It’s championship week!
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
7:30: Louisville @ Cincinnati (ESPN): A season of “what-ifs” for the Cardinals should wrap up with a win over Cincinnati.
8:00: Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green (Mid-American Conference Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): Bowling Green currently sports the country’s 5th ranked scoring defense. However, it will take a Herculean effort on their part to stand-up to darkhorse Heisman candidate QB Jordan Lynch and his Huskies. (In their last game against Western Michigan, Lynch ran for 321 yards on 27 carries. That’s 11.9 yards/carry. Yeah.) NIU should be able to secure a second consecutive trip to the promised land.
- Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State (ABC): Against any team that has a pulse on defense, Oklahoma’s offense has struggled, leading directly to their two losses (the disaster against Texas and the debacle against Baylor). Oklahoma State shredded the two teams Oklahoma lost to, putting up an average 43.5 points while giving up 30 (or an average of 15). Frankly, Oklahoma State looks like the better team at this point.
- Central Florida @ Southern Methodist (ESPN): UCF has sealed the deal, so this is just the cherry on top. It would also deny SMU a bowl bid.
- Marshall @ Rice (Conference USA Championship Game; ESPN2): Marshall appears to be a good team, in all honestly. I’m going with the Thundering Herd here. Will be interesting to see how many show up at the Rice Bowl, though.
3:30: Texas @ Baylor (FOX): Baylor’s struggled in recent weeks with injuries and depth made me pause for a moment, but just for a moment. Going with the Bears here, in what will be the Big 12 championship if Oklahoma State loses.
4:00: Auburn vs. Missouri (Southeastern Conference Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): Both of these teams bring dynamic offenses into the table. Missouri is slightly better on defense, and also James Franklin is a vastly better passer than Nick Marshall. Overall, I think Mizzou is a more well-rounded team and can pull this one out in the end.
7:30: South Florida @ Rutgers (ESPN2): Neither of these teams is very good, but Rutgers should be able to make it to 6-6 with a win against a slightly more awful USF.
7:45: Stanford @ Arizona State (Pac-12 Championship; ESPN): One on hand, this is easy, given that Stanford already trounced the Sun Devils back in September. But on the other, Arizona State is awesome at home and they haven’t lost since October 5th. Both of these teams are very good and this could very well be the best game of the day. But, in the end, I’ve got the Cardinal here. If they lose, though, one could definitely see the Pac-12 pushing of a neutral site title game.
- Michigan State vs. Ohio State (Big Ten Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; FOX): Michigan is the first team all year that came within 10 points of beating the Buckeyes, and while I agree that going for two was probably the right call, they were potentially an overtime away from taking their first loss. Meanwhile, the Spartans have a loss, and due to their style of play, several more close games. Their defense should provide the stiffest test for the Buckeyes so far, but unclear that even if Sparty holds the Buckeyes to 21 points that it’ll be enough.
- Florida State vs. Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ABC): I would be shocked if this ends in anything other than a rout.
10:00: Utah State @ Fresno State (Mountain West Conference Championship; CBS): Fresno gets a week to try to pick up the pieces of a broken season after their shocking loss to San Jose State. Their defense let them down, but still the unit on the field with the highest potential to carry the day is David Carr and the Fresno State offense.