As promised, this weekend’s guide. I’ll do another normal one for next weekend (for Army-Navy and the NCAA playoff games), and then we’ll get into our bowl coverage.
As usual, all times Eastern and predictions wrong.
- Rutgers @ West Virginia (ABC): Well, here’s one part of your Big East conference champion scenario. West Virginia should win, though, which eliminates Pitt from contention.
- Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (ESPN): As much as I make fun of the Big East (again, this is generally in the same way we made fun of Mississippi back in Alabama), they did provide us the thrilling Pitt-Cincy game last year for the conference crown. This year’s edition, though, will likely prove less exciting as Cincy was 4-7 on the year an a meager 2-4 in Big East play. That said, as mentioned above WVU victory eliminates Pitt from the Big East running, so that may dampen the Panthers’ spirits a bit. They should still win, though.
- Southern Methodist @ Central Florida (Conference USA Championship; ESPN2): SMU has been inconsistent, but they did come out on top of the C-USA’s west division somehow. UCF had no such issues, though, with only a minor bump in the road against USM while they for the most part pounded their C-USA comrades. Of course, this logic didn’t do me any good for the MAC title game, but UCF does have home field advantage and should be able to take advantage of it.
2:00: Troy @ Florida Atlantic (ESPNU): Troy will actually not win the Sun Belt this year, due to their loss to eventual champion FIU. FAU has been less fortunate this year, though, as Schnelly’s lost 7 games and only boasts a now-inexplicable win over FIU. At any rate, I’m just going to keep trucking with Troy.
3:30: Oregon @ Oregon State (ABC): This game could potentially blow everything up, though really it probably won’t. The Ducks may struggle in the first half due to the crowd, but should be able to get the offense in gear in the second half and be able to put the Beavers away.
4:00: South Carolina vs. Auburn (SEC Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): This game could really blow everything up. I tend to agree with the expert-types that say an Auburn loss would probably keep them in the BCS title game anyway, which I think would do more to rile folks up than Oregon losing (leading to a fairly direct TCU-Auburn matchup). That said, I don’t really see it happening.
7:00: Washington @ Washington State (Versus): It’s the Apple Cup. The Pac-10 has to be desperately be hoping Washington wins, which would give the Pac-10 a 4th bowl eligible team (assuming Oregon State doesn’t win). Fortunately for the conference, Wazzou is just dreadful enough that the desired result should be able to happen without any shenanigans. (Besides, I think the Cougars already used up their shenanigans quota when somehow beat Oregon State 3 weeks ago. Somehow, that’s also the last time they played. Perhaps their year would’ve gone a little more smoothly if they’d spread out their bye weeks a bit?)
7:45: Virginia Tech vs. Florida State (ACC Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): The ACCCG is finally where it should have been all along. While I thought last year’s game was reasonably well attended, this year’s edition will actually sell out! What a concept, having a title game somewhere most of the member schools can drive to in probably the only state that actually really cares about the ACC! Anyway, VPI has been an unstoppable juggernaut in ACC play, reeling off 10 straight wins (8 in conference) since the JMU debacle. Florida State’s had a fine year, but they really backed into this game. Sure, they did just score a big win over their in-state rival, but they still needed Maryland to upset NC State last weekend to even get in. I really like VPI here.
- Nebraska vs. Oklahoma (Big 12 Championship @ Arlington, TX; ABC): I can’t help but think that when the Big 12 divisions were first drawn up that the folks in both sides of this rivalry thought that this was how it was going to be every year, to make up for the loss of their classic Big 8 rivalry that was played every year from 1929 to 1997. Alas, these two sides have met in the Big 12 title game only once, in 2006 when OU won 21-7. (That said, boy am I pissed off if I’m a Texas A&M fan, since TAMU beat both of these teams this year.) Anyway, Nebraska’s had a few dicey encounters this season, with occasional offensive outages and a defense that doesn’t measure up to the standard set by last year’s. Oklahoma’s been more consistent on both sides of the ball and I think they’ve gotten their mojo back, so to speak. I think the Sooners will win the last Big 12 Championship Game.
- Connecticut @ South Florida (ESPN2): For simplicity’s sake, UConn should win this game. A loss, along with losses by WVU and Pitt, could set up a potential 5-way tie atop the Big East. I think they’ll win as well, but if you really want chaos on this day and are disappointed by the results in Corvallis and Atlanta, this is your last shot.
10:30: Southern California @ California-Los Angeles (FSN): Well, the football monopoly in LA hasn’t exactly been busted, but both the established monopoly and the pesky upstart have both had bad years this year. That said, UCLA’s offense has been AWOL since the 42-28 win back in October over Wazzou. I’ve got USC winning here.
Well, pay attention to the twitter feed and this site throughout the evening tomorrow night as I line up the final bowl predictions before the BCS and ESPN reveal all Sunday night. Until then, enjoy the last real weekend of the regular college football season!