Best Games of the 2014 College Football Season

Michigan State vs. Oregon, September 6

The Spartans finished the 2013 season win 10 consecutive wins, and will be sexy pick to win the Big Ten. Wins over Ohio State and Stanford proved that they belonged in that Rose Bowl, but will they be able to stop Oregon’s offense? This Week 2 game will be a battle of two completely different styles of play.

Texas shocked the Sooners in 2013 in Dallas

Oklahoma vs. Texas, October 11

Last year’s Red River Rivalry was one of the biggest upsets of the season with the Longhorns obliterating the Sooners in Dallas. Texas had already lost two games to mid-tier opponents, but rocked OU early and often. The Sooners went on to lose only one more game in 2013, culminating in a shocking dismantling of the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Sugar Bowl. This is always the defining game of the Big 12 season, and it’s a must win for both teams.

Notre Dame vs. Florida State, October 18

Halfway into the season comes this matchup that could be a major upset if the defending-champion Seminoles are 6-0 heading in. Notre Dame finished last season at 9-4, including wins over Michigan State and USC. Unfortunately for the Fighting Irish, both of those wins came in South Bend. Barring a complete collapse early in the year, Florida State will be heavily favored.

Ole Miss vs. LSU, October 25

Ole Miss was as streaky as it gets in 2013, but was able to take down the Tigers in Oxford last season 27-24. Ole Miss was not very successful in SEC play, with their defining wins being over LSU and Texas. The Tigers lost to only the Ole Miss and Alabama but will be without QB Zach Mettenberger.  While Ole Miss might not look like a title contender, this will be a big step for the Tigers if they want to be in the mix in 2014.

Alabama vs. LSU, November 8

Alabama might have a more storied history squaring off against Auburn, but this fixture in the schedule always has national title implications. It’s very likely that both of these teams are undefeated coming into the game, and you know Les Miles and Nick Saban will be throw everything but the kitchen sink at each other to come out victorious. This time it’s in Baton Rouge, and there isn’t a better college football experience in the country than a night game at Tiger Stadium.

Auburn vs. Alabama, November 29

With how this game ended last season, you can Bryant-Denny Stadium will be electric for this one. A field-goal returned for a touchdown as time expired put the Tigers in the SEC title game and eventually in the National Championship, while Alabama got crushed in the Sugar Bowl by the Sooners. This is one of the best rivalries in all of sports, and it’s the last game of the regular season for both schools. All of Alabama wishes they could cram into the stadium for the Iron Bowl in 2014.

Best of the Bowls (10 through 6)

The bowl lineup is out and there are so many good match-ups, they’re impossibly to choose from – so I did just that. From the BCS National Championship to the GoDaddy Bowl, there’s a good time to be had watching football this bowl season. We ranked the Top 10 bowls, starting from….

#10  Poinsettia Bowl – December 26, 6:30 PM

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That’s right, this Northern Illinois vs. Utah State game is on the list. The Huskies went 12-1 and came so close to playing in another bowl game, but they lost in the MAC Championship Game to Bowling Green. Utah State has a great defense and should give N. Iliinois QB and Heisman candidate Jordan Lynch all they can handle.

#9 Capital One Bowl – January 1, 1:00 PM

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This match-up could have easily been a BCS game, but South Carolina vs. Wisconsin is a treat for those that will be in attendance at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando. The Badgers have one of the best running games in the country, but will go up against a defensive line that has Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles bearing down on them on every attempt. Melvin Gordon and James White will have their hands full get that 6.6 yards per carry against the Gamecocks.

#8 Orange Bowl – January 3, 8:30 PM

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The team that was oh-so-close to playing in the National Championship has ended up in the Orange Bowl, as the Ohio State Buckeyes will take on the Clemson Tigers. Clemson finished second in their division to Florida State, and has the always-explosive Taj Boyd back firing on all cylinders after a rocky mid-season stretch. The last time Clemson was in the Orange Bowl, they allowed 70 points to West Virginia. They want to make that a distant memory with a win over Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes.

#7 Liberty Bowl – December 31, 4:00 PM

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Rice won its first conference title since 1957 and will be playing in a bowl for the second consecutive time, which they also hadn’t done since 1960-61. Trying to spoil the Owls good time is Mississippi State, who was also not picked to have the best of seasons in 2013. Both teams have stout, hard-nosed defenses that will likely make this one of the lowest-scoring, yet close and entertaining games of the bowl season.

#6 New Orleans Bowl – December 21, 8:00 PM

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It’s basically a home game for Tulane, but Louisiana-Lafayette is just up the highway so a large amount of fans for both schools should be in attendance for this one. The Green Wave haven’t been in a bowl game since 2002, while the Ragin’ Cajuns are making their third consecutive appearance in the bowl, winning the last two. Tulane is led by Nick Montana, son of Hall of Famer Joe Montana, and the Green Wave defense has forced 33 turnovers this season. This will be a close one, and Vegas agree with a current line at Pick’em.

Game of the Week: Auburn vs. Georgia

TicketCity’s weekly ranking of the 10 hottest games in college football  is designed to identify the match-ups with the strongest ticket demand on a weekly basis. This week LSU vs. Alabama ranks #1 on our list. Contributor Jeff K. gives the run-down on who will win this stage-setting match-up.

 

Why Auburn will win the biggest game of the week:

What a difference a season can make. Last year Auburn struggled through a 3-9 season. The Tigers went winless in SEC play. Fast forward to 2013 and Auburn is just two wins from playing for the SEC Championship. Head coach Guz Malzhan has brought a new attitude to Auburn.

One of the reasons for Auburn’s resurgence is the running game. The Tigers average 320 yards per game, third in the country. Runningback Tre Mason has scored seven touchdowns in Auburn’s last two games. Quarterback Nick Marshall, a Georgia transfer, rushed for 214 yards and two scores last week against Tennessee. Georgia ranks 31st in the country in run defense, giving up 138 yards per game.  If Auburn can run the ball, and keep Georgia’s offense off the field, the Tigers should go into the season finale against Alabama with a shot at winning the SEC West.

Why I could be wrong:

Georgia has battled injuries throughout the season. The Bulldogs have been missing key playmakers on offense. Keith Marshall and Justin Scott-Wesley were lost for the season in the Tennessee game. Runningback Todd Gurley has missed three games. Wide receivers Chris Conley and Michael Bennett have missed multiple games. Despite all of the injuries, Georgia has kept fighting. Quarterback Aaron Murray has been the constant in the lineup. Murray set the record for career touchdown passes in the SEC during Georgia’s win over Appalachian State last week. Murray should get Conley and tight end Arthur Lynch back for the Auburn game. With some of his injured weapons returning, Murray gives Georgia a chance on Saturday. Auburn’s pass defense has been suspect, ranking 91st  in the country while giving up 252 yards passing per game.

Why you don’t want to miss this one:

Auburn can’t look past Georgia towards the upcoming Iron Bowl. The wounded Bulldogs still have fight left in them. Georgia has dominated this series, winning six out of the last seven meetings. They would love to spoil Auburn’s magical run this season.

Jeff Kubiszyn is a long-time college football fan and joins TicketCity this season to highlight the biggest game of the week. He is by no means a college football expert, except at the dinner table.

Game of the Week: Michigan vs. Michigan State

TicketCity’s weekly ranking of the 10 hottest games in college football is designed to identify the match-ups with the strongest ticket demand on a weekly basis. This week Michigan State vs. Michigan ranks #1 on our list. Contributor Jeff K. gives the run-down on who will win this stage-setting match-up.

Can Michigan QB Devin Gardner pull off the win in East Lansing?

 

Why Michigan State will win the biggest game of week one:

Rivals square off as Michigan comes to East Lansing to face a red-hot Michigan State team. The Spartans have won four in a row and rank in the Top 25 for the first time this season. Defense has been paving the way for Michigan State. The Spartans lead the country in total defense and have five defensive scores. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner will need to protect the ball against an aggressive Michigan State defense that gives up only 12 points a game. Michigan is last in the Big Ten with 17 turnovers, and Gardner has been shaky on the road. The Spartan offense is not flashy, but it may only need to play mistake-free football to beat its hated rival.

Why I could be wrong:

Sometimes you just have to throw the stats out the window in a rivalry game (see: Texas against Oklahoma). Michigan is coming off a bye week, giving the Wolverines two weeks to prepare for the pressure they will see from Michigan State’s defense. If Gardner and the offense can strike fast, it will put pressure on a very vanilla Spartan offense. Michigan State ranks 89th in the NCAA in overall offense and just 109th in passing. Don’t be surprised to see the Wolverines stack the box and force Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook to beat them with his arm.

Why you don’t want to miss this one:

The stakes are high in this heated rivalry. The winner is in the driver’s seat for the Legends Division title and the Big Ten Championship game. This game could be a defensive battle. Michigan is averaging just 14 points a game against Michigan State the last three seasons. The Spartans, meanwhile, have struggled to put points on the board against quality opponents. A lot is on the line – recruiting edge, state bragging rights and the inside track to the conference championship game. Who do you think will win the Battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy?

Jeff Kubiszyn is a long-time college football fan and joins TicketCity this season to highlight the biggest game of the week. He is by no means a college football expert, except at the dinner table. 

Game of the Week: Ohio State vs. Penn State

TicketCity’s weekly ranking of the 10 hottest games in college football is designed to identify the match-ups with the strongest ticket demand on a weekly basis. This week Ohio State vs. Penn State ranks #1 on our list. Contributor Jeff K. gives the run-down on who will win this stage-setting match-up.

OSU’s Braxton Miller could be holding a Heisman trophy when it’s all said and done this season.

 

Why Ohio State will win the biggest game of week one:

If Ohio State didn’t know the Big Ten would be difficult, they do now. The Buckeyes had a wakeup call last week against Iowa, needing a second-half rally to beat the Hawkeyes 34-24. Coach Urban Meyer will have his troops focused against a Penn State team starting a true freshman at quarterback. Running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 106 of his 143 yards after halftime as Ohio State controlled the line of scrimmage and the clock in the second half. More importantly, quarterback Braxton Miller looks to be recovered from his knee injury. Having the dual-threat Miller healthy makes the Buckeye offense even more explosive.

Why I could be wrong:

The Nittany Lions picked up their first Big Ten victory last week with a thrilling 43-40 four-overtime win against then-ranked #18 Michigan. Coach Bill O’Brien has done a magnificent job rebuilding the Penn State program. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg continues to grow into the role as the leader of the offense with 11 touchdown passes. The Nittany Lions should look at taking a page from the Ohio State game plan and establish the run game to keep the potent Buckeye offense off the field. Running back Bill Belton was the workhorse last week, carrying the ball 27 times. Expect a similar workload from Belton this weekend. O’Brien has his players believing in themselves and the program, and that makes them a dangerous team.

Why you don’t want to miss this one:

Sitting at #4 in the first BCS rankings of the season, Ohio State knows that close victories won’t cut it if they want to contend for the BCS Championship game. The Buckeyes need to start winning convincingly. Miller and Hyde lead an explosive Buckeye offense, while the defense will look to key on the Nittany Lions young quarterback. Ohio State also wants to keep the nation’s longest unbeaten streak intact, currently sitting at 19. Meanwhile, Penn State brings a young team to the Horseshoe. The future will be on display and college football fans will get to see the continued resurgence of the Penn State program under O’Brien.

Jeff Kubiszyn is a long-time college football fan and joins TicketCity this season to highlight the biggest game of the week. He is by no means a college football expert, except at the dinner table.