Championship week started off on Thursday as Louisville beat Rutgers in the de-facto Big East Championship Game. Now let's take a look at the top games this week and give you some quick previews. Ross and I are tag-teaming this one like the Road Warriors so check out our predictions…
Friday, November 30th
NIU (11-1, 8-0) vs Kent State (11-1, 8-0), 7 PM, ESPN2
Kevin: These teams ran rough shot over the MAC going a combined 16-0 in conference play. Despite going undefeated, both teams have a blemish on their records. On Sept 8th, Kent State got blown out by Kentucky (yes, Kentucky) 47-14. NIU on the other hand lost a close game in their season opener to Iowa by one point. In a game like this I think you have to go with the best player on the field. Kent State's Dri Archer is probably the best player you've never heard of but NIU's Jordan Lynch is the straw that stirs the drink and he will be the difference in this one.
NIU 35 Kent State 31
Ross: I really want Kent State to win this game. I really want to see a MAC team crash the BCS party and bring some #MACtion to the Orange Bowl. Unfortunately, I think Northern Illinois is just plain better than Kent State and I don't think they're going to be denied here. Jordan Lynch has a big game and NIU caps off a 12-1 regular season. At least Kent State will still make their first bowl game in 40 years.
NIU 28 Kent State 17
UCLA (9-3, 6-3) at Stanford (10-2, 8-1), 8 PM, FOX
Kevin: These teams played last week with Stanford winning 35-17. Stanford is on a six game winning streak including three straight wins over ranked opponents. I just don't see this weeks game being much different than the one last week. Stanford has been on a roll lately and I would look for that to continue.
Stanford 31 UCLA 20
Ross: Re-re-re-rematch! Thanks to a strange scheduling quirk (and an unexpected upset loss by Oregon and an implosion by USC), we're being treated to a second Stanford-UCLA game in the span of less than a week. Stanford won the first game in Los Angeles and they get to host round two in Palo Alto. Unless Jim Mora had UCLA working an epic rope-a-dope strategy last week (pretty unlikely), it's hard to see why the sequel would be different than the original game: Stanford has a better defense and an offense that's coming together nicely. That should be enough to send them to the Rose Bowl.
Stanford 31 UCLA 21
Saturday, December 1st
UCF (9-3, 7-1) vs Tulsa (9-3, 7-1), Noon, ESPN2
Kevin: These two first met two weeks ago in Tulsa with the Golden Hurricane coming away with the victory by two points. Since then Tulsa has been upset by SMU and UCF bounced back with a 25 point win over UAB. Tulsa was obviously looking past SMU last week but will they bring any of that hangover to this week? Give me UCF in a minor upset in the re-match. It's tough to beat a team twice in one year and there isn't much separating these two teams.
UCF 28 Tulsa 27
Ross: Tulsa's at home. That seems like a good reason to pick them, right?
Tulsa 27 UCF 21
Texas (8-3, 5-3) at Kansas State (10-1, 7-1), 8 PM, ABC
Kevin: Texas has been disappointing this season despite going 8-3. The defense has been rocked at times (giving up at least 30 points in 5 straight games) and the offense struggled last week against a TCU squad that is nowhere near as good as Kansas State. Look for the Wildcats to control this game and give Collin Klein a final boost in his Heisman campaign.
Kansas State 35 Texas 24
Ross: Kansas State has had Texas' number for years — good Texas teams crashed and burned against lousy K-State teams coached by Ron Prince in the mid-00s — so now we have a game with a reeling, disinterested Texas team and a Kansas State team that's one win away from a Big XII title and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl? A game that's being played at night in Manhattan, KS in December (although the weather doesn't look particularly terrible)? A game that's QB Collin Klein's last opportunity to strut his stuff before the Heisman Trophy is handed out? Yeah, I'll take my chances with Bill Snyder's boys.
Kansas State 38 Texas 24
FSU (10-2, 7-1) vs Georgia Tech (6-6, 5-3), 8 PM, ESPN
Kevin: FSU is coming off of a loss to Florida and Georgia Tech is coming off of a destruction at the hands of Georgia. I just don't see anyway that the Yellow Jackets are going to be able to do much with this FSU defense. The one thing that Tech has in it's corner is that FSU hasn't seen them in three years.
FSU 38 Georgia Tech 24
Ross: Georgia Tech is only in this game because Miami is trying to minimize the damage of their impending NCAA sanctions. They're also 6-6 and just coming off getting throttled by their in-state rivals in a rivalry game. It's possible that the Florida State defense may not be on point in this game, given the impending departure of defensive coordinator Mark Stoops for the Kentucky head coaching job, which could be a problem against an offense as tricky and explosive as Tech's flexbone attack. Still, even if the FSU defense springs a few leaks, there's no reason to think their counterparts on Georgia Tech are going to shut down — or even slow down — the FSU offense.
FSU 42 Georgia Tech 24
Nebraska (10-2, 7-1) vs Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4), 8:17 PM, FOX
Kevin: These two teams played back on Sept 29th in Lincoln with Nebraska escaping with a three point victory. After that, the Cornhuskers got destroyed by Ohio State but bounced back to win six straight to close the regular season. Wisconsin has struggled this year and finished the year the same way as they dropped three of four although all were in overtime. Despite losing five games, the Badgers haven't lost a game by more than seven points all year long. Expect this one to be close but you can also expect that the Badgers will find a way to lose.
Nebraska 27 Wisconsin 24
Ross: If Wisconsin still had QB Joel Stave still available, then this game would be far more interesting. Stave is the only Wisconsin QB to really get the offense clicking and his absence is going to be keenly felt on Saturday. The Nebraska offense bogged down in the sharp winds and icy temperatures of Iowa City last weekend, but they'll relish a spot in the dome in Indianapolis — and they should do plenty of damage against a Wisconsin defense that's been suspect at times. Wisconsin's made it to back-to-back Rose Bowls; they won't make it three in a row.
Nebraska 31 Wisconsin 17
No we haven't forgotten about the big game this weekend, the SEC Championship Game. Check back late Friday or early Saturday and we will have an interesting take on the game as we will get the perspective of an Alabama fan, a Georgia fan and an impartial observer.