Buell's Eye: Championship Week Picks
The rumor is true: "Championship Week" does, in fact, produce champions.
However, not every "champion" is guaranteed a BCS Bowl berth.
A run for the Rose is on the table, six schools look to stay undefeated, and a dynasty in Gainesville, Fla., is only two victories away from being unveiled.
In all ten Top 25 match-ups this weekend, the underdog goes for a knock-out punch.
Meanwhile, I go with my gut.
After a 14-4 effort in Rivalry Week, my season's record moves to 214-54. I'll need my instincts to come through for me this weekend to steer me away from a very obtainable 5-5 posting, especially if every game winds up being as close as predicted.
At least one upset will take place.
Four Pac-10 programs go into their respective Bowl games after this weekend with identical 9-3 records.
And, the BCS is under scrutiny once again as five undefeated universities stake their claim as to why they belong in the Title game at season's end.
No. 23 West Virginia Mountaineers (8-3) @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-3)
If it seems like these Big East schools do a lot of bouncing around in and out of the Top 25 rankings, it's because they do.
This is, after all and arguably, the most balanced Conference in College Football.
Two comparable programs with even records face off in this one as West Virginia tries to hang on to that number to the left of their name heading into Bowl season.
Going against the trend, they pull it off, show some consistency, and remain in the Top 25 in a defensive battle, 20-14, over Rutgers.
No. 21 Houston Cougars (10-2) @ East Carolina Pirates (8-4)
Only East Carolina stands in the way of Houston satisfying their hunger for a lofty Bowl berth.
The Pirates do their best Snickers impression in trying to stop the hunger, but the Cougars prevail as finishing off their impressive season looms in the balance.
Houston outscores East Carolina 45-31.
No. 19 California Golden Bears (8-3) @ Washington Huskies (4-7)
In recent years, California has begun with an impressive start to their season only to stumble their way to a lackluster finish at the end.
The Golden Bears have the opportunity to reverse that trend this year after upsetting Stanford two weeks ago, if they beat Washington on the road this weekend, and finish strong with a closing victory in their upcoming Bowl game.
The Huskies from Washington put up a fight, but California heads into that Bowl game with a win after a 24-20 final.
No. 18 USC Trojans (8-3) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-4)
An 8-3 record isn't up to the standards at the University of Southern California ever since head coach Pete Carroll took command over the Trojans.
Can Arizona really hand USC their fourth loss of the season?
The answer is, "yes", they can.
But, the reality is, "no", they won't.
Because of a Gatorade shower that catches Carroll off guard with time running out late in the game, he is unable to call in the play for an impromptu Hail Mary deep pass play to get back at Arizona after a 14-year-old Wildcats fan calls him a mean name from the stands on his way into the locker room at halftime.
Much to Pete's chagrin, he can only win by seven, 34-27.
No. 10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-2) vs. Clemson Tigers (8-4)
Thank you Georgia Tech, and thank you Clemson.
That appreciation goes to both of you for losing last week's match-ups against your intrastate mega-rivals in upset fashion as you head into the ACC Championship this weekend.
The winner of this one receives an automatic berth to a BCS Title game, where you could very well be playing the likes of Cincinnati, TCU, or Boise State.
If you're lucky, you might even get Florida or Alabama.
Georgia and South Carolina just proved to you a week ago that the SEC still reigns supreme over the continuously laughable ACC, and they were both unranked and sporting a 6-5 record.
For the winner of this one, enjoy Saturday's battle because it's only the appetizer before the big feast, otherwise known as your BCS Bowl.
Georgia Tech will be the lucky main course entree being served in that meal after beating Clemson 31-21.
No. 7 Oregon Ducks (9-2) vs. No. 16 Oregon State Beavers (8-3)
As another Civil War comes to play this Thursday night, some of the most significant aspirations in the history of this rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State are on the line.
No matter who wins, expect an outstanding Rose Bowl as the winner will play the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 1.
Right up until it came time to pick this one, I was just figuring Oregon would win out and make that BCS Bowl appearance against the Buckeyes.
My gut feeling now tells me differently.
With the upset, the Beavers get to smell the Roses as the Ducks find out that every Rose, does indeed, have its thorn.
No. 6 Boise State Broncos (12-0) vs. New Mexico State Aggies (3-9)
Being that there is now a 100 percent guarantee that the Boise State Broncos will, once again, finish the regular season undefeated, I will look ahead to their BCS Bowl berth.
That is, if they get invited.
With TCU and Cincinnati both still undefeated and continuing to sit ahead of the Broncos in the Standings, will they truly miss out on one of the four biggest bowls once again?
First things first, Boise State destroys New Mexico State 56-17 this weekend.
Then, they pray the BCS system doesn't fail them for another time.
No. 5 Cincinnati Bearcats (11-0) @ No. 15 Pittsburgh Panthers (9-2)
Recent knowledge from this 2009 season alone should tell me that Pittsburgh will bounce back from their upset loss last weekend in winning fashion against Cincinnati on Saturday.
Yet, once again, my instincts say otherwise.
The Bearcats made me pay for picking them to lose in a noon game last Friday as they took on Illinois.
I won't be making that same mistake again two weeks in a row as Cincy hangs their iconic season out on the line in the Big East Championship Game during another early tee time.
Bearcats quarterback, Tony Pike, was the obvious difference maker last weekend over the Fighting Illini as they had no chance to stop him.
In a closer outcome this week, but with the same end result, Cincinnati heads into a BCS Bowl game undefeated after winning the Big East 38-34 against the Panthers.
No. 3 Texas Longhorns (12-0) @ No. 22 Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3)
For the Longhorns, the task is simple: win, and you're in.
And, for Heisman hopeful Texas quarterback, Colt McCoy, he knows his mission, as well.
For Nebraska, upsetting the No. 3 Texas Longhorns, securing a 10-win season, stealing the Big 12 crown and making themselves relevant again on a National scale for the first time since their 2001 National Title appearance against the Miami Hurricanes would undeniably do wonders for their program.
That's what dreams are made of.
Texas provides the rude awakening and heads into the BCS Championship Game with a 34-24 victory over the 'Huskers.
No. 1 Florida Gators (12-0) @ No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0)
Before the season started, I predicted that Florida would win all of their regular season games, only to fall at the hands of Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
I also picked Oklahoma would defeat Georgia Tech in the BCS Championship before the season, too.
Everyone can now applaud my efforts, in harmony, and with feeling.
Although that first scenario is still an obvious possibility at this moment, once again, my instincts have gotten the best of me.
No, Florida didn't exactly play a tough opponent in Florida International or Florida State the past two weeks.
Meanwhile, Alabama did play an underrated Auburn team in their difficult rival game a week ago.
However, I just like the way the Gators are heading into this one.
And, I've learned what happens when I pick against Mr. Tim Tebow, which I haven't done in a very long time.
I won't start now, either.
Florida remains unbeaten, wins the SEC, and heads to the BCS Championship Game with a 29-27 victory over 'Bama.