The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

New Year’s Six Predictions

2017-2018 New Year’s Six Bowl Preview and Predictions by select CHT staff

 

College football in 2017 has been an exciting one so far, with great games and awesome moments. Now we are preparing to go into the bowl season as teams look to close out their year with a big win. In anticipation of the New Year’s Six that is coming up, some of the staff at The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports have given their predictions of each game. Let’s take a “peek” at these match-ups.

Cotton Bowl – USC vs. Ohio State

Both of these teams had aspirations of making it to the College Football Playoff, but key losses in the season prevented them from making it. As an alternative, the Trojans and the Buckeyes will clash in AT&T Stadium. USC comes in as the champions of the Pac-12 led by highly touted quarterback Sam Darnold, who may look to have another stellar performance like he had at last season’s Rose Bowl Game. He’ll be accompanied by Ronald Jones in the backfield who had a great regular season accumulating nearly 1,500 rushing yards this season. They will be matched up against a defense that was one of the best in the country, allowing under 20 points a game and 110 yards rushing. On the flip side, the Buckeyes will have J.T. Barrett under center with two talented running backs: Mike Weber Jr. and freshman J.K. Dobbins. That combination was able to produce about 250 rushing yards per game en route to a scoring average of 42 a game, which ranks in the top 5 among all FBS teams. USC’s head coach Clay Helton may have a lot to handle on the defensive side of the ball, as we know that Ohio State’s Urban Meyer is one of the best offensive minded coaches in the game.

Fiesta Bowl – Washington vs. Penn State

Washington looked like they were on their way to another appearance in the College Football Playoff, winning their first six games easily. After that, an inexplicable performance at Arizona State and an eight point loss to Stanford relegated them to second place in the Pac-12 North. They hope to end their season on a good note with a Fiesta Bowl win against Penn State, who also had a great start to their season but a close loss to Ohio State and then a loss to Michigan State derailed their hopes of winning the Big Ten and appearing in the College Football Playoff themselves.

Offense may be on full display in this one, as both the Huskies and Nittany Lions have great players on that side of the ball. Jake Browning had an efficient season this year with 18 passing touchdowns and only 5 interceptions, and he has Myles Gaskin and Dante Pettis as the best skill players on his team. Both Gaskin and Pettis have made plays over the course of the season that made them be named on the All-Pac 12 Team (Pettis 1st Team, Gaskin 2nd Team) and the Huskies have averaged 37 points a game. Penn State has one of the best players in the country in Saquon Barkley, as he has scored touchdowns as a running back, receiver, kick returner, and one as a quarterback. The guy who takes most of the snaps at quarterback – Trace McSorely – is versatile as well…he has 3,600 total yards from scrimmage this season. He also scored 37 total touchdowns. That is a lot of offense.

Hopefully the scoreboard is ready for a lot of changes in this one.

Orange Bowl – Miami vs. Wisconsin

One of the stories of the 2017 college football season was the run that the Miami Hurricanes had for most of the year. They had wins over Florida State and Virginia Tech before their primetime game against Notre Dame where they nearly shut down an offense that was doing very well up to that point. The “Turnover Chain” was gaining popularity quickly and the Canes were on their way to being a national championship contender.

However, all of that fell apart on November 24th when they couldn’t get things going against Pittsburgh and lost on the road, then they followed that up with a bad showing against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. A lot of injuries have hit Miami, and that could be key in this game against Wisconsin.

The Badgers had a run of their own, going undefeated to the Big Ten Championship Game then losing a close one to Ohio State (their 2nd consecutive loss to OSU in that game). That loss took them out of College Football Playoff contention, and they have to be in the Orange Bowl which may end up being an “away” game of sorts as Miami will be playing in their home stadium against them. It may come down to the running game of Jonathan Taylor and the Badger offensive line to get them through, because Alex Hornibrook cannot make a mistake against the Hurricane defense. Miami has forced 30 total turnovers this season with 17 interceptions, and Hornibrook himself threw 15 picks this year. If Miami can get him to rush his decisions in the pocket, look out.

Peach Bowl – UCF vs. Auburn

Atlanta will host a Peach Bowl game with two teams that have offensive minded coaches on the sideline. UCF leads the country in points per game, and head coach Scott Frost will have his team trying to air it out and get the ball to the edges with his quarterback Mackenzie Milton. Milton had an awesome season gaining over 4,000 total yards from scrimmage and 42 total touchdowns and most of the passing touchdowns went to Tre’Quan Smith, who got over 1,000 yards as a receiver. Auburn’s balanced offense is conducted by head coach Gus Malzahn and he will look for Jarrett Stidham to execute from under center. He gives opposing defenses different formations to adjust to and they also run a wildcat formation with running back Kerryon Johnson usually taking the snap. However, due to the shoulder injury that Johnson suffered in the game against Alabama, it is uncertain if he will be playing in the Peach Bowl.

While both teams can move the ball up and down the field, it may come down to the defense of each team to see who comes out on top.

Rose Bowl – Oklahoma vs. Georgia

The first College Football Playoff game of the 2017-2018 season will feature the Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners against the SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs. This is a well anticipated encounter as we will see 2017 Heisman Trophy Winner Baker Mayfield go up against a stingy Georgia defense that is among the best in the country. Now Mayfield does have a few good running backs in Rodney Anderson, Trey Sermon, and Abdul Adams who have combined for over 2,000 yards rushing. However, the defense of the Bulldogs is in the top 15, and their scoring defense is tied for third in the country.

Georgia’s offense is mainly reliant on the running game, and they are deep in the running back position. Nick Chubb leads the way but Sony Michel is not that far behind him. The Bulldogs use both very often as they are able to make big plays in the backfield and in the passing game. D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield are also primed to make plays as well…Swift did that in the SEC Championship Game against Auburn to seal the win and get this spot in the Rose Bowl. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm went through the season nearly mistake free, and the Bulldog fans hope that will continue to be the case on January 1st. Oklahoma’s defense will have to find a way to stop the plethora of running backs that Georgia has, and get pressure on Fromm to force him to make bad decisions.

Sugar Bowl – Clemson vs. Alabama

For the third consecutive time in the College Football Playoff, the Tigers and the Tide will play each other. This time, it will be in the semifinal game. The last two games between these two were classics, and fans of each team and of the sport look for this game in New Orleans to be the same way.

Clemson comes in as the top team in the country and may also be one of the hottest teams in the country. They have scored at least 31 points in their past five games, and their skill players are looking great. Kelly Bryant seems to have fully recovered from his ankle injury and he has a full roster of guys to get the ball to including Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud, Tavien Feaster, Travis Etienne, and Hunter Renfrow who has been a thorn to the side of the Alabama defense in the previous two games. Their defense is not a joke either, as they allow under 13 points a game and may be better than the defense last year which was a key component to their national championship run. The front four of the Tigers have been a terror on opposing quarterbacks, led by Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins. Their performance over the year has made the rest of the defense play more freely and get more plays on the ball, and that is due to the playcalling of coordinator Brent Venebles who is one of the best defensive coaches in the game.

Alabama returns to the College Football Playoff with most of their team back from the one that lost to Clemson in Tampa last year and they hope to get revenge. Jalen Hurts made some key plays in that game to keep the Tide in it before Clemson’s former quarterback Deshaun Watson drove the ball down the field for the game winning score. Hurts is looking to get that sour feeling away from him by getting this win. He will have Bo Scarborough in the backfield with him (Bo was injured in the National Championship Game last year) along with leading rusher Damien Harris and key backups Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs. Calvin Ridley will be counted on to get big gains in the passing game as he is one of the best players on that side of the ball. The defense has been among the best in the nation year after year, and this year was no different. They allowed under 12 points a game and was stingy in the running game allowing under 100 yards to opposing teams. Their front seven features four guys that were either in the 1st or 2nd All-SEC team, and defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the best in his position and could be the best defensive player in the nation.

With all of the great athletes on both teams, it has the makings of being another great game in the Bayou.

CFP National Championship – Rose Bowl winner vs. Sugar Bowl winner

Mercedez Benz Stadium will be the site of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, and it will pit two teams that will have gone through a lot to reach this point. We have gone through the previews of the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, and there was also a brief bio of each team in the College Football Playoff a few weeks ago. Our selected staff members have went ahead and picked who will be this year’s national champion, and you can see it below.


Check back on January 2nd and on January 9th to see who was the most accurate with their picks.

Copyrights GoLong Media & The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

New Years Six Predictions

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