BY MICHAEL LEESE
So far this holiday weekend, we’ve seen Fresno State’s BCS dream busted, and UCF’s survive. There’s been drastic turns in the SEC, Big Ten and Conference USA bowl pictures, and amazing finishes. With a full line-up of games, today should be even better.
No.1 ALABAMA (11-0/7-0) AT No.4 AUBURN (1O-1/6-1) Tickets for this annual rivalry are selling at record prices! If your fortunate enough to have one, plan on seeing what could be one of the best games of the season. Last year, the Tide rolled to a 49-0 victory and they have not allowed an offensive touchdown the last two meetings! This year, they sport the No. 1 defense in the country, allowing only 9.3 PPG. On offense, A.J. McCarron has been outstanding, completing 69-percent of his passes for 2,399 yards and 23 scores. Auburn counters with the top rushing offense in the SEC, churning out 320 yards per game. In this game, Nick Marshall will have to prove that he can throw effectively as the Tide will stuff the box with eight players on most occasions. McCarron will be the difference in this game, as he shines on the big stage in leading the Tide to victory, while putting his stamp on the Heisman. TIDE ROLLS INTO SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 33-17.
No.9 BAYLOR (9-1/6-1) AT TCU (4-7/2-6) Baylor enters this game off their first loss of the season, which could be a very troubling spot for the Bears, as TCU seniors play their last game as Horned Frogs. Last weekend, Bryce Petty and the Baylor offense was shut down by an upstart Oklahoma State defense. Gary Patterson’s club has had two weeks to prepare for this game and Horned Frogs quarterback Casey Pachall is finally 100-percent healthy. The Bears are dealing with injuries to several key players. Last year, TCU won 49-21 and many factors have me leaning to the Horned Frogs in this one. IT WILL BE CLOSER THIS TIME, BUT HORNED FROGS HOOK THE BEARS, 34-31.
No. 22 UCLA (8-3/5-3) AT No.23 USC (9-3/6-2) “The Battle of Los Angeles” is the top game out west this today, and features two teams ranked in the Top-25. The Trojans enter on a roll, having won six of their last seven games, while UCLA saw its hopes of a PAC-12 South title dashed last week. The Bruins lost another offensive lineman to injury last week and are desperately thin upfront. The Trojans should take advantage of this, as they have 33 sacks on the season and have played tough against the run. Ed Orgeron continues to make a case to become the head coach on a full-time basis. TROJANS ARE THE BETTER TEAM AT THIS POINT AND WILL PROVE IT! 31-27.
No.6 CLEMSON (10-1/7-1) AT No.10 SOUTH CAROLINA (9-2/6-2) Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw plays his best football at home, where he has tossed 20 TDs with only one interception. Tajh Boyd and the Tigers have a lot to prove,as the Gamecocks have won four straight in this series, by an average of 18 points per game! Since being blown out by Florida State, the Tigers have won four in a row. Boyd and Sammy Watkins make the difference, TIGERS FEAST ON GAMECOCKS 31-24.
No.21 TEXAS A&M (8-3/4-3) AT No.5 MISSOURI (10-1/6-1) Johnny “Football” Manziel could be playing his final regular-season game. He is coming off what could be his worst collegiate performance, as he was held to 274 total yards, his lowest total of the season, as the Aggies lost to LSU 34-10. The Tigers have a distinct advantage on defense, and will use their physical line to pressure Manziel. The Tigers have everything to play for as a win puts them in the SEC Championship Game, while I’m not sure how much the Aggies have left in their tank. I’ll be at this game and expect a Tiger Victory! MIZZOU 45- AGGIES 33.
No.25 NOTRE DAME (8-3) AT No.8 STANFORD (9-2/7-2) The Fighting Irish are the only team with three wins against teams ranked in the BCS Top-25. Both teams play a similar physical, “Smash Mouth”game. The Irish have lost their center and top defensive lineman in the past two weeks to injury, and I expect the Cardinal to get revenge for a controversial 20-13 loss last year in South Bend. FEAR THE TREE,,,,,CARDINAL 24 IRISH 17.
No.24 DUKE (9-2/5-2) AT NORTH CAROLINA (6-5/4-3) Duke has won seven in a row and is playing for their first 10-win season in team history. A win by the Blue devils and they clinch the Coastal Division and play in the ACC Championship Game against Florida State. The Tar Heels have won five straight games, and have won 21 out of the last 23 in this series! I’ll take the home team with the best player on the field in tight end Eric Ebron. HEELS WIN TOBACCO ROAD THRILLER 35-34.