Five To Watch
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida, 4 p.m., CBS
We might not have a playoff in college football, but at least we have a semifinal this year. That’s essentially what the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome will be this year, as either Alabama or Florida will book a ticket to the BCS National Championship Game with a win. While most expected Florida to be in this game, Alabama has slowly moved from No. 24 in the preseason polls all the way to No. 1 last month. They might as well be No. 24 in the eyes of oddsmakers who have made Florida a 10-point favorite. They’re probably right. Florida has scored an average of 51.7 points in their last eight games since losing to Ole Miss, winning each by an average margin of 39.6 points. Alabama, which has only trailed for 23 minutes and 11 seconds this whole season, will have to learn how to play from behind in this one.
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 19 Missouri, 8 p.m., ABC
The other half of that BCS equation isn’t so clear-cut. If Oklahoma wins they are in, but if they lose to Missouri, then Texas -- which isn’t even playing in the game -- is likely in. In a perfect world, No. 4 Oklahoma would play No. 3 Texas again for the Big 12 title instead of No. 19 Missouri; but as the BCS has taught us, nothing in college football is perfect or fair. After derailing Missouri’s dreams of playing in the BCS National Championship Game in last year’s conference title game, don’t look for the Tigers to return the favor in Kansas City. Oklahoma has scored at least 61 points in its last four games and Missouri’s pass defense is ranked last in the Big 12 and 116th nationally.
No. 5 USC at UCLA, 4:30 p.m., ABC
If the Trojans had their wish, this would be their last visit to the Rose Bowl for a while. As it is, they will likely be returning to the “Granddaddy of Them All” less than four weeks later, if they can beat UCLA for the 10th time in 11 games. While their national championship hopes were dashed over two months ago at Oregon State, this year’s Trojans could be the first team to play in four consecutive Rose Bowls in nearly 40 years and the first ever to play in seven consecutive BCS bowl games. Although UCLA upset USC at the Rose Bowl two years ago to prevent the Trojans from playing in the BCS National Championship game, don’t look for the Bruins to do it again. Not only is UCLA No. 107 in scoring, but USC has the No. 1 scoring defense, allowing just 7.8 points per game. The Trojans defense will likely outscore UCLA’s offense in this one.
No. 18 Boston College vs. Virginia Tech, 1 p.m., ABC
It may be a rematch but no one was expecting these two teams to meet up again in the ACC title game. After losing to Virginia Tech last year, Boston College will look to conclude their improbable regular season without Matt Ryan by doing what they couldn’t last year with “Matty Ice” under center: Beat the Hokies, win their first ACC title and first trip to a BCS bowl game. The Eagles defeated Virginia Tech 28-23 on Oct. 18, but Boston College turned the ball over five times, as Virginia Tech returned two interceptions for touchdowns in that game. The Eagles won’t be so careless with the ball, as they finally win the ACC and advance to the Orange Bowl to play Cincinnati.
Navy vs. Army, Noon, CBS
The Black Knights have lost their last six games in this storied rivalry by an average of 28.3 points. The Midshipmen have outscored the opposition 407-205 in their last 12 games against a service academy. Neither one of the those streaks indicate that we’ll get a close game in the 109th meeting between Army and Navy, but anything can happen in the best rivalry in college football. Although it’s hard to imagine anything but an easy victory for Navy, which leads the nation in rushing, averaging 292 yards on the ground, and is in the top five in turnover margin (+1.27). Only five FBS teams are worse than the Black Knights in turnover margin (-1.09).
Two To Remember
East Carolina at Tulsa, Noon, ESPN2
The highlight of this tilt for the Conference USA title is the Golden Hurricane offense, which just might be the best in the state of Oklahoma. Tulsa leads the nation in total offense (578.9 yards per game) and rank second in scoring (49.3 points per game) led by quarterback David Johnson, who averages a national-best 11 yards per attempt. While Tulsa’s defense is allowing 400.6 yards and 29.2 points per game, East Carolina won’t be able to put enough points on the board to prevent Tulsa from winning its second conference title in four years.
No. 13 Cincinnati at Hawaii, 11:30 p.m., ESPN2
While both teams have already secured bowl bids with the Bearcats playing in the Orange Bowl and the Warriors accepting a bid to play in the Hawaii Bowl, there is still some drama in this one if recent history is any indication. The last time these two teams met at Aloha Stadium in 2002 they engaged in a post-game brawl that lasted for five minutes and had to be broken up by the Honolulu Police Department. Let’s hope they save the excitement for the game and not the postgame this time around.
One To Forget
Washington at Cal, 3 p.m., FSN
Tyrone Willingham will coach his final game for the Huskies, hoping to win his first game of the season and the end of Willingham’s tenure couldn’t come soon enough for Washington fans. Washington has not finished better than ninth in the Pac-10 since Willingham took over in 2005. The only winless program in the FBS still this season, the Huskies have actually lost 13 straight games, dating back to last season and likely won’t win another game until next year.