The regular season has come to an end (for the most part), and what we've left is a smorgasbord of conference championship games.
I do love this weekend, but it seems like more often than not, the drama is missing from these championship games.
Hopefully, this weekend will be different, but with one game in mind involving a couple teams from the SEC, I doubt we'll see anything worthy of an Oscar.
There is more on the line this week than just the national semifinal game though, there's bowl positioning galore, and if you think that doesn't matter, well then you don't know college football.
Every team, no matter how bad, begins the season with the hopes of making it to the national championship game. Once that hope is dashed, early on for many, new goals are set, conference titles, New Year's Day game, etc. Conference titles are still within reach for many teams this week and there's still plenty of movement left in the bowl race.
One thing is for certain on this weekend, motivation will not be an issue for any team still playing.
A nice end to the regular season for myself last week as I hit all four of my top games. A mixed bag the rest of the way, but overall a solid week.
Let's take a look at the card this week.
WEEK 14 - Championship Week
Cream of the Crop: (Week: 4-0/Season: 21-28-)
Texas at Kansas State: Kansas State had the rug pulled out from under it two weeks ago at Baylor and although the past two weeks have probably been tough, it's probably better off that the Wildcats had time to get over that loss and reassess what matters, which in this case in a Big-12 Championship and a BCS bowl game. Texas meanwhile has little to play for but pride and we saw how that worked out last week. Expect Kansas State to take out from frustration on the Longhorns this week.
Side: Kansas State -12.5
Kansas at West Virginia: It's been a long season for the Mountaineers, but they finally get a break this week as the worst team in the Big-12 comes to Morgantown. West Virginia is likely to take out some frustration on the Kansas defense this week, but as always its defense will be helpless. Kansas has partaken in a few shootouts this season, including the past two weeks and the Jayhawks should be able to do some damage this week as well.
Total: Over 71
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP - Georgia vs. Alabama: Personally, I don't think these are the two best teams in the conference. Sure, Georgia has just one loss on the season, but the Bulldogs only faced two ranked teams this season. That's right, they play in the SEC and they faced only two ranked teams all season, and they lost to one of them in a blowout. We all know how good Alabama is and Georgia will find out as well on Saturday. The only way this game stays close is if Alabama makes more mistakes than Georgia.
Side: Alabama -7
Best of the Rest (Week: 2-3/Season: 34-27)
Northern Illinois vs. Kent State: This line looks goofy to me. Both teams have identical records, they are playing on a neutral field and Kent State is actually ranked higher. After doing some research, my guess is this line is a reflection on when these two teams last met up - last season. No. Illinois won that game 40-10, but Kent State has obviously improved since that meeting. To be honest, the line smells of a trap and I'd rather not fall into it, so I'll take the over. It's the two best offenses in the MAC each with a great running attack and while each team had a decent defense, neither one is great.
Total: Over 58
Pittsburgh at South Florida: South Florida is a mess right now with its back-up QB and Pittsburgh has played well over the past month. Pittsburgh needs a win here to become bowl eligible and that should be enough motivation to close out the Bulls this week.
Side: Pittsburgh -6
Oklahoma State at Baylor: Believe or not, this is the second best match-up that Baylor has had this season in regards to the over. The best was West Virginia, and although Oklahoma State has a better defense that WVU, the Cowboys have been involved in many shootouts this season. Baylor fell back to Earth last week, at least on the defensive side of the ball as the Bears surrendered 45 points to Texas Tech, which by the way is not quite as explosive OSU's offense. I've never seen a line this high, but I think the over is still the best play.
Total: Over 86.5
Boise State at Nevada: Nevada hasn't adjusted well without Colin Kaepernick and although the ‘Pack has already accepted a bowl bid, not many can argue this season was a success. If they happen to beat Boise State this week, that perception will change though. The problem is, they are headed in the wrong direction right now. Boise State has its options open as far as bowl options, so the Broncos will want to impress in their last outing this season.
Side: Boise State -9.5
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP - Florida State vs. Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech is 6-6 on the season and 5-3 within the conference and…in the conference title game. This game could and should get ugly, the only question is - can Georgia Tech score some points to help out on the over? (see below)
Side: FSU -14
PASSing Thoughts (Week: 3-3/Season: 27-39)
Louisville at Rutgers: A lot on the line in this game, the Big East Championship a possible BCS bowl berth, you'd think that these teams would have some momentum coming into this game, but it's just the opposite. Rutgers lost to Pittsburgh last week and Louisville continued a slide that's really been going on for a few weeks now. Though the Cardinals have only lost two in a row, they started playing poorly a few weeks earlier with closer than expected wins against South Florida and Cincinnati. It's late in the season to reevaluate a team, but I took another look at Louisville's resume and it's really not that impressive. As such, I'll side with Rutgers here.
Side: Rutgers -3
UCLA at Stanford: This is a tough game. It's hard to get the previous week's game out of your head when looking at the match-up this week. I suppose that's why the line in this game is nearing double digits. Stanford but a whooping on UCLA last week, but a closer look reveals that two defensive scores played a hand in that final margin. These teams looked fairly evenly matched on paper, so I have to assume that UCLA will put up a much better effort this time around. Weather could be a factor as well, which could limit the scoring in this game. I'm going to take the big number here and hope UCLA comes to play this week.
Side: UCLA +8
Oklahoma at TCU: Both teams coming off big wins last week, but I have to imagine that TCU comes into this game a little more satisfied with its win last week. Oklahoma still has some BCS possibilities and while TCU surely wants to win this game, the Horned Frogs will be mistaken if they think this Oklahoma team is similar to Longhorns.
Side: Oklahoma -6.5
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP - Wisconsin vs. Nebraska: Talk about a coin flip. These teams met up earlier in the season and Nebraska pulled out a three-point victory. About the only thing separating these two teams is the veteran QB on the Nebraska side. I guess that will sway me towards the team that I've faded all year.
Side: Nebraska -3