Friday, December 01, 2006

THE CROWN'S THE THING


Well, two of the BCS conference championships have been decided. Congratulations to Ohio State for sewing up the Big Ten with the win over Michigan and to USC-West for taking the Pac-10. Now it's time for the other big dogs to settle their scores, and it comes down (barring a catastrophic implosion by Louisville) to a game each. To wit:

ACC: Wake Forest v. Georgia Tech, 1 p.m., Jacksonville, ABC
This is the tilt for the crown that perhaps no one saw coming. There might have been a few out there bold enough to peg Georgia Tech for the championship game. No one still out there chose Wake Forest, because if they did, they were quickly committed to a mental institution -- perhaps wrongly. In any case, Wake Forest's exotic offense clashes with Georgia Tech's erratic offense. (Gamecock fans have an indirect interest in this game. If Georgia Tech wins, Clemson will go to the Gator Bowl, getting rid of the possibility that the Music City Bowl would be a rematch, which Nashville wouldn't do. Music City becomes a possibility for USC. If Wake Forest wins, Tech goes to the Gator and Clemson falls to Music City, which means the Gamecocks go to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.) Calvin Johnson and a stout defense should give Georgia Tech the edge. PICK: Georgia Tech

BIG EAST: Rutgers at West Virginia, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
This is pretty cut and dry: Assuming a Louisville win in their 12 p.m. showdown with the might Connecticut Huskies, a Rutgers win here will give the Scarlet Knights a Big East championship. A Rutgers loss would give Louisville the title. If Louisville were to lose and Rutgers were to lose, then West Virginia would slide into the BCS. On offense, there are three keys to a Rutgers win: 1) Ray Rice; 2) Ray Rice; 3) Ray Rice. But even if the Scarlet Knights roll along on the offensive side of the ball, they have to come up with a way to stop the White-Slaton monster, a ferocious creature that devours second rate defenses. As much as I'm rooting for Rutgers, I think grabbing their first win in Morgantown is unlikely. PICK: West Virginia


We'll use our Jedi mind tricks to stop White-Slaton.

BIG XII: Nebraska v. Oklahoma, 8 p.m., Kansas City, ABC
This is a neo-classic rumble between the Huskers and the Sooners. For Oklahoma, this has been a year that might have been; the right calls against Oregon would likely have them in the NC discussions right now. For Nebraska, this was the year when Bill Callahan's offense finally seems to be working; they're putting up nearly 34 points a game. But the South is still stronger, and Oklahoma comes into this game with a seven-game winning streak and a chip on their shoulder. As long as they don't fixate on the couldashouldawoulda, they should come out on top. PICK: Oklahoma

SEC: Arkansas v. Florida, 6 p.m., Atlanta, CBS
The trendy pick right now is Arkansas. They're big, they're physical and their man-monster players is on the field for the majority of snaps. There's no way to tell where he'll line up on any given snap, but he's usually out there. Tim Tebow comes in only occasionally, usually when Urban Meyer wants him to run up the middle and leave a trail of broken bones, severed limbs and concussions in his wake. Otherwise, you have Chris Leak, who's been pure potential now for four years. Unfortunately, he's never moved beyond pure potential. The secret, of course, is Florida's defense, which has kept them in practically every game this year. The key will be the Hogs' ground game. If they can ring up anything close to their average of more than 236 yards a game, they're headed to an improbable Sugar Bowl berth. If the Gators' D can hold them to closer to the 70 yards Florida's giving up each game, it'll be a Florida win. Arkansas also can't turn over the ball. They're tied for eighth in the league with a minus-3 turnover margin; Leak-Tebow might struggle without a short field. Intangibles, though, favor the team that wins despite appearing to lose every game. PICK: Florida

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