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Championship Weekend


Championship Weekend


It’s SHOWTIME!!! Enough fooling around with classic encounters like Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State- Michigan, Oregon- Oregon State and Arizona-Arizona State, it’s Root, Hog, or die time, Stand Up and Be Counted, this is for all the marbles – of Conference Championships. Which is better, SEC-East, or SEC-West? Pac-12 North, or PAC-12 South? Legends or Leaders? We’re about to find out – except for the Big 12 that has only ten teams. They don’t get a playoff moneymaker because you have to have at least 12 teams in the league for a playoff moneymaker, but Texas doesn’t care because they have money enough. Or do they? Malzahn won’t come cheap.

First up is the Big 12 that only has ten teams. They’re the easiest to do because it OSU cowboysinvolves the fewest teams. Should Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma Saturday, they will be the Big 12 Champions. If the Cowboys lose, it will fall to the winner of the Baylor vs. Texas game. Looking at these games is picking State to win against OU and claim the crown. They will then pack their bags for Arizona to play in the Fiesta Bowl. I wonder if the Trophy of the Big 12 lists all ten teams on it? I wonder if it has two vacant spaces of wishful thinking? Don’t you know they’d like to have Missouri back this year?

On to the real Championship games, let’s look at the ACC. Duke, at 10-2, against Florida State, 12-0. At the start of the season, Florida State was picked by half the  pundits to win the Atlantic division;- the other half picked Clemson. For the Coastal Dukedivision there was not a split, as a matter of fact, it was unanimously accepted that Duke would not be in Charlotte this Saturday night, unless there was a basketball game going on. Half the sports writers were wrong in one division while all were wrong in the other. There is probably not a living soul, outside Durham, NC, that is picking the Blue Devils to win. These two teams are a study in opposites. Duke has a coach that has been there for a good while and has built success from the bottom up. Duke has high academic standards, so much so that Coach Cutcliff said, “I’m glad we’re playing at night because I know our players are going to be up late studying for their finals and finishing up their papers, so I’m going to let them sleep in a bit.” What? Shouldn’t these guys be up late worried about the game? Nope, not at Duke. The Term Paper is still due, regardless of what the District Attorney in Tallahassee decides after the game. That is a subtle dig at Florida State, folks. The Noles are going to stay up late Florida Statewondering about their starting QB Winston. Florida State’s program was gift-wrapped and handed over, a proven success long before coach Fisher arrived. Everyone, outside of Durham, NC, expects FSU to win in the ACC. Every year that they don’t, it’s considered a failure. The Seminoles have the talent, they have the players, they have all their cards punched to make it to the BCS Championship game. If QB Winston is not allowed to play, their back-up is perfectly capable of winning. Having said all that, I’m pulling for Duke! They are the underdogs and what a story it would make for them to slay Goliath. The kids that are working on papers until late into the night defeat the favored Seminoles. Who, in Durham, NC, wouldn’t love to see that?

In the Great White North Conference Ohio State will take its two year unblemished record to Indianapolis to face the Spartans of Michigan State. The Buckeyes are the ohio state logodarlings of the GWN, they have beaten everyone, some of them twice, in the last two years. Coach Urban Myer has made OSU the powerhouse of the North and yet they still don’t get the respect they think they deserve. Now they get a chance to show how real they are. Remember, when Urban Myer was at Florida, he faced Ohio State in the National Championship and was the decided underdog. Now, he’s the favorite and he’s at Ohio State. Win, and it’s off to the BCS Championship game. Root, Hog, or die time, Buckeyes! OSU, of the GWN, struggled against “that team up north”, allowing more yards than they have in any other game all year;- but that’s what rivalries are all about. A one-point win is still a win (Go, ARMY;- beat navy!). The pressure is on the Bucks;- win and they’re in the BCS Championship, lose and everyone can say, “See, I told you so”. It’s the nature of the beast, they can’t be respected unless they make it. Michigan State hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1988. They know that even if they win they’re not going to the BCS Championship game, no way, no how, it’s not going to happen. However, they are fine with that this year, they want the Rose Michigan StateBowl. They want to end the 35-year drought. This is what Head Coach Dantonio has been preaching all season as one of their top goals. First was to win their division, check. Second, win the Big Ten (Great White North) Championship. Third, win the Rose Bowl. MSU gives OSU something the Bucky’s haven’t seen in two years, a hard-core defense. No one plays Big “D” like the Spartans. They love it, they want to play defense, and their defense can’t wait to match up against Ohio State’s offense. Which is better? A great offense or a great defense? Come Saturday, we’re all going to find out. Before the season started I picked Michigan State to win the GWN, and I can see no reason to go back on that pick. The Spartans defeat the Buckeyes.

In the SEC everyone is pulling for Duke to defeat Florida State, and for Michigan State to win against Ohio State. Either one, or, better yet, both are fine with the Southerners. That way the final BCS Championship game will have an SEC representative. Both teams from the SEC are great turn-around stories. Missouri, one of the SEC new comers last year, got spanked by nearly everyone in the SEC. Now they have turned themselvesMissouri-Tigers around, played “old man” football, and made it to the SEC Championship. Hats off to the Tigers of Missouri. On the national stage Mizzou is not getting a lot of love. If they win and OSU and/or FSU lose, they are not automatically in the Big Game.  Should they be considered? Heck, Yes! Playing in the SEC, the toughest of all conferences, and a one-loss SEC champion ranks higher than a one-loss champion elsewhere else. That is, unless OSU, of the GWN, and FSU both lose, and coupled with a Mizzou victory, it makes Alabama eligible for the National Championship. Then all bets are off. Bama goes. Yes, I’m bit basis, so what? Anyway, Missouri has had a great season, they have earned this trip and they are ready to represent the SEC East in great fashion. Now we come to the flat-out luckiest freaking team in all of college football (except Notre Dame, year-in and year-out). No team has ever had the luck that Auburn has had this year. I’m not sure what has caused all of this. They played well against A&M, but Manziel got hurt and didn’t believe in his shoulder at the end of the game, Auburn sacked him and won the game. Against Georgia, they had a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter and they needed one of the most unbelievable Hail Mary’s that has ever occurred. Against Alabama, the Crimson Tide did not play well and Auburn still had to have a miracle finish to win. They have been playing with House money all season. Relying on luck is not a good strategy because luck always runs out, the House always wins its money back, and the lucky team leaves with nothing. I’m not saying Auburn isn’t a good team and what Coach Malzahn hasn’t Auburnbeen incredible. He has turned Auburn from SEC-West doormat losers into the SEC West champions. They just don’t have the foundation that good teams normally have. Auburn has played very well, and has earned their spot, but in none of their games have they been that dominant team. Maybe against Tennessee, but, then, everyone is expected to dominate UT. Missouri is a better-grounded team, so CSF is guaranteeing a Tiger win. ……..and calling a Missouri Tiger win.

In the Champagne and Caviar League, Stanford Cardinal will make a trip down to the desert to face the Sun Devils of Arizona State.  This will be the second time they meet this year. Last year Stanford had to beat UCLA twice to make it to the Rose Bowl. Will they be able to defeat the Sun Devils twice in a season? Well, back on Sept 21st , the third game of the season, Stanford piled on the points early and often to win, 42-28. StanfordSince then, the Tree team has had some great highs and dreadful lows. How they lost to Utah is still being studied in the halls of the athletic department. Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, they beat Oregon in a spectacular display of defense, gained control of the PAC-12 North, and then lost to USC the very next week! If it wasn’t for the University of Arizona giving Oregon the surprise of a life-time, Stanford would have given the Ducks the PAC-12 North, all within the space of two weeks. Now they have a chance at redemption, but it’s going to depend on which Stanford team plays. If it’s the team that played Oregon, Hello, Rose Bowl! If it’s the team that played Utah and USC, Hello, Alamo Bowl! Both of Stanford’s losses have been on the road and they go on the road again. Arizona State was picked to win the PAC-12 South, no, not from the big fancy sports writers who write for pay, but by me! ASU has one loss in the PAC-12 and that’s against the Cardinal, but this time they have them right where they want them, right in the middle of the desert. ASU is very good on their home field and they know it’s an advantage. Coach Todd Graham is already telling their fans they have to be loud, they have to do everything they can to make a difference.  The Sun Devils haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1997. They would love to go up against ASUMichigan State (a little ahead of myself there but I did pick MSU to win the GWN). But the Sun Devils have to play without fear. In both their losses, it was obvious they were uneasy, unsettled, and afraid of their opponents. Not sure why they were, but it was written all over their body language. When they played Notre Dame they should have mopped the floor with the Irish. Instead, they wilted away. In all their other games they thought they were supposed win, so they did. If they believe they can beat Stanford, they will;- if they’re scared they won’t. I’m thinking that home field advantage is going to play a huge part, ASU wins.


Short Smokes:

 The Knights of Central Florida defeat the galloping Mustangs of SMU.

Utah State is not a good team in a shoot-out and to defeat Fresno State, like San Jose State just did, it’s going to be a shootout. Bulldogs win.

Baylor passes all over Texas.

Memphis should win its fourth game of the year against Connecticut.

The mighty Ragin’ Cajuns of Lafayette win against the Jags of South Alabama.

In Division II action, the 18th ranked University of North Alabama, who wasn’t even ranked most of the season, plays in the third round of the playoffs against 11th ranked Lenoir-Rhyne. Since I played football for UNA, of course I’m picking the Lions to Roar against the Bears. Roar Lions!! (BEAT NAVY!)

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