Derick Hingle/Icon SMI
Here are 10 things I'm buzzing about entering the final day of the regular season:
1. When was the last time a No. 1 team was a double-digit underdog on a neutral field? The 2001 Orange Bowl. Entering that season's national championship game, No. 1 Oklahoma was a 10 1/2-point 'dog to Florida State. The Sooners ended up winning by 11 (13-2). This bodes well for top-ranked Alabama, 10-point underdogs to No. 2 Florida in today's SEC title game.
Now, I have much more respect for the Tide than our friends in Vegas, but I can't pick Alabama to win. Even if Percy Harvin sits this one out, the Gators still have more than enough weapons on offense to put some points on the board. And unlike those high-scoring teams in the Big 12, Florida actually plays D. The Gators -- America's most well-rounded team -- will prevail.
(Quick programming note: This SEC title game is far too big for just one blurb in the Splurge. If this strikes you as excessive -- considering I haven't given a single game multiple blurbs all season -- jump to No. 4.)
2. With a number of future NFL players on each side, the SEC title game is flush with enticing matchups. But to me, one stands out above the rest: "Mount Cody" vs. the Pouncey Twins. It may sound like a main event at WrestleMania, but this confrontation will take center stage on the Georgia Dome gridiron. Alabama's No. 3-ranked defense is fueled by the earth-shaking presence of 6-foot-5, 365-pound DT Terrence Cody. The Gators will counter this mass of man with Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, Florida's starting center and right guard, respectively. Cody's ability to single-handedly disrupt opposing offenses is astonishing. If there's one matchup that could decide the outcome, this is it.
3. When Alabama's on offense, there's another matchup that really tickles my fancy. And this one is between a pair of freshman: Alabama WR Julio Jones and Florida CB Janoris Jenkins. 'Bama's certainly a run-first team, but when the Tide air it out, they look to the freakishly talented Jones -- Jenkins' main assignment today. Jones has six inches on Jenkins, but Florida's top corner has held his own against bigger receivers all season.
4. As colleague Andy Staples wrote earlier this week, the Big 12 title game has a long history of shocking outcomes. But I don't think this will be one of them. In a showdown between two of the nation's top offenses, the pressure falls on the quarterbacks. And this is where Oklahoma has the advantage. Yes, Chase Daniel has accumulated some gaudy numbers over the past three seasons, but he has lacked a killer instinct in the clutch. On the other hand, Sam Bradford's always a cool operator.
5. Any Orange Bowl junkies out there looking to scout both of this season's participants? I've got you covered. First, check out the ACC title game at 1 p.m. ET on ABC. The winner of Boston College-Virginia Tech receives an automatic trip to Miami. After that, you'll have about seven-and-a-half hours to kill (Lord of the Rings trilogy?). Once 11:30 p.m. rolls around, switch to ESPN2 for Cincinnati-Hawaii. Because when it comes to this season's BCS selection process, the Orange Bowl picks last. Hello, Big East champion Bearcats!
6. One more note on the aforementioned ACC title game -- Boston College LB Mark Herzlich is the best defensive player you've never heard of. The ACC defensive player of the year is an athletic playmaker with the versatility they love at the next level. Pro teams that run a 3-4 defense are drooling. I can see him in a Pats uni right now.
7. USC's vaunted defense held Notre Dame to just 91 yards of offense last week, and the Trojans could be even stingier today. Facing UCLA's 110th-ranked offense, Rey Maualuga and Co. should enjoy another feeding frenzy. If the Bruins eclipse 100 yards, Rick Neuheisel can consider it a victory.
8. As electric a player as Pat White has been over the past four seasons, it's sad to see him finish his final regular season miles away from the national spotlight. But those who do tune into West Virginia-USF on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. will notice the home Mountaineers wearing their away white jerseys, and the WVU fans following suit. That's because Milan Puskar Stadium is hosting a "whiteout" to honor the exhilarating White in his final home game. Well played, Mounties, well played.
9. Senior David Johnson sure hasn't had a bad season. In his first year as Tulsa's starting quarterback, Johnson leads the country in passing efficiency (completing 66.1 percent of his passes for 3,671 yards, 42 touchdowns and 13 interceptions). In today's C-USA title game, Johnson could be challenged by a tough East Carolina defense. So long as Johnson displays moderate efficiency, Tulsa will reign supreme. As bad as the Golden Hurricane defense is, ECU's offense still won't be able to keep up with Tulsa's No. 1-ranked unit.
10. Army vs. Navy -- where's the rivalry? The Middies have won the last six games in the series by a combined score of 240-71 and they're already heading to their sixth straight bowl game (EagleBank Bowl). The Black Knights have not exceeded four wins since 1996. The Cadets need to find a Paul Johnson of their own to turn this thing around.