ROSE BOWL MATCHUP
Oregon run game vs. Florida State run defense
Oregon is typically a run-first spread option team and this year was no exception. The Ducks averaged 237.3 yards per game to lead the Pac-12 Conference in rushing for a league-record ninth straight season. The emergence of power back Royce Freeman allowed Oregon to move Byron Marshall, last season's leading rusher, to wide receiver. Freeman gained 1,299 yards and had 16 rushing touchdowns as a freshman. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is the team's second-leading rusher with 669 yards and 14 scores. Thomas Tyner added 387 yards and three touchdowns. Florida State's rush defense ranks No. 56 nationally and gives up 160 yards per game. The Seminoles have been dinged by injuries on the front but the time off before the bowls should help Eddie Goldman (ankle) and Nile Lawrence-Stample (pectoral muscle).
Oregon passing vs. Florida State secondary
Mariota has completed 68.3% of his passes, 38 for touchdowns, with only two passes intercepted. The receiving corps was supposed to be a weakness after losing Braylon Addison to a season-ending injury during spring practice, but several players have stepped up to make the unit a strength. Marshall's transition to receiver was an unqualified success; he led the team with 61 catches for 814 yards and five touchdowns. Devon Allen, an NCAA hurdles champion, proved he was not just a track star by contributing 41 catches for 684 yards and seven touchdowns. Twelve Oregon players have caught touchdowns, including Mariota. Florida State ranks No. 54 in pass defense efficiency but has an athletic secondary led by defensive backs P.J. Williams and Jalen Ramsey.
Florida State run game vs. Oregon defense
Florida State's rushing attack ranks No. 101 nationally but has been bolstered by the late-season emergence of Dalvin Cook. The speedy freshman has rushed for 905 yards, including 177 in 31 carries in the Atlantic Coast Conference title-game win over Georgia Tech. Senior Karlos Williams has contributed 609 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has 21 rushing touchdowns the last two seasons. Oregon's rush defense gives up 154 yards per game, No. 49 nationally. The Ducks' front has been better lately, helped by the play of junior lineman DeForest Buckner, who earned second-team all-conference honors.
Florida State passing vs. Oregon secondary
Quarterback Jameis Winston had an off-year by his Heisman Trophy-winning standards of 2013. Winston this season has completed 65.4% of his passes for 3,559 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 17 passes intercepted. Winston's favorite targets are Rashad Greene, who has 93 receptions for 1,306 yards and seven touchdowns, and tight end Nick O'Leary, who has 47 catches for 614 yards and six touchdowns. Oregon's secondary is hurt by the loss of All-America cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during bowl practice. Freshman Chris Seisay will likely take over for Ekpre-Olomu and be asked to cover Greene. Safety Erick Dargan had a tremendous senior year, leading the Ducks with 82 tackles and six interceptions.
Edge: Florida State.
Florida State's Roberto Aguayo is one of the nation's best kickers, making 98.5% of his field-goal tries in his career. He has not missed in 147 extra-point attempts and hit on 46 of 49 field-goal attempts. Kermit Whitfield ranks sixth in school history with 1,153 yards on kickoff returns. Oregon has only attempted 18 kicks this season, making 15. Matt Wogan has made seven of nine attempts; Aidan Schneider has made eight of nine. Ducks freshman Charles Nelson has starred as a cover man on special teams and also returned two punts for touchdowns. Ian Wheeler has averaged 39.1 yards on 39 punts.
Edge: Florida State.
Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher seeks his second straight national title and was offensive coordinator on Nick Saban's national title staff at Louisiana State in 2003. Fisher is 58-10 in five seasons at Florida State, with a 4-0 record in bowl games. Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich has gone 23-3 in two seasons since taking over for Chip Kelly. It is the best start for a Pac-12 coach since California's Pappy Waldorf went 24-2 in two years starting in 1947.
Edge: Florida State.
Final score: Oregon 48, Florida State 35.