Rose Bowl Roundtable: Predictions leading up to Oregon-Florida State matchup
We’re just a day away from a game that hasn’t lacked any sort of hype or attention surrounding it. No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State are set to face off in the Rose Bowl Thursday for a chance to play in the National Championship. With that said, Sports Editor Justin Wise and Associate Sports Editor Joseph Hoyt answered a roundtable of questions about what may be the most important aspects of the game.
This season, Florida State has embodied the comeback. Seemingly every game, the Seminoles fall behind before storming back for the win. The question is, will Florida State start slow and falter out of the gates against Oregon?
Hoyt – As much as Florida State might hate to admit it, the Seminoles are a slow-starting team, as their track record indicates. Florida State has trailed at the half in five of their games. Oregon has shown the ability to score early and often. Michigan State was the lone team to take a lead into halftime against Oregon. Jameis Winston and the Seminoles have to start fast to avoid finding themselves in Oregon’s jet stream.
Wise – It’s a fact that cannot be hidden. Florida State has found a way to make the majority of its games tight this season because of the lack of a motor in the first half. However, it’s hard to expect that a team will have a lack of focus in the first half of a game it has had three weeks to prepare for. Not to mention a stage that it was on just a year ago. The Seminoles scored 28 points in the first two quarters of its last game. While, I don’t expect that to happen in this one, it serves as an example for how ready they’ll be when this one starts.
Which freshman makes the biggest impact on the game?
Hoyt – True freshman Charles Nelson has been an X-factor for the Ducks this year. The freshman from Daytona Beach, Florida has made an impact on kickoff and punt coverage, in the return game and in a myriad of ways for the Oregon offense. He has two punt returns for touchdowns and 17 receptions for 256 yards and five touchdowns. He also has 16 special teams tackles on the year. In every facet of the game, Nelson should expect to be a key player.
Wise – Royce Freeman. The physically imposing freshman running back continues to act as the engine for a Ducks rushing attack that has averaged 255 yards per game during its eight-game winning streak. In those games, Freeman has passed the century mark six times and the only two times he hasn’t, ran for 98 and 99 yards, respectively. Why should we expect that consistency not to continue?
Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston: Which Heisman trophy winner has the better game?
Hoyt – As cliche as it is, big time players step up in big time games. Both Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are big time players. It’s tough to choose between the two. The verdict might come down to who steps up the most when their team needs them. For prediction sake, I’ll give the nod to Winston. Let’s face it: Disregarding statistics, Winston has never lost a game. Isn’t that what matters most?
Wise – It’s difficult to answer. First off, how do you gauge which game is better. If Winston throws two interceptions in the first half and comes back to throw three touchdowns in the second half in a win, that to me would serve as better than Mariota’s no matter that the stat line. But, Mariota has been playing at levels unheard of this year and if Winston throws two interceptions in this one, I don’t see Mariota not capitalizing on it.
The winner of the 101st Rose Bowl game is____?
Hoyt – The Florida State Seminoles. Going hand-in-hand with my quarterback prediction, I think Jameis Winston and the Seminoles do what they’ve done the last 29 games and come out with a tight win in the Rose Bowl. Both teams are loaded with talent and it expects to a fantastic game. Final score: Florida State 45, Oregon 42. Enjoy.
Wise – It’s a tossup, but I’ll take the Ducks. From a talent standpoint, Florida State has more of it. It’s an even more substantial amount compared to Oregon’s with the loss of All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. However, Oregon’s offense can’t be stopped right now, and in a scoring fest that is to be expected, it’s hard not imagine it matching Florida State punch-for-punch. Oregon 45, Florida State 38.
Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JustinFWise
Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @JoeJHoyt