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College Bowl Picks (Jan.2- Jan.5th)

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
In their first game since the famous "Kick Six" Alabama hopes to recover against
C.J. Mosley
an Oklahoma team uncertain about their quarterback. Trevor Knight, Blake Bell and lefty Kendal Thompson have all seen time this year but none has emerged and injuries have shook things up. All three are good runners which means it will be important for the Alabama front seven to contain them. The front seven includes talents like linebacker C.J. Mosley and end Jeoffrey Pagan. Mosley, a senior, is a great tackler with fantastic speed to the ball and incredible instincts. The rest of the Tide defense is great, with players in the secondary like NFL prospect HaHa Clinton-Dix. No matter who starts at quarterback for the Sooners they will have playmakers around them. Athletic receivers Jalen Saunders (56 receptions, 654 yards) and speedy Sterling Shepard (44, 540) will help this offense move. Oklahoma's offense may struggle to keep up with an Alabama offense that has been the best it has in years. Senior A.J. McCarron was hoping his last game would be a third National Championship Game, but he should still be ready to go in this one. Oklahoma's defense has been very exposed against the run and that is worrying with Alabama's plethora of backs. This includes sophomore T.J. Yeldon, freshman Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, who can all be big play threats. The Sooners will be hoping for some turnovers or mistakes from McCarron, who is always better in the big games. Oklahoma may be able to catch 'Bama off guard but it seems silly to think they can do much against this motivated Tide team.
Alabama, 31 Oklahoma, 14

Cotton Bowl: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
Old Big 12 foes meet in what will be yet another high-scoring Cotton Bowl, after we saw Johnny Manziel and the Aggies run all over Oklahoma last year. 11-2 Missouri has been one of college football's biggest surprises thanks to a dominant defense and the play of their senior quarterback James Franklin. Despite missing four games due to a separated shoulder Franklin still had 2,255 yards and 19 touchdowns. His favorite target was sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham, who has great size and speed. To keep the offense balanced, the Tigers also have senior Henry Josey. Josey missed all of 2012 with a severe knee injury but has been great this season. The defense has been strong, with one of the nation's best pass rushers in Michael Sam. Sam is incredibly strong and has a very quick step which helped him rack up 10.5 sacks. He will hope to pressure senior quarterback Clint Chelf who has been great since taking over for sophomore J.W. Walsh. Chelf proved that he had a big arm, with 1,792 yards and 15 touchdowns, but also made a ton of plays with his legs. This offense has a number of other impact players that include Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore. The Cowboys will hope their defense can tame Franklin and Josey. Cornerback Justin Gilbert is a player that can make big plays as a coverage man and as a player in special teams. Gilbert had six interceptions this year and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. The Cowboys can certainly score and their defense can make plays but they are far too consistent to pick them over Mizzou.
Missouri, 38 Oklahoma State, 34

Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson
Both Ohio State and Clemson had a lot of highlights to think about during the 2013 season and they could end it well with a win in this one. Ohio State has one of the nation's most exciting offenses to watch with junior Braxton Miller at quarterback and powerful back Carlos Hyde, gaining tough yards. Hyde missed the first two games of the year then responded with 1,408 yards and 14 touchdowns, while averaging 7.7 yards a carry. Clemson also has an offense that can put a lot of points on the board. Senior Tajh Boyd is playing his last bowl game with Clemson and junior receiver Sammy Watkins likely is as well. When those two are on their game they can constantly make huge plays. Senior back Roderick McDowell is ready for a big game after rushing for 956 yards this season. This game could turn into a shootout, meaning that any defense will be very important. Ohio State's defense has been very exposed all year but they have a number of fantastic players, like pass-rushing linebacker Ryan Shazier, an All-American. They will need a big day from cornerback Bradley Roby to shut down Watkins, and Clemson's other talented receiver, Martavis Bryant, who is averaging 20.5 yards a reception. Clemson has a talented pass-rusher as well in Vic Beasley who hopes to make some big tackles for loss to slow down Hyde and the tempo of the Buckeyes. This game could be exciting if neither defense can slow down the offensive talent of the others. Ohio State and Miller are ready to show that they deserve a BCS bowl bid with a strong performance.
Ohio State, 45 Clemson, 35

Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt vs. Houston
One of the nation's rising programs, Vanderbilt, hopes to contain a Houston team who had a great first year in the American Athletic. Vandy won't have Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback, which means they will lean on freshman Patton Robinette, who was average, while filling in for Carta-Samuels. Robinette will hope that he can get a lot of help from senior receiver Jordan Matthews who had 107 receptions this year, even with uncertainty at the QB position. Matthews is the SEC's all-time leader in receptions and yards and he hopes he can have a couple big plays against an average Houston defense. Houston has a big-play threat of their own in sophomore Deontay Greenberry, an incredibly quick talent who caught 76 passes and had 10 touchdowns. The Cougars have had great year from freshman John O'Korn who threw for 2,889 yards and 26 touchdowns, despite facing a lot more experienced players. Houston has a defense that can constantly cause turnovers leading the nation with 40 takeaways. Robinette had 3 interceptions compared to two interceptions and it isn't crazy to think that he could turn the ball over once or twice. The Commodores must also hope for a strong day from sophomore back Jerron Seymour who had 13 touchdowns this year. Both of these young quarterbacks should be able to get the ball down the field but turnovers may be the deciding factor.
Houston, 23 Vanderbilt, 15

GoDaddy Bowl: Ball State vs. Arkansas State
Two of the best non-BCS programs in the entire nation will square off in what will be a nice appetizer to the BCS National Championship Game. Arkansas State went 7-5 this year and 5-2 in the Sun Belt but will be without their head coach Bryan Harsin, who left for Boise State. The Red Wolves had a strong year in large part to senior quarterback Adam Kennedy, who had 2,327 yards this year, while completing nearly 70% of his passes. Ball State had a fantastic year in the MAC in large part to their QB, senior Keith Wenning who has had a great career with the Cardinals. Wenning had 34 touchdowns this year and also threw for nearly 4,000 yards, much of those to junior Willie Snead. Snead had 97 receptions this year and proved to be quite the reliable target to Wenning. The issue for Ball State and their defense will be getting the ball. Arkansas State rarely turns the ball over, having just 13 turnovers this year. Kennedy is extremely smart and makes the right decisions. Ball State has really struggled throughout their bowl history, they have yet to win one yet. But, there is no denying the talent on this team. Along with Wenning, the Cardinals also possess guys like powerful back Jahwan Edwards, who used his strength to rack up 964 yards and 13 touchdowns. Expect Ball State to take advantage of an Arkansas State defense that has struggled against great offenses. It is about time that Ball State and Wenning end their winless bowl streak.
Ball State, 35 Arkansas State, 21

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