Oregon will outscore Florida State, but it will be a wild game with Oregon overcoming one or more missed field goals and a fumble or two. Nevertheless, bet on FSU plus 9 points.
FSU offense vs. Oregon Defense.
Jameis Winston will not screw up. No longer is he burdened by the student conduct hearing, thanks to a Supreme Court Judge who was unwilling to make a credibility determination. (A trial judge might have been more capable and courageous to either clear Jameis or not.) Jameis is dying to prove that he is the better quarterback in this game.
Oregon’s defense has improved, but not to the shut down level it appeared to have in the Pack 12 Championship against Arizona, with Arizona’s dinged up quarterback. Oregon has game-planned against some quality quarterbacks in conference and bowls. Anybody remember Andrew Luck, Cam Newton or Russell Wilson? Winston will not screw up, but he will need to earn his yards.
People talk about Oregon’s defensive line and secondary, but what about linebackers?
Ever since Tony Washington, Jr. helped Oregon lose to Arizona, he’s been on a mission to resuscitate the team he almost killed. Backing comrades Walker, French, Malone and Hardrick have been very good, too.
Whichever team makes the critical stop will win the game. Just as Kiko Alonso keyed Oregon’s Rose Bowl win by intercepting Russell Wilson, look for one of these linebackers to make a difference in this year’s Rose Bowl.
Oregon’s Offense vs. FSU’s Defense.
Oregon will score. However, look for Oregon to stop itself at least twice.
Scott Frost, Oregon's offensive coordinator, learned to play without much of an offensive line. Oregon does not need big men to hold back FSU’s big defensive line. Mariota will jiu jitsu blitzers and rushers, delivering to the ball to his weapons. By the fourth quarter, FSUs big men will be tired and frustrated.
But Oregon will stop itself a couple of times.
A fumble or two will hurt the Ducks. Mariota is fast, but holds the ball loosely. He might get stripped. Running back Thomas Tyner missed games and will try too hard when he gets his chance. Tyner’s rust will show, and the ball will fly.
Kickers. FSU fans know how important kickers are. Oregon’s kickers have been inconsistent this season, on both kickoffs and field goals. Oregon simply does not give kickers many field goal opportunities because it prefers gambling for touchdowns. Oregon will miss a field goal, and give FSU runback opportunities.
With three minutes to play, the game will be within one score.
But, this IS Mariota’s year, and the Football Gods will not abandon him under the lights in the Rose Bowl.
Oregon wins 39-35.