Thursday, 30 November 2006

College Football Picks: Week 14

After taking a one-week hiatus for the Thanksgiving break, I am back and better than ever (ok, probably not). But this is the final weekend of the regular season in college football, so there are games of some relative importance, including conference championships, and a game that will determine [in all likelihood] who makes it to the National Championship. And generally that's pretty important. But enough rambling.

(2) USC @ UCLA
It's pretty simple for USC... win, and they're almost certainly in the national championship. Again. UCLA has already accepted a bid to play in the Emerald Bowl (!) against Florida St., so all that's left to play for is pride. Looks like the Trojans are already making ticket plans for the BS Championship, and it's hard to blame them. Trojans are better offensively, better defensively, and a lot better coached. I'd like to think UCLA can win, and I'll be cheering for them, but my optimism about Bruin football isn't very high. USC 38-17.

(16) Wake Forest vs. (23) Georgia Tech
This is your ACC Championship game! Looking strictly at the team names, it seems underwhelming, but (as is obvious by the records) both teams have had very nice years, though it's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that Wake Forest could be in a BCS Bowl. Georgia Tech has the best player in this game in Calvin Johnson, but the guy throwing him the ball hasn't been all that good. For the 4th straight year Reggie Ball's completion % went down, all the way to where it now sits at 45.8%. Make no mistake, that's pretty awful. For Wake, they're not flashy, they're not the most talented team, but they get the job done. I expect them to find a way to get it done one more time and continue the dream. WAKE FOREST 20-17.

(13) Rutgers @ (15) West Virginia
After both teams lost a game they shouldn't have in recent weeks, this game has lost a little bit of its luster. However, it's maintained its importance. For Rutgers, its simple... win, and they're in a BCS Bowl. Lose, and they're not. After losing to Cincy, they bounced back to dominate Cuse, and will be coming into this game highly motivated. Obviously they are led by their fantastic rushing attack and defense, with Ray Rice being a fringe Heisman candidate. But as good as their rushing attack is, it's not comparable to West Virginia's at this point. Both Steve Slaton and Pat White are over 1000 yards and averaging over 7 yards a carry. They've combined to run for 31 TDs. Pat White may not have a great arm, but I think the Mountaineer's come in with something to prove, and I'm not sure Rutgers will be fast enough to slow the offense down. WEST VIRGINIA 27-21.

(19) Nebraska vs. (8) Oklahoma
By a show of hands (ok, that might not work here) how many of you thought Oklahoma would be in the Big 12 Title Game after Adrian Peterson went down? I know I sure didn't. But thanks to the magic of Bob Stoops combined with the late season meltdown from Texas, and here the Sooners are. On the backs of a solid defense and surprisingly solid offense, they might be a contender for the national title if the refs in the Oregon game had made the right calls. But that's neither here nor there. For the Huskers, they have a balanced offense capable of scoring lots of points. Zac Taylor has been an efficient leader of the offense, while Brandon Jackson and Marlon Lucky provide balance in the run game. Oklahoma will try to pound the ball and run the clock, but I like this Nebraska offense. I think they'll have just enough to get by. NEBRASKA 23-21.

(4) Florida vs. (8) Arkansas
Admittedly, this game lost a little bit of luster after Arkansas lost last week, but it's still a very intriguing matchup between two teams with different styles. Florida can't really run the ball, Arkansas can't really throw the ball. With Adrian Peterson injured, Darren McFadden is the best RB in the nation right now. He returns kicks, he's got speed, power, and even the ability to line up at QB. Combined with Felix Jones, they have the best backfield in the nation. For Florida's offense, everything comes off of the passing game. Chris Leak is experienced, and when he's not getting pressured much extremely accurate. In short yardage, Tim Tebow's a weapon. What does it all mean? Well, I just can't get over watching that Arkansas/LSU game and watching Casey Dick try to throw on LSU. I don't know of many teams that are markedly better when their QB is OUT of the game, but that was Arkansas last week. Florida's defense is no pushover either. FLORIDA 17-16.

Last Picks: 3-2
Season: 40-20