It's gotten down to that time of the year again. The winner of the SEC West is set to face the winner of the SEC East, and just like the last five years, this year's SEC Championship Game has serious National Championship implications.
Before I start, I am typing this using the Internet Explorer on my home desktop, and for some reason it doesn't sync with my keyboard right, and I have to hit the same key multiple times to get the character to appear. I'll try to catch it as I go, but I'm bound to miss some, so please disregard any typos.
Let's go through some scenarios.
What happens if UGA wins a close game?
If this happens, UGA will go to the Sugar Bowl, and in all likelihood, LSU's body of work would be enough to keep them in the top two spots in th BCS, and they would still play in the National Championship Game. But, to my understanding of the rules, no more than two teams from one conference can be invited to play in BCS Bowls, and given Georgia's automatic bid with the conference championship, either LSU or Bama is going to have to settle for a bid in the Cotton Bowl. To me, this doesn't seem right. Bama and LSU are both clearly BCS Championship game material, but one of them wouldn't even be allowed to participate in any BCS Bowl. If UGA beats LSU, I hope I misinterpreted the rules. If this happens, my guess would be LSU would stay ahead of Bama, and Bama would be the team to have to settle for the Cotton Bowl.
What happens if UGA wins in a blowout?
The same scenario obviously comes into place, but in this case, despite LSU's body of work prior to the game, they would more than likely fall behind Bama in the polls, Bama would get the invie to the National Championship game to play either Oklahoma State, Stanford, or Virginia Tech, and LSU, despite having arguably the most impressive body of work in the BCS era, would have to settle for a shot at the Cotton Bowl. And just something interesting, if UGA beats LSU, and either Bama or LSU goe to the National Championship to play Stanford, it would be the first time that I can recall that neither team playing for the National Championship won their conerence.
What happens if LSU wins?
No matter the score, I think the outcome is fairly obvious. LSU obviousy goes to the National Championship game, and against my wishes, they likely have to face Bama again. I tend to agree with the people that say it isn't fair that LSU has to play another game while Bama gets to sit at home, and possibly even benefit from their loss to LSU. If LSU beats UGA, the only team I could possibly see jumping Bama would be Oklahoma State if they blowout Oklahoma, and even then, it's unlikely they jump Bama. I don't want to see a rematch, but unless LSU loses to UGA, I'm afraid there's really no avoiding it.
Now onto the games
The SEC Championship Game
LSU vs Georgia- The game is a virtual home game for Georgia. It's being played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, the same site where they suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of Boise State. The game obviously means a lot for both teams, and I've already covered the scenarios. If UGA is going to win this game, they are going to have to play the best, error free game they have played in several years. They can't afford to turn the ball over any, and they have to at least keep the time of possession battle fairly even. Georgia does have the defense to keep this game fairly close. Georgia's best feature is their run defense and their pass rush. LSU is a run first team, and I have no doubt that Georgia can hold LSU's run game in check, and regardless of who is the quarterback for LSU, Georgia will have pressure on him on passing downs the entire game. It's Georgia's ability to score on LSU is my biggest concern for them. Isaiah Crowell will have to carry the running load assuming he's healthy. That's a big responsibility for a true freshman runningback coming off of an injury that forced him to miss the Georgia Tech game. LSU's defense is arguably the best defense in the country. Georgia is going to have to find a way to move the all against them. The receivers are going to have to make catches in tight coverage, and Aaron Murray can't afford any mistakes. Georgia can't waste any scoring opportunities, they can't turn the ball over, and more than likely they will need at least one defensive/special teams toucdown if they want to win this game.
LSU just needs to do what they've done all year. Not turn the ball over on offense, control the time of possession battle, play great defense and force turnovers. As a big time Georgia fan, I would be very shocked if they won this game. LSU's path to victory is much easier than Georgia's. I'm expecting Aaron Murray to be picked off at least twice, and sacked several times, and I expect Crowell and the rest of the running game to struggle to find their footing. I think Georgia can put up a couple of early scores, but LSU's defens tends to get better as the game goes on. LSU will win the turnover battle, which will set up their offense to score enough points to win. It pains me to say this, but I have to take LSU to win 21-10
The Next Best 3
Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State- This game is basically the Big 12 Championship game. Aside from that, if Oklahoma wants to be a part of a BCS Bowl, they have to win this game. With 3 losses, it's unlikely they stay in the top 14 in the BCS Polls, and if they do, I doubt they get selected as a 3 loss team. Oklahoma State will make a BCS Bowl regardless, but if they have any chance at all of making the National Championship game, they need to win this game. Oklahoma has really misses Whaley and Broyles. I have no doubts that they will still be able to put up points, but I'm not sure they will be able to put up enough to keep up with Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State wins 45-35
B1G Championship, Wisconsin-Michigan State- Not a B1G expert. If you want a deeper, better breakdown, check out Rude's B1G and the Next Best 3 later this week. I do know Russell Wilson is one of the best QBs in the country, and Montee Ball is making a push for Heisman consideration. Michigan State won the first go around on a last second Hail Mary, I don't think they get so lucky this time. Wisconsin wins 35-28
ACC Championship- Virginia Tech-Clemson- Virginia Tech is playing the best football they've played all season, and Logan Thomas has drastically improved at QB since his first go round with Clemson. Clemson on the other hand has been free falling. They've lost 3 of their last 4, not mounting much of a challenge for Ga Tech, NC State and South Carolina. This game is coming at a bad time for them, and rematches being the theme, I think we have a different result this time. Virginia Tech wins 35-13