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Handicapping 2015 FBS Final 4: NCAA Football Playoffs Betting Preview

2015 FBS Playoff Betting?

It’s a maiden voyage for college football’s new championship format; gone is the BCS system and in is the four-team Playoff, with the iconic Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl serving as semifinal match-ups to determine the National Championship participants on January 12th in Arlington, TX.

College Football Betting

Let’s examine the final four teams vying for the National Title and predict who should be at the top of the heap in north Texas in a few weeks’ time.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Record: 12-1
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Conference: SEC

The top-seeded Tide are a college football juggernaut, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the USC Trojans a decade ago, or the Miami Hurricanes 15 years ago.

Alabama won the national crown in 2009, 2011 and 2012; in recent memory, Saban has the Tide perennially at or near the top of the heap in the murderous SEC West division. Alabama churns out NFL Draft picks and this year won’t be any different, with WR Amari Cooper, LB Reggie Ragland and S Landon Collins on the way.

The Crimson Tide play Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, which should be the easiest mark of the four teams due to OSU’s injuries at the QB position. People wanted to discount Alabama after its rare loss to Ole Miss earlier on, as neutrals almost always want to support the underdog.

Don’t sleep on ‘Bama: they combine a dangerous offense with an aggressive defense, and there’s plenty of talent and depth to go around.

It should surprise no one if Alabama is hoisting the National Title on Jan. 12.

Oregon Ducks

Record: 12-1
Head Coach: Mark Helfrich
Conference: Pac-12

There’s always the fast-paced attack of the team featuring the Heisman Trophy-winning QB, which has to be respected.

The Ducks steamrolled almost every opponent in 2014; most of the credit for that can go to celebrated junior QB Marcus Mariota. The Heisman winner uses his electric athleticism and his skill throwing on the run to make things miserable for opposing defenses.

Oregon is statistically solid in every respect, and apart from a narrow upset loss to Arizona on Oct. 2, the Ducks handled all comers. However, the Ducks will miss DB (and future high first-round pick) Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who is out with a suspension.

All the same, the Ducks should ride Mariota and the explosiveness of RB Royce Freeman to the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in January.

Florida State Seminoles

Record: 13-0
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Conference: ACC

It’s strange to think that the third-ranked team in this process is also the only unbeaten one. The Seminoles have won 29 consecutive ballgames, which is amazing in college football no matter how you slice it.

Yet, people weren’t as impressed with FSU in 2014 as they were the year prior. The ‘Noles squeaked by virtually everyone on their schedule this season; the margin of victory was seven points or less in six games. But in the end, it’s the “W” that counts, and Florida State has certainly been doing that.

FSU pivot Jameis Winston is a prized NFL prospect, likely because he is a superior pocket passer to Mariota. Not only that, but the Seminoles are littered with NFL talent; WR Rashad Greene and most everyone on the defense – but DT Eddie Goldman and DE Mario Edwards stand out especially.

They have supersonic-fast freshman RB Dalvin Cook and the best kicker in the nation in Roberto Aguayo. There’s plenty of reasons to like the Seminoles.

But Winston’s litany of off-field problems and barely handling the likes of Oklahoma State, Boston College, Florida and Georgia Tech? That’s harder to appreciate.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 12-1
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
Conference: Big Ten

The Big Ten is a conference desperately in need of good news. While football fans all over the Great Lakes region hope that Jim Harbaugh comes back to coach his alma mater Michigan, the rival Buckeyes advancing to the National Championship would do wonders for this region’s confidence on the college gridiron.

Ohio State is the only team in the Big Ten that was performing at a high level consistently in 2014. Indeed, for a stretch OSU looked like the best team in the nation. The Buckeyes were one Week 2 upset away from clear-cutting through their entire schedule.

The Buckeyes feature a great RB in Ezekiel Elliott and a strong run game in general, but they will suffer with the attrition at QB. Freshman starter J.T. Barrett is out with injury, as is 2013 starter Braxton Miller. That leaves third-stringer Cardale Jones to handle the duties and while he’s talented, he’s also unproven.

This isn’t a good time to be breaking in a new starting pivot, especially when Alabama looms on New Year’s Day.

Rose Bowl: Oregon over Florida St.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over Ohio St.
NATIONAL TITLE: Oregon over Alabama

Check out our Updated College Football Bowl Game Odds.

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