Good morning Fackers. And a happy Saturday to you. Here we are, the final Saturday of the college football season, and what a day it looks to be. What this week lacks in terms of quantity it certainly makes up in quality. The 2009 season hasn't come close to matching the drama and utter insanity of the past two years - far fewer upsets, virtually no shuffling at the top of the rankings, etc. However, there is one aspect in which I think 2009 trumps the last two years.
Today is Championship Saturday. Three of the six BCS conferences (SEC, ACC, Big 12) will host their championship games today. The remaining three conferences do not have the requisite twelve teams to host an official conference championship game. However, the PAC-10 was decided in a winner take all match-up between Oregon and Oregon State Thursday night, the Big Ten was decided in a winner take all match-up between Ohio State and Iowa in the second-to-last week of Big Ten play (in OT no less), and the Big East will be decided in a winner take all match-up this afternoon. It's not perfect, but for those in favor of a playoff, 2009 has offered something close to it.
On to the games...
#5 Cincinnati at #15 Pittsburgh, 12:00 ABC: The aforementioned de-facto Big East Championship Game. Will the rumors about Cincy coach Brian Kelly being the top choice for the Notre Dame job be a distraction? Cincy needs a win to finish a perfect regular season and keep their slim BCS Championship hope alive. A win by Pitt muddies the picture for a number of teams.
#21 Houston at East Carolina, 12:00 ESPN2: The Conference USA Championship Game. Houston has put up 45+ points in four of their last five games, including an astounding 73 last week against Rice. They're averaging 44.9 points per game. But they have no defense, averaging 28 points against per game, with five games of 30+ points allowed. East Carolina features a more balanced attack and another coach - Skip Holtz - who is also rumored to be in play at other schools.
#23 West Virginia at Rutgers, 12:00 ESPN: Damn it Big East, don't you know such meaningless games aren't supposed to be played today.
New Mexico State at #6 Boise State, 3:00 ESPN360: Internet only, but a big game for the Broncos who look to wrap up a perfect regular season against an extremely weak opponent. Boise State is one of six teams with a chance to finish the season undefeated, and yet they're not a sure bet for BCS bowl game. A win by Pitt early in the afternoon could foul things up for the Broncos.
Arizona at #18 USC, 3:00 ABC: A few weeks ago this could have been a huge match up. Now? Not so much.
#1 Florida vs. #2 Alabama at the Georgia Dome, 4:00 CBS: SEC Championship Game and easily the highlight of the day right here. Dr. Saturday outlined why this game may not be as historic as some would lead you to believe, but still, this isn't even a once-a-year event. #1 vs. #2, both undefeated, with a trip to BCS Championship Game on the line. And yet, this might not be the last these two teams see of each other this season.
South Florida at Connecticut, 8:00 ESPN2: South Florida coach Jim Leavitt is unhappy that the less than popular ACC Championship Game has forced his team out of their home stadium for the regular season's final game. You know what else he won't like? 33 degree game time temperature with a -10 wind chill and a chance of snow. Meanwhile, due to the demise of both the Northeastern and Hofstra football programs both Connecticut and Boston College now have open dates next October 9th. Put your petty Big East / ACC defection lawsuit bull shit differences behind you and play the game. These are the only two D1 football programs in all of New England, both lacking a natural rival; it makes too much sense. Quit shooting yourselves in the foot and make this happen.
#10 Georgia Tech vs. Clemson at Raymond James Stadium, 8:00 ESPN: The aforementioned ACC Championship Game, moved to prime time this year. A lot of the luster got knocked off this one last week as both teams lost to middle of the pack rivals from the SEC. Still, these are two talented teams and an Orange Bowl berth is on the line. These two met in Death Valley on a Thursday night in Week 2 and GT came away with a three point victory. This is the first time since 2006 that the ACCCG hasn't featured BC vs. Virginia Tech.
#3 Texas vs. #22 Nebraska at Cowboys Stadium, 8:00 ABC: A supposedly neutral site game, I imagine the home state Longhorn fans will outnumber those of the 'Huskers about 3 to 1. It will probably feel that way on the field too, as Nebraska are 14.5 point underdogs and have been all but written off in this one. The only chance of there being any amount of intrigue as to who goes to the BCS Championship Game and who falls in behind those teams involves the 'Huskers pulling off the upset. I wouldn't count on it. But, if by some miracle they do, thanks to the BCS formula and the computer rankings, the most likely scenario for the BCS Championship Game would become a Florida-Alabama rematch.
Wisconsin at Hawaii, 11:30 ESPN2: Well this just seems a bit of an anticlimactic way to end the day after all the intrigue of the afternoon and prime time games. Fortunately for me, I'll likely be passed out in a pile of empty beer bottles and chili bowls by the time this one rolls around.
Enjoy the games.