Today is conference championship day. There are a good slate of games to watch. Of course, to hear most media pundits, today’s games don’t matter because the BCS title game is going to be LSU-Alabama (personally I think that is a little premature…I will explain later). Last night, it got started with Oregon getting past a scrappy UCLA team play for fired head coach Rick Neuheisel 49-31 in Eugene for the first ever Pac-12 title. Here are the rest of the important games, from a title perspective as well as a Wolfpack perspective.
Conference USA title game: Houston vs. Southern Mississippi
Houston goes for a 13-0 record against a heavy underdog Golden Eagle team that is feeling disrepcted. It will be interesting to see how Houston plays with all the pressure on them. A loss will create BCS chaos for the perceived Houston spot.
Cincinnati vs. Connecticut
A Cincinnati win would all but guarantee a West Virginia trip to the BCS, due to the tiebreaker rules in the Big East between Louisville, Cincinnati, and West Virginia. It also would mean more than likely a Belk Bowl of Louisville vs. NC State.
SEC Championship: LSU vs. Georgia
A lot of media pundits are saying that if LSU loses, they still will be in the top 2 and should be in the BCS title game. I don’t disagree with this sentiment as LSU has been the best team week in, week out this year. They have played 3 games against top 4 teams in the BCS and won all 3. Georgia has been a great story, starting 0-2 and winning 10 in a row to definitely save Mark Richt’s job. However, they haven’t played anyone like LSU in the last 10 games. This game, even being in Georgia, will be a LSU victory.
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
Bedlam takes place tonight in Stillwater as the 3rd ranked Cowboys try to state their case for the BCS title game. Now the Sooners have a 8 game winning streak over the Cowboys but come into the game without their best RB and their best WR (Broyles is one of the two best WR in the country). If the Cowboys win, you can stake the claim that they have a better resume than Alabama…and it isn’t even close.
ACC Championship: Virginia Tech vs. Clemson
A rematch of an early October matchup in Blacksburg in which the Tigers played their most complete game of probably the last 5 years in dominating Virginia Tech 23-3. Since that game, the trends of the two teams have switched completely. The Hokies have been improving, especially Logan Thomas, and are a solid touchdown favorite over Clemson, who has lost badly in 3 of their last 4 games. No impartial person would think Clemson would be favored, but it will be interesting to see which Clemson team comes out. It also depends on how their offensive line plays, which has been a downfall of the Tigers in the past month.
Big 10 Championship: Wisconsin vs. Michigan State
A rematch of what could be the best college football game this year takes place in Indianapolis. Michigan State won the first game 37-31 when they caught a Hail Mary on the last play of the game that had to be reviewed and overturned. The Spartans played a penalty-free football game and had a 2 touchdown lead with about 8 minutes to before the Fighting Russell Wilsons came back to tie the game. Wilson and Montee Ball headline a great offensive machine. The Spartans played about as well as they could in the first meeting, which was also a home game, and still needed a miracle to win. I don’t see that one happening again.
So what happens now with the title game? Assuming Oklahoma State wins, are you looking at a LSU-Alabama rematch or a LSU-Oklahoma State title game? Question to think about. If Oklahoma State was named Oklahoma or Texas, would everyone think Alabama would be a shoo-in to get to the title game. My personal feeling is that although I think Alabama has the most talent in the country, they lost to LSU at home. LSU deserves a spot, even with a loss today. If Oklahoma State wins, and especially if they win convincingly, I think a lot of voters will put Oklahoma State closer in the polls so that with the computer help, the BCS title game is LSU-Oklahoma State. On the other hand, Alabama is one of my three least favorite teams in college football (along with UNC and Florida), so maybe I am biased.