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Games to Watch - Week 14
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Saturday's Winners - Season Package
SEC Championship: Alabama vs. Georgia - Saturday (CBS, 4:00 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
Alabama vs. Georgia
Pretty simple actually; the winner will meet Notre Dame for the National Championship in Miami. Lose and you don't even get to go to a BCS game. My question is, are these even the two best teams in the SEC? Florida is also 11-1 but has a much better resume than either of these teams. Sure, the Gators are painful to watch at times, and lost to Georgia head-to-head on a neutral field but I'm not so sure the Gators aren't the best team in the SEC. And before 'Bama fans start sending me hate mail, look no further than 365 days ago when you weren't in this game either but were arguably the best team in the SEC, and the country for that matter, but happened to lose to an LSU team you later went on to dominate. As for the two teams that are playing though? Obviously both of these teams are very good, great in fact; but truth be told, both of these teams managed to get the easiest possible schedule you can ask for in the SEC. Both teams played only two currently ranked teams, and both teams went 1-1 in those games. In fact Georgia lost by 28 points to South Carolina, while Alabama got beat at home by SEC newcomer Texas A&M. The good news for both teams is that none of that matters right now. All that matters now is "win and you're in." This game will come down to one key matchup; the Alabama defense against the Georgia offense. The 2012 'Bama defense is good, but it's no secret that are not nearly as good as some of Nick Saban's previous squads. As I said earlier, the Tide have only faced two good teams all year and in back-to-back weeks they gave up 298 yards passing to LSU QB Zach Mettenberger (his season high) and 345 total yards to the Aggies' all-world QB Johnny Maziel. This week they face Georgia QB Aaron Murray who became the first quarterback in SEC history to pass from more than 3,000 yards in three straight seasons. But as I said earlier, the Dawgs have only faced two quality teams all year as well, and in those two games Georgia only managed 224 total yards against South Carolina and 273 yards against Florida. So whoever wins the battle between the Bama defense and the Georgia offense should have a major advantage in this game. Alabama comes in an 8-point favorite and one major reason might be in the coaching department where Alabama has a decisive advantage before they even kick off. Mark Richt is good, but Nick Saban may be the best.
Pac-12 Championship: Stanford vs. UCLA - Friday (FOX, 8:00 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
Stanford vs. UCLA
Same song, different verse. These two teams just met over the weekend and now go right back at it, only this time in Palo Alto, and this time with a Rose Bowl berth on the line. Stanford might actually be one of the most underrated teams in the country having just beaten former No. 2 Oregon at Auzten Stadium in overtime two weeks ago, and UCLA last Saturday, 35-17. The two losses sustained by The Cardinal are at No. 1 Notre Dame in overtime after a controversial goal-line stand and at Washington 17-13, which is one of the hardest places to play in the country. With that said, UCLA has actually been one of the biggest surprises of the season and these two Pac-12 schools are actually very similar in a number of ways. Each has a top tier running back, an emerging redshirt freshman quarterback, and an NFL caliber tight end. In fact, Stanford only managed to outgain the Bruins by 47 yards (381 to 334) despite winning by 18 points. On top of everything, David Shaw and Jim Mora have done two of the best coaching jobs in the country behind Brian Kelly and Bill O'Brien (in my opinion). The biggest difference is the Stanford defense, specifically their front seven, which might be as good as anyone in the country. The Cardinal rank 10th in the nation in points against at 16.9 points per game, including only allowing 14 points to an Oregon team that averages 51.1 points. Back in August everyone thought for sure this game would be Oregon vs. USC for the PAC-12 title. In fact Stanford was picked to finish second in the North while UCLA was picked to finish third in the South. Instead, these two teams will meet for the Pac-12 Championship on Friday where Stanford comes into this game a 10-point home favorite.
Texas at Kansas State (ABC, 8:00 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
Texas vs. Kansas State
The Longhorns come in off a disappointing Thanksgiving night home loss to TCU. Prior to its Thanksgiving Night letdown, Texas was looking at a possible two-game stretch that could have gotten them a shot to claim a place at the BCS at-large table. Now they are just trying to save their season. Sitting at 8-3, Texas has already matched last season's win total, but there are a handful of concerns in Austin among fans and boosters. Throughout the season, Texas has been probably the biggest Jekyll and Hyde team in the country with impressive wins over Texas Tech and Iowa State, but also embarrassing efforts against Oklahoma, Kansas and TCU. Win or lose Texas has a lot of questions going into next season. Meanwhile Kansas State returns to the field for the first time since they blew their National Championship hopes two weeks ago after getting stunned in Waco as a two touchdown road favorite against Baylor. Despite the loss, Kansas State is still the class of the Big 12 and can clinch the Big 12 title and an automatic BCS spot with a win against the Longhorns. Collin Klein also looks to right his Heisman ship after his worst performance of the year against Baylor in his last outing. Klein will face a Texas defense that is ranked dead last in the Big 12 in rushing defense and gives up almost 450 yards a game, including 607 total yards to Baylor earlier in the year. The Wildcats are an 11-point home favorite and Texas is just 1-4 in Manhattan while Kansas State also has the 7-5 edge in this series' overall history.
Oklahoma at TCU - Saturday (ESPN, 12:00 p.m.)
Matchup Skinny
Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin
Oklahoma will head into its final game of the season coming off one of the more exciting game of the entire college football season. The Sooners won a thrilling 51-48 overtime game in the Bedlam Rivalry over Oklahoma State despite never leading the game until the final play of overtime. The Sooners are 9-2 on the season, and if they are able to defeat TCU as a 7 1/2-point road favorite, they would be in place for a possible BCS at-large bid. Oklahoma has one of the more intriguing resumes in the country at 9-2 with their only two losses this season coming against Kansas State and Notre Dame, both of whom have been ranked #1 in the BCS this season and are a combined 22-1. However both of those losses were in Norman. The flip side is their last four wins where they struggled against Iowa St, hung on for dear life against Baylor, beat West Virginia by only 1 point and beat Oklahoma State in overtime in a game they never lead. Then again the Sooners are also still in the hunt for the Big 12 title, which would earn them an automatic bid into the Fiesta Bowl, but here's the catch…in order for that to happen they will have to beat TCU that morning and then swallow their pride and root for their hated rival, Texas, to beat Kansas State later that night.
Other Games to Watch
Matchup Skinny
Louisville at Rutgers
Louisville at Rutgers, (Thursday Night) - This is the de facto Big East Championship….kind of. That's right, one of these two powerhouses are probably going to steal a spot in a BCS game. With Rutgers and Louisville falling on Saturday the Big East has a logjam at the top of its standings. If Rutgers wins, they represent what's left of the Big East in the BCS. If Louisville wins and Cincinnati falls to Connecticut then there would be a 3-way tie for the Big East championship. In that scenario, Rutgers, Louisville, and Syracuse would all technically be Big East Champions…for whatever that's worth. But who would earn the conference's automatic BCS bid? Well, the short answer is; who cares? The technical answer is; whoever has the highest BCS rank among the three schools would head to the BCS (most likely the Orange or Fiesta Bowl). Heading into the weekend Syracuse was #43 in the BCS while Louisville and Rutgers were 20th and 18th respectively. Great system.
Northern Illinois at Kent State
Northern Illinois vs. Kent State (MAC Championship Game - Friday) - This could actually be a very entertaining game. The Golden Flashes (that's Kent State for you non MAC followers) are going to their first MAC title game ever after piling up the most wins in school history. In fact, Kent State and Northern Illinois both finished the season 8-0 in conference and 11-1 on the year. This is only the 2nd time in the 67 year of existence of the MAC that two teams had 11 wins in the same season. The other was in 2003 which featured Bowling Green and a 13-1 Ben Roethlisberger lead Miami (OH) team. These two teams also combine to average 75 points per game this year. Like I said, if you don't have anything else to do Friday night, this could actually be a very entertaining game.
Georgia Tech at Florida Sate
Georgia Tech vs. Florida State (ACC Championship Game) - These two teams lost to their respective interstate rivals on Saturday by a collective score of 70-36. Overall the ACC ends the regular season 7-19 vs. AQ non-conference teams, including 1-5 vs. SEC with that win coming against Auburn. The six teams they beat for those seven wins? UConn, USF, Auburn, Army and Temple. Ladies and gentleman…The 2012 ACC. Florida State finished 7-1 in the ACC tying Clemson for the Atlantic Division title but won the tiebreaker beating Clemson earlier in the year. The Yellow Jackets "took" the Coastal Division berth by finishing 5-3 in the conference combined with Miami's decision to self-impose a postseason bowl ban for the second straight year, and North Carolina being ineligible. How do I say this nicely…at least people will care about the ACC Championship played in March?
Wisconsin vs. Nebraska
Nebraska vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship Game) - One of these two schools will earn the right to lose to the Pac-12 winner in the Rose Bowl. Nebraska won the Legends Division title with a riveting 13-7 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday and Michigan losing on Saturday. The Cornhuskers finished the regular season 10-2 overall and 7-1 in Big Ten play. Wisconsin is looking to return to the Rose Bowl for the third straight season. The Badgers have lost the last two seasons to TCU in 2011 and Oregon in 2012. The Badgers finished the season 7-5 overall and 4-4 in conference play but will represent the Probation Division despite finishing third since Ohio State and Penn State are both ineligible for postseason play. These two met in the regular season with Nebraska winning a come-from-behind 30-27 game. The real winner in this game though? College football fans in general as we are spared from a 12-0 Ohio State team getting to play for a National Championship that they would have no chance at all of winning. Can we just take the top 8 teams from the SEC, PAC-12, Big 12 and Notre Dame and let them play it off. I know no one would want to watch that right?!

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