Notre Dame clinched a spot in the BCS National Championship game by virtue of its victory over USC on Saturday night. The Irish combined dominating defense, a stout running game and emerging quarterback play from freshman Everett Golson to punch their ticket to Miami. Notre Dame will sit back, relax and watch Alabama and Georgia duke it out this Saturday for the SEC Championship and the right to face the Irish in January for all the marbles. An Alabama-Notre Dame matchup would be a particularly intriguing, bruising affair. However, don't count out the underappreciated Bulldogs, who possess dynamite playmakers on both sides of the ball in Todd Gurley, Jarvis Jones and others.
With that in mind, let's look at this week's Championship slate.
Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford - No Andrew Luck? No problem for Taylor. Despite seeing teams repeatedly stack the box against him, Taylor has had eight 100-yard rushing games this season for the Cardinal. Last week at UCLA he amassed 142 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, averaging a stellar 7.1 yards per tote. This week's opponent? The Bruins once again. Taylor has already set a career-high 1,364 rushing yards as a senior and will look to complete his time at Stanford with a Pac-12 title as well.
Alex Singleton, RB, Tulsa - Singleton has shown a nose for the end zone during his playing days with the Golden Hurricane. Despite reaching the 100-yard rushing mark just once this season, Singleton has piled up a staggering 19 rushing touchdowns as a senior. The 6-foot-1, 260, behemoth is still averaging 4.1 yards per rush, but clearly has a niche as a short-yardage and goal-line specialist. Tulsa faces a UCF squad in the C-USA championship that has yielded at least 23 points in each of the last three games. Singleton is a great bet to score against the Knights as well.
Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA - Fauria has been one of the nation's most productive tight ends this season. The senior caught a touchdown pass in each of the last five games for the Bruins. In fact, Fauria has failed to find the end zone in just three of UCLA's 12 contests this season. He also caught at least three passes in each of the last seven games. These stats show Fauria's reliability, and he has been a wonderful safety net for freshman quarterback Brett Hundley.
Matthew Tucker, RB, TCU - Tucker found the end zone twice in Saturday's 20-13 victory at Texas. The senior tailback has had a down season, though he has scored in three of the Horned Frogs' last five games. TCU faces Oklahoma this week, and the Sooners have allowed at least 34 points in each of the last three conference games. Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle had four scores last week at Oklahoma. Tucker should find the promised land against the Sooners as well.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia - Murray has had a sensational campaign under the helm for Georgia, completing 66.6 percent of his throws for 3,201 yards and 30 touchdowns. If it wasn't for the incredible freshman season for Johnny Manziel, Murray would perhaps be getting some Heisman hype. He will truly be put to the test this week against Alabama, though, as the Tide possess the top defense in the nation and have not even been scored on since the Nov. 10 loss to Johnny Football and Texas A&M. We'll see if Murray can lead the Bulldogs to the upset and get a surprise shot at Notre Dame in the BCS Championship.
Savon Huggins, RB, Rutgers - Huggins had been on the losing end of a timeshare with Jawan Jamison before exploding for 179 yards on 41 carries at Cincinnati on Nov. 17. By contrast, Huggins rushed eight times for a mere 18 yards in Saturday's ugly 27-6 loss at Pitt. Meanwhile, Jamison had nine carries but fared no better, compiling 14 yards on the ground. Which Huggins will show up against Louisville, and how will the carries be distributed? With Jamison more than 1,000 yards on the season, he's likely the better option despite two poor games in a row.
Brandon Wimberly, WR, Nevada - Wimberly hauled in two touchdown passes at New Mexico on Saturday in the Wolf Pack's 31-24 victory over the Lobos. Wimberly has been feast or famine this season, though. He has had two games with multiple touchdowns, but has not scored in nine other contests. Likewise, he has had two 100-yard outputs surrounded by seven games in which he has failed to reach 75 yards receiving. Nevada hosts Boise State this weekend, with the Broncos allowing just 14.4 points per tilt. Wimberly is certainly a talented wideout, but could be in for some rough sledding against Boise State.
Tino Sunseri, QB, Pittsburgh - Sunseri's early years at Pitt were marred by inconsistency, though he has found a bit of a groove this season. Sunseri has completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,892 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air. Perhaps most impressive, Sunseri has tossed just two interceptions this season, and none in his last eight games. He gets a South Florida squad in shambles this Saturday and should feast on the Bulls. Has Sunseri finally turned the corner? Stay tuned to find out.
Spencer Keith, QB, Kent State - The Golden Flashes face Northern Illinois in the MAC championship this weekend but rely mostly on the dual rushing attack of Trayion Durham and Dri Archer. Both backs have already surpassed 1,000 yards for the season, and each has crossed the goal line 14 times on the ground as well. That's left Keith as mostly a game manager. He's totaled 200 yards passing in just two games this season and has thrown more picks than touchdowns over his last three contests. Although the Golden Flashes have been remarkably successful at 11-1 in 2012, Keith has not been forced to shoulder the offensive load.
Kenny Bell, WR, Alabama - Bell broke his leg in Saturday's victory over Auburn and will miss the rest of the season. Bell was a deep threat for the Tide, averaging 25.4 yards per reception. He finishes the 2012 campaign with 17 grabs for 431 yards and three touchdowns. Look for Christian Jones and Kevin Norwood to attempt to pick up the slack in Bell's absence in the SEC championship tilt with Georgia.
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - Martinez hasn't had a rushing touchdown in three weeks, and he has not fared well passing against the better defensive squads. Martinez had arguably his least productive game of the season at Iowa on Saturday, compiling just 104 total yards from scrimmage while failing to find the end zone. The Huskers get Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship this Saturday; while the Badgers have not been the same on the offensive end of the field this year, the defense remains as stout as ever. Wisconsin allows just 18.1 points per game, good for 17th overall in the nation. Martinez may not be able to find much room this weekend.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - Bridgewater fractured his non-throwing wrist against UConn on Saturday in the heartbreaking 23-20 Triple OT loss. He'll play in what is essentially the Big East title game Thursday at Rutgers, but one has to wonder if he will have difficulty receiving snaps or be otherwise affected by the injured wrist. Bridgewater has tossed 10 touchdowns in his last three games, despite two resulting in losses for the Cardinals. Rutgers is also fourth in the nation in points allowed, yielding a mere 13.7 points per game.
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