Spread ‘Em Volume 8: Part 2 – Championship Game Predictions

WRITTEN BY MAX

Prediction? Pain.

The 2011 college football regular season is finally coming to a close, and save for a few garbage games this week, and the dumb Army/Navy battle next week, it is the culmination of the last three months.  Did your team perform to your standards this year?  Or did they slither away like the snakes they were exposed to be?  I think for the most part, there were few true disappointments this year.  Not like in the NFL. I think the biggest road apple is still the fact there there is no playoff.  I’m sure I sound like a broken record at this point, but until we get a playoff, I will continue to gripe about it.  Then I will be pissed my team didn’t make it into the playoffs.

So I went ahead and did a recap of the teams playing meaningful games this week.  These predictions are just that, and if you take them at face value and gamble on them, well, tough shit for you I guess.  That being said, I’m over 70% picking winners this year.  Against the spread, that is a little different.  Hopefully next year I will right that ship.  Plus, we still have bowl season!

Let’s get to the games.

NOTE:  All games times listed are Eastern Standard Time.  Stats were found at ESPN.com.  Championship game information was found on each conference’s respective website.  For more details and stats, please visit their websites.  They are nicely designed and I’m sure their sponsors would approve. 

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Pac 10 Championship Game
UCLA at Oregon – Friday, December 2nd at 8 PM on Fox

SPREAD: Oregon by 31
O/U: 66
Weather.com  Forecast:  Sunny, High of 48, low of 32

OREGON: In a season that many thought was a disappointment early on, it turned out the biggest disappointment was against in-conference rival USC.  Losing to LSU was no big deal, everyone loses to them.  The Ducks have a lot of talent this year, and they continue to be one of, if not the most, exciting team in Oregon.  In all serious, The Ducks are great fun to watch but realistically, they do not have a prayer against a team like LSU.  It is better that they will not be playing for a title this year.

OREGON QUICK STATS: 68th in passing, 5th in rushing, 3rd in scoring, 43rd in points allowed.  The Ducks have outscored opponents 567 to 260 this season.

UCLA:  The Bruins have won decisively over teams they should beat, and have lost handily to teams that are better than they are.  The reason the spread with Oregon is so high is because the proof is in the pudding.  The closest loss they have is to an (at the time) unranked Houston.  Houston has gone on to surpass everyone’s expectations.  I like the direction that UCLA is headed (to the Pac 10 Championship), but is this a one-time deal?  Will they be able to repeat next year?  The year after?  Again this decade?  I have a feeling the Bruins better show up for this one, because with USC’s reemergence, it’s probably going to be awhile before they get back to this game.

UCLA QUICK STATS: 81st in passing, 29th in rushing, 88th in scoring, 87th in points allowed.  This UCLA team outscored opponents they beat by 187 to 109.  When they got beat though, it got ugly, letting opponents outscore them 261 to 91.  Ouch.

PREDICTION:  UCLA gets hurt in this one.  Oregon wins 54 to 17.  O/U at 66.  Take the over.

—-

ACC Championship Game – Bank of America Park, Charlotte, NC
Virginia Tech at Clemson – Saturday, December 3rd 8 PM ESPN

SPREAD: Virginia Tech by 7.5
O/U: 51
Weather.com  Forecast:  Mostly Sunny, high of 55.  Low of 29.

CLEMSON: I was big on Clemson at the beginning of the year.  They were doing some nice things.  Getting good wins and fighting hard every week.  They straight handled Virginia Tech in their 5th game of the year.  Things were going great, and then inexplicably they got beat by a crappy Georgia Tech team.  One thing about Clemson this year, they give up about 30 points a game.  So if their offense sputters, like it did in all three of their losses, look for Virginia Tech to get some retribution.  I still can’t figure out how they lost to Georgia Tech and NC State.  But when you look at the stats, it’s fairly obvious.  Each team that beat Clemson held them to under 100 yards rushing.  They also kept Clemson in check on 3rd down, especially NC State, who allowed only 2/14 3rd down conversion.

CLEMSON QUICK STATS: 17th in passing, 67th in rushing, 30th in scoring, 66th in points allowed.  Clemson needs to score 35 points to beat you, as they give up an average of 34 points per game.  Shut down either the run or the pass and you win.

VIRGINIA TECH: The only team that stands in the way of Virginia Tech playing for a title this year is Clemson.  They lost to them back in week five.  When you go back and compare stats from that game, all things considered, it’s pretty even.  That game came down to special teams.  Since that game, VT has really tightened the belt defensively.  They don’t give up a lot of points.  They are doubling and tripling up a lot of their opponents.  I don’t think they would hang very well with LSU; most of their wins are against unimpressive teams.  However, if they can handle Clemson this week, the team that ruined their season, I think it would be a nice retribution for a season of regret, and regardless, they should have a nice BCS game waiting for them.

VT QUICK STATS: 67th in passing, 26th in rushing, 44th in scoring, 7th in points allowed.  Virginia Tech has an impressive record, but the best team they have played beat them.

PREDICTION: Any time you play the same team twice in a season it gets harder to beat them.  Clemson has been my darling all year, and they owned VT, at least on the score board, in their other meeting.  I think Clemson takes another close one.  I’m picking Clemson in the upset, 27-24.  That’s even on the O/U.

——-

Big Ten Championship Game – Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Wisconsin at Michigan State – Saturday, December 3rd 8:17 PM Fox

SPREAD: Wisconsin by 9.5
O/U: 57
Weather.com  Forecast:  It’s indoors, sucka!

WISCONSIN: I wanted so badly this team to be in the title game this year.  I knew my Hawkeyes had no realistic shot, and I thought Wisconsin at least had a chance.  Then they came out punching the way Rocky does in his first fight against Clubber Lang, only to get beat by a lucky punch from Michigan State and then drop another close one the following week to rival Ohio State.  I think of all the teams outside of the SEC, Wisconsin had the best shot at taking down LSU.  They run with power and they pass with precision, and their defense is every bit as tough.  I think they dropped the game to OSU because of the heartbreaker the week before.  So if you look at it from that standpoint, a lucky punch from Michigan State is the true loss, and the OSU loss is a lack of focus.  That being said, I think Michigan is getting a lot of points in this contest.  I like Wisconsin to win, but there is something about this Michigan State team.  9.5 is a lot. Still, Wisconsin is the best 2-loss team out there.  I think the only team that may be better than them is Alabama.  I think they handle Stanford, they handle Oregon, they handle Virginia Tech no question.

WISCONSIN QUICK STATS: 63rd in passing, 10th in rushing, 4th in points scored, 4th in points allowed.  Save for a lucky game and a letdown, when Wisconsin beats you, they murder you.

MICHIGAN STATE: This team is so weird.  They shouldn’t be as good as they are.  They never should have lost to Notre Dame.  Nebraska has been streaky and is better than their record, so I can forgive that loss.  They beat Wisconsin, I assume by selling their souls to the devil.  So what can we say for sure about this team?  Is it senior leadership?  They have an experienced QB who makes good decisions.  They run the ball hard.  They play great defense.  More importantly, they get lucky.  But maybe more importantly than that, they get teams to play to their level.  It will be interesting to see what type of game they try to play against and angry Wisconsin.  Will they try to slow it down, or speed it up?  Will it matter?  Either way, I think they exceeded expectations in 2011, and can build for the future.

PREDICTION:  While my brain tells me 9.5 is a lot of points, my heart says Wisconsin is going to pound the Spartans and play Oregon in the Rose Bowl.  Final score 45-20, Badgers. Take the over.

——-

Conference USA Championship Game – Robertson Stadium, University of Houston
Southern Miss at Houston – Thursday, December 1st at 8 PM on ESPN

SPREAD:  Houston by 13.5
O/U: 73
Weather.com  Forecast:  Sunny, High of 71, low of 53

SOUTHERN MISS: The Golden Eagles have impressive wins over, well…no one.  But, they took care of business in the conference.  (A conference I might add, with two of my favorite programs:  Marshall and Tulane.)  So on paper, this game looks like it might be interesting, but don’t let it fool you: Houston is the real deal.  Let’s take a look at them.

SOUTHERN MISS QUICK STATS: 32nd in passing, 24th in rushing, 15th in points scored, 25th in points allowed.  They have impressive stats against inferior foes.

HOUSTON: The Cougars have done a lot of nice things.  Heck, they even boast a former Playmate Centerfold.  But don’t let the gaudy stats fool you – they are a product of their experience.  When you have a 5th year senior at quarterback, you have a distinct advantage over other teams.  Especially when he is pretty good.  Case Keenum has owned opposing defenses this year, and for the past five years.  He has a shot to own just about every passing record there is by the time it’s all said and done.  And I say terrific.  I love a team that goes out and just murders everyone via the forward pass.  I think this game will be more of the same.  Accurate, deep passes and dumps over the middle with big chunks of yards and many scores.  Plus, Houston’s defense is pretty impressive.  Sure, they have had a couple shootouts, but many they have held opponents under 20 points six times this season.

HOUSTON QUICK STATS: 1st in passing, 55th in rushing, 1st in points scored, 30th in points allowed.  I wish they could have had a bigger signature game than UCLA.  Imagine if they could have cleaned up against a Michigan and/or a Georgia or Georgia Tech team early on.

PREDICTION:  Houston starts slow but puts it away in the 3rd.  Final score, Houston 49, Southern Miss 30.  Take the over.

——-

Faux-Big 12 Championship Game – Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State – Saturday, December 3st at 8 PM on ABC

SPREAD:  Oklahoma State by 3.5
O/U: 78
Weather.com  Forecast:  Showers, High of 50, low of 30

OKLAHOMA: At the beginning of the year, Oklahoma was ranked #1 in the country, and I thought to myself, these guys are a paper champion.  This does not mean they are a bad team.  I just don’t feel they are a number one team in their conference, let alone all of NCAA football.  And I was right.  They had an inexcusable loss to Texas Tech, but they had a revealing loss to a great Baylor team, in terms of what is great for Baylor.  They just got carved up.  So now they are exposed, and they will get a good bowl game that they will probably win, and of all the teams in the nation, I think they will end up exactly where they belong.  Ranked about 5th-10th.

OKLAHOMA QUICK STATS: 3rd in passing, 42nd in rushing, 8th in scoring, 28th in points allowed.  Like I said, they are a very good and very dangerous team that has no business playing for a title of any kind.

OKLAHOMA STATE: This team, on the other hand, is very dangerous.  This team will light you up, and even if they can’t shut you down, it’s going to take you like two onside kicks and a ton of breaks just to get to overtime with them.  Example: ISU.  Now ISU isn’t as bad as people want to believe.  Realistically, they should be about 8-4 right now but they absolutely put themselves where they are through mistakes.  That being said, OKLAHOMA STATE NEVER SHOULD HAVE LOST TO THEM.  I don’t know how much this is true, or how it could ever be proven, but I believe will all my heart that Oklahoma State lost that game because the women’s coach and assistant were killed in a plane crash the day before.  You can give me all the horse apples you want about any given day any team can beat any other team, but I hope ISU feels dirty for that win, because it took two onside kicks and a slew of luck to beat a team whose school had just lost two people it cared deeply for in a tragic way.  And since this isn’t the only time that has happened (plane crash at OKST), you gotta think it was in their minds.  This team is great, and it’s a shame they won’t get to showcase it in the national championship game.  And it’s funny.  They have put a good product out but have been over-ranked for like the last 6 years.  This is the first year that I have felt confident that they would go out and dominate and they did, and now they are under-ranked.  I’ll never understand.

OKLAHOMA STATE QUICK STATS: 2nd in passing, 57th in rushing, 2nd in scoring, 64th in points allowed.  This team is like the Apollo Creed of big-time college football.  “You fight great but I’m a great fighter.”

PREDICTION:  This one will be tight, but Oklahoma State will win it, but by coming from behind in the second half.  Final score Oklahoma State 47, Oklahoma 41.  Take the over.

———

GAME OF THE WEEK
SEC Championship Game – The Georgia Dome, Atlanta Georgia
Georgia at LSU – Saturday, December 3rd at 4 PM on CBS

SPREAD:  LSU by 13
O/U: 45
Weather.com  Forecast:  It’s indoors, sucka!

GEORGIA: They weren’t ready to play at the beginning of the year.  Plain and simple.  They just were not ready.  I think they would easily beat South Carolina now.  Boise State might still get them, but it would be closer.  That’s pretty much all that you need to take away though.  They avoided the three toughest teams in their conference this year and were not prepared to play at the beginning of the season.  We will finally find out Saturday if they are for real.  I don’t even think they need to beat LSU.  If they just have a decent showing then we know we should take them serious.  If they get blown out, then they were never that good to begin with.

GEORGIA QUICK STATS: 47th in passing, 36th in rushing, 25th in scoring, 10th in points allowed.  They have a decent defense and a pretty balanced offense.  But it might get ugly against a terrific LSU defense.

LSU: Here is a list of teams that the Tigers should beat – everyone in the NCAA, the Chiefs, Browns, Colts, Seahawks, Vikings, Eagles, Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Broncos, Raiders, Chargers, Cardinals, Jaguars, Panthers, Titans, and Buccaneers.  This team is the best, even if they lose to Alabama in the title game they are still the best, and I honestly think the weakest link on this team is the coach.  Lucky for Les Miles, his team is amazing and he hasn’t had to make many critical decisions this year. They deserve all the accolades they are getting.  I think the only team other than Alabama that even gives them a game is Wisconsin.

LSU QUICK STATS: 100th in passing, 18th in rushing, 13th in points scored, 2nd in points allowed.  This team will beat you up.

PREDICTION: LSU curb stomps Georgia early and often, winning this one going away, 52-24.  Take the over.

——–

FRINGE GAMES

Iowa State at Kansas State
Spread: -11
O/U: 55
ISU and KSU have a pretty good history the last few years, but I think this game will go about like last week’s game for ISU.  They lose, but KSU doesn’t cover.  ISU makes a lot of mistakes and pisses away what should be a quality win.  I’m taking the under for the score, though.  Final of 28-21.

Texas at Baylor
Spread: EVEN
O/U: None offered, I’ll set it at 54
Texas is not good.  They are okay, but they are nothing special.  Baylor is special as far as Baylor is concerned, and they are a good team.  They are playing well, and they are dangerous.  They are at home.  Look for them to win it with speed.  Baylor takes it, 38-24.  Take the over.

Ohio at Northern Illinois for the MAC Championship
Spread: -3.5
O/U: 66
Who cares?  I’ll take the Bobcats because my friend Greg used to play with them in NCAA on Playstation.  Go Bobcats!

———

Games start Thursday night.  I’ll try to do a recap each day as the games take place.  I’ll also do a bowl prediction at some point this week, based on my predictions for this week.  Enjoy your week of title games.  And remember, if that broad doesn’t like it that you gambled away rent, she can find a new place to live!

 

 

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~ by maxaverage on November 28, 2011.

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