Championship Weekend Predictions
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The games of Championship Weekend are probably the toughest set of games to pick all season. You have the best of the best busting helmets as six league title games will go down, and three more games will decide the fate of other conference titles. Not only will we find out who wins what conferences by late Saturday night, but we will also know our 2012 Pick'em Contest winner! Right now we have a group of six players at the top in a really close race. For the final time of the regular season 2012, here are my weekly picks...
* All rankings BCS, all times EST
#21 Northern Illinois vs #17 Kent State - 7:00 - ESPN2 - MAC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - Two teams the nation is not very familiar with will bang helmets from Ford Field in Detroit with a possible BCS berth on the line. NIU is a name probably a bit more familair to football fans as they have been to four straight bowl games. The KSU Golden Flashes are a bit less known as they seek their first bowl win...ever. NIU has won 16 MAC games in-a-row and I think they keep it going here. QB Jordan Lynch will bring his nearly 4,400 yards of total offense into this game and lead his team to back-to-back MAC titles. Northern Illinois, 38-28.
#16 UCLA at #8 Stanford - 8:00 - FOX - PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - Coaches Jim Mora of UCLA and David Shaw of Stanford have a combined three years of experience between these two schools. That is getting it done oddly fast. This game is also odd in that not only is it a repeat of a previous matchup, but that previous matchup was just six days ago! In that one, Stanford won 35-17 at UCLA's place. This week they go up to Stanford's home field with a Rose Bowl berth on the line. With Stanford winning the first one convincingly on the road, I have to pick them to do the same back home. Stanford, 24-14.
#11 Oklahoma at TCU - 12:00 - ESPN - The Sooners are alive for the Big 12 crown, but they must beat a good TCU team on the road, and hope a good Kansas State team loses at home to Texas. Both are possible, but unlikely. Then again, college football - especially in the last week of the season - can surprise you every time! Oklahoma has had what I would consider two real big games all year - Kansas State and Notre Dame - and they lost them both (and both were at home). I was impressed with TCU the other night against Texas, and I will say they carry that solid play over into this one. TCU, 33-28.
#23 Oklahoma State at Baylor - 12:00 - FX - The initial thought is to pick OSU easy. But as I look at Baylor's schedule and results, I see they have had some wild games that cold have gone the other way. For example, they scored 63 on the road at West Virginia...and lost! They put 50 more on Texas' scoreboard and lost that one, too. The Bears could easily be 8-3 and ranked. The Sooners have also had some wild games, averaging 38.5 ppg in their four losses. Basically, this is going to be a shootout, Big 12 style...In the end, when the dust settles, I think Baylor gets a wild win. Baylor, 48-43.
Central Florida at Tulsa - 12:00 - ESPN2 - CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - This is the fourth appearance in this contest for Tulsa, looking to be crowned champ for the second time. UCF will also be making their fourth appearance, and they too, are looking to be the conference champion for the second time. Another similarity between them is their 2012 record as they are both 9-3 overall and 7-1 in the league. These two teams, who meet in this contest for the third time in eight years, share the lead for the most appearances in the C-USA Champioship Game...As for the game itself, you only have to loook two weeks back to see what happened, and guess if you think it will repeat itself. In that one, Tulsa won 23-21 at home in a nailbiter. In the title game, I think they do it again. The home-field advantage will be a great one, and I think the Golden Hurricanes deliver. Tulsa, 35-27.
Middle Tennessee at Arkansas State - 3:00 - ESPN3.com - SUN BELT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - Ok, so this isn't techinically called the Sun Belt Championship Game, but in this case it might as well be. The winner of this game will finish the conference slate 7-1 which will be good enough for first-place outright...The Red Wolves of Arkansas State are averaging 35.6 ppg scored this year, good for 27th best in the nation. Middle Tennessee gives up just that amount, so this should be a doozy. The QB battle is between Logan Kilgore of MTSU (2,457 yards, 16 TDs and 4 INTs) and Ryan Aplin of ASU (2,891 yards, 20 TDs and 4 INTs). Those similar numbers don't help me decide anything as far as picking this game! My guess is to pick Arkansas State. If nothing else, they have a cool nickname. Arkansas State, 28-23.
#20 Boise State at Nevada - 3:30 - ABC - In recent seasons this regular season finale has decided who won the MWC title. But not this year. This year Fresno State takes the crown as they have the head-to-head win over San Diego State with both finishing at 7-1...Boise State, at 9-2 coming in, has the nation's fifth best defense, giving up just 14.4 ppg. They will have a battle to hold down a Nevada offense that is averaging a nation's 16th-best 38.5 ppg. The difference in this one, to me, is that Nevada's defense is awful. Boise should score more than the 33 that Nevada is letting go up, so I will take Boise in this one. Boise State, 39-28.
#2 Alabama vs #3 Georgia - 4:00 - CBS - SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - The official college football playoffs do not start until 2014, but this is a playoff game in the truest of fashions. The winner of this game will move on to Miami to play Notre Dame in the BCS Title Game, and the winner of that game will hoist a crystal football. In this one, I think Alabama and Nick Saban get the win. Why? Because when he has team 100% focused, Saban is nearly impossible to beat. On top of that, despite the talent I know is on the Georgia sideline, I just keep getting visions in my head of UGA getting destroyed at South Carolina five weeks ago, giving up 35 unanswered points before USC called off the dogs (no pun intended), and Georgia got a late score...In this one, I think it is a classic war for most of the game. But late in the third quarter, or somehwere in the fourth, I think Bama makes a few plays to put it away. Coach Mark Richt won't let a South Carolina type of performance happen again, and his team will be sharp, but I still think Alabama just has too much going on with new life towards a national title. Alabama, 28-20.
#13 Florida State vs Georgia Tech - 8:00 - ESPN - ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - The Yellow Jackets went 5-3 in the league this year but wiggled their way to Charlotte with the help of disqualified Miami and UNC teams who each went 5-3, as well, but won the head-to-head meetings. Regardless, Florida State awaits and the 'Noles know a BCS berth is on the line. Embarassed at home to Florida a week ago after EJ Manuel was knocked from the game, FSU comes in ranked seventh and eighth nationally in points scored and points against, respectively. GT could make this interesting, but Florida State should have too many weapons to lose this one. FSU, 27-19.
#18 Texas at #6 Kansas State - 8:00 - ABC - The Wildcats are in the driver's seat in the Big 12 with one home game left to secure a berth in the BCS. They own the head-to-head over Oklahoma, who is also 7-1, so regardless of what the Sooners do against TCU, K-State can lock things up with a win over Texas. That could be asier said than done. Mack Brown's team has talentgalore, and you never quite know what they will do. In quarterback Collin Klein's (2,306 yards, 14 TDs passing, 20 TDs rushing, 6 INTs) home send off, I think KSU gets it done, securing a trip to a BCS game to be named later. Kansas State, 34-20.
#12 Nebraska vs Wisconsin - 8:17 - FOX - BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - With a win, the Cornhuskers will find themselves in the BCS, the Top 10 and the national spotlight. With a loss, all of that goes out the window and Nebraska falls back into the forgotten about crowd that always congregates this time of year. This is an extremely tough game to pick. For three seasons now we have said Taylor Martinez (2,483 yards, 21 TDs passing, 8 TDs rushing, 8 INTs) this and Taylor Martinez that. Well, one more time we will say the game is in his hands. If he can put just a decent number of points on the board, I think the Huskers win it. Nebraska, 26-21.
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