Championship Weekend Predictions
Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags:
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The final weekend of the year is now upon us, and man-oh-man there is still a lot left to be decided! Five conference title games will go down, two of which do not carry that offical title. It gets started tonite when Oregon and Oregon State meet up in Eugene to decide the Pac Ten crown....This has been a regular season of consistency, really. The top-3 have not changed the entire season, while spots four, five and six have been firmly held (respectively) by TCU, Cincinnati and Boise State for the last month and a half. After the top-6, it has been consistently inconsistent as teams have jumped around all over the place. Here are my final regular season predictions for the year:
#15 Oregon State at #8 Oregon (9:00, ESPN) - It all starts tonite with the "Civil War" between the Ducks and the Beavers. The stakes have never been higher in this game as the winner earns a trip to the Rose Bowl to face Ohio State. There are two reasons I think Oregon wins this game: First, I think Duck quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is a true difference maker and will play lights-out. Second, I think a frenzied home crowd will have Oregon playing inspired football. Oregon, 32-24.
The rest of the games are Saturday:
#5 Cincinnati at #15 Pittsburgh (noon, ABC) - This game is the Big East title game, essentially. After the great year Cincinnati has had, the Bearcats could still come away empty handed if they don't win ths huge game at Pitt. The Panthers lost to West Virginia a week ago, but with a win in this game would win their first Big East Championship since being a co-champ in 2004. But I think the Bearcats have an offense that will pull them away, leading them to their second consecutive Big East Title. Cincinnati, 38-24.
#21 Houston vs. East Carolina (noon, ESPN2) - The Conference USA Championship game should be a doozie! Houston put the conference on the national map by being ranked for much of the year, and defeating teams from the Big 12 and SEC along the way. ECU also had a good year, going 8-4, including a win over highly respected Appalachain State. This game is at the home of the Pirates, and I think that will be the deciding factor. ECU, 28-23.
#23 West Virginia at Rutgers (noon, ESPN)- I want so badly to see West Virginia get the win in this one and move on up the polls a bit heading into its bowl game. That will be a tough task, though. Rutgers always fields a pretty decent team under Greg Schiano, and they will be playing inspired for their seniors final home game of 2009. A win would put Rutgers over the .500 mark in conference play, and at 9-3 overall would find them attractive for a nice bowl. Sorry Mountaineers, I'm going with the Knights. Rutgers, 30-20.
Fresno State at Illinois (12:30, TV tbd) - The Illini have been a joke this year and it will be interesting to see what happens to Coach Ron Zook. However, I believe they will stay with the Bulldogs to at least make this game watchable. But FSU is obviously the better team, so to break on all these home picks I have made, I will take the visitor in this one. Fresno State, 31-20.
San Jose State at Louisiana Tech (2:00, TV tbd) - Not a clue who to pick, so I will go based on record. Sorry folks, just the truth. And after looking, La Tech has lost six straight and is 3-8, while SJSt has lost all but two games. That doesn't make it much easier! But I suppose I go with La Tech, at home, to break the slide and reach that coveted 4th win. Louisiana Tech, 36-28.
New Mexico State at #6 Boise State (3:00, TV tbd) - You have to know the Broncos are going to absolutely steamroll the Aggies. In the final home game of the season, with a possible BCS berth at stake, this one could get ugly. A win will set Boise up for a most-likely BCS at-large entry, and it will be time to see what they really have. Boise State, 40-17.
Arizona at #18 USC (3:30 ABC) - It looked for a while like Arizona might make a run at the Pac Ten Title. But then back to back losses to Cal and Oregon put an end to those thoughts. Still, a win last week over rival Arizona State was nice and puts them in position for a good bowl with seven wins already (including a defeat of Oregon State on the road). USC, meanwhile, is having a sub-par season by their standards and needs this win and a bowl win to keep their streak alive of double-digit win seasons (seven and counting). USC, 34-26.
#19 California at Washington (6:30, TV tbd)- Teams have had a tricky time on the road at Washington in 2009. LSU won, but had to fight for it. Southern California and Arizona both lost. But the truth is that Washington just isn't very good, and Cal will be well aware of the upset potential. The Bears have been known to let me down, but I think they come away with the win in this one. Cal, 31-24.
#1 Florida vs. #2 Alabama (4:00, CBS) - Here it is, a shot to go the BCS Championship Game. All year long these two schools have been number one and number two - side by side - in all of the major polls. Both have stout defenses. Both have key players on offense. Both have perhaps the top coach in the game on their sideline. So who wins this epic battle? That's a great question! After hours and hours of mulling this over, I am going to go with the Crimson Tide to pull the upset. I believe they are the toughest defense Florida will have faced all year, and Ingram and company will find a way to score 20-plus points. This will be an absolute battle royale, and in a close one, I say Bama, 22-20.
Florida Atlantic at Florida International (7:00, ESPN) - In a true battle of heavyweights, I will stick with the theme of the home team this week, and go with the 3-8 Golden Panthers of FIU to defeat the 4-7 Owls of FAU. FIU, 30-25.
South Florida at UConn (8:00, ESPN2) - South Florida is going to be looking to make something happen when it takes the field against UConn. The Bulls were put in their Sunshine-State place by Miami last weekend in a game that showed them they still have some work left to do. But in just their twelfth year of existence, USF has all the respect in the world from me! It really is remarkable that in twelve short seasons they can be at the level of play that they are. Currently at 7-4 and 3-3 in the Big East, a nice bowl is possible. In their way is UConn, who is 6-5 and 2-4, but are coming off of a nice offensive performance against Syracuse in which they scored 56 points. In what has been an emotional season for the Huskies, I will take them at home. UConn, 34-23.
#25 Clemson vs. #10 Georgia Tech (8:00, ESPN) - These two teams met back in September, and GT came away with a 30-27 win in Atlanta. Clemson and its fans have been wanting this rematch all season long due to the events at the end of that game, and now they have gotten what they have asked for. Everyone knows Paul Johnson's offense is one of the trickier ones in America to figure out. But in the second half of the game against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, the Tigers seemed to have found something to zero in on. Both teams limp into this game with some injuries and hurt egos, but this should still be a classic Clemson-Georgia Tech grudge match with an ACC Championship on the line. Dabo Swinney had one major goal before the season - win the ACC - and he is one win from that goal. Clemson, 27-23.
#3 Texas vs. #20 Nebraska (8:00, ABC) - With the representation we have on Fans25 of Nebraska fans to Texas fans, I would certainly love to see the Huskers win this. Also, I would love to see the Huskers win this so that TCU (or somebody else also deserving) could slide into the BCS Title Game....Nebraska has a very solid defense, and Texas has a very solid offense. That makes for great TV. In the end, though, I think Texas is probably a bit stronger overall than the Huskers, and despite giving UT a scare, the Horns will come away with the win. Texas, 31-20.
Wisconsin at Hawaii (11:30, ESPN2)- Well, if nothing else, for the Badgers this should make a nice vacation to end the season! At 8-3, a win would put them at 9-3, and that, to me, makes for an attractive bowl team. Wisconsin has been good for years, and I see them going out to the Pacific and laying a whooping on the Rainbow-Warriors (or did they drop the Rainbow part?). The Hawaiians are 6-6 on the year, and just aren't that good. Unless the paradise is a distraction, Wisconsin wins. Wisconsin, 35-17.
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