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BCS predictions: Can anyone block Alabama from a three-peat?

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

The college football season is finally here.

Hard to believe it’s been eight months since Alabama hoisted the crystal football, but here we are again wondering who will be the next team to reign supreme during the final season of the BCS.

That’s right, in case you forgot, this is the last year college football will be controlled by the BCS and the last year conference champions will earn automatic invites to BCS bowls.

So, as we embark on this historic campaign, Dr. Saturday has compiled its best guesses on how the BCS will play out when the dust from the season has settled.

2014 BCS National Championship
Alabama vs. Stanford

Alabama is the trendy pick, but this is a team loaded with talent on both sides of the ball even if it has to replace some key pieces from last year's vaunted offensive line.

Stanford has been to three consecutive BCS bowls and oh-so-close to playing for the crystal ball. With the quarterback set and one of the best offensive and defensive lines in all of college football, the Cardinal will be tough to beat this season.

Stanford is a mirror image of Alabama with a better offensive line. It's the one team that's strong enough to keep pace with the Tide in the trenches and that will make the difference. Winner: Stanford

[Related video: Pat Forde's sleeper picks BCS title]

Rose Bowl
Oregon vs. Ohio State

Both of these teams will be on the cusp of making the national championship game, but their defenses will hold them back. Oregon has several new pieces on a defense that was average a year ago. Ohio State’s defense was definitely its weak spot a year ago, especially against the pass.

It will come down to which quarterback - Ohio State's Braxton Miller or Oregon's Marcus Mariota - can make the most plays. If this game becomes a shootout, the Ducks should win this handily. Winner: Oregon

Sugar Bowl
Georgia vs. Florida State

There’s a lot of hype surrounding Georgia, but it’s weak defensively and will struggle against some of the more formidable teams in the SEC. Still, quarterback Aaron Murray is one of the best in the country and the rest of the offense is good enough to overcome some defensive limitations.

Florida State is resting its BCS bowl hopes on redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, who is billed to be the second-coming of Charlie Ward. Florida State had a fantastic defense a year ago - No. 2 nationally in total defense - but several of those players have moved on and the Seminoles are trying to rebuild.

While I like to think this will be a close game, the experience of Murray and Georgia might make this a lopsided affair. Winner: Georgia

[Related: Johnny Manziel's Heisman odds have improved after half-game suspension]

Fiesta Bowl
Texas vs. Boise State

Mack Brown believes Texas will be good this year and so do we. The Longhorns have the most experienced quarterback in the conference, the deepest backfield, defensive line and secondary. Moreover, if Texas doesn’t win the Big 12, the city of Austin will riot.

Boise State is back on an upswing. After a shaky start to the 2012 season, the Broncos appear to be in familiar form with strong quarterback play and an exciting backfield.

It’s always hard to bet against the Broncos, especially in BCS games. So we’re not going to do it here. Winner: Boise State

Orange Bowl
Clemson vs. Louisville

Clemson is the team to beat in the ACC simply because it returns a heap of talent from a year ago. Tahj Boyd is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country and he should be able to lead the Tigers to a conference title.

Louisville will probably go undefeated this season, but its American Athletic Conference schedule is not going to be strong enough to push the Cardinals past teams in some of the more formidable conferences. But this is going to be QB Teddy Bridgewater’s season to shine and he’ll be greatly aided by the addition of Michael Dyer in the backfield.

This might end up being a nice little shootout since neither of these teams are known for their defense. This is definitely one of the more difficult games to pick, but Clemson will be ready for a tight game with its tough schedule. Winner: Clemson

Conference predictions

American Athletic: Louisville
ACC: Clemson
Big 12: Texas
Big Ten: Ohio State
Conference USA: Tulsa
MAC: Northern Illinois
Mountain West: Boise State
Pac-12: Stanford
SEC: Alabama
Sun Belt: Western Kentucky

Here's the complete expert-by-expert predictions for the BCS bowls, from Yahoo Sports writers Pat Forde, Graham Watson and Nick Bromberg:

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BCS Predictions: Can anyone block Alabama from a three-peat?

BCS Predictions: Can anyone block Alabama from a three-peat?

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