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Early Bowl Outlook

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It happens nearly every single season. Pundits galore spend early November talking about how three or four teams are going to stay undefeated. This year many felt like Oregon, Ohio State, Florida State and Alabama would remain unscathed.

Turns out, only the Seminoles completed the season without a defeat. The Ducks actually lost twice, while Alabama and Ohio State lost to Auburn and Michigan State, respectively.

Therefore, FSU and Auburn will meet in the final BCS Championship Game in Pasadena. Most books are listing the ‘Noles as 8½-point favorites with a total of 65 or 65½. The Tigers are +260 on the money line (risk $100 to win $260).

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Gus Malzahn’s team beat Missouri by a 59-42 count to win the SEC in a pick ‘em affair at the Ga. Dome. Tre Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns to pace AU.

FSU thumped Duke by a 45-7 count as a 29-point favorite in the ACC Championship Game. The ‘Noles are back in the title game for the first time since losing to Oklahoma 13-2 in 2000.

Alabama was forced to settle for a trip to the Sugar Bowl where it will take on Oklahoma. Most spots have the Crimson Tide as a 15-point favorite.

The last time Nick Saban’s team went to the Superdome in New Orleans, it spanked LSU 21-0 to win it all two seasons ago. However, in its last Sugar Bowl appearance, the Tide lost outright to Utah as nine-point favorite in 2008.

Bob Stoops’s squad finished the year on a high note with a win at Oklahoma State in the Bedlam showdown in Stillwater. The Sooners had three straight bowl games until getting smashed by Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl last year.

In the Orange Bowl, Ohio St. is a 2½-point favorite vs. Clemson. Both schools will be in bounce-back mode. The Buckeyes suffered their first defeat of Urban Meyer’s tenure against Michigan St., while the Tigers lost at South Carolina in their regular-season finale.

We’ve got a great Rose Bowl matchup between Michigan St. and Stanford. Most books have made the Cardinal a four-point favorite. The Spartans have won nine in a row since dropping a 17-13 decision at Notre Dame on Sept. 21.

Baylor will take on UCF at the Fiesta Bowl as both schools will be making their debuts in a BCS bowl game. The Bears are heavily favored by 16½ or 17. They closed the regular season by beating up on Texas, while the Golden Knights barely escaped Dallas with a win over SMU.

The best non-BCS game looks like Wisconsin vs. South Carolina in Orlando at the Capital One Bowl. The Gamecocks are 2½-point underdogs.

Missouri is favored by 1½ over Oklahoma St. in the Cotton Bowl, while Texas A&M is favored by 12½ over Duke at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

In the Outback Bowl, Iowa and LSU will square off. The Tigers, 7½-point favorites, will be without QB Zach Mettenberger. This is a rematch of the 2005 Capital One Bowl won by the Hawkeyes on a Hail Mary on the game’s final play. It also turned out to be Nick Saban’s final game at LSU.

Nebraska and Georgia will collide in Jacksonville at the Gator Bowl for a rematch of last season’s Capital One Bowl. The Bulldogs rallied to beat the Cornhuskers 45-31 as eight-point favorites last year. Senior QB Aaron Murray won’t be able to play for UGA, nor will Taylor Martinez for Nebraska.

Below are my final regular season rankings. 

VegasInsider.com Top 25
Rank School Record
1 Florida State Seminoles 13-0
2 Auburn Tigers 12-1
3 Alabama 11-1
4 Michigan State 12-1
5 Stanford Cardinal 11-2
6 Missouri Tigers 11-2
7 South Carolina Gamecocks 10-2
8 Baylor Bears 11-1
9 Oregon Ducks 10-2
10 Ohio State Buckeyes 12-1
11 Oklahoma Sooners 10-2
12 Clemson Tigers 10-2
13 Arizona State Sun Devils 10-3
14 LSU Tigers 9-3
15 UCLA Bruins 9-3
16 Wisconsin Badgers 9-3
17 Texas A&M Aggies 8-4
18 Oklahoma State Cowboys 10-2
19 UCF Knights 11-1
20 Louisville Cardinals 11-1
21 Georgia Bulldogs 8-4
22 Washington Huskies 8-4
23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 8-4
24 USC Trojans 9-4
25 Cincinnati Bearcats 9-3

  
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