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By UltimateCapper.com Contributing Writer, Mike Ivcic
After looking at the results from last week, I don’t think I’m going to be asked back for the bowl predictions this season, as my putrid 35-42-1 record against the spread is a clear indication of my rookie status with picking against the line. I have had wonderful success straight up, however, so if anyone is in a bowl pool at work that just requires correctly picking the winner, then I might be able to help.
Aside from the losses, we push on – into the final week of the regular season, which for some conferences means a championship game. Even in the non-championship game conferences, there are de facto championship games – except the Big Ten, which last played a game about four years ago, or so it seems. Me, I won’t be throwing any “SEC Championship-Watching Parties,” but that is surely the highlight of the weekend. But first:
BCS Bowl Projections:
Championship: Florida vs Texas
Rose: Ohio State vs Oregon
Sugar: Alabama vs Penn State
Orange: Georgia Tech vs Cincinnati
Fiesta: TCU vs Boise State
Still going with Penn State as the final team in over Iowa and Virginia Tech, simply because of Paterno and the fan bases. Assuming Florida is 1 and Texas is 2, the Sugar Bowl would get first pick and the Fiesta Bowl would get second pick, meaning Alabama and TCU would be the likely selections, respectively. The Rose Bowl is already a given of Ohio State against the winner of Oregon and Oregon State (see below), and the Orange Bowl automatically receives either Clemson or Georgia Tech. I think the Fiesta would love a matchup of the non-BCS undefeateds, while Cincinnati is a good bet to make a return trip to Miami, leaving Penn State as the Crimson Tide’s whipping boy… er… “opponent” in New Orleans.
Alabama – SEC
Boise State – WAC
Cincinnati – Big East
Florida – SEC
Texas – Big 12
TCU – Mountain West
1. #16 Oregon State @ #7 Oregon
Thursday, 9:00pm (ESPN)
The Civil War is renewed with a Pac-10 title and trip to Pasadena on the line. Oregon hung 65 on the Beavers in Corvallis last season, and this time they get the game at home. The Eugene crowd might make it seem like a no-brainer to take the Ducks, and while I believe they will, indeed, pull out the victory, it would be a bit shocking if it wasn’t a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter.
Line: Oregon by 9.5
Pick: Oregon 41, Oregon State 31
2. #5 Cincinnati @ #15 Pittsburgh
Saturday, 12:00pm (ABC)
Some of the luster was taken off of this game with Pitt’s loss to West Virginia last week, but more importantly, it probably cost the Bearcats any chance at all to leapfrog TCU for a chance to play in the national championship game should Nebraska beat Texas. It might seem convoluted that the Mountaineers helped the Horned Frogs, but such is life in the BCS. As for this one, expect Pitt to be mad, and if they play defense, it’s entirely possible that they could be playing back in Dave Wannstedt’s old stomping grounds come January.
Line: Cincinnati by 2
Pick: Cincinnati 38, Pittsburgh 35
3. #2 Alabama vs #1 Florida @ Atlanta, GA
Saturday, 3:30pm (CBS)
The “Game of the Year” is exactly what everyone seemed to want in the beginning of the year – undefeated Florida and undefeated Alabama. Not to be a killjoy, but outside of ‘Bama’s season-opening win over Virginia Tech, who have either of these teams beaten in non-conference? And who has any SEC team beaten – excluding the three ACC-SEC rivalry games last weekend – in non-conference from a major BCS school? I don’t buy into the hype of the SEC being some great football super-conference, and while both of these teams are truly top tier, I’m not sold that either one of these teams is the best in the country. Still, one will play for a national championship after this, so it still matters more than any other game so far this year.
Line: Florida by 6
Pick: Florida 24, Alabama 20
4. #3 Texas vs #22 Nebraska @ Dallas, TX
Saturday, 8:00pm (ABC)
There’s always a chance that this game could turn into the Kansas State-Oklahoma game from Jason White’s final season as a Sooner, but I don’t see the Cornhuskers having that magic. Colorado kept that game close until a pick six early in the third quarter, and there’s simply no evidence that Colt McCoy can be stopped by any defense. What some might be surprised at, however, is that I don’t think Texas is the best team in the country either. In fact, they might not be the best team in their STATE – that recognition, at least for me, belongs to TCU. I would love to see the Horned Frogs and the Longhorns play for a national championship, but since that won’t be happening, I’ll have to settle for rooting for a second trophy for Mack Brown.
Line: Texas by 14
Pick: Texas 45, Nebraska 24
5. Clemson vs. #10 Georgia Tech @ Tampa, FL
Saturday, 8:00pm (ESPN)
Talk about a let-down. First Clemson gets stunned by Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, then Georgia Tech goes down at home to an underachieving and unranked Georgia team. Now these two meet in Tampa with a trip to the Orange Bowl on the line. The rushing stats after this game will likely be astronomical, as both coaches will pound the ball until they’re blue in the face. Tech’s offense is a little more balanced – and has, over the course of the season, been more consistent – which might be just enough to add another tough loss to a string of them for the Tigers over the past few years.
Line: Georgia Tech by 1
Pick: Georgia Tech 34, Clemson 28
Straight Up: 11-4
Versus Line: 5-10
Straight Up: 54-24
Versus Line: 35-42-1
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