Bowl Game Previews: FSU vs. Houston, Clemson vs. Oklahoma, Alabama vs. Michigan St.

Dec 31, 2015 by Sarah Moffatt

Peach Bowl: #9 Florida vs #18 Houston

The biggest mistake #9 Florida State could make is to underestimate their opponent, #14 Houston, in this year’s Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia. This marks the Seminoles 4th time to appear in the Peach Bowl, where they hold a record of 2-3. Houston has never played in this Bowl, in fact, they’ve never made a bowl game of this magnitude. Perhaps this means the Cougars will get stage fright and choke or, on the flip side, they are ready to prove they belong in post-season chatter.

The Seminoles and the Cougars have played each other 16 times in the past with Houston leading the overall series 12-2-2. The Cougars are led this season by first-year head coach Tom Herman, who served as the offensive coordinator for the Ohio State Buckeyes when they won the 2014 National Championship.

FSU is still under direction of Jimbo Fisher, who lead 2013 Heisman winner and now-Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ QB Jameis Winston to the Rose Bowl only to be embarrassed by the Oregon Ducks. After losing Winston and 10 other starters across both offense and defense, it’s pretty amazing the Seminoles are finding themselves back in a high profile bowl game so quickly.

Watch the Florida State Seminoles vs. the Houston Cougars at 12pm ET Thursday, December 31 on ESPN.

Orange Bowl: #2 Alabama vs #3 Michigan State

For the first of two semifinal games, #2 Alabama and #3 Michigan State will take the field in Dallas, Texas at AT&T Stadium. Both teams have had a great season as they meet at Jerryworld holding regular season records of 12-1 – Alabama lost to Ole Miss and Michigan State lost to Nebraska.

Alabama has a not-so-secret weapon on their side: the newest winner of the Heisman Trophy, running back Derrick Henry. Henry broke Herschel Walker’s (arguably the best college player in history) SEC rushing record of 1,891 yards in a single season by reaching 1,986 yards – a record that has been in place since 1981.

Michigan State is dealing with a little bit of adversity with QB Connor Cook and his shoulder injury. In order to beat Alabama, their tough defense, and stay ahead of Henry, MSU needs to be firing on all cylinders. And even so, MSU doesn’t have the best run defense, which is a problem going against – you guessed it – Derrick Henry. That being said, the MSU D did manage to hold Ohio State and Oregon running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Royce Freeman to less than 5 yards per carry the entire game.

Besides the machine that is Derrick Henry (yes, there’s more to Alabama than just him), the wound from last year’s upsetting loss in the National Championship to Ohio State is still fresh and the Crimson Tide will be looking to reinstate themselves as Champs. Basically, Alabama can be summed up with the words of White Goodman (Ben Stiller) in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood… Nobody!”

Watch the Michigan State Spartans vs. the Alabama Crimson Tide at 4pm ET Thursday, December 31 on ESPN.

Cotton Bowl: #1 Clemson vs #4 Oklahoma

#1Clemson and #4 Oklahoma travel to the Sunshine State for the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami for the second semifinal game. The #1 team in the country right now is currently riding a wave of an undefeated season. So, the obvious question is: Can Clemson ride this thing to the end? In short, yes, they can do it, however, OU is a great candidate to decapitate the Tiger’s season.

On paper, OU has a worse record at 11-1 but Baker Mayfield has more passing yards per game than Clemson QB Deshawn Watson at 307.9 and 288.5, respectively. And, they also have more rushing yards per game at 235 to Clemson’s 222.2, mostly due to OU running back Samaje Perine who averages 230 yards.

It’s worth mentioning these two teams have met in a bowl game before – just last year at the Russell Athletic Bowl, in fact. The Tigers cleaned house with the Sooners 40-6, which gives us a great narrative of OU looking for blood and glory this year. Plus, it helps the Sooners that the Tigers have sent home three starting players just – key wide receiver Deon Cain, kicker Ammon Lakip, and tight end Jay Jay McCullough – just a couple of days before their season’s biggest game so far due to violation of team rules, which is being reported as failing drug tests.

Regardless, we’ll probably see a lot of points on the board but it’s not because they are lacking in one side of the ball, but rather the opposite – they’re both just so dang good.

Watch the Clemson Tigers vs. the Oklahoma Sooners at 8pm ET Thursday, December 31 on ESPN.

Other Bowl games on Sling TV:

(all times Eastern)

December 31
Peach Bowl: #9 Florida State vs #18 Houston, 12pm, ESPN
Orange Bowl (semifinal): #1 Clemson vs #4 Oklahoma, 4pm, ESPN
Cotton Bowl (semifinal): #2 Alabama vs #3 Michigan State, 8pm, ESPN

January 1
Fiesta Bowl: #8 Notre Dame vs #7 Ohio State, 1pm, ESPN
Outback Bowl: #13 Northwestern vs #23 Tennessee, 12pm, ESPN2
Rose Bowl: #5 Iowa vs #6 Stanford, 5pm, ESPN
Sugar Bowl: #16 Oklahoma State vs #12 Ole Miss, 8:30pm, ESPN

January 2
Cactus Bowl: Arizona State vs West Virginia, 10:15pm, ESPN
TaxSlayer Bowl: Georgia vs Penn State, 12pm, ESPN
Liberty Bowl: Arkansas vs Kansas State, 3:20pm, ESPN
Alamo Bowl: #15 Oregon vs #11 TCU,6:45pm, ESPN

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