Six weeks ago, I channeled my inner Nostradamus and took a look at the future of the championship games of the four BCS conferences who still have a title tilt.
As with any prognosticating, there were mixed results. I probably should have been more vague, a la the aforementioned prophet, but it is what it is.
So now, after a month and a half, the conference title games are set. I got one right, two half-right and one totally wrong. But if you can’t laugh at yourself – or at least throw a little egg on your own face – what’s the point of looking into that crystal (college) football?
Back on Oct. 20, I predicted in these very newspaper pages that Wisconsin and Nebraska would square off in Indianapolis. While puffing out my chest a bit at nailing this one on the head, my humility dictates that I can’t call it too thin a limb to brave.
With Ohio State and Penn State both ineligible for the game, the Badgers were easily the best of the rest in the Leaders Division. And after seeing all of the Legends Division teams play a couple of times, I trusted the Cornhuskers’ consistent offense and defense far more than the up-and-down Wolverines. Even back then, I would have predicted a Nebraska victory here; my opinion hasn’t changed.
I was half-right here, as I predicted it would be Alabama and Florida. At the time, I assumed the Crimson Tide would be playing for an undefeated season and a chance at the national title game.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Atlanta: Alabama lost to Texas A&M, and the Georgia Bulldogs knocked off the Gators to claim the SEC East crown. So, this afternoon, it’s not just the Tide playing for a potential berth in the BCS championship, but the Bulldogs as well – the teams are ranked 2-3 behind Notre Dame in the latest BCS poll.
As fast and athletic as Georgia is, I think Alabama – which benefitted from losses by Kansas State and Oregon just 1 week after their loss to the Aggies – will prove to be too much for the Bulldogs and get a chance to play for their second straight national title and third in the last 4 years.
I said in mid-October that this would come down to Florida State and North Carolina; it’s FSU and Georgia Tech instead.
The Seminoles managed to recover quickly from their upset at the hands of N.C. State and win out to claim the Atlantic Division crown, while the Yellow Jackets were the best the mediocre Coastal Division had to offer.
As tough as the Rambling Wreck’s triple-option offence can be, it’s sputtered lately – and I think the ’Noles will roll into the Orange Bowl.
This is the one I missed completely, but I’m not taking it too hard – I don’t think anybody outside Palo Alto or the UCLA campus thought this game would be anything other than Oregon vs. USC.
But kudos to Stanford for knocking off the Ducks, Trojans, and Oregon State. Props as well to UCLA, which slayed mighty USC in their annual rivalry game to earn this spot.
No prediction necessary here, as we already know the outcome of the second meeting in as many weeks between the Bruins and Cardinal.
The other two BCS conference which don’t have title games, the Big 12 and the Big East, have also come down to the final week.
A Kansas State win over Texas locks up a trip to the Fiesta Bowl for the Wildcats, but K-State can still get there with a loss if Oklahoma loses at TCU. A Wildcat loss coupled with a Sooner win, however, and Bob Stoops’ crew is headed to Tempe. I predicted the Wildcats would take the title, and I still believe Kansas State will take care of business; They’ll know what they have to do at 7 p.m., because they’ll already know the outcome of the 11 a.m. Oklahoma game.
In the Big East, a lot was riding on the Lousville-Rutgers game Thursday night. With the Cardinals’ 20-17 win, there could potentially be a four-way tie atop the Big East standings between Louisville, Rutgers, Syracuse and Cincinnati (my pick 6 weeks ago to take the title). If that’s the case – and with all the tiebreakers being muddled up – the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings will earn a trip to the Orange Bowl; I think the Cardinals have that locked up.
As exciting as the finish is, we’ll know by Sunday morning who won what. Later that night, we’ll find out who’s going to which BCS bowl. As you might recall, I wrote about this a few weeks back, too; we’ll revisit that column next week.
No. 11 Oklahoma at TCU
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium
Line: Oklahoma by 6
What’s up: The Sooners are looking to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive, and have to beat a pesky Horned Frogs team on TCU’s home field. With so much at stake, Oklahoma should come in fired up.
My pick: Oklahoma 38-24
No. 23 Oklahoma State at Baylor
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Floyd Casey Stadium
Line: Oklahoma State by 4½
What’s up: Two exciting offenses against two improved defenses … but I still think this will be a shootout, between two of the most entertaining teams of the year.
My pick: Oklahoma State 45-42
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Georgia
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Georgia Dome
Line: Alabama by 7½
What’s up: Not only is the SEC title on the line in Atlanta, but the winner will almost assuredly earn the chance to play unbeaten Notre Dame for the BCS national championship in a month’s time.
My pick: Alabama 24-20
No. 12 Nebraska vs. Wisconsin
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium
Line: Nebraska by 3
What’s up: The Cornhuskers and Badgers hit the field in Indy with a trip to Pasadena in the balance. Wisconsin’s inconsistencies throughout the year lead me to believe Nebraska will beat the Badgers for the second time this season.
My pick: Nebraska 31-27
No. 13 Florida State vs. Georgia Tech
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bank of America Stadium
Line: Florida State by 14
What’s up: The Seminoles have had one of the best defenses all year, and their offense has shown flashes of brilliance … and will most likely have no trouble showing some more against a struggling Yellow Jackets squad in Charlotte to take the ACC title.
My pick: Florida State 42-14
No. 18 Texas at No. 6 Kansas State
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Snyder Family Stadium
Line: Kansas State by 11
What’s up: The Wildcats still control their own destiny in the Big 12 title race, and their consistency should win out against a Longhorns team that has had a veritable roller-coaster ride this year. A big win here puts Collin Klein out front in the Heisman race with Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel.
My pick: Kansas State 35-21