BY MICHAEL LEESE
It’s been a fantastic college football season and it all comes to an end this weekend with seven big Conference Championships and a few other big games! Below is a quick look into those battles along with a few bold predictions. Your comments and feedback are welcome.
No.17 OKLAHOMA (9-2/6-2) AT No.6 OKLAHOMA STATE (10-1/7-1) – They call this the “Bedlam series” and it’s been just that for the Sooners who are 82-18-7 in this game, and winners of nine of the last 10 meetings. The Sooners would love nothing better than to shoot down the Cowboys BCS bowl dreams, but I just don’t think they have the horses to do it. The Cowboys defense has forced at least three turnovers in six of the last seven games and should have success here as well. The Cowboys have a big advantage at quarterback with Clint Chelf who has become an established starter. That should be enough! COWBOYS SHOOT DOWN SOONERS 27-17.
No.25 TEXAS (8-3/7-1) AT No.9 BAYLOR (10-1/7-1) Many believe that Baylor will need a win over Texas and a Oklahoma State loss to receive a BCS bid. I still believe the Bears just need to win this game. A win will also assure the Bears of a share of the conference crown for the first time in 19 years, a rating in the Top-10, and an 11-1 regular season record. The amazing Baylor offense is averaging 635.1 yards, and their 55.4 points per game is just behind Army’s mark of 56.0 from 1944. With a combined 119 points against Texas and in a bowl, this would go down as the most prolific offense EVER! Some history will be made Saturday, as Bryce Petty is the difference in the game, as he leads the Bears to their first 11-win season in school history! BEARS WIN FINAL GAME AT FLOYD CASEY STADIUM 36-31.
FRIDAY NIGHT – MAC CHAMPIONSHIP BOWLING GREEN VERSUS NORTHERN ILLINOIS
This is going to be a great game and I hope many of you take the time to watch it. The Huskies are 12-0 and feature Heisman hopeful Jordan Lynch at quarterback. Lynch completes 64-percent of his passes and has thrown for 2,457 and 22 touchdowns, and he ranks third in the country in rushing yards with 1,755 and 20 touchdowns! The Falcons will counter with the fifth-best defense in the country allowing only 13.8 PPG. Travis Greene is the second leading rusher in the MAC with 1,422 yards and will be tough to stop. This game will go the full sixty minutes and maybe beyond! I just can’t go against Lynch as he is the best player on the field. HUSKIES GET THEIR BCS BID 41-38.
I still can’t believe what an outstanding season Duke has had. David Cutcliffe has done an amazing job and gets my vote for coach of the year, leading Duke to a 10-2 record. The task to beat an undeated Florida State team will be immense. The Blue Devils will have to force turnovers and convert them into points. Duke hasn’t beaten FSU in 18 tries, with the Seminoles’ average margin of victory a whopping 34 points. The Seminoles, led by Jameis Winston, hold the No.1 ranking in the country and a win will put them in Pasadena for the BCS National Championship! They’ll get that chance! SEMINOLES ROLL OVER BLUE DEVILS 41-14.
C-USA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, MARSHALL VERSUS RICE
This game is being played at Rice, as they were able to claim home field advantage with a victory over Tulane last weekend. Marshall crushed East Carolina last weekend to win the Eastern Division. Both teams enter this battle with identical 9-3,7-1 records. Rakeem Cato leads a Thundering Herd attack that is sixth in the country averaging 44.6 PPG. He has has thrown for 3,314 yards and 34 touchdowns on the season. Rice counters with Charles Ross, a bruising 6’1″ 235-pound tailback who has rushed for 1,143 yards and 12 scores! I think Marshall just has to many weapons on offense for the Owls to deal with. THUNDERING HERD STAMPEDES TO MEMPHIS AND LIBERTY BOWL 41-31.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, MISSOURI VERSUS AUBURN
How many of you saw this coming? Certainly not me! However, I really am excited about seeing some fresh faces in this game! I’ll go out on a limb early and call for a Tiger victory. Mizzou stands at 11-1 and an overtime loss away from being 12-0. This Tiger bunch is led by James Franklin who has returned from a shoulder separation and hasn’t missed a beat. Franklin has many weapons on offense and he likes to spread the ball around. Auburn leads the SEC with a dominating ground game and solid quarterback play of Nick Marshall. These teams are actually very similar and I expect another great game. I think Auburn has a guardian angel looking over their shoulders as evidenced by last second victories over Georgia and Alabama. I can’t go against that. AUBURN WINS ANOTHER WITH LAST MINUTE HEROICS 33-30.
PAC 12 CHAMPIONSHIP, STANFORD VERSUS ARIZONA STATE
This is a rematch of an early season game that saw Stanford handle Arizona State 42-28. It was a messy performance from an ASU team that was learning who it was, as Arizona State gave the Cardinal two interceptions and two blocked punts in that game. The Sun Devils have now won seven straight and are playing their best football of the season. Stopping Tyler Gaffney will be the key for the Sun Devils. Gaffney has 1,485 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season. The Sun Devils are 7-0 at home this year with an average margin of victory of 28 points. They won’t reach that margin against the rugged Cardinal, but they are going to do enough to earn the school its first Rose Bowl berth since the 1996 season. DEVILS DO IT IN THE DESERT 33-19.
BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP, MICHIGAN STATE VERSUS OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes enter this game at 12-0 and are seeking a second straight undefeated season. The Spartans at 11-1 and undefeated in Big Ten play. They are looking to play spoiler and keep the Buckeyes from a 24th straight win, a dream season and possible BCS National Championship. Defense will be the key for the Spartans had they rank fourth in the country allowing only 11.8 points per game! The Buckeyes rank second in the country averaging 321 rushing yards per game, making this a strength versus strength match-up. I just don’t think the Spartan offense has what it takes to exploit the Buckeyes defense enough to win this game. Braxton Miller is the “X” factor in this game! He will come up big and lead the Buckeyes to a decisive victory. BUCKEYES ROLL INTO PASADENA ON HEELS OF 37-16 WIN.
No. 19 LOUISVILLE (10-1/6-1) AT CINCINNATI (9-2/6-1) – The battle for the “Keg of Nails” has major implications for both teams. A win for Louisville will mean a trip to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. A win by Cincinnati and loss by Central Florida could get the Bearcats into a BCS bowl. Cincinnati, has won 16 of its last 18 home games, while outscoring teams by an average of 23.4 points. The Bearcats are coming off back-to-back impressive offensive performances, totaling 1,192 yards in wins at Rutgers and Houston. The weather figures to be a big factor in this tilt and I believe the team with the better running game will have an advantage. I’ll give that edge to the Cardinals. TEDDY AND THE CARDINALS FLY BY THE BEARCATS AND ARE GOING TO DISNEYWORLD 23-20