The Campus Read Option: Previewing The Best Of The Weekend’s Non-Playoff Bowl Games

After a long and highly anticipated wait, the College Football Playoffs between #1 Alabama vs #4 Washington and #2 Clemson vs #3 Ohio State are set to kick off on New Year’s Eve.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that these games are the do-all and end-all of this year’s bowl slate. Yes, they will determine the eventual national champion, but there are a handful of other macthups to also get excited about taking place over the next few days as well.

Here’s a preview.


Thursday, December 29th

No. 12 Oklahoma State vs No. 10 Colorado

Valero Alamo Bowl, 9:00PM ET

There are some who believe that this could be the best bowl matchup out of all of them. Colorado is making its first bowl appearance since T Pain was buying girls dranks in order to call them his Shawty back in 2007.

Sefo Linfau, the Buffaloes’ four-year starting quarterback, owns basically every passing record in program history. This year, he’s thrown for 2,171 yards and accounted for 11 TD passes and seven rushing scores en route to being named the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year.

Both squads run exciting spread offenses and have very good defenses. They have a a lot in common in that they both excel on special teams and in causing turnovers as well.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph doesn’t get the shine he deserves, but he’s no joke. He’s thrown for over 350 yards five times this year, including the phenomenal 540-yard performance he posted against Pitt.

Despite his excessive amount of passing attempts, he rarely gets intercepted. In 416 pass attempts this season, he’s only been picked off four times while throwing for 3,777 yards and 25 touchdowns. 

Former conference rivals in the Big Eight and Big 12, this is the first time they’ve met since Colorado bolted for the Pac-12 in 2011. There should plenty of fireworks and big plays in this one. 

Friday, December 30th

No. 6 Michigan vs No. 11 Florida State

Capital One Orange Bowl, 8:00PM ET

Although he hasn’t announced his intention to leave Tallahassee for the NFL Draft, this is likely the last chance to get a look at FSU’s dynamic running back Dalvin Cook wearing a college uniform.

Considered the second-best running back prospect by NFL scouts behind only the LSU star Leonard Fournette, Cook rushed for 1,620 yards and 18 touchdowns in addition to his 426 receiving yards.

In only three years on campus, the junior has amassed 4,319 career rushing yards and 45 touchdowns. 

“…you’re talking about one of the all-time greats in Florida State history — I think in college football history. He’s a dynamic player,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said this week.

If this is his final college game, it’s only fitting that he’ll be matched up against Michigan’s outstanding defense, which only surrenders less than 13 points per game. The Wolverines are stingy against the run and have limited opposing offenses to a mere 3.1 average per carry while only giving up seven touchdowns on the ground all year. 

The Seminoles defense features two big-time talents in senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who has sacked opposing QB’s 15 times this year, and sophomore cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, who won the Jack Tatum Award as the nation’s top defensive back after intercepting eight passes. 

But no player on the defensive side of the ball this year had a bigger impact than Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, a Heisman Trophy finalist. A throwback that plays on offense, defense and special teams, keep your eyes on #5 at all times.

Michigan’s QB Wilton Speight passed for 2,375 yards and 17 touchdowns this year. His security blanket is tight end Jake “Doin’ the” Butt, who holds the school records for receptions and total yards by a tight end.

Florida State’s freshman quarterback Deondre Francis is a star in the making and one of the coolest and toughest customers around, having thrown for 3,128 yards and 18 touchdowns in his debut campaign. 

Saturday, December 31st

No. 20 LSU vs No. 13 Louisville

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, 11:00AM ET

Buckle up your seat belt because LSU’s talent and speed on defense will be a supreme test for Louisville’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson, who ran for 1,538 yards and 21 touchdowns while passing for 3,390 yards and 30 more scores this year.

The Cardinals offense resembled a video game for much of the season in terms of scoring numbers, but only one team was able to crack the 21-point barrier against the Tigers this year.

Jackson is the most awe-inspiring player that college football has seen since Michael Vick. LSU’s defense is stacked with NFL talent at every level. Sounds like a winning recipe to me.

And fret not about LSU’s remarkable running back Leonard Fournette skipping the game to get his body right for the NFL Draft process. The Tigers’ superb sophomore tailback Derrius Guice, who rushed for 285 yards against Texas A&M and 252 yards against Arkansas, is an elite stud in his own right.

But LSU’s passing game leaves a lot to be desired, so in order for them to put points on the board, Guice will have to perform at his absolute best.

Louisville’s offense gets all of the attention, but their defense is pretty good as well. But the marquee matchup will be the Jackson-packed action of the Cardinals offense and their quest to continue this season’s incredible run againstan LSU defense that has seen, and handled, its fair share of explosive offenses.   

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