College Football Pick'em: Conference Championship Week
The 2009 college football season is almost done. Beginning on Thursday the BCS conferences kick off their conference championship games. Of course, we have to talk about the big BCS games because there are going to be some very good ones. That being said, let's not waste any time and jump right into predicting some games. There is going to be a big payoff this week folks.
The Civil War is one of the most underrated rivalries in all of college football. This is mainly because the majority of us writers live on the East Coast and if your name is not USC we don't care about what happens out on the left coast. Nonetheless, this rivalry has delivered some great moments. This year, the Civil War is on Thursday night at prime time, no excuse for missing this one.
Last year, the Oregon State Beavers had the opportunity to backdoor their way into the Pac-10 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. However, thanks to injuries, the Beavers fell flat on their face and were drubbed by rival Oregon.
This year the Beavers are out for redemption. The key for Oregon State will be keeping this a close game. If they can keep this game manageable going into the fourth quarter, then it can go either way.
One stat to look at is third down efficiency. The Beavers are ninth in the nation in third down conversations. This is a key stat in both keeping drives alive, coming back from a deficit, and chewing up clock. Oregon State's best defense will be their offense, and they need to keep drives alive and keep the Oregon Ducks' high scoring offense off of the field.
Who would have thought the Oregon Ducks would be in a position to win a trip to the Rose Bowl? This was a team once left for dead. But they have resurrected themselves, and the Ducks' offense is leading the way.
Jeremiah Masoli is a stud quarterback who accounted for six touchdowns last week again Arizona. He has been on a tear all season and hopes to keep it up tonight. He is big, he can move, and he has a reliable arm. The Ducks score points in heaps, and they like to keep the game moving with a very uptempo style. It will be key for them to establish their high flying offense early, and to try to avoid getting into a shootout like they did last week against Arizona.
The spread on this game favors the Ducks by 10 points. This is not surprising considering the way Oregon has been playing as of late. Plus, when you throw in home field advantage, you have the potential for a recipe for disaster. At the end of the day, the big question is how long can the Oregon State Beavers control Masoli, and the answer is not very long. The Oregon offense is just too much to handle.
Winner: Oregon wins the game and covers the spread .
The Cincinnati Bearcats are on pace for a magical season. Brian Kelly's bunch has a chance to go undefeated and to have the opportunity to play in their second consecutive BCS bowl game.
There's just one problem, the Pittsburgh Panthers are standing in the way, and they are a good team. After last week's upset loss in the Backyard Brawl, you can bet they are hungry to win. The Big East doesn't have a conference championship game, but there is a BCS game bid at stake in this one.
At 9-2, the Pitt Panthers 9-2 are a very talented team. Dave Wannstedt is finally living up to the hype, and for once he is not on the hot seat. Now that Wannstedt has brought his team to the mountain top, it's time to take them to the promise land.
Pitt has a dynamic offense, that while not being high scoring, it is very talented and they can put up points in a sneaky way. Running back Dion Lewis has eight 100 yard rushing games this season. Combine that with wide out Jonathan Baldwin who has caught a pass for 40 or more yards in seven games this season and you have a team that can put up points when they have to.
The Cincinnati Bearcats have been a fun team to watch this season. They have not one, but two talented quarterbacks. Each guy gives them a different look, but both can knife a defense if given an opportunity. There was a time when I thought the Bearcats were the best team in the country, but that is no longer the case.
My main concern with Cincinnati is their defense. Cincinnati gives up far too many points to be considered an elite team. In the last month, Cincinnati has played in way too many close games. Pitt is not a team that the Bearcats can spot 20 or 30 points to. That young Cincinnati defense must step up and come up with some big stops and force a few turnovers.
Another distraction Cincinnati must deal with this weekend are the rumors regarding coaching vacancy at Notre Dame and Bearcat head coach Brian Kelly. There is no doubt this will be a distraction to deal with.
The spread on this game favors the Cincinnati Bearcats by two points. This is a fair enough spread, which is why I am taking the upset this week. The Cincinnati defense not up to par and they cannot stop anyone. Pittsburgh is solid and they can control the clock with their running game.
Winner:Pitt pulls the upset, wins the game, and covers the spread.
This is the big one. The Florida Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide will square off in the SEC Championship with a trip to the BCS National Championship Game at stake. According to the rankings, Florida and Alabama are ranked first and second respectively, and with the new rules in the BCS, the loser of this game has no chance of playing in the BCS Championship.
Alabama has waited a year for this game. Last season, the Gators played an exceptional game and the Crimson Tide fell short. As a result, the Tide went to the Sugar Bowl, where they were then annihilated by Utah.
In many ways, a win in the 2009 SEC Championship would serve as redemption for a year of frustration. Receiver Julio Jones has really come into his own late this season and he has help create a balanced attack on offense so that the Tide can control the clock and keep Tim Tebow off the field.
On the defensive side of the ball, Alabama must get pressure from their defensive line. The Tide defense has to keep Tebow in check, especially during the fourth quarter.
The Florida Gators have been on a mission all season. The defending national champions are stacked and have plenty of talent returning from last season. However, despite going wire-to-wire ranked atop college football, the Gators have looked human all season.
The Gators have played in plenty of close games all season. Lane Kiffen and Tennessee gave the country a blueprint on how to beat Florida. Go figure, rough up Tebow and you can slow down that offense. However, the Gators appear to be reaching their stride. Last week was a Tim Tebow love fest against Florida State, and the "Chosen One" put on a show. There is no doubt that he will be ready to perform on the big stage once again.
The spread on this game favors the Florida Gators by six points, that's after taking into account Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap being out for the game. This is going to be a great game just like last season. However, unlike last season, I believe Alabama can cover the six points.
Winner: Florida wins the game, Alabama covers the spread.
The ACC Championship took a major hit last week when both Georgia Tech and Clemson lost their regular season finales. However, despite those lackluster showings, one team still has to earn the right to make it to the 2010 Orange Bowl.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have the best rushing attack in the country. The triple option is tough to defend, because teams cannot duplicate the speed of the attack. A key to the Yellow Jackets attack will be the health of quarterback Josh Nesbitt. Last week he injured his leg against Georgia and the Rambling Wreck's offense was stifled. If he cannot go at 100 percent, it could be a long day.
The Clemson Tigers have been quietly successful all season. C.J. Spiller is one of the best backs in the country, and frankly he was screwed for not being included in the Heisman conversation. Nonetheless, the Tigers march on and have a chance to show the nation exactly how good they really are.
One major advantage Clemson holds going into this game is that they played Georgia Tech earlier this season. They have seen the option attack, and they are well aware of how it functions.
The spread on this game favors Georgia Tech by a point, essentially making it a pick'em game. When it's all said and done, Georgia Tech's offense is just too talented to be slowed down two weeks in a row.
Winner: Georgia Tech wins the game and covers the one point spread.
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