The Week That Will Be (12.03.2011)

Last Week: 2-4 ATS 5-1 SU
For the Year: 41-37 (.526) ATS 51-27 (.654) SU

We learned last week that Andrew Luck is good again, but might not be as good as Matt Barkley, but we might punish Barkley for Reggie Bush’s family getting free housing, so then we’re going to give the award to Robert Griffin III, who three weeks ago everyone had written off until his epic efforts against the Herculean defenses of Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Kansas, but he goes to Baylor so we’re going to give the award to Trent Richardson because he’s a running back and he plays for Alabama and they’re good and stuff and they’re in the SEC, but first we’re going to pretend like we’re going to give it to the commuter school quarterback…

…we learned that Auburn’s worst offensive output in a decade (138 yards) shockingly wasn’t good enough to beat Alabama, and we’re almost certain that Kristi Malzahn had a word or two to say about that*.

*YouTube Link

…we learned that it has been four days since Michigan beat Ohio State.

…we learned that LSU’s defense is ridiculous…but their offense is rounding into shape as well as their 495 total yards were their most since 2007, their last BCS Championship season.

…we learned that Art Briles has no problem burning the redshirt of a quarterback he wanted to sit out in week 13 against a Texas Tech defense that I’m pretty sure J.J. Joe could have beaten off his couch.

And finally, we learned that things are all right in the world again.

Anyhow…

It is finally here, college football fans, it is CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK. In the Big 10, we have ads on Craigslist for seat fillers because they can’t sell all the seats in Indianapolis for a game against Wisconsin and Michigan State (Kramer just told Jerry he’s going to Indy); in the ACC we have a championship game between the worst #4 team in the history of the sport (Virginia Tech) against Clemson, who has about as much of a lifeline as Rick Neuheisel’s coaching career…

And speaking of Neuheisel, he’s already been fired because UCLA is having such a crappy season, yet they are playing in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game, but only because the NCAA is punishing the current USC squad for Reggie Bush’s transgressions while Bush flies Kim Kardashian around the country in private jets…oh and UCLA will need a waiver to play in a bowl game if they lose this game because they will have a losing record…and THEY APPLIED FOR THE WAIVER ALREADY. Hey, come to Eugene and watch your Bruins take on the Ducks…oh wait, nevermind, we’re DOOOMED!"

Then you have LSU having to play in a SEC Championship game for the right to play in the BCS National Championship game against….Alabama, who they beat less than a month ago…that’s right, the BCS, where you lose a game in the regular season and then get a bye week while the team that beats you has to go against a pretty good Georgia squad….but oh wait, every BCS nerd with a #2 pencil is telling us that it doesn’t matter if LSU lines up my high school team that went 2-8 this year in LSU uniforms, because even if LSU loses, they’re going to the championship game…can you FEEL the excitement, SEC fans?

Then the best game of the weekend features Oklahoma against Oklahoma State, for the right to play Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl…yippee! Oklahoma State fans wear crimson and cream 51 weeks out of the year, so it will be odd for them to root against Oklahoma for a change, but really these two teams should sit down and try to decide which was a worst loss, OSU to Iowa State or OU to Texas Tech, but since Tech lost to Iowa State by about a Neuheisel (50 points), we’re going with Oklahoma losing to Tech.

So with Totally Meaningless Weekend (hype that one, ESPN…or sit on it for 8 years and don’t tell anybody for the sake of journalistic integrity and just throw common decency out the window) upon us, here are some more random thoughts…

-- And it’s goodbye to A&M… Really, could it have been scripted any better for Texas fans? I don’t think even beating the Aggies 66-6 would have been as satisfying as letting them blow yet another halftime lead, having them seemingly take the lead for good, and then finally putting together a scoring drive to snatch it from their fingers tightly holding it against their chest with a foot out the door to the SEC. If the Aggies had won that game, they would have thrown out the overwhelming series record and proclaimed all-time scoreboard, but now they just avert their gaze at you, curse the officials and Mike Sherman under their breath and try to convince themselves that a 6-6 record in the mighty Big 12 really translates to 9-3 in the watered-down SEC.

-- But there is one more left… Yes, it is somewhat sad that we’re pining for the Alamo Bowl while living in a town that the Brazos River doesn’t pass through, but 8-4 and a third tier bowl would be a welcome sight after last season and after looking at 6-6 in the face this time last week.

Not only that, but win in Waco and we’re looking at a 3-0 record against our in-state conference rivals…reasserting our place as the top dog in this state and reminding Baylor that beating Texas is a rare event for which they should not become accustomed.

Win in Waco, win the bowl game, and you’re riding a three game winning streak into the recruiting period and, more importantly, into next season with a squad that loses very little.

-- My weiner had a first name… Urban Meyer decided that his health and his family that he saw during the week while working for ESPN on the weekends was too much to handle, so he got back into the college game this week, agreeing to a 6-year, $24 million contract to head the Ohio State Buckeyes. Buckeye fans were even more annoying than usual this week, proclaiming that Meyer got his "dream job" and wouldn’t have come back for any other position….riiiiiiight. If Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame, LSU or Alabama would have been open, and would have been offering that contract, the Ohio native would be coming up with some other excuse to spout during his introductory press conference. He’s a catch, Buckeye fans, but don’t fall in love…

-- Lord those hard times…Who knows better than I? A bunch of mediocre teams decided that their current coaching staff wasn’t getting the job done this week, as Arizona State, Washington State, UCLA, Illinois, Kansas and others made a coaching change. Mike Leach has already been hired in Pullman, which tells you how desperate he was to get back into the game, while UCLA and Arizona State seemed determined to fight over Kevin Sumlin at Houston before he inexplicably decides to stay there, because they are going to the Big East after all. No, you can’t just keep losing, but a dollar says that most of these places go cheap and we see their schools putting an ad on Monster within 3-4 years from now…

-- Leave the gun, take the cannoli… Back away from Manny Diaz and nobody gets hurt…does everyone understand?

-- But let’s hit rewind again… LSU vs. Alabama. You know what? Those two teams might very well be the best two teams in the country. But there is something wrong in a re-match in the BCS Championship game, which is a subjective contest in the first place.

Alabama had their chance, at home, and blew it in one of the least watchable games that I can remember this year. And then you add in the ridiculousness that if LSU loses and still goes to the game, we’ll have LSU vs. Alabama for the championship, while SEC Champion Georgia plays Houston in the Sugar Bowl. I find it hard to believe that Oklahoma State isn’t being punished here just because they are Oklahoma State, while Alabama is getting the benefit of the doubt because well, they’re Alabama. Signature win for Alabama this year? Arkansas? Eh. OSU will have beaten Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas. And yes, that loss to Iowa State, so they don’t really have an argument at all…I get it.

If only there was another way to determine a champion. And hey we wouldn’t be subjected to college basketball on December Saturday afternoons.

On to the games...

PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP: UCLA @ Oregon -31.5:

You could make the argument that the players might try to win this one for Neuheisel, but you could have also said that about Saturday’s game against USC. UCLA is terrible, and it is going to get worse before it gets better.

Oregon 52 UCLA 13
ATS – Oregon
SU – Oregon

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP: Virginia Tech -7 vs. Clemson:

Clemson won with shocking ease in Blacksburg in October, but they’ve lost three out of their last four by a combined score of 130-74. They don’t have the stomach for this fight.

Virginia Tech 27 Clemson 16
ATS – Virginia Tech
SU – Virginia Tech

BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP: Michigan State vs. Wisconsin -9.5:

If you remember Michigan State won the regular season match-up with a hail mary at the end of regulation in a tie ballgame…both of these teams have a top 6 defense nationally but put up a combined 68 points in that ballgame, so figure out that one.

I think Wisconsin is more battle ready here. Michigan State lost two games against quality opponents on the road this year (Notre Dame and Nebraska), struggled against Ohio State in Columbus, and then handled Iowa and Northwestern away from East Lansing. But the Badgers have the big game experience.

Wisconsin 34 Michigan State 21
ATS – Wisconsin
SU – Wisconsin

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: Georgia vs. LSU -13.5:

Georgia somehow won their tenth straight ballgame last weekend against Georgia Tech but still fell in the BCS standings, while we all know LSU is sitting pretty no matter what they do.

With that in mind, do they come out and erase all doubt, or do they come out flat knowing that their bad is still probably good enough to beat Georgia, and that they’re still going to New Orleans?

No matter which LSU team shows up, Georgia should be able to stay in this one. They’re allowing a little under 100 yards rushing for the season, so they should be able to stifle the LSU offense as long as they don’t see the field too often.

LSU 28 Georgia 17
ATS – Georgia
SU – LSU

Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State -3.5:

Oklahoma State is the better team here. They have a better offense, a more opportunistic defense, a healthier squad, they’re better than Oklahoma…but we all know this one is mental.

The Cowboys own a 16-82-7 all-time record against Oklahoma, and haven’t won a game in this series since 2002 despite being comparable with Oklahoma the past four or five years.

The Cowboys are going for their first Big 12 title (they never even won an outright Big 8 title)…and while this might be foolish, this Oklahoma team has struggled with the injuries and an average defense.

Oklahoma State 41 Oklahoma 34
ATS – Oklahoma State
SU – Oklahoma State

Texas @ Baylor -2.5:

This game starts and ends with Robert Griffin III. The guy is the most complete player Texas will see this year, ranking sixth in the country in passing and tying Brandon Weeden with 34 touchdown passes on the year. He can throw every route, has one of the best deep balls you’ll ever see, and doesn’t get rattled.

Then if you somehow stop him through the air, he’ll run it on you, rushing for 612 yards (counting sacks) and 7 touchdowns on the ground this year. Simply put, contain Griffin? No chance. You have to stop everyone else, mostly running back Terrence Ganaway, who only had 160 combined rushing yards in their three losses to Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Griffin is damn good, but he can’t do it all by himself.

On offense, Texas is going to have its best game in weeks. Lucky for them, Baylor should give them every opportunity to get healthy on the ground, giving up 198 yards per game. Only three teams failed to reach 150 yards rushing against Baylor (Kansas State – 83, Texas A&M – 50, and Oklahoma – 131), but those three teams combined for 1,261 passing yards on a Baylor pass defense that ranks 107th in the country.

Five teams were able to rush for 250 on them (Stephen F. Austin – 266, Rice – 306, Iowa State – 395, Missouri – 280, Texas Tech – 360). Six teams were able to run for 200 on them (TCU - 215, KSU - 210, Texas A&M - 266, OSU - 327, Missouri - 243, Kansas - 296) and three more 150 (Rice - 150, Iowa State - 181, Oklahoma -158). Give the ball to Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron (if healthy), Jeremy Hills, Ramonce Taylor…whoever you want to, just run the ball, and run it often.

Baylor hasn’t beaten Texas in Waco since 1997, and even though the Texas defense is playing as well as any unit in the country, I’m a little worried about the possibility of getting into a shoot-out with the Bears here. But, as this season has shown, give this defense even a little bit of offense and the defense will take it from there.

Texas 31 Baylor 27
ATS – Texas
SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for drinks on the Riverwalk.

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