Championship Week is upon us once again.
It seemed like just yesterday when my wife was complaining about the start of the season. Man, how time flies when there are upsets, shakeups, and dark horses all over the place.
To paraphrase the great philosopher Mr. T, let’s cut out the jibber jabber and get on with the Touchdown.
1) The SEC Championship Game: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 2 Alabama—4:00 on CBS in Atlanta
This one is pretty simple to figure out. The winner goes to the National Championship Game, and the loser gets an at-large bid to a BCS Bowl, sort of like last year. Both of these teams have so much in common, you have to figure this one is going to be epic. Hopefully, we won’t be disappointed.
Florida has one of the best college football players and leaders of all time in Tim Tebow. You can’t say enough about the guy. Look for him to try to find lanes and openings against the tough Alabama defense.
The difference from last year is while the Florida defense gave them the edge a year ago, this year they are the anchor for the team. Say what you want about the offense, but they have looked flat and beatable since Tebow’s concussion. The defense for Florida has been the one winning their games.
Alabama has one of the best running backs in Mark Ingram leading their offensive attack. Plus, when Greg McElroy is confident, he is one of the better game managers around.
Like Florida, the defense of Alabama is the key. They need to be able to contain Tebow and the Florida option attack. Florida has so many ways to make you pay, you need to stay at home, don’t over-pursue, and for Heaven’s sake, don’t let anyone get behind you.
These two teams slug it out for the entire game, but Florida finally proves that they are human, and Alabama punches its ticket to the National Championship Game.
2) No. 16 Oregon State at No. 7 Oregon—9:00 on ESPN on Dec. 3
Civil War baby! The winner goes to the Rose Bowl, and the loser cries over broken dreams.
I’m just glad that no matter what the outcome, I won’t be seeing USC at the Rose Bowl this year. I got tired of seeing the likes of Booty, Sanchez, or Bush every year. It sounds like a bad porno.
This is pretty much a tale of two different teams. Oregon got all the hype—the bad kind for the Boise State debacle at the beginning of the year, then the good kind for the utter beatdown of USC. However, they lost to Stanford and got taken to the wall by Arizona before pulling it out in OT.
For Oregon, it’s all about the run. You know it's going to be run, run, run, play-action pass. The problem is that you have to respect the run, because both LaMichael James and Jeremiah Masoli are dangerous with the ball. You need to be able to trust your defensive backs to hold the receivers in check.
Oregon State got to fly under the radar this year. It was always about USC, or Oregon, or Stanford, never about the Beavers. I don’t give a crap about Sean Canfield’s passing numbers; the offense begins and ends with Jacquizz Rodgers. If Rodgers can get good blocking and make people miss, it’s going to be a long night for Duck fans.
However, I think Oregon plays the way we all know they can and squeezes out a win to go to the Rose Bowl.
3) No. 5 Cincinnati at No. 15 Pittsburgh—12:00 on ABC
Let’s just dub this one the Big East Championship Game. The winner gets a BCS Bowl berth, and if you listen close enough, you can hear the whispers of a National Championship Game. However, in all likelihood, the winner goes to the Orange Bowl with the loser going to some bowl most of us have never heard of.
After Pitt lost to West Virginia last week, the game lost a little luster but should still be a good game. Pitt favors a more balanced offensive attack, more than willing to beat you through the air or on the ground.
Pitt will most likely try to establish dominance with running back Dion Lewis to try to take advantage of Cincy’s weak rush defense. Once committed to stopping the rush, Bill Stull will attack through the air.
Cincy, on the other hand, is all about the pass. They have a capable running attack, but they use the passing game to soften up defenses and the run as more of a slap in the face once they’ve beaten you into submission.
On the other side of the ball, the Cincy defense has been completely porous, making the last few games shootouts. While I normally advise against it, I think Cincy needs to make this a shootout to win.
I think this will be a fun game to watch with plenty of points being scored. Cincy gets the ball last and drives down the field for the win, and we get a month's worth of articles on how we need a playoff system in college football.
4) The Big 12 Championship Game: No. 3 Texas vs. No. 22 Nebraska—8:00 on ABC in Arlington, Texas
Either ABC and ESPN are completely trying to shill for this game or Nebraska really does match up well against Texas. Let’s take a look at this one to see if Texas makes it into the National Championship Game or we get to see the BCS thrown into complete disarray.
I agree with the commentators on one point: Nebraska has the defense to harass Colt McCoy and make his life hell. They have one of the best defenses in the country for a reason—they know how to keep you out of the end zone. The problem they have is offensively. They don’t have a guy who can bust the game wide open, like Jerrod Johnson did last week against Texas for Texas A&M.
The Texas defense will have the ability to stop the methodical offense of Nebraska. This will give Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley plenty of time to find one or two openings in the Nebraska defense.
In the end, Texas walks away the victor and makes it unnecessary to spend all day Sunday making calculations as to who will be in the National Championship Game.
5) The ACC Championship Game: No. 10 Georgia Tech vs. Clemson—8:00 on ESPN in Tampa
Coming into last week, I didn’t think Clemson would have any issues with Georgia Tech. Then the South Carolina game happened, and it gave me pause. The pause turned to outright bewilderment when GT lost to Georgia. Definitely not the way you want to head into your conference championship game.
I want to get two names out of the way early: C.J. Spiller and Jonathan Dwyer. There, I said it. The Georgia Tech offense is sort of like the poor man’s Oregon offense. They have a great option offense and can beat you about a hundred different ways with the run. The issue is that Josh Nesbitt can’t throw and isn’t trusted to throw.
For Clemson, Spiller seems to overshadow a moderately good passing attack led by the freshman Kyle Parker. The speedster Jacoby Ford may be his main target, but he can spread the ball around when he has time. My only problem with Spiller is he seems to disappear at times.
Defense will play the difference maker in this one. Clemson needs to stop the option, and GT needs to pressure Parker. If they both can do that, we get another nail-biter, which has become commonplace in this series. However, this time, Clemson comes out on top.
6) Arizona at No. 18 USC—3:30 on ABC
Question: If USC and Oklahoma both finish the season out of the top 25, does the world come to an end? God, I hope not. Don’t blame me; I always thought Mitch Mustain should be the USC starting quarterback.
7) I’m going to use the last extra point of the regular season for a quick shout-out to the only game next week: the Army-Navy Game next Saturday at 2:30 on CBS. These teams may not have a single future NFL player on them, but they will all serve a higher purpose in our Armed Forces. So, to them I say thank you for the future defense of our country.
I’ll see you all real soon for the bowl previews and my postseason awards.