Four of the major collegiate conferences are hosting their championship games this coming week, and the implications are going to be far-reaching and impact a number of BCS bowls.
Let’s take a look at the games, the participants and pick some winners for each contest.
Pac-12 Championship: No. 8 Stanford over No. 16 UCLA
Back in the preseason, there were many who thought USC would be playing here for the right to go to the BCS championship game. That obviously isn’t the case, as Stanford is the top-ranked team in the Pac-12 and UCLA dominated the South Division to earn the right to play them.
We’re giving the edge to the Cardinal, who have only lost to Washington and undefeated Notre Dame. They managed to beat the No. 2 team in the nation twice, upsetting USC back on Sept. 15 and pulling off the same feat against Oregon on Nov. 17.
UCLA’s biggest wins have come against Nebraska, Arizona and USC—all fine foes, especially the Cornhuskers—but lost to Stanford in the regular-season finale and has the misfortune of playing a rematch six short days later.
Our Pick: Stanford 33, UCLA 24
SEC Championship: No. 2 Alabama over No. 3 Georgia
This is going to be one of the most exciting football games of the 2012 season. We have the Alabama Crimson Tide, led by coach Nick Saban, somehow right back on the cusp of another national championship.
In the other corner is the SEC East team of the year, the 11-1 Georgia Bulldogs, who overcame all obstacles to get here and position itself to claim a national title for the first time since 1980.
When this heavyweight prizefight gets going, it’s going to be a nasty, hard-hitting, defensive affair between two programs that simply cannot stand one another.
However, Saban’s squad has the experience and a physical factor that the Dawgs just won’t be able to match. We’re predicting the tide to roll in the Georgia Dome.
Our Pick: Alabama 28, Georgia 14
Big Ten Championship: No. 12 Nebraska over Wisconsin
The two-loss Cornhuskers would be playing undefeated Ohio State if it weren’t for the Buckeyes postseason ban in 2012. They would also be playing 8-4 Penn State if the Nittany Lions had playoff eligibility.
Instead, they will take on the third place team from the Leaders Division, the 7-5 Wisconsin Badgers, a program that went a whopping .500 in eight conference games.
When these two met in the regular season, Nebraska narrowly pulled off the victory in Lincoln, edging its opponent 30-27. We don’t think it will be nearly that close in Round 2, and love the Huskers handily defeating the Badgers in Indianapolis.
Our Pick: Nebraska 27, Wisconsin 20
ACC Championship: No. 13 Florida State over Georgia Tech
Both of these programs suffered disappointing 2012 campaigns, compared to their preseason expectations. Florida State especially underwhelmed, losing two contests in a year when the team should have competed for the national championship.
Instead, the Seminoles are gearing up to take on a 6-6, unranked Yellow Jackets program for the right to go to the Orange Bowl against what will likely be the winner of the lowly Big East.
FSU is easily the better of these two schools and will show it on Saturday in North Carolina in their first and only meeting with G-Tech this season.
Our Pick: Florida State 42, Georgia Tech 28