SI PLAYOFF PREDICTION OCT. 27

From now through the Dec. 15 issue Andy Staples will assess which four teams should make the playoff.
November 03, 2014

SUGAR BOWL

1 MISSISSIPPI STATE

The Bulldogs struggled to stop a Kentucky team that put up only three points at LSU a week earlier. Sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles torched the Bulldogs for 390 yards and two touchdowns, but every time the Wildcats got within a score, counterpart Dak Prescott put his team back up by 14. Maybe Mississippi State learned it will get every opponent's best shot from this point forward, but the 45--31 win threw up a few red flags.

2 FLORIDA STATE

The Seminoles return to action Thursday (Oct. 30) at Louisville. While Florida State is considerably better, don't be shocked if the Cardinals find a way to keep it close. It's never easy to be a road favorite on a Thursday night, and Bobby Petrino's crew will be looking to make a statement. Of course, if the Seminoles can overpower a thoroughly motivated opponent in a hostile environment, they might find themselves back at No. 1.

3 OREGON

Like TCU, the Ducks can explode for two or three touchdowns—regardless of opponent—quickly, but their pass-blocking woes often force junior quarterback Marcus Mariota to move laterally in the pocket. One of these days a defense is going to chase Mariota down, and this week's foe, Stanford, might be it. The Cardinal appeared to find their offensive groove against Oregon State on Saturday, and that could make the game doubly challenging for the Ducks.

4 TCU

The Horned Frogs are one of the handful of teams that can flip the scoreboard in a blink. Had they not coughed up a 21-point fourth-quarter lead at Baylor on Oct. 11, the Frogs probably would be No. 1 on a lot of playoff projection lists. At his current pace, junior quarterback Trevone Boykin (2,306 passing yards, 374 rushing yards, 24 total TDs) will be No. 1 on a lot of Heisman Trophy ballots. With West Virginia and Kansas State up next, he'll have his work cut out to stay there.

ROSE BOWL

PHOTOSIMON BRUTY/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PRESCOTT) PHOTOGREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BOYKIN) PHOTOJASON PARKHURST FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (JAMEIS WINSTON) PHOTOJONATHAN FERREY FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MARIOTA)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)