As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
7:30: Louisville @ Rutgers (ESPN): I’ve given up on predicting the Big East at this point seeing as how both these teams managed to lose last weekend. And don’t even get me started on picking Louisville over UConn for ACC expansion. Anyway, the quick fire prediction here is Louisville.
7:00: Northern Illinois vs. Kent State (MAC Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): It’s exceedingly possible this game will be much more compelling than the Pac-12 championship. On one side, NIU has one of the most dynamic quarterback and wide receiver duos in the country, while with a win the Golden Flashes’s first bowl game since 1972 could end up being the Orange Bowl. However, I actually like the Huskies better. While both have top-10 rushing offenses, NIU has a more credible passing game (see above) and a slightly better defense.
8:00: California-Los Angeles @ Stanford (Pac-12 Championship; FOX): The idea that UCLA purposely threw last week’s regular season game against Stanford so they could play Stanford again is ludicrous, mostly because the idea anyone actually wants to play the Cardinal twice in two weeks is the same. (As EDSBS put it, playing Stanford is like “being bludgeoned with a sack of sledgehammers”.) Anyway, the idea that UCLA will succeed this time is not ludicrous, but still highly unlikely.
- Oklahoma State @ Baylor (FX): Both teams played overtime games this past weekend, though I think most would agree Oklahoma is better than Texas Tech. Expect plenty of points, also, take a drink every time the Baylor defense makes a stop and the announcers insinuate they’re not as bad as the statistics show. (I suspect that’s not really a very good drinking game since it won’t result in you taking a lot of drinks, so maybe make it a shot or something.) Also the Cowboys should win.
- Oklahoma @ Texas Christian (ESPN): TCU had a great win last Thanksgiving, but I think it’s been thoroughly demonstrated by now that the Sooners have it slightly more together on offense.
- Central Florida @ Tulsa (Conference USA Championship; ESPN2): Okay, so based on what I said about UCLA-Stanford I guess I have to pick Tulsa again here, but on the flip side UCF is pretty much banking on this season being awesome. Or they should be, because by delaying their bowl ban via an appeal I’m pretty sure the NCAA will bring the hammer down on them. So I’m somewhat irrationally going with the Golden Knights here.
2:30: Kansas @ West Virginia (FSN): Despite how awful they’ve been this year, no one has yet scored 60 on KU. That may change. Also the Jayhawk offense is so bad that WVU doesn’t even have to worry about how terrible their defense is.
- Boise State @ Nevada (ABC): I’m a little surprised this game is on ABC. Anyway, the Broncos will probably win but I think Nevada is good enough to make a game of it.
- Cincinnati @ Connecticut (ABC): Not that it means much in the Big East, but Cincy should win this one.
4:00: Georgia vs. Alabama (SEC Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): Despite watching my team lose to them by 32 last weekend, I still think UGA is overrated: their second best win all year is over Vanderbilt (or maybe Mississippi State, but they went and lost to Ole Miss, so…). Granted, Vandy is 8-4, but still. I’ll concede this year’s Alabama isn’t as good as last year’s, but I think they have a good enough defense to stop UGA and a good enough offense to overcome them.
7:00: Pittsburgh @ South Florida (ESPN2): This sure is a football game that will be televised and everything. Pitt probably becomes bowl eligible.
- Wisconsin vs. Nebraska (Big Ten Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; FOX): Much to Nebraska’s relief, there will not be a 30 mile per hour wind inside of Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend. The Cornhuskers only won by three back in September, but that was then, and this is now.
- Texas @ Kansas State (ABC): K-State has had a week to think about their shocking loss to Baylor. Nonetheless, their is still a chance to clinch a bid to the Fiesta Bowl for one of the best seasons in school history here, and I think they’ll get it.
- Florida State vs. Georgia Tech (ACC Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Where do you even begin? While no one expected GT to win last weekend, a fair number of reasonable people expected the Seminoles to expose the Florida once and for all. For a little while in the 3rd quarter, it looked like it was going to happen. Everything was going wrong for UF, including a freak bobble on a handoff that literally fell right into the arms of a FSU defensive end who ran it in for a touchdown. And then everything went wrong for FSU, to the tune of 24 straight points for the Gators and the win.
Tech last played the Seminoles in 2008 and 2009, after the original bout of ACC realignment put them in separate divisions. As previously detailed here, Tech managed to win both of those games. Of course, those Tech teams were better, and those FSU teams worse than the current editions.
Everything that could have gone wrong for Tech last weekend did, just about. Despite racking up 306 yards rushing against one of the nation’s top rushing defenses, we only scored one touchdown. The tone of the game was set on Tech’s first drive, as UGA’s first drive proved it was going to be a game where Tech needed to score on all of their drives to have a shot. At the end of a 10 play, 83 yard march down the field that started at our own 15, Robert Godhigh had the ball stripped as he was trying to go in for the tying touchdown at the UGA 1 yard line. Tech kicked a field goal the next time it got the ball to make it 14-3, but then the next three possessions of the first half ended on a turnover on downs, an interception, and a missed field goal.
The keys for this game, and a shot at creating the most absurd BCS bowl game ever, lie in the same keys any team has in seeking to pull of an upset. Don’t turn the ball over and capitalize when they do. Basically, if any football cliche applicable to this situation, GT needs to adhere to it.