Rose Bowl – Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California
Thursday, January 1, 2015 @ 5:00 PM EST (ESPN)
#3 Florida State Seminoles (13-0, Atlantic Coast) vs Oregon Ducks (12-1, Pac 12)
Current Line: Oregon -9, O/U: 72.0
Florida State Seminoles (Head Coach Jimbo Fisher): Welcome to the inaugural Championship Playoffs. It seems befitting that the first game should feature the 2013 Heisman Trophy Winner versus the reigning Heisman winner Marcus Mariotta. For the Seminoles, they ran the table to a perfect record in 2014, but it wasn't always as pretty as people would think. In fact, they finished behind both #1 Alabama and #2 Oregon despite the fact both those two teams each loss a game.
Part of the problem with this year's edition of the Seminoles was the diminishing play of last year's Heisman winner Soph QB Jameis Winston who found himself mired in personal issues that may have affected his ability to concentrate. He still threw for 3,559 yards and 24 TDs, but those numbers paled in comparison to last year. He also threw for 17 interceptions, which created problems with momentum. With Winston performing below expectations, it was incumbent on players like Sr WR Rashad Greene (1,306 yards receiving and 7 TDs) to step up and contribute to the cause.
Florida State is 1-8 ATS in road games vs. poor passing defenses – allowing a comp. pct. of 58% or worse over the last 3 seasons. Florida State is 16-5 under versus excellent rushing teams – averaging >=5.25 rushing yards/carry since 1992.
Oregon Ducks (Head Coach Mark Helfrich): Ten years ago, the Ducks program was considered a second tiered program. Over the last decade, they have become a true powerhouse, consistently bidding for NCAA Champion status. If not for a home loss to #10 Arizona in which the offense just didn't show up, this game would feature two undefeated teams vying for a chance to play in the Championship game against the winner of #1 Alabama/#4 Ohio State.
The 2014 Heisman trophy winner was a very deserving Ducks Jr QB named Marcus Mariota. All he did was spearhead the #2 scoring offense (46 PPG) in the nation with both his arm and legs. Mariota led the team in passing (3,783 yards and 38 TDs) and was second on the team is rushing (669 yards and 14 TDs). His running mate in the backfield was RB Royce Freeman with 1,299 yards and 16 TDs. It's hard to pick out a star receiver from a group of five players with over 400 yards receiving.
The Ducks are 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 games following a ATS win. Oregon is 15-6 ATS after 2 straight wins by 17 or more points over the last 3 seasons.
Major Injuries: None to Report
Preview: This game has more than its fair share of subplots. Can Winston put aside his personal issues long enough to return to last year's glory? Will Mariota show the nation why he was voted the best college player in the nation? Can Florida State's defense keep this game from turning into a track meet? The answer to all these questions comes by 8:30 PM est time on Jan 1.