Tuck: Alabama Going For History
Alabama -8.5 vs. Georgia
One of the overlooked story-lines this college football season is the Tide's pursuit of back-2-back championships. BCS, not SEC ironically. With two more wins Nick Saban and his team would rank amongst best in history with 3 titles in 4 seasons. Alabama went back-2-back in 1925-26, 1964-65, and 1978-79. The Tide claim 14 National titles, but never have won 3 in 4 years.
USC won back-2-back titles earlier this decade and was Vince Young away from a 3-peat. Tom Osborne led Nebraska to 3 titles in 4 seasons in 1994, 1995, and 1997.
LSU and Texas A&M both were able to move the ball with success against Alabama, which certainly tells me if Georgia is to win it will be on the right arm of Aaron Murray. The Bulldogs quarterback has been much-maligned in his career for not winning big games. Georgia had multiple chances to jump on LSU last season in the SEC Title Game but let those opportunities slip and were shutdown in the second half. Perhaps that will be a learning tool for them. Perhaps it's just who they are.
Alabama has pitched back-2-back shutouts, and 4 total this season, but for what it's worth Georgia has given up fewer points (43-48) the last 5 games for each. Murray and AJ McCarron are 1-2 in the nation in passer rating, but the Dawgs QB is more important for his team's success. In the end, with so little separating these teams, mistakes will be the difference, and McCarron just doesn't make them. Murray has.
Northern Illinois -7 vs. Kent State
The MAC Title game actually could send the winner to Orange Bowl. I don't see it happening though. Two of the best players in the country are involved in this one, as it's Dri Archer, Mr. Do-Everything for the Flashes against most overlooked Heisman candidate, QB Jordan Lynch of the Huskies. Both are worth a look, but I am taking the Huskies to win back-2-back conference crowns.
Northern Illinois 37-23
UCLA +9 @ Stanford
Back-2-Back wasn't the theme, but it could have been, as these teams are playing two straight weeks. The Bruins got gauged up front by the Cardinal offensive line. I don't think that will change. The Bruins did gift Stanford a touchdown on special teams, but Stanford rested Stepfan Taylor for the majority of the second half with the game on ice. UCLA will make adjustments, but they will still lose to a better team as the Cardinal finally win the Pac-12 and go to the Rose Bowl...after Andrew Luck leaves.
UCF +2.5 @ Tulsa
Not quite back-2-back weeks, but 2 times in 3 weeks these teams will play. Tulsa narrowly beat the Knights 23-21 in the first game. UCF should benefit from having seen Tulsa, and will need to do a better job of mixing in first down passes to stay ahead of the chains. My biggest concern is that UCF won't stop the Tulsa running game, but I'll bet they are able to make a few more plays on offense and that will be enough for them to capture their 3rd, and final C-USA title in their final season in the conference.
Oklahoma State -5 @ Baylor
The Cowboys led in Norman until the final play of overtime last week. Baylor, as we've all witnessed can score in bunches. They'll score in this one, but they'll have no answer for RB Joe Randle.
Oklahoma State 45-31
Oklahoma -6 @ TCU
The Sooners can clinchat least a share 0f the Big XII title with a win. Of course, they lose the tiebreaker to K-State. They need their biggest rivals in Texas to pull an upset to clinch the league title and a Fiesta Bowl birth. Of course, unless the MAC messes it up, it is believed they'll go to the Sugar Bowl to play Florida if they win. That's about $15 million good reasons to win.
Middle Tennessee +10.5 @ Arkansas State
Yes, the Sun Belt championship is also up for grabs this weekend. The Red Wolves have flourished even after coach Hugh Freeze left for Ole Miss. A big reason is senior QB Ryan Aplin, a Florida kid, who has had a great season and will deliver a home win and a conference crown for...you guessed it, a second straight year.
Arkansas State 35-24
Kansas +20 @ West Virginia
Dana Holgerson got in a good Charlie Weis dig at the beginning of the week suggesting KU had a schematic advantage. They don't have Tavon Austin though.
West Virginia 49-13
Boise State -8.5 @ Nevada
The Mountain West doesn't have a tiebreaker, so Boise State will simply finish in a 3-way tie with Fresno State and San Diego State if they win. They will win and get a little bit of payback against their former WAC foe that knocked them out of a potential BCS Title/BCS Bowl two seasons ago.
Boise State 38-17
Florida State -14 vs. Georgia Tech
A lot of folks seem to think the Yellow Jackets will run on FSU because Florida did last week. Don't count me in that group.
Florida State 42-21
Nebraska -3 vs. Wisconsin
The Huskers had to make one of the greatest comebacks in school history the first time around against the Badgers rallying from 27-10 down to win 30-27. The Badgers have really struggled to score this year against anyone with a pulse, and I suspect we'll witness more of that on Saturday night.
Texas +10.5 @ Kansas State
The Longhorns no-showed on Thanksgiving against TCU, and now will go to the less-equipped, but more mobile Case McCoy at QB instead of David Ash. K-State will take advantage, and not let Texas stop them from going to the Fiesta Bowl.
Kansas State 38-21
Cincinnati -4.5 @ UConn
Bearcats can clinch a 4-way share of the Big East title and the Huskies can clinch a bowl birth. There isn't a more bi-polar team in the country than UConn. They've beaten Louisville and Pitt the last two weeks after dropping 4 straight to the likes of Temple and USF. They play great defense, but they cannot score. I need an upset, so why not?
STRAIGHT UP: 96-47/8-5
AGAINST THE SPREAD: 74-66-3/4-9
UPSET SPECIAL: 6-6/0-1