Pigskin Punditry No. 17: Handicapping Championship Week
Championship Week is here, and with it a bit of sadness begins to come over me, as the end of the regular season is here.
It seems like just yesterday there was that preseason buzz in the college football universe, as we all were making our predictions and projections and trying to sort this crazy mess out.
Alas, the end is near. But fear not, because bowl season will be upon us soon enough. Plus coach hiring season has already begun, so there will still be topics of conversation for the next few weeks.
Four of the six BCS conferences will have their conference titles decided this week (Penn State already won the Big Ten; Cincinnati has won the Big East). Also up for grabs is the Conference USA title and a potential 13-0 record plus a MAC title for Ball State.
Here are the Week 15 guesses..
Ball State 31, Buffalo 24 – MAC Title game in Detroit, MI
Two recent MAC cellar dwellers have risen to the top of this league.
Ball State is playing for national respect, and Buffalois playing to prove that it has arrived in Division 1 football. Brady Hoke of Ball State and Turner Gill of Buffalo are two names that will continue to get attached to BCS conference jobs until the finally take one. These two teams did not meet in the regular season.
I think it will be a hard-fought game, but that Ball State has just a little bit more talent and will pull it out with a late touchdown by quarterback Nate Davis.
Tulsa 45, East Carolina 38 – Conference USA title game in Tulsa, OK
One of the sickest offenses in recent college football memory will take on a dangerous East Carolina team. Since
Conference USA does not play its title game at a neutral site, I think that this game will be decided by Tulsa’s home field advantage. The partisan crowd will make a difference in elevating the Golden Hurricane to victory over the Pirates.
Virginia Tech 21, Boston College 17 – ACC title game in Tampa, FL
Neither one of these teams was really expected to be in this game this year. Much like the Big 12 title game, this is a rematch of last season’s title game. Much like the Big 12 title game, I think that the winner from last year will win this year’s game.
These are two teams that rely on their defenses and athletic quarterbacks to make plays. I think that Virgina Tech’s quarterbacks are just a bit better than what BC has to offer, so I’ll take the Hokies to head off to face Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl.
USC 34, UCLA 7
Provided that USC wins this game, they will go to the Rose Bowl to face Penn State. While the Bruins want nothing more than to deny their cross town rivals the joy of another Pac-10 title, watching what the Arizona State defense did to Kevin Craft and the UCLA offense last week was frightening.
Couple that with the dominance that USC’s defense has shown much of this season (Oregon State game not included), I just don’t think that UCLA can pull off a stunner.
Oklahoma 61, Missouri 35 – Big 12 title game in Kansas City, MO
Missouri has an Oklahoma problem. The problem is that the Tigers can’t beat the Sooners.
Doesn’t matter if the game is in Kansas City, or Columbia, or Norman or San Antonio; the Tigers can’t beat the Sooners. Oklahoma is on too much of a roll, and I think that after the embarrassing losses in the Fiesta Bowl the past two years, Bob Stoops and company want one more chance on the biggest stage possible.
A win over Mizzou sends Oklahoma to the National Championship game at Dolphin Stadium. Missouri’s atrocious pass defense allows Oklahoma to cruise to victory.
Alabama 33, Florida 30 – SEC title game in Atlanta, GA
Florida has been as red hot as Oklahoma has been over the last few weeks. The Gators appear to be unstoppable as well. The big difference between the game above and this game is that Alabama is NOT Missouri.
The Crimson Tide are a physical team on both sides of the ball, and have dictated tempo to their opponents much of the season. The last time that the Gators faced a team as physical as the Crimson Tide, they lost to Ole Miss 31-30. Look for Alabama to control the clock and control the line of scrimmage.
Florida will hit their big plays, but ‘Bama will grind out a victory.
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