Monday, November 19, 2007

Championship-Caliber and Rivalry Games in Week 13

Pac-10 Championship (Basically):
With a win over their respective arch-rivals December 1, the winner of this battle between #6 Arizona State (9-1, 6-1) and #11 USC (8-2, 5-2) in Tempe can lay claim to at least a share of the Pac-10 title; in ASU's case, the whole thing. A victory for the suddenly resurgent Trojans will keep them the hunt for a BCS game (Rose Bowl). The Dennis Dixon-less Oregon Ducks, with their loss to Arizona last Thursday, are now big Trojans fans if they want a piece of the Pac-10 trophy and hopes of that same Rose Bowl. Trojans 34, Sun Devils 24

Day after Thanksgiving
WAC Championship: The #15 Hawaii Warriors (10-0, 7-0) and the #19 Boise State Broncos (10-1, 7-0) meet on the islands for the WAC title, but possibly a BCS berth as well. The winner will be big fans of Connecticut to beat West Virginia; if that happens, chances are almost certain that they will be in one of the big-money games. Colt Brennan's shoulder is perhaps the biggest factor to this battle. The Warriors did prove that they can win without him last week vs. Nevada, but would they defeat BSU without him? The Broncos have sure proven with a pair of sophomore running backs that they can function just fine without Ian Johnson. Broncos 53, Warriors 45

#1 LSU vs. Arkansas: The Tigers (10-1, 7-1) still have to defeat two more good opponents just to get to January 7, the national championship. At step #1, they must slow down powerful running back and top-5 Heisman canidate Darren McFadden. The Razorbacks (7-4, 3-4) can still move into second in the SEC West and harbor slim January bowl game (Outback) hopes with a win. Tigers 24, Razorbacks 14

#18 Tennessee at Kentucky: The ranked Vols (8-3, 5-2) are SEC East Division champs and will play #1 LSU in the conference title if they win. Remarkable, considering the Vols' rocky 2-2 start in a division that experts were sure Florida or Georgia would win. Experts also didn't give Kentucky (7-4, 3-4) much of a shot this season, but behind senior QB Andre' Woodson, the Wildcats have proven that they cannot be overlooked this season. Just ask LSU. Vols 36, Wildcats 23

#13 Texas at Texas A&M: If the Longhorns (9-2, 5-2) can beat their hated rivals, and Oklahoma loses to theirs (see below), then Texas is in the Big XII Championship vs. Kansas or Missouri. For the Aggies (7-4, 4-3), Dennis Franchoine could hold on to his job with the upset. Longhorns 23, Aggies 17

#10 Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: Freshman Sam Bradford quarterbacks the Sooners (9-2, 5-2) for the first time in this rivalry. He can help save what was a national championship-contending season before the loss to Texas Tech last week with a win and a spot in the Big XII title in Kansas City. The Cowboys (6-5, 3-4) are simply playing the role of spoiler. Sooners 41, Cowboys 20

Big XII North Title: It took an 11-0 run, but #2 Kansas (11-0, 7-0) finally has the nation's attention heading into its made-for-TV event vs. #4 Missouri (10-1, 6-1), who is also harboring national title berth-hopes, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. People have finally began to learn who Kansas QB Todd Reesing is, a humble, 5-10 pocket passer who has already given the Jayhawks program their finest season ever. Not that he's the only reason. Similarities abound with Mizzou QB Chase Daniel and the connection he has with stellar wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, a freshman speedster. Both are finally on the map and Daniel is making his own Heisman campaign. One concern for both teams is if they are truly tested; the only truly elite opponent either has faced is the Tigers, who lost 41-31 to Oklahoma in October. With that said, the winner will make a real statement to be in that national championship on national television with a large audience, especially considering it's Saturday night on Thanksgiving weekend. And, oh yeah, the winner is the Big XII North champion. Tigers 31, Jayhawks 27

Big East Championship (Basically): #3 West Virginia (9-1, 4-1) is champions of the Big East with a victory over #20 Connecticut (9-2, 4-2), following a win over Pittsburgh in the Brackyard Brawl the week after. On top of that, they will be big fans of Kansas to lose, because if that happens, the Mountaineers, who are 32-4 the last three seasons (way to go Rich Rodriguez), will be in the national championship. But what if UConn wins? It's very possible. The Huskies would suddenly be making their plans for Miami or New Orleans, and be ready to take the $15 million or so that comes with it. A Huskies win would sure make the winner of Hawaii-Boise State very happy too, since that would almost definitely give the WAC another BCS team. But Pat White and Steve Slaton shouldn't let that happen. Mountaineers 34, Huskies 21

ACC Coastal Division Title: Gotta love an instate rivalry to settle a division title. That is what is going on at the land of America's original colony, between #8 Virginia Tech (9-2, 6-1) vs. #16 Virginia (9-2, 6-1). It's impressive what the Hokies have done with their season just three months after the shooting there that claimed 32 students. They were unimpressive in a 17-7 win over lowly East Carolina in their season opener, but have played great since, save the final three minutes in their 14-10 loss to Matt Ryan and Boston College. The Cavaliers have also surprised, especially considering that in their second game, they lost 23-3 to a 5-6 and not-going-bowling-even-if-they're-eligible Wyoming squad. Hokies 20, Cavs 16

#23 BYU vs. Utah: One of the nation's most underrated and intense rivalries, the Cougars (8-2, 6-0) will win the Mountain West conference outright with a win, but the Utes (8-3, 5-2) still harbor hopes for a share of the title if they can win and BYU can lose to San Diego State the following week. Both teams are on fire, with both currently on 7-game winning streaks. For proof of how intense this rivalry is, consider that 11 of the last 14 contests have been decided by a touchdown or less; every game but one during the last nine has gone down to the last minute, averaging a 3.9 margin of victory; and six of those nine games went down to the FINAL PLAY. Incredible. Utes 31, Cougars 27

#7 Georgia at Georgia Tech: While this rivalry contest is out-of-conference, the Bulldogs (9-2, 6-2 SEC) will still have conference on their mind in hopes of winning the SEC East if Tennessee falls to Kentucky. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets (7-4, 3-5 ACC) are a dangerous opponent for Knowshon Moreno and Georgia. Dawgs 28, Jackets 24

#12 Florida vs. Florida State: The Seminoles (7-4, 4-4 ACC) will want to spoil the Gators' January bowl hopes, as Florida's (8-3, 5-3 SEC) bid to win a second consecutive division and conference title fell short with a very different team from last year. Doesn't mean that sophomore QB Tim Tebow might not win the Heisman, however. The big multiple-threat has accounted for 47 touchdowns this season, more than 85 of the 120 Div. 1 teams! Gators 27, 'Noles 17

#22 Clemson at South Carolina: The Tigers (8-3, 5-3 ACC) fell short of an ACC Atlantic Division title after losing a close one to Boston College last week, but have a chance to express their frustrations on the field against the Gamecocks (6-5, 3-5 SEC). SC won't be a pushover, however. Tigers 21, Gamecocks 14

Washington State at Washington: The Apple Cup! Two bad teams, though. But one of the nation's best rivalries up there in the Pacific Northwest.

Auburn vs. Alabama: Nick Saban went WAY over the line with his comments earlier in the week comparing his club's home loss to Louisiana-Monroe, and the need to heroically rebound against Auburn, to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. The comparison is there, but it isn't right to compare a game to the nation's two worst tragedies. He may fire up the Crimson Tide (6-5, 4-3), but it won't be enough to win possibly the nation's best rivalry and SEC battle against Auburn (7-4, 4-3). Tigers win sixth in a row vs. 'Bama, 23-21

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