I don’t have any plans this weekend that don’t revolve around football. This is a great weekend, starting with USF and West Virginia on Thursday before championships kick off with the Pac-12 on Friday night. We’ll look at the championships, but first, let’s hit up the Metroplex.
UNLV at #18 TCU (1:30pm Central, VERSUS)
The Frogs look to cap off their rebuilding season with their third straight MWC championship at home. They should have no problems against a team who earlier this season lost to New Mexico. Expect big numbers from the Pachall-Boyce connection, and maybe even another appearance by resdshirt sophomore Rick Settle. Yes, it will be that bad.
[Side note: Coach Patterson has not made a decision yet as to whether kicker Ross Evans will start this weekend. Evans was arrested for an incident that happened before the Boise State game.]
Prediction: Frogs 59, Runnin’ Rebels 6.
Middle Tennessee State vs. North Texas (3:00 pm Central, Watch online at MeanGreenSports.com)
A Sun-Belt conference foe in Middle Tennessee State comes to Denton to finish off the season. Let’s hope that the Mean Green can end the season on a high note.
Prediction: Mean Green 17, MTSU 9
Now, on to the championships:
PAC-12: #9 Ore (-31.5) vs. UCLA (Friday)
I would almost literally take Oregon -50 as the line for this game. Scratch that – I just sold my car and am betting everything it’s worth on Oregon to cover. This game reeks of gratuitous violence and disrespect on an organizational level for UCLA. Small children are advised not to attend this game. A high octane offense and a defense that told Andrew Luck what to do? UCLA isn’t even sure where the game is this weekend. The Ducks will laugh themselves to a Rose Bowl berth, while thanking their lucky stars that USC is banned from postseason play, and therefore, this game, because they don’t want any more of Matt Barkley and Co.
Prediction: Oregon 47 – UCLA 6
SEC: #14 UGA (+13.5) vs. #1 LSU
Most people expect LSU to put up another blowout. This one will be closer than you expect, for three reasons. 1) UGA is by far the biggest team LSU has played this season. (Yes, Alabama included.) Their offensive line is the biggest in football (pro, college, or otherwise) and protecting the quarterback has been the prominent struggle for the Tigers’ opponents this season. 2) Aaron Murray’s stat line this season: 106.5 Rating, 2698 yards, 32 TDS, 10 INTS, 61% Completion. Arguably the best quarterback in the SEC, and arguably the best LSU has seen so far. 3) LSU is all but guaranteed a spot in the BCS title, and is sitting pretty. No way the Mad Hatter takes a chance on injury/fatigue or any shenanigans to ruin his national title.
Prediction: LSU 34 – Georgia 24
BIG 12 (de facto): #3 Oklahoma St (-3.5) vs. #10 Oklahoma
This is probably the toughest call this week. Two very similar teams, both with some bad losses on their resumes, and high stakes for the winner. In the end, I think an injured offense and a recent heartbreaking loss to Baylor would be a recipe for a blowout for any other game. Bedlam, though? Expect a close one. Okie State with the narrow cover, and the outright win.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 28 – Oklahoma 23
ACC: #20 Clemson (+7) vs. #5 Virginia Tech
I laugh every time I watch Tajh Boyd play. Lane Kiffin told him, “You can’t play in the SEC.” I beg to differ – Tajh Boyd has a very bright future at Clemson, and could easily go one to be one of the best quarterbacks not only in the ACC, but in the nation.
That being said, this game is a puzzling matchup as well. Va Tech has not played that impressively, and Clemson has serious talent. They’ve had the number one recruiting class for what, the last five years? I know this pick is going to haunt me, but I’ll stick with it: Boyd shows the world what he can do, and leads Clemson to a season that’s not a disappointment for the first time in a decade.
Prediction: Clemson 21 – Virginia Tech 17
C-USA: #6 HOU (-12.5) vs. #24 USM
I have watched both of these teams play this season, as a native Memphian and a connoisseur of C-USA football, and two forces drive my decision for this pick: 1) Case Keenum can flat out throw the ball, and the Golden Eagles aren’t exactly known for their excellence at the defensive back position. 2) USM lost to UAB. The 3-9 in the C-USA University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers. On the “All Time Bad Losses” meter, that ranks slightly below Houston Nutt’s campaign against the mighty Louisiana Tech Bulldogs this season.
Prediction: Houston 56 – USM 24. This one is going to get ugly.
MAC: N. Illinois (-3.5) vs. Ohio
Northern Illinois: Because, sure, why not?
Prediction: N. Illinois 27 – Ohio 15
Game of the Week:
Big Ten: #15 Wisconsin (-9) vs #13 Michigan State [ROUND DEUX]
Monte Ball is a bad man. He’s running much better than he was when these two met earlier this season. He already has 29 rushing touchdowns. With two games left. Barry Sanders’ (aka the Best Running Back Ever) NCAA record at Oklahoma State? 37. Not a shabby year for the junior, and not an unreachable goal.
MSU Senior Kirk Cousins is a great player, don’t forget that. It might, though, be a little imprudent to assume he will be able to repeat his 22-31, 290 yard, 3 TD performance from the first meeting. The Spartans have won against Michigan, Wisconsin, and at Ohio State this season; that’s really all anyone in East Lansing can ask.
As far as gearing up for this game, while the Badgers are running on unleaded revenge for this, Sparty has coasted through the weakest four conference opponents possible, beating Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, and Northwestern by a combined score of 154-65. I’m taking ‘Sconnie to play their best game of the season, and for them to be right back where they were last New Year’s Day: Pasedena.
Prediction: Wisconsin 38 – Michigan State 21
Other Games to Watch:
#22 West Virginia at South Florida: USF 21, WVA 13 (I love missed extra points)
Texas @ #19 Baylor: Baylor 38, Texas 24 (They got TCU and OU, it’s the Bears’ year to get theirs.)
Iowa State at #16 Kansas State: A Houston loss makes this a very important game for TCU’s outside shot at a BCS bowl. Don’t laugh; Iowa State has done it before. Iowa State 24, KState 23 (OT)