2015-16 College Football Bowl Predictions


Multiple Authors

Alabama running back Derrick Henry (2) runs the ball and scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Auburn, Ala. Alabama won 29-13. 
College football has tragically come to an end, as it does every year. However, it looks to continue its annual tradition of ending the season with incredible excitement and energy, represented by numerous bowl games and the coveted College Football Playoff. Here are the predictions of some of the 2015-16 bowl games, from News editor Ji-Ho Lee and Sports editor John Flanegin:
Marmot Boca Raton Bowl
Toledo vs. Temple
Both Toledo and Temple boast impressive records, garnering over nine wins throughout the season. Temple, however fell to two ranked teams, while two of Toledo’s losses come to weak opponents, Northern Illinois and William and Mary. The Owls’ top-20 defense will prove to be the difference maker in the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Boise State vs. Northern Illinois
Two eight-win, non-power five conferences meet in the Poinsettia Bowl. Led by Bryce Rypien, the high-flying Bronco offense will simply outscore NIU in an exciting shootout.
Hawai’i Bowl
San Diego State vs. Cincinnati
Cincinnati boasts one of the most potent passing attacks in all of college football, while San Diego State has been one of the best red zone defenses. Meanwhile, the Aztec’s passing offense has been horrific, not to be outdone by the Bearcat’s horrendous defense. Gunner Kiel and his talented wide receivers will exploit SDSU’s weak secondary and win a close shootout.
St. Petersburg Bowl
Connecticut vs. Marshall
JI-HO: Marshall has one of the weakest strength of schedules across college football, but their balanced offensive attack will be enough to outscore the Huskies, whose offense was absolutely awful. A low-scoring affair between the Herd and the Huskies will not be as much of a defensive battle as a matchup of bad offenses. Ultimately, the Herd will squeak out an ugly victory.
JOHN:While the 6-6 Huskies have performed abysmally this season, they edge Marshall in terms of strength of schedule. Facing the likes of Houston, Temple, and Navy, UConn has faced much steeper competition than the Herd, and will subsequently outlast Marshall in one of the bowl season’s most forgettable matchups.
Military Bowl presented By Northrop Grumman
Pittsburgh vs. Navy
Although Pittsburgh boasts a top-20 run defense, Navy’s triple option will prove to be too much. Regardless of the scouting and film, dual-threat quarterback Keenan Reynolds and his 10-2 Midshipmen will easily defeat the 6-6 Panthers.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Arizona vs. New Mexico
The Gildan New Mexico Bowl places an Arizona team that drastically underperformed its expectations and a New Mexico team that is playing in a bowl game for the first time in eight years. The Wildcats were decimated by injuries, but the long break will give them a chance to heal. Led by quarterback Anu Solomon, a high-powered offense and healthy defense will give the Cats a dominating victory.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
BYU vs. Utah
Two old rivals are pitted against each other in the Vegas Bowl. The Utes and the Cougars both boast 9-3 records, but Utah’s strength of schedule is far more impressive. Once a top-five team, Utah will return to midseason form and take an easy victory against BYU.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
Washington vs. Southern Miss
Southern Mississippi brings their aggressive passing attack against Washington’s stout defense. The Huskies, however, have proven they can stop potent passing teams, by defeating USC, Arizona and Washington State. The experience of the Husky secondary will throttle the Golden Eagles in a competitive match.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Miami vs. Washington State
Both Miami and Washington State bring awful defense into the Sun Bowl, typical of their ACC and PAC-12 origins. The difference, however, will by Luke Falk and the Cougar passing attack, which is the best in college football. Falk looks to add to his 4,266 yard compilation against the weak Hurricane defense.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Indiana vs. Duke
JI-HO: Duke fell off of a cliff after their heartbreaking, controversial loss to Miami. But, after regaining their footing against Wake Forest, the balanced Blue Devil offense and defense will outperform the Hoosiers at Yankee Stadium.
JOHN: It seems we have reached the pinnacle of what bowl games can be with this matchup as two schools known for their talent on the hardwood will be playing football on a baseball field. All jokes aside, the Hoosiers will be at an advantage after Duke’s implosion in the past few weeks and will be led by quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Indiana has faced top ten powers, Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan State and will be in a much better state than the Blue Devils come Dec. 26.
Camping World Independence Bowl
Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech stayed competitive in all of their games, taking losses to teams above .500, except for a head-scratcher against Eastern Carolina. Nevertheless, running back Travon McMillian and wide receiver Isaiah Ford lead the Hokie attack against Tulsa’s defense, which ranked 120th in college football.
Foster Farms Bowl
UCLA vs. Nebraska
UCLA’s no-huddle west coast offense is pitted against Nebraska’s balanced attack. A Bruin’s victory, however, will not be based on the Bruins’ passing, rather UCLA running back Paul Perkins. An impressive offensive performance will give the Bruins the victory.
Quick Lane Bowl
Central Michigan vs. Minnesota
One word to describe Minnesota’s season is average. Their record is less than impressive, as the Gophers enter the bowl with a 5-7 mark. However, it’s not unfair to say that Central Michigan is even worse than the Gophers with the Chippewas playing a weak conference schedule in the MAC. The Gophers will pull out the win based on their combination of raw talent and tougher schedule.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
California vs. Air Force
Cal carries its high-flying, Pac-12 passing attack against Air Force’s balanced running attack in the Armed Forces Bowl. Although the Falcons’ running game has been very successful this year, ranking 2nd nationally in yards per game, the Golden Bears will simply score too many points, as the Cal receiver’s look to perform a clinic against Air Force’s inexperienced secondary.   
Russell Athletic Bowl
North Carolina vs. Baylor
JI-HO: Baylor has confirmed that third-string quarterback Chris Johnson is healthy enough to start the game against the Tar Heels. Defensively, the two teams are very similar; giving up lots of yards but not as many points. The difference, however, will be the Bears’ offense. Led by running back Shock Linwood and a talented receiving core headed by Corey Coleman and KD Cannon, Baylor will prove to be too fast in the air and too efficient on the ground in a high-powered shootout between the two teams.
JOHN: It has been quite a year for the Tar Heels and head coach Larry Fedora, amassing an 11-2 record and only eight points away from knocking off top ranked Clemson in the ACC championship game. North Carolina will be in good hands with fifth year senior Marquise Williams under center, who set a school record when he passed for 494 yards against rival Duke. Joining Williams as one of the Tar Heels catalysts is running back Elijah Hood, who combined with Williams have rushed for over 2,000 yards this season alone. With Baylor’s offense hampered with the loss of Seth Russell, it’s North Carolina’s game to lose.
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
LSU vs. Texas Tech
LSU’s season seems nearly pointless. A decrease in effort and passion was very evident after Les Miles’ team lost in devastating fashion to Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. Nevertheless, the Tigers still have one of the most dangerous players in the country in Leonard Fournette. The star running back will find his feet and wreak havoc on one of the worst defenses in the country, while the Tiger defense will get hinder Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered Red Raider offense just enough to claim the victory.  
Birmingham Bowl
Auburn vs. Memphis
The Birmingham Bowl features two teams trending in opposite directions, as the AAC Memphis Tigers face the Auburn Tigers of the SEC. The game won’t be close. Memphis has quietly put up one of the best offensive performances in the country, led by quarterback Paxton Lynch, while Auburn’s defense and passing attack have been horrendous. Memphis will sprint out of the gates against an unmotivated Auburn squad and take an easy win.
Belk Bowl
NC State vs. Mississippi State
The Belk Bowl features two very similar teams, in terms of offensive efficiency and defensive production. The difference, to nobody’s surprise, will be Dak Prescott. One of the best players in the country, the Bulldog quarterback will carry his team to another win, as the North Carolina State offense sputters against a stout Mississippi State defense.  
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Texas A&M vs. Louisville
Texas A&M may have put together one of the most disappointing seasons in college football, posting a 8-4 (4-4) record after starting the season in the top 15. But Sumlin’s Aggies will have no trouble against Louisville’s unproductive offense and average defense. SEC defeats ACC in this Music City Bowl.
Holiday Bowl
USC vs. Wisconsin
JI-HO: The Holiday Bowl features a balanced Trojan offensive attack against the best defense in the nation, in terms of points allowed. Ultimately, Wisconsin’s defense will be the prevailing factor in this game. USC was thoroughly frustrated with Stanford’s defense in the PAC-12 championship game, and a similar trend looks to be the case in this bowl game. Wisconsin running back Dare Ogunbowale will lead the Badger offense and squeak out just enough points to defeat USC.
JOHN: While USC’s season has been a long journey of ups and downs involving the termination of coach Steve Sarkisian and losses to Stanford, Washington, Oregon, and Notre Dame the Trojans will be ready to roll against Wisconsin on Dec. 30. With arguably one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Cody Kessler and an equally as talented wideout in Pac-12 leading receiver JuJu Smith, USC is an absolute force on the offensive side of the ball. The trojans, however, aren’t one dimensional and with NFL caliber duo of outside linebackers Su’a Cravens and Porter Gustin combining for 11 sacks on the year USC will stifle the Badgers offense and celebrate their win in front of a red and gold clad crowd in San Diego.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Houston vs. Florida State
JI-HO: Houston brings in one of the most balanced teams in the nation on both sides of the ball. The efficient offense will eek out enough points against a stiff Florida State defense, while the Cougars stymie the struggling Seminole offense. In a game of field position, a couple key turnovers will be the difference for the Cougars.
John: Although Houston has looked like a force to be reckoned with this season, the Seminoles of Florida State will knock the Cougars down a peg when the two meet in the Georgia Dome on New Year’s Eve. Running back Dalvin Cook set a school rushing record with 1,658 will meet Houston’s 11th ranked rush defense in what will be the game’s most interesting match-up. However, if Cook can’t get things going the Seminoles will be in luck if quarterback Sean Maguire can get the passing game established against the Cougars 106th ranked passing defense. Cook and Florida State’s uber athletic defense will be what ultimately pushes them to their 11th win.
College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Clemson
When the College Football Playoff Committee first announced their rankings, citing Clemson as the best team in the country, many people were confused at the selection. But, the Tigers have lived up to their ranking, going undefeated throughout the season. That pattern will be lassoed by the Oklahoma Sooners. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and his high-powered offense look to exploit a Clemson defense that has yet to face an offensive team as dynamic as Oklahoma’s. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson will make a couple plays, keeping Clemson in the game, but the Sooners pull away late in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, it’s Boomer Sooner advancing to the College Football Championship Game.
College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Alabama
From a statistical standpoint, nothing about Michigan State is truly impressive. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide will overpower Sparty’s averageness in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Alabama will click on all cylinders offensively, as Heisman winner Derrick Henry proves why he deserves the hardware. Quarterback Jake Coker will put on a clinic against Michigan State’s overaggressive cornerbacks, as a speedy wide receiving core, led by Calvin Ridley, runs past the Spartans. Defensively, Bama will do what they have always done in big games: shut down opponents. The Tide’s dominant front four will force Sparty to be one-dimensional, and Connor Cook will make mistakes through the air. The Tide Rolls in the college football semifinal, 27-10.
Outback Bowl
Northwestern vs. Tennessee
JI-HO: Both Northwestern and Tennessee bring embarrassing passing attacks into the Outback Bowl. Tennessee, which has ridden its running game behind quarterback Josh Dobbs throughout the season, will try to overpower Northwestern’s impressive defense. The Wildcats, however, will continue their defensive dominance, giving their offense good field position throughout the game. One big play will be all it takes for Northwestern to claim the win against their SEC opponents.
JOHN: It’s been a somewhat disappointing year to say the least for the 8-4 Volunteers, who were some pundits’ choice to take the SEC East and contend for their first SEC title since 1998. However, with quarterback Josh Dobbs at the helm and speedy sophomore Jalen Hurd’s knack for finding gaps in the defense the Volunteers will take down the 13th ranked Wildcats in one of the closest games on the bowl season.
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
Michigan vs. Florida
Jim Harbaugh’s inaugural season was a punt away from being spectacular. Instead, the Big Blue end their season 9-3 against the SEC East champion Florida Gators. Neither team exhibits above average offense, but the Gators are significantly worse under freshman quarterback Treon Harris, who fills the role of suspended Will Grier. The Wolverines’ defensive line will overwhelm their Floridian counterparts, forcing Harris into bad decisions and easy pickings for a talented secondary. Meanwhile, quarterback Jake Rudock does enough for Michigan to etch out a win against Florida.
BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl
Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Two college football dynasties meet in the Fiesta Bowl, as the Fighting Irish face the Buckeyes. Notre Dame presents one of the most balanced squads in the country, while Ohio State boasts a dangerous running attack featuring a two-headed monster in Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott. The difference, however, will be the Buckeye defense, which has been quietly dominant against, albeit, a weak schedule. Nevertheless, a confident Ohio State defense shuts down Deshone Kizer and company as Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes pick up a hard fought bowl victory.
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual:
Stanford vs. Iowa
10 years ago, if you predicted these two teams in a bowl game like this, nobody would believe you, and some might even have you checked into an asylum. Today, the teams are two of the best in the nation. The Hawkeyes do nothing spectacular offensively, but boast one of the best secondaries in the country. In the Big 10 bowl game, however, Michigan State’s running attack obliterated Iowa’s front four. Heisman finalist Christian Mccaffrey, who leads the team in both receiving and rushing yards, looks to do the same. In a very close and exciting game, Iowa’s defense fails to stop Christian Mccaffrey and Kevin Hogan late in the game, giving the Cardinal a hard fought victory.  
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss
Two of the most dynamic passing offenses in the country face off in the Sugar Bowl. The Cowboys, however, were absolutely embarrassed against rival Oklahoma in the last game of the season, exposing every weakness in an already poor defense. Quarterback Chad Kelly, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and the Rebel offense look to perform a clinic against a bad Oklahoma State defense. The Ole Miss landsharks disrupt Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys as the Rebs cruise to a Sugar Bowl victory.
TaxSlayer Bowl
Penn State vs. Georgia
This match features two once highly revered dynasties which are now both on the backend of a mudslide. The Bulldogs, however, have just enough power on the ground to overpower an impressive Nittany Lion defense. Penn State will never find a rhythm offensively, and the Bulldog defense does just enough to solidify a win.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Kansas State vs. Arkansas
Former Big 12 meets Big 12 in the Liberty Bowl, as Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks face Bill Snyder’s Wildcats. Despite their similar records, this game will never be in doubt. K-State’s offense is atrocious, but not as bad its defense. Meanwhile, Arkansas’s running game has been respectable in the 2015 campaign, as running back Alex Collins had no trouble finding holes behind the biggest offensive line in the country. The Razorback defense will stuff an inefficient Wildcat offense, as the EMAW faithful will be drowned out by cries of Woo-Pig-Sooie.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oregon vs. TCU
JI-HO: Two high-powered offenses face off in the Alamo Bowl, as Big 12 meets PAC 12. The difference, however, will be the potent Duck running game. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin  will do his best to keep the Frogs within range, but Oregon looks to tire out an unmotivated Horned Frog squad. The Ducks pull away late in the fourth quarter in an exciting shootout.
JOHN: The return of former Heisman front-runner Trevone Boykin’s favorite target, Josh Doctson, will once again make the Horned Frogs a threat from anywhere on the field. Gary Patterson’s 10-2 squad ended their season with a 28-21 win over a tough Baylor team and will carry their momentum into a game that will see TCU the victor as two of the nation’s most exciting offenses clash.
College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T
Alabama vs. Oklahoma
The College Football Playoff National Championship features one team that almost everyone expected to be playing and another team that very few expected to be playing. On one side of the ball is one of the most balanced, efficient offensive machines in the country. Led by dual-threat quarterback Baker Mayfield, destructive running back Samaje Perine and lightning-fast wide receiver Sterling Shepard, the Sooners have put up over 40 points in nine of their 12 games, 50+ in four games and over 60 in two games, while winning games by an average margin of 28 points. The Big 12 crimson, however, line up against the Crimson of the SEC. Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide boasts one of the best, if not the best defensive unit in the nation. Featuring potent defensive end A’Shawn Robinson, speedy middle linebacker Reggie Ragland and lock-down cornerback Cyrus Jones, the Tide limit opposing offenses to only 258 yards per game and an astounding 14.4 points per game. The strengths of these two teams look to level out, so the deciding factor will be the ‘weaknesses’ of each team.
Alabama posts a respectable 34.1 points per game behind Heisman running back Derrick Henry and cool quarterback Jake Coker. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s defense allows 20.8 points per game, due in large part to a trio of speedy blitzers in linebacker Eric Striker, defensive end Charles Tapper and inside linebacker Dominique Alexander.
There is no doubt that Alabama’s defense is good, nor is there any doubt that Oklahoma’s offense is just as talented. The difference in this game will be the man with the trophies: Derrick Henry. Oklahoma’s defense has performed well this season, but its statistics are bloated because of a Big 12 schedule featuring the likes of Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas. Henry may take some time to find his rhythm, but it doesn’t take much to get the big man rolling. A few chunk-yardage gains will force the safeties to creep up, allowing offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin’s play action passing attack to work to perfection. Mayfield and company will make some noise, but the Crimson defense will blanket the Sooner offense. Ultimately, Roll Tide ousts Boomer Sooner, making the Alabama Crimson Tide the best team in the country in the 2015-16 college football season.
Who do you think will be crowned champion?
Were there any predictions you disagreed with?