2014 Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl Previews

January 3, 2014

Oklahoma is a perfect example of why games are played on grass, not paper.

Most people (including myself) gave the Sooners very little chance at knocking off the Crimson Tide, and Bob Stoops completely turned the conference conversation on its head with a victory in the Sugar Bowl.

After Baylor’s loss to UCF in the Fiesta Bowl two nights ago and Oklahoma’s victory over Alabama, was there truly a great conference in college football in 2013? What about a great team?

We might get the answer to the second question this coming Monday. But I don’t think we’ll come to a true conclusion about the first question, and even if we do, I think that at this point the balance is leaning towards “no”.

We’ll be entertained by two more great matchups tonight. Here are the previews for the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl.

AT&T Cotton Bowl (Friday, 7:30 PM ET – FOX)

No. 13 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Missouri

After last night’s Big 12 triumph in the Sugar Bowl, the Cowboys are looking like a much more attractive pick than they did a few days ago. But Missouri is fairly familiar with Oklahoma State as a former member of the Big 12 Conference and knows what Mike Gundy likes to do offensively. Expect a lot of points in this game and a battle that could challenge the excitement of the contest in New Orleans.

The Cowboys were one game away from punching their ticket to a BCS game before losing to the Sooners in the Battle of Bedlam. On one hand, Oklahoma State could be a candidate to come out flat and unmotivated. On the other hand, Mike Gundy’s team probably saw Oklahoma take care of Alabama and would like to make it two in a row for the Big 12 over the SEC. For that to become a reality, quarterback Clint Chelf is going to have to have a big night. The senior struggled against Oklahoma’s strong pass defense, much like A.J. McCarron did in the bowl game against the Sooners. But another issue for Chelf could have been the weather in Stillwater back on December 7, which played a major factor in how the ball was moved offensively. In the controlled climate of Jerry’s World, I don’t think Chelf will have much of a problem slicing and dicing Missouri’s defense, which gives up 256 yards per game through the air.

Much like Oklahoma State, Missouri is coming off of a loss that sent the Tigers to the Cotton Bowl instead of a BCS bowl. However, unlike the Cowboys, the Tigers had a perfect opportunity to play the game they wanted to against Auburn in the Georgia Dome. A dominating run game was not enough to take down Guz Malzahn’s squad because Missouri gave up 677 total yards. Gary Pinkel’s team absolutely has to find a way to shut down Oklahoma State’s passing game, and the Tigers have shown the ability to do so, limiting Johnny Manziel to less than 200 yards passing the week before the SEC title game.

I could end up being very unhappy with the result of this game, because I had originally chosen Missouri but decided to switch to Oklahoma State after coming to the conclusion over the past three days that the SEC isn’t as dominant as usual this season. But I only have the Cowboys for 5 points, so in the grand scheme of things it isn’t going to put me at the top of my Bowl Mania group regardless of who I choose.

My Pick: 38-34 Oklahoma State

Discover Orange Bowl (Friday, 8:30 PM ET – ESPN)

No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio State

One of the most intriguing bowl matchups of the season takes place in Miami when the Clemson Tigers take on Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes. The Tigers were absolutely obliterated the last time they played in this bowl game, and don’t expect Dabo Swinney not to remember how that felt. Urban Meyer is 7-1 in bowl games as a head coach, but none of those wins have come as the head man of Ohio State.

Clemson comes into this game with the No. 11 pass offense in the nation led by a senior quarterback in Tajh Boyd and one of the most dynamic receivers in college football in Sammy Watkins. The Tigers will be helped by the fact that Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby is not expected to play in the game, nor is defensive end Noah Spence. Roby, Ohio State’s best cover corner, and Spence, the team leader in sacks, were important pieces to a defense that has already struggled mightily this season. Without those two players, Boyd should have more time to throw and a more open Watkins to throw to. The Buckeyes are No. 6 in the nation in run defense, but the name of the game will be to stop Clemson’s pass attack.

The Buckeyes are coming off of a disappointing loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, but the Spartans’ victory in the Rose Bowl is a sign that the Big Ten may not be as weak as once thought. With Braxton Miller at quarterback, Ohio State’s offense seemingly has the ability to make up for all of the defense’s inadequacies. While the most recent loss would dispute that claim, in this game the Buckeyes should be able to move the ball effectively on the ground. Along with Miller, senior running back Carlos Hyde could have a lot of success bruising his way through a Clemson defense that is mediocre against the run. Meyer could employ a style that keeps the ball out of Boyd’s hands, which would significantly slow the game down and result in less scoring.

Even with the loss of Roby and Spence, I think this game will remain close because Ohio State will have the ability to control the clock with the run game. However, the Buckeyes need to get stops on defense because Miller is still a bit inconsistent and Ohio State can’t count on the offense to score on every drive. I have the Tigers for 9 points in this one, but it could go either way and as an Ohio State student I really can’t lose by picking Clemson for so little points in Bowl Mania.

My Pick: 30-28 Clemson

If you’d like to share your opinion on Around The Corn for any of the upcoming bowls, shoot me an email with your thoughts and prediction to kbecks@aroundthecorn.com. Or you can like Around The Corn’s Facebook page or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. As long as you send your thoughts at least two games before the game is to be played, I can assure you that your thoughts will show up in an article.

– K. Becks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *