It’s hard to believe that the college football season is coming to an end already. It seems like just yesterday that we were talking about the possibilities of LSU vs. Oregon, how far Ohio State may fall without Jim Tressel, and where in the SEC the little crystal football will live at the end of the year. That last one is looking like an inevitability. And if you’re like me, and don’t want to see LSU-Alabama Part Deux, Rick Reilly has a great piece laying all out all of reasons it shouldn’t happen. Armando also laid out his case against the BCS and the absurdity of the current computer rankings last week. If you missed it, read it here. But I’m not here to bitch about the BCS (yet), I’m here to give you my picks for Championship Saturday and cover how this competition on the Bang may shape out. Also, Oregon trucks UCLA tonight to a PAC-12 championship. Way to go PAC-12, hell of a first title game to put in the books.
Conference USA Championship: #24 Southern Mississippi @ #6 Houston
With a BCS bid on the line and a pass defense that’s been average in the course of the year (221 ypg allowed), it’s hard to see Houston’s top-ranked offense slowed much by the Golden Eagles. The gamechanger should be the Cougars’ underrated defense that’s been forcing an average of a turnover a game and is +12 for the season, good for 7th in the FBS.
Connecticut @ Cincinnati
Never would have thought this game would play a part in deciding who gets to go to the Orange Bowl. However, the Bearcats hold that power. A win and they clinch a share of the Big East title and will likely send West Virginia to the BCS. With a three-way tie, the team with the highest BCS ranking gets the bid and that’s likely to be WVU. A Huskie win would send Louisville, who holds the tiebreaker over WVU with their 38-35 upset back on November 5. All that said, UConn’s offense hasn’t been effective, and their pass defense is woeful. Cincinatti is one of the best passing offenses in the Big East. I know that’s not saying much, but still. UConn’s got one of the best d-lines in the country, but they won’t have to worry about stuffing the run, but instead getting to Zack Collaros.
SEC Championship – #14 Georgia vs. #1 LSU
Not the place or time to complain about what might happen if Georgia pulls off the upset. The question here is which defense blinks first. LSU is ranked second in total defense and scoring defense. Georgia’s unit has quietly built the fifth-ranked total defense and the tenth-ranked scoring defense. Aaron Murray will have his work cut out for him, facing a pass defense that’s only allowing 162 yards a game (6th), while the LSU backs will have to work against the 6th-ranked rush defense of Georgia, only allowing 94 yards a game on the ground. I see it coming down to turnovers and whose defense can force them. Using that logic, I’m giving it to LSU, whose forcing a little over a turnover and a half a game on their way to the BCS National Championship Game.
Wyoming at Colorado State
Why am we picking a game between the 7-4 Cowboys and 3-8 Rams? Well, ESPN’s scraping to get 10 games together this week. Eitehr way, the Rams are on a 7-game losing streak, soon to be 8. Enough said.
Syracuse at Pittsburgh
A team that seemingly overachieved against a team that underachieved. The winner is bowl-eligible, the loser will be spending the holidays at home. The Orange have been in a tailspin since beating West Virginia, losing their last 4. Pitt just lost to WVU, but has been up and down all season. This one comes down to Tino Sunseri to me. He’s a playmaker that hasn’t been surrounded byt he greatest supporting cast, but has more than enough talent to lift the Panthers to a bowl.
Big Ten Championship – #15 Wisconsin vs. #13 Michigan State
The Badgers have revenge on their mind. After losing to the Spartans on a last second Hail Mary, the Badgers ran through the rest of their division and pasted Penn State last week to lock up their trip to Indy. But Montee Ball was just getting started and since that night in East Lansing, Ball has found the end zone fifteen times (34 overall TDs, 2nd most in a season in NCAA history). Since their win, Michigan state is on a 4-game winning streak, but only Iowa had a winning record in that span. The Spartans’ hope will once again rely on their defense, but to me, the Badgers seem to have all the momentum and one of the best running backs in tehir country at full speed on their side in the rematch.
ACC Championship – #5 Virginia Tech vs. #20 Clemson
To compare the way the Tigers ended the year with how they started it is like looking at two different teams. They come limping into the title game, losing three of their last four and two straight. The Hokies are riding a seven-game wining streak, including last week’s romp over Virginia to clinch a spot in the title game. While this is a case of a good passing offense going up against the decent pass defense, I don’t think that’ll matter much. It’s way too hard to overlook how Clemson has left games get away from them over the last month. As we all know, if you let a Frank Beamer team put some distance on you, you’re already sunk.
BYU @ Hawaii
The Cougars are this year’s recipient of the Hawaii extra week. The Warriors have been up and down all season long, winning games that looked like tough matchups and losing games they should have walked over. BYU looked a little shaky in the beginning of the season, but recovered to roll to eight wins. The 19th ranked pass defense should be able to send the Warriors to their first losing season since 2005.
#10 Oklahoma vs. #3 Oklahoma State
It’s Bedlam with the Big 12 title on the line. For the Cowboys, they could play for a national title with a win. They’d also really like to break a nine-game losing streak against the Sooners. I think this is finally the year they do. The second-ranked passing offense should pick apart Oklahoma’s porous pass D (87th, 246 ypg) and outplace Landry Jones and the 3rd-ranked pass offense. Hmm, should have looked at that stat before I almost contradicted my own point. Well, without top receiver Ryan Broyles and top rusher Dominique Whaley, the Sooners will have to have others step up. While they are 1-1 without the pair, they are scoring well below their season average of 43 a game (38 in the loss to Baylor and 26 in a win over Iowa State). They’re the one with the offense that has to prove itself right now and I dont see it happening this time around.
# 22 Texas at #17 Baylor
Texas has the Big 12’s best pass defense and have already stated they don’t want to e be the game that lifts Robert Griffin III to the Heisman. And they should be able to take advantage of Baylor’s less than stellar defense. However, their offense hasn’t been the greatest (the rush attack is pretty good though, 20th in the FBS) and they’re not putting the points on the board. I think Baylor cracks the Longhorns defense and Griffin adds a convincing win to his Heisman resume.
I’ll have the full numbers update later this afternoon. Since we’ve had some problems with picks saving or just remembering to do them some weeks, I think it’s only fair that we allow a mulligan week. So for the final tally, we’ll be dropping everyone’s worst. So our final records will be based on 140 games. By tomorrow night, we’ll know which one of us you should take with you to the Vegas sportsbook.