After a week off, we are back and ready to pick the tough games for you this weekend. No picking the ones everyone with a half a brain could pick, only the tough ones. This weekend will give us clarity on the BCS picture, Heisman chase and who will be contenders in teh NFL playoffs, so if this is not an exciting week, then I do not know what is. Without further ado, let’s get to college football.
Alabama vs. Florida in SEC Championship Game
You know how it has been all favorites winning lately? Top-ranked Florida won the last BCS Title, the Yankees won the World Series, the Lakers won a championship, the Penguins, who were either #1 or #2 depending on who you asked, won, and North Carolina won an NCAA title. It has been all favorites all the time as of late, so why should that trend stop? If top-ranked Florida is going to win a title, then they have to get there, and Alabama, in my opinion, is the only thing really standing in the way of that. Is Alabama the second best team in the country? You bet, and no one wants to play them. So why am I having such an easy time picking Florida to win this game? They aren’t that much better than Bama and both teams are pretty evenly matched. I am picking Florida because of Tim Tebow. Not only do they have him, but in contrast to Greg McElroy, they have the world on Bama. I think McElroy proved a lot last week, but let’s face it, he doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in his teammates. If you have the ball with two minutes to go and McElroy is your QB, you are kind of concerned. If Tim Tebow is your QB, you are pumped. And that is what it will come down to. One of these guys wil get the ball with two minutes left down a couple points and it will be on them to carry their team to victory. Tebow can do it, McElroy cannot. Florida 24, Alabama 20.
Oregon State vs. Oregon in the de facto Pac-10 Championship Game
This game is being played at the Autzen Zoo and that will make all the difference. There is very little to separate between the two teams and Oregon State will not be intimidated but there are few stadiums in the country, if any, that are louder than Autzen. I like Jacquizz Rodgers and Oregon State as a whole, but I like Oregon at home more than I like a lot of teams. You could give me Oregon against Texas at Oregon and I would take Oregon, that is what I think of them when the quack-attack takes flight in Eugene. I know there was not a ton of analysis on this, but I am trying to get it done before the game starts. Oregon 31, Oregon State 20.
Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh in the de facto Big East Title Game
This one is tougher than meets the eye. No one has talked about Pittsburgh this year and they have undoubtedly deserved it. Dion Lewis is the next LeSean McCoy and Bill Still has been as big a surprise as there has been in the country. Put on top of that the fact that the Panthers are probably steaming after losing the backyard brawl with West Virginia and you have yourself a dangerous team. To exacerbate the situation for Cincinnati, the Brian Kelly to Notre Dame rumors just will not go away. In other words, everything is set for an upset. But it won’t happen. I do not have a great reason for why it will not happen, but there is just something about this Bearcats team that makes me think they will be heading back the BCS bowls for the 2nd straight year. Tony Pike would have been a Heisman candidate before his injury, and Marshawn Gilyard is one of the better college wide receivers we have seen in a while. I am not convinced Cincinnati is considerably better than Pitt, but I think they will find a way to win this game. Cincinnati 31, Pittsburgh 24.
Houston vs. Jacksonville
Who would have thought coming into the season that Jacksonville would be the team with the winning record here? Both these teams have surprised this year, but for different reasons. No one thought the Jags were ready in the trenches or through the air and everyone thought the Texans were ready to make a run to the playoffs. I would not go so far as to say the opposite has happened, but those two things have certainly not taken place. Houston has been finding ways to lose games and Jacksonville has been beating the teams they should beat. What looked like a weak matchup has turned into a game with outside playoff implications. I still have the Texans in this game, but I cannot have much confidence in picking them with how they have been playing in the 4th quarter. In fact, if you told me right nwo that the Texans had a 7 point lead with 7 minutes left, I would almost definitely pick against them for that game. They lose games like the Ravens. They should have a much better record, but they don’t. Still, I am going with the Texans. Their talent level is too high not to win some close games, so I will take the chance on them. Houston 27, Jacksonville 17.
Baltimore vs. Green Bay
Coming into the season, we thought this would be a great game. After a a few weeks we thought it was going to be a game that just made us think about failures to live up to expectations. Suddenly, it is looking like a great game again. Baltimore’s defense looks more like the defense of old, Green Bay is FINALLY protecting Aaron Rodgers and both teams are in position to make the playoffs. So what does the matchup look like? Both defenses are more than capable of holding the offenses down and both offenses have the potential to put big numbers on the board. Special teams appear pretty even, although Mason Crosby is a little better than Billy Cundiff. Al Harris is out for the year with an ACL injury, but honestly, against Baltimore you only need to cover one receiver, Derrick Mason. Kelley Washington and Mark Clayton do not demand a lot of attention so Green Bay’s duo of DBs would be less influential anyway. Aaron Kampman’s injury, however could hurt as the Packers will need to get pressure on Joe Flacco, who, like any QB, does not play his best when pressured. The difference, however, comes with the Baltimore defense. Green Bay struggles to protect its QB and the one thing we know Baltimore can do is bring pressure. Aaron Rodgers is going to be on the run like he was the first half of the year. I realize that Green Bay is on extended rest, but I am not sure how big a deal that is. Green Bay will be a little fresher, but if Rodgers is getting chased all night it will not matter. Baltimore 23, Green Bay 16.