The final week of college football featured some of the most compelling matchups and exhilarating outcomes of the season.
It was a roller-coaster week. One that brought us three high-scroing BCS-or-bust shootouts from the Big East, the ACC, and the Pac-10.
Followed by an ugly defensive struggle in the Big 12 Title Game which came to within a half of a second to complete mayhem in the BCS before a clutch last second field goal calmed the seas and sent the Longhorns to Pasadena.
Perhaps most telling of all was Alabama's convincing victory over Florida in the SEC Championship Game. What a difference a year makes.
Best week of football we've seen all year after a relatively uneventful, ho-hum season.
A few notes and takeaways:
- Oregon denied Oregon State a Rose Bowl berth for the second consecutive year in yet another Civil War shootout.
- Cincinnati continued to impress with another gritty fourth-quarter performance and last minute victory.
- Pitt and Freshman RB Dion Lewis served notice to the Big East that this will be the team to beat for the near future.
- The best offense we saw from Nebraska tonight came from the girl who won the Dr. Pepper Challenge at Halftime.
- Nebraska's offense, from play calling to execution, was a disaster. Is this really the champion of a BCS division? (How about a better solution for the Big 12 Title Game ?)
- Colt McCoy looked vulnerable against Nebraska's incredible defense.
- Mark Ingram earned himself the Heisman today with 112 yards rushing and 3 TD's.
- Tebow in tears. Did he feel like he let his teammates down or did it just hurt to lose?
- Business as usual for the Longhorns—weak opponent, close game, several close calls going their way and another solid season in the nation's most overrated conference.
- Another blowout victory for Boise State marking the second non-BCS team to crash the party this year.
Here is how I see the BCS Bowl playing out on Sunday:
(Last week's predictions .)
National Championship Game: Texas vs. Alabama.
Even though Texas deserved to be in this game last year, they do not deserve it in 2009. All offseason, the BCS made a case against Utah before congress based on the weakness of the MWC schedule.
At least Utah had beaten a top 10 TCU team, a ranked BYU team, and a ranked Oregon State team.
Texas has beaten...Oklahoma State? A team who just lost to (7-5) Oklahoma by a score of 27-0. Texas' next best wins were squeakers over Oklahoma, a team that lost to BYU, and now Nebraska, whose offense is a complete embarrassment to football.
It's interesting note that Texas has struggled against every solid defense they've faced.
They'll be no match for a hungry and talented Crimson Tide squad, marking the fourth straight National Championship for the SEC.
The Tide strike early on a play action to Julio Jones who breaks two tackles on his way to the Texas End Zone. The Tide maintain the lead behind Heisman winner Mark Ingram's clock-chewing 112 yard rushing performance.
Colt McCoy turns in a strong performance but ultimately the Tide pass rush get to McCoy as the lack of balance on the Texas offense opens up a number of blitz packages.
Alabama 27, Texas 14
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Ohio State
Ohio State continues their pathetic January play by folding to Jeremiah Masoli and Chip Kelly's brilliant offense, who always seem to play better and better as the year progresses.
Oregon 28, Ohio State 20
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. TCU
TCU comes to Miami looking to make a statement after boasting a comparable resume to the Texas Longhorns. Even though Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson brings one of the most innovative and well-executed offenses in the country, the speed of the Horned Frogs, well-accustomed to the triple option, prove too much.The Frogs finish the season 3-0 versus the ACC.
With a decisive victory the Frogs leave the BCS with yet another controversy as both Alabama and TCU finish undefeated. In addition to the National Championship discussion the MWC moves to 3-0 in BCS Bowls, with three blow out victories over three different conferences. The ACC moves to 2-10.
TCU 35, Georgia Tech 14
Fiesta Bowl: Iowa vs. Boise State
The Fiesta Bowl opts for Hawkeye nation over the Nittany Lions, despite the draw and intrigue of Joe Pa. Iowa brings a host of fans and its stingy defense to face Chris Peterson's Boise State Broncos, who put on one of the most exhilarating Fiesta Bowls ever.
This time though, the only one getting down on one knee will be Boise St. QB Kellen Moore as time expires.
Boise State 30, Iowa 24
Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Cincinnati
For the second consecutive year, the SEC runner up will go on to the Sugar Bowl to face an undefeated team hungry to make a statement. While Alabama drastically underestimated Utah last year, the Bearcats defense can't hold up Tim Tebow and the read option.
Unlike UConn and Pitt, Cincinnati can't stay with the Gators speedy and eye-gougingly-physical defense despite a stellar performance from Tony Pike. Brian Kelly heads to Notre Dame on a losing note.
Florida 45, Cincinnati 21
How They Got Here
Alabama, Texas, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Ohio State, and Cincinnati all earn automatic berths as conference champions. TCU earns the berth as the highest ranked team from a non-AQ conference. From there, the three remaining at-large berths are designated as follows.
The Sugar Bowl, who loses the No. 1 team to the National Championship Game, select Florida as the first at-large.
The Fiesta selects Iowa with the second at-large pick, banking on Iowa's strong traveling base, head-to-head win over Penn State and solid Arizona ties.
The Orange Bowl is already tied to the ACC Champion is next and selects undefeated TCU over Cincinnati to avoid a repeat of last year and over Boise due to its closer proximity and higher rank.
The Fiesta Bowl goes again and opts for Boise State, a team the Fiesta has had a great experience with and who will make for a terrific match-up against the Hawkeyes.
Leaving the Sugar Bowl with a terrific selection for the last pick in the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats.