Not only did MC&J fill up on Thanksgiving eats, but it had the best 7-5 weekend that anybody could ever have. Sure, the picks in the Ohio State/Michigan and Iron Bowl games way off, but I'll gladly take those losses since it the results of the games resulted in Ohio State moving up to #2 in the BCS at the end of the weekend. MC&J gained two more games on the .500 mark, and a big closing regular season weekend will provide for some momentum heading into bowl season.
Last week ATS: 7-5 (4-2 National, 3-3 B1G)
Season ATS: 83-74-3 (40-32-2 National, 43-42-1 B1G)
MAC Championship: Bowling Green v. #16 Northern Illinois (-4.5) - Friday 8:00 PM EST - ESPN
With Alabama losing to Auburn on Saturday, now Northern Illinois is one of only three FBS teams that hasn't suffered a loss on the season. A win on Friday night against Bowling Green could clinch a second straight BCS bid for the Huskies. Heisman hopeful Jordan Lynch is so good that he is breaking his own records, as his 321 rushing yards last week against Western Michigan eclipsed the previous NCAA record he had set for running yards for a quarterback in a game. The next record Lynch has his eyes on in Denard Robinson's mark for career rushing yards, which Lynch is only 218 yards away from. Now Lynch will be tasked with trying to crack a Bowling Green rushing defense that is allowing 134 yards/game. The Bowling Green defense has only allowed 17 points over the last four games, and no points in the second half over that stretch. While the Falcons have been playing really good football over the last month, I just think Lynch will be too much for them to handle.
Northern Illinois 37 Bowling Green 24
#18 Oklahoma v. #6 Oklahoma State (-10) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
Last time we saw Oklahoma State they were throttling Baylor in Stillwater, and helping clear one of the possible hurdles that could help Ohio State get to the BCS National Championship Game. Their Bedlam foe has rebounded nicely with two wins after falling to Baylor in early November. It almost feels like Oklahoma should have three or four losses on the season, but when you look at their record they're sitting at 9-2 heading into this game. A win for the Cowpokes clinches them the Big 12 championship, and BCS bid that comes along with that. Had this game been a week ago I might have entertained taking the Sooners for fear of a let-down after Oklahoma State's huge win over Baylor. The Cowboys had a bye week last week that has quelled some of my let-down concerns, and it's not like it's very hard to get up for Bedlam. Whether the Sooners go with Trevor Knight or Blake Bell at quarterback on Saturday, it's not gonna matter against a fired up Cowboy team and what will surely be a very LOUD crowd in Stillwater.
Oklahoma State 38 Oklahoma 23
#23 Texas v. #9 Baylor (-14.5) - 3:30 PM EST - Fox
Imagine where this spread would have been earlier in the season after Texas was coming off losses to BYU and Ole Miss while Baylor seemed to be putting up 70 points/game in their sleep. Things have evened out a little bit with Texas showing some life during their Big 12 schedule, and Baylor losing to Oklahoma State and holding off a fiesty TCU team. Should Oklahoma State lose Bedlam earlier in the day, the winner of this matchup will take home the Big 12 championship and earn a BCS game berth, so there could be plenty left to play for when this one kicks off. A win against Texas on Saturday will give Baylor 11 wins this season, which would be the most ever for a season in school history. We have seen that Baylor is a different team at home, with the closest margin of victory in Waco being the 29 points the Bears beat Oklahoma by. I think the Longhorns come out fired out in what will probably be Mack Brown's last regular season game as head coach, and the Longhorns at least keep within shouting distance of the Bears.
Baylor 44 Texas 34
SEC Championship: #5 Missouri v. #3 Auburn (-2.5) - 4:00 PM EST - CBS
It's Thursday and I'm still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor from how the Alabama/Auburn game ended on Saturday. The thriller on The Plains setup the SEC Championship Game that everybody saw coming when the season started. Everybody had two teams that went a combined 2-14 in the SEC last year playing in Atlanta in early December, right? Something will have to give in Atlanta as Auburn has scored 30+ points in eight straight games, and won the last 87 games in which they have scored 30+ points in, while Missouri has held all of their opponents this season to 28 points or less. Much like last week, Auburn will go up against a squad that has had tremendous success at stopping the run this year. Missouri is only allowing opponents to rush for 119 yards/game on the season so far. Auburn showed last week that they can crack a very good defense with the up-tempo style that they run. With all the talk about if a one-loss Auburn team should jump an undefeated Ohio State team, I feel that Missouri is getting forgotten about in this matchup. Had it not been for a second-half collapse against South Carolina, a win in this one would be sending Missouri to Pasadena in early January. I'll side with Missouri in this one to win the SEC in just their second year as a member of the conference.
Missouri 33 Auburn 30
Pac-12 Championship: #7 Stanford v. #11 Arizona State (-3) - 7:45 PM EST - ESPN
Out of all the conference championship games, I think the Pac-12 does it right in holding their conference championship game on location of one of the teams participating in the game. Imagine how unbelievable a Big Ten Championship Game at Ohio Stadium would be. These two teams played earlier in the year in Palo Alto, with the Cardinal jumping out to a 28-0 lead on their way to a 42-28 victory. Arizona State has seemed to improve every week since they suffered that loss, but they will be without running back Marion Grice for the second straight week in this one. Stanford has left a lot to be desired lately on the road, losing two of their last three, and won't find things any easier when they take the field in Tempe. With how tough it is to beat a team twice in the same season I'll take the Sun Devils in this one, even without Grice. Todd Graham leads the Sun Devils to their first Rose Bowl since they played Ohio State in Pasadena following the 1996 season.
Arizona State 31 Stanford 24
ACC Championship: #20 Duke v. #1 Florida State (-29) - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
If you need any evidence as to just how good Florida State is this season, all you need to know is that they are over four touchdown favorites over a team that just finished up the regular season at 10-2. History isn't on the side of the Blue Devils, as they have never beaten the Seminoles in 18 previous matchups. Both teams are 10-2 against the spread this year, but Florida State's run against the number has been impressive with the giant point spreads they are dealt to try and cover each week. While Jameis Winston will put on another big show for Heisman voters before the ceremony in New York City next Saturday, I think the Blue Devils keep it barely inside the number. Rain is in the forecast for Saturday night in Charlotte and could make for a little bit of a slick track. The Blue Devils get a late TD and pull out the garbage time cover.
Florida State 45 Duke 21
MWC Championship: Utah State v. #24 Fresno State (-4) - 10:00 PM EST - CBS
This game has a strange feel to it, but mostly it's because a college football game is starting at 10 PM EST on CBS. The first ever Mountain West Championship game lost some of its luster when Fresno State lost 62-52 to San Jose State on Black Friday, but it doesn't mean that this has the makings of a sneaky good game. The Aggies have recovered nicely from the loss of quarterback Chuckie Keeton, and will provide the toughest defensive challenge that Fresno State has faced on the season. Even with the home crowd and a conference championship at stake, I just wonder how Fresno State will get up for this game after having their BCS dreams shattered last week. The Aggies are the more complete team and leave Fresno with the Mountain West championship.
Utah State 31 Fresno State 28
Big Ten Championship: #2 Ohio State (-5.5) v. #10 Michigan State - 8:00 PM EST - Fox
Ohio State will try and it wins in back-to-back weeks against teams from the state of Michigan, and punch their ticket for a spot in the BCS National Championship game on Saturday night in Indianapolis. The matchup of Ohio State's offense against Michigan State's defense is worth the price of admission alone, but with so much is on the line fans should be in for a treat on Saturday night.
Michigan State just became the first Big Ten team to win all eight conference games by more than 10 points since the Big Ten went to a 8-game schedule back in 1971. The driving force behind the Spartans success has been their defense, which has allowed less than seven points to five of their last six opponents. Now a defense that is only yielding 64 yards/game to opponents will matchup against a Buckeye team that is rushing for over 320 yards/game. This wlll be the most complete offense that the Spartans have faced so far this season though. The balance that the Ohio State offense brings to the table should allow for them to put up the most points on the Spartan defense this season. The game being indoors will help the Buckeyes a little more in the pass game this week after having to deal with a variety of outdoor elements the last few weeks.
After starting the season with an offense that was brutal to watch, Michigan State has improved by leaps and bounds behind the steady hand of quarterback Connor Cook and the legs of running back Jeremy Langford, who has run for 100+ yards in the last seven games. If you had asked Buckeye fans about their ability to stop the Spartans offense before last week and many would have probably thought it would be no problem. Then whatever that thing that was out on the field trying to stop the Michigan offense was on Saturday happened. Given up 600+ yards to an Al Borges offense is just inexcusible, and you know that the defense heard about it all week in practice. The Buckeyes are still solid against the run so I don't see Langford having a big game. The key for the Buckeyes is to put tons of heat on Connor Cook and force him into those patented "SPARTY, NO!" moments. I just think that Cook is going to commit some turnovers that give the Buckeyes a short field against the stout Spartan defense and give the Buckeye defense some much needed confidence.
The Spartans have had a tremendous season and are in good hands with Mark D'Antonio, but I think this is where their Rose Bowl dreams end. The feeling from Michigan State is that they're getting no respect, which worries me since they'll play like they have nothing to lose in this one, while the Buckeyes have all the pressure on them. The good news for Buckeye fans is that Urban Meyer is one of the best coaches you can have in situations like this. Michigan State puts a scare into the Buckeyes for a while, but just don't have enough horses to keep up.
Ohio State 34 Michigan State 24