The inaugural College Football Playoff is set. No. 1 Alabama will meet No. 4 Ohio State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET Jan. 1, ESPN), while No. 2 Oregon faces No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual (5 p.m. ET Jan. 1, ESPN). The winners will meet in the College Football Playoff championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (Jan. 12 on ESPN, time TBD).
Now that you know when and where it will shake out, CFT is here to tell you how it will happen.
ROSE BOWL: Oregon over Florida State, 45-38
SUGAR BOWL: Alabama over Ohio State, 34-31
TITLE GAME: Oregon over Alabama, 38-27
BOTTOM LINE: No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon are already favored by double digits, and rightly so. Since the middle portion of the season, the Tide and Ducks have been the two best teams in college football, and it hasn’t really even been close. A UO-UA title tilt has the makings of an epic clash of cultures, with the Ducks’ new-age, high-speed offense vs. the Tide’s Nick Saban and his old-school ways. Don’t sleep on either No. 3 Florida State or No. 4 Ohio State, though. The defending BCS champion Seminoles simply follow Al Davis‘ creed and just win, week after week, exam after exam. It may not be pretty, but all they do is pass every single test. As for the Buckeyes, they earned a spot in the Big Ten championship game with a No. 2 quarterback who turned into the starter a couple of weeks before the start of the season, and then won a conference title and spot in the College Football Playoff with a quarterback who was third on the depth chart in mid-August. Underestimate OSU at your own peril, although there’s no way that happens with a Saban-coached team. All in all, these are two terrific semifinal matchups that will leave us with one helluva national championship game. As for the Big 12? Get a league title game, or undisputed champion, then you’ll have earned the right to whine.
ROSE BOWL: Oregon over Florida State, 34-31
SUGAR BOWL: Alabama over Ohio State, 31-23
TITLE GAME: Alabama over Oregon, 31-27
BOTTOM LINE: We are finally going to get ourselves a highly-anticipated clash of football cultures, with Oregon and Alabama facing each other for the first College Football Playoff national championship. And it is going to be a blast getting there. First we will have what looks to be a battle of Heisman Trophy quarterbacks with Marcus Mariota and James Winston in the Rose Bowl. Give the Ducks the home-field advantage in this one,s ending them to the title game after winning a shootout. Florida State will finally be cracked. Then the awesome coaching match-up of Urban Meyer vs. Nick Saban in the Sugar Bowl will be huge. Ohio State has shown it may not matter which quarterback is throwing under center, but give Nick Saban a month to prepare for a young quarterback and they may be tough to beat in the Sugar Bowl, site of last season’s dismal ending to the season for the Tide.
ROSE BOWL: Oregon over Florida State, 45-31
SUGAR BOWL: Alabama over Ohio State, 31-16
TITLE GAME: Alabama over Oregon, 31-26
BOTTOM LINE: Florida State is clearly immune to losing close games, so Oregon will find a loop hole by not letting it get close. Marcus Mariota slices and dices the ‘Noles through the air (three touchdowns) and on the ground (two more). In the Sugar Bowl, playing a Nick Saban defense in a national semifinal for a second-ever start proves too much for Cardale Jones to overcome, and the Tide cruises. And in the title game, Blake Sims-to-Amari Cooper proves too much for Oregon to overcome, and the Ducks will spend the next nine months kicking themselves after settling for three short field goals, which prove to be the difference.
ROSE BOWL: Oregon over Florida State, 31-21
SUGAR BOWL: Alabama over Ohio State, 24-21
TITLE GAME: Oregon over Alabama, 23-20
BOTTOM LINE: This prediction is very simple. The two best teams in the country are clearly Alabama and Oregon. Alabama brings the best defense to the table in the first College Football Playoff, while Oregon maintains an edge with the top quarterback in Marcus Mariota. Ohio State absolutely trampled Wisconsin the in the Big Ten Championship game, but a Nick Saban defense will be another animal for quarterback Cardale Jones to face in his second-career start. Meanwhile, Florida State won seven games this season by six points or less. Their luck will run out against the most talented offense they’ll face all season. And Alabama will meet Oregon at the National Championship Game in Arlington, Texas. Just like everyone expected. And the Ducks will finally break through to claim their first national championship thanks to having the best player in the country running their offense.