InsideTheACC: Previewing The Rose Bowl

The Seminoles (13-0) and Ducks (12-1) meet in the “Granddaddy of them all” with a trip to the National Championship on the line. We breakdown the sides and predict the winner here.

Florida State Offense

  • Scoring offense: 34.8 PPG (28th nationally)
  • Passing offense: 299.8 YPG (14th nationally)
  • Rushing offense: 134.9 YPG (104th nationally)
  • Total offense: 434.7 YPG (43rd nationally)

Jameis Winston definitely endured a sophomore slump following his Heisman Award winning freshman season. Winston’s touchdown to interception ratio dipped from 4:1 in 2013 to less than 2:1 in 2014 (24 TDs, 17 INTs) and his quarterback rating dipped from 184.9 to 147 this season. Winston’s off field troubles put a spotlight on every move he makes on the field, but his performance still exceeded much of his college football counterparts. He threw for 3,559 yards, and nearly averaged 300 yards per game in earning first team All-ACC honors.

Joining Winston on the list was senior tight end Nick O’Leary, widely believed to be the best tight end in college football. O’Leary caught 47 passes for 614 yards and six touchdowns this season. However, leading the team in receiving was fellow senior Rashad Greene. The receiver lead the team with 97 passes caught for 1,306 yards and seven scores. Travis Rudolph and Jesus Wilson stepped up to fill the gap left by Kelvin Benjamin when he declared for the NFL draft. The freshman Rudolph had 459 receiving yards with three touchdowns, while Wilson, a sophomore, had 455 yards and four scores.

Running back Karlos Williams missed the ACC Championship against Georgia Tech, but should be ready for the Rose Bowl on New Years Day. However, sophomore Dalvin Cook has done a solid job this season, likely leaving him as the Seminoles top rushing option. Williams found the endzone more than Cook, 10 times opposed to eight, but Cook lead the team with 905 rushing yards and had a solid performance against the Yellow Jackets when the Seminoles clinched the ACC.

Florida State Defense and Special teams

  • Scoring defense: 23 PPG (30th nationally)
  • Passing defense: 218.2 YPG (51st nationally)
  • Rushing defense: 160.1 YPG (60th nationally)
  • Total defense: 378.3 YPG (52nd nationally)

The Florida State defense wasn’t spectacular, but seemed to come up when needed, especially late in the ACC championship game when they stopped Georgia Tech on two fourth down conversions attempts. Junior linebacker Reggie Northrup was the lone Seminole with 100 or more tackles, finishing with 113. He also contributed a sack and an interception for Florida State in 2014. The team’s other junior linebacker, Terrance Smith was also a key asset on defense this season. Smith was second in tackles with 84, tied for the team lead in interceptions at 2 and chipped in one sack as well. The front four was well represented for Florida State by junior duo Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards Jr. Goldman lead the team with four sacks, and added 35 tackles, while Edwards continued to build on his solid tenure in Tallahassee with three sacks and 44 tackles.

The Florida State secondary boasts four players with at least 60 tackles this season. A pair of sophomores, Nate Andrews and Jalen Ramsey were huge for the FSU secondary, recording 83 and 76 tackles respectively. Both also had a pair of interceptions apiece, and Ramsey lead the secondary with three sacks. Fellow defensive backs Tyler Hunter and P.J. Wiliams had synchronized stat lines in 2014, both juniors finished with 60 tackles and an interception each.

Sophomore receiver Kermit Whitfield handled 26 of the Seminoles kickoff returns, and finished with a 20.5 yard average. Senior Rashad Greene was on punt return duty for FSU, and had a 10.7 yard average on 15 returns. Sophomore Roberto Aguayo was one of the most accurate kickers in college football, converting all 53 of his extra points, and missing only two of his 27 field goal tries. Cason Beatty punted 44 times for the Seminoles, and the junior completed the season with a 41.6 net.

Oregon Offense

  • Scoring offense: 46.3 PPG (3rd nationally)
  • Passing offense: 308.9 YPG (11th nationally)
  • Rushing offense: 237.3 YPG (22nd nationally)
  • Total offense: 546.2 YPG (3rd nationally)

Matching up against last seasons Heisman winner Winston and Florida State will be this season’s runaway Heisman Award winner, junior quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota completed 68.3% of his passes for 3,783 yards, 38 touchdowns and two interceptions. 38 touchdowns and two interceptions, quite the ratio for the young gunslinger. Mariota also proved his worth on the run, rushing for 669 yards and 14 touchdowns. The final offensive stat line for the junior quarterback: 4,452 offensive yards and 52 total touchdowns.

Mariota spread the wealth to his receiving corps, as five players finished with at least five touchdown receptions. Freshman receiver lead the Ducks in receiving touchdowns with seven, while also gaining 684 yards on 41 receptions. Sophomore receiver Dwayne Stanford and junior tight end Pharaoh Brown each hauled in six scores, while freshman Charles Nelson had five touchdowns on only 17 receptions. Joining Nelson with five scores is junior running back Byron Marshall, who also lead the team in receptions at 61, and receiving yards with 814.

Marshall also rushed 50 times for 383 yards and a touchdown, but was far more valuable catching passes out of the backfield. Leading the Oregon ground game was freshman Royce Freeman, who burst onto the scene in Eugene with an impressive 230 carries. Freeman finished one yard short of 1,300 yards on the season and .08 yards short of averaging 100 rushing yards per game, while finding the endzone 16 times.

Oregon Defense and Special teams

  • Scoring defense: 22.5 PPG (29th nationally)
  • Passing defense: 259.5 YPG (103rd nationally)
  • Rushing defense: 154.2 YPG (51st nationally)
  • Total defense: 413.8 YPG (84th nationally)

Jameis Winston will no doubt be feeling the pressure from the Oregon defense on New Years Day, as four Ducks defensemen recorded at least four sacks this season. Junior linebacker Christian French lead the way with 6.5 sacks, while senior linebacker Tony Washington was runner up, getting to the opposing quarterback five times. Sophomore linebacker Torrodney Prevot and lineman DeForest Buckner each had four sacks in 2014. Senior Derrick Malone Jr. lead the front seven in tackles with 76, while fellow linebacker, junior Joe Walker was just behind that with 74.

The top Duck in tackles however, was senior defensive back Erick Dargan with 82. Dargan also lead the secondary in interceptions with six, proving to be the best defensive back on Oregon. Sophomore Reggie Daniels improved greatly over his freshman season with 65 tackles and an interception, while senior Ifo Ekpre-Olomu had 63 tackles and two picks.

Charles Nelson had the bulk of the Ducks kickoff returns, 18 for a 20 yard average, and also lead the team with 11 punt returns for a 15.5 return average. Matt Wogan and Aidan Schneider both attempted nine field goals this season, with the sophomore Wogan converting seven, and the freshman Schneider made eight. Punts were handled by Ian Wheeler who had a 39 net average on 39 punts.

Outlook and Prediction

“Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” The mightiest of all athletes and teams in sports eventually go down, and that will be the case for the defending National Champion’s in this one. Mariota & Co. will make a statement for the legitimacy of the Pac-12 by handing Florida State their first loss since 2012 — and it won’t be close.

Oregon 45 Florida State 27



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