who can cover him. I may regret my pick Saturday night, but I’m going with the Tigers in this one.
Ohio State 27
What the hell happened to OSU? We'll see how Penn State performs against USC to see if they it appears that they deserved to be in the playoff more. I thought this was a bad matchup for OSU, but I thought it'd be a good game. I was wrong.
Ohio State 0
Western Michigan vs Wisconsin
This will be the first big test for Western Michigan all season, which is why they haven’t received much love from anyone all year. Their best win was against Northwestern in Week 1. Not to take anything away from this team as they were fantastic all year, no matter your conference, it’s hard to go undefeated, I don’t think they will have much of a chance against the Badgers. Wisconsin is 10-3 with their losses coming to Ohio State (#3), Penn State (#5), and Michigan (#6). They have one of the best defenses in the land and are looking to take out their frustrating second half collapse in the Big Ten Championship on someone.
Wisconsin is a 9-point favorite in this one, and I actually think the Broncos will keep it close with a late score, so I’d take the Badgers but I won’t be laying the points in this one.
Western Michigan 24
This game was pretty close to how I expected it to go. The Badgers won by 8, but didn't cover. This game was won of the bigger "trap" games out of the six major bowls, because no matter how good Western Michigan was, it was going to be hard for the badgers to get up for this game. Especially after blowing that massive lead in the Big Ten Championship.
Western Michigan 16
USC vs Penn State
USC is a 7-point favorite but I’m not sure it’s going to be that close. The Trojans are perhaps the hottest team in college football right now and if it wasn’t for quarterback issues in the first 4 weeks, they could be in the playoff right now. They made the move to Sam Darnold in week 4, against Utah, which has been the only loss for the Freshman as a starter. Since that game, he has thrown 24 TD to just 7 INT and has led the Trojans to eight straight wins.
Penn State just shocked the badgers by pulling off one of the best second half comebacks that I’ve seen. They outscored the Badgers 31-3 in the final 31 minutes of the game. However, despite their wins over OSU and Wisconsin, I still feel unimpressed by the Nittany Lions. They were shelled by Michigan and didn’t beat a top ranked opponent the rest of the year.
I don’ t think this is a close game, Trojans will win in impressive fashion.
Penn State 21
Sam Darnold went OFF! He had a HUGE game: 33/53 453 yards 5TD to just 1 INT. This redshirt freshman will likely be all of the talk this off season and going into next year. With numbers like he had, you'd assume that USC blew PSU out, however, the Nittany Lions went off as well, scoring on four consecutive offensive plays. USC was able to pull it out with a field goal as time expired.
Penn State 49
Auburn vs Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a 3-point favorite entering this game, and I think that’s down right disrespectful. They lost two of their first three games to a very good Houston team and Ohio State. They have rattled off nine wins in a row winning most of those in impressively. They were punished this year for not having a championship game and scheduling tough out of conference opponents. Baker Mayfield is a stud and I’m expecting him to go off on Monday Night.
Auburn is getting the SEC bump here. They lost four games and are ranked 14 overall. They lost to a bad Georgia team, a sub-par Texas A&M team, then perhaps the two best teams in the country in Clemson and Alabama.
I just think that the Sooners are more talented at too many positions to not take them in this game, lay the points.
This game went pretty much how I thought it would. Baker Mayfield had a nice day: 19/28 296 yards 2 TD. Oklahoma was just too talented in too many positions to lose this game. They scheduled a tough out-of-conference schedule and it didn't pay off, if just one of those games went the other way, they would probably have been playing Clemson in the playoff.
Who will win the College Football Playoff?
© 2016 Josh Ratzburg