Thursday, November 29, 2012

The War For the Roses

This just in…Hawaii to the Big East. 

In other news, the Big 10 is expanding to include every major college football team, except Notre Dame. Suddenly its the silly season, college football style.  Why can’t everyone get together and draft new teams for their league until each has 16 and the Big East actually has teams from the East. Then they could change to corporate names. The Dirty Laundry Conference with Tide and Era as divisions. So confusing.

In this wave of creative destruction, this week feels a little nostalgic. The B1G and the PAC-12 will hold championships to determine who will play in the Rose Bowl...just like its supposed to be.

Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4) vs. #12 Nebraska (10-2, 7-1) Saturday, 7 p.m. Lucas Oil Stadium. FOX.
Wow, the Leaders Division rolls in with a team that goes .500 in the league. Of course, Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible to play for the crown. Wisconsin has lost to both in overtime the last two weeks. Just brutal. This is why competitive balance doesn't work.

The Badgers have won the last two league titles, but this is a different team. UW is 112th in passing, but only 23rd in rush yards. Touchdown Monte Ball is their offense, but even he cannot break 8-man fronts. The Wisky Defense though is 17th, only surrendering 18.1 ppg.

Nebraska is in its first B1G Championship game, but appeared in the Big 12 Championship games in 2009 and 2010. So this isn’t unprecedented. That and they’ve won 43 titles in their storied history.

Nebraska has Rex Burkhead back to 100% and continues to benefit from Ameer Abdullah in the backfield.  They are 8th nationally in rushing yards and one of the conference’s best offenses despite Taylor Martinez. Their offense last week suffered from an oppressive wind in Kinnick Stadium, something they won’t have to worry about in the dome.

The Blackshirts rank 31st overall in the country giving up 22 ppg. They held Ball under 100 yards in their first meeting. In that contest, Wisconsin scored two first quarter touchdowns and lead 27-10 early in the third quarter before Nebraska stormed back to win 30-27.

Line: Nebraska by 3.

The Pick: Assuming Nebraska can shut down Monte Ball, I think it’s theirs to lose (they’ve tried that in several games this year).  I don’t like picking the same team in rematches, but this feels different.
Nebraska 28  Wisconsin 10.

#16 UCLA (9-3, 6-3) at #8 Stanford (10-2, 8-1). Friday night, 7 p.m. FOX.
A great example of why I hate the PAC-12. A Friday night championship game on one team’s home field. Heaven forbid they put it in Los Angeles or Oakland or San Diego or Phoenix or Seattle. Stupid if you ask me...which Jim Delaney didn't.

A rematch to beat whoever the Big Ten sends to the Rose Bowl. Stanford won in the Rose Bowl last week 35-17. By the way, in Palo Alto there is a 100% chance of rain on Friday.

Stanford is more balanced offensively. RB Stepfan (I’m not sure who decided to spell it that way) Taylor ran for 142 last week  as a part of 221 rushing yards for the Cardinal. UCLA by contrast ran for 73 yards. UCLA is statistically the better run team, but the Cardinal are very good on defense, 11th overall giving up 16 ppg.  UCLA is middle of the pack.

Line:  Stanford 8.5 points.

The Pick: Again, I don’t like picking the same team to win, especially when they played last week. But UCLA was at home and Stanford is clearly the better team in terms of defense and running the ball. That wins championships. Stanford covers in the rain. 27-17.

Also as a bonus. Whoever wins the PAC-12 beats the Big 10 champ in the Rose Bowl. UCLA beat Nebraska earlier this year and Wisconsin appears cursed in the Rose Bowl.

That's it...see you soon to celebrate the pagentry of corporate sponsored bowls, instead of an actual playoff.

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