Swaggs' Pick Six for 12/02
Arkansas vs Florida
I still feel like LSU is the best team in the SEC this season and, apparently, the folks at the Rose Bowl agree with us, as they selected the Bayou Bengals without waiting to see who the SEC Championship loser is. Each of these two teams has a flaw. Arkansas has had an inconsistent passing game throughout the season, while Florida is missing its best run-stopper, tackle Marcus Thomas (who was just kicked off the team). Darren McFadden will, almost certainly, be the best player on the field and, in my opinion, his playmaking ability will be the difference in this game. Arkansas 24, Florida 14.
Oklahoma vs Nebraska
Interestingly, both of these traditionally rugged, defensive-minded teams are among the top-25, in the nation, in scoring. Nebraska, lead by rock-sold Zac Taylor, an underrated senior quarterback that rarely makes mistakes, have had an impressive rebirth this season. Head Coach Bill Callahan, who was once on the hot seat, has successfully integrated his offense and with the help of the Nebraska name, he should be able to bring in better talent now that he has proven he can win in the B12. Oklahoma, left for dead after getting clobbered by Texas in early October, is suddenly one of the nation's hottest teams, they are winners of seven straight. I see Oklahoma doing a better job of controlling the clock with the run, leaving Nebraska with little room for error. Although Taylor is a trustworthy driver for the Cornhuskers machine, I think the Sooners pull this one out. Oklahoma 24, Nebraska 20.
Rutgers at West Virginia
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights seemingly have the most to play for in this game: win and they will represent the Big East in the BCS, win the conference championship, and finish the regular season with a record 11-wins. The Mountaineers, coming off a puzzling uninspired loss, at home, to South Florida last week, are simply looking to send their seniors (a group of young men that own three conference titles and the most wins, over a four-year period, of any Mountaineer class ever) out as winners and secure the Big East's spot in the conference's second tier bowl, either the Gator or Sun. I think Rutgers has had an outstanding season, but the Scarlet Knights do not pass the ball well enough to take advantage of the Mountaineers' weak pass defense, which is their only real weakness. West Virginia 34, Rutgers 24.
Wake Forest vs Georgia Tech
Anyone who picked these two squads as the ACC Conference Championship contenders should play the lottery. I am having a tough time picking either of these teams to appear in a BCS game. I cannot shake the image of Wake Forest needing to block a FG, with time expiring, to beat Duke earlier this season. And, Georgia Tech has Chan Gailey roaming the sidelines and Reggie Ball as its starting quarterback. It is unfortunate that Virginia Tech decided to sleepwalk its way through the first half of the season, as they are pretty clear the best team in the conference. Anyway, I'll take a Jim Grobe-coached team over a Chan Gailey-coached team every day of the week. Wake Forest 27, Georgia Tech 13.
USC at UCLA
On behalf of all of the BCS-at-large candidates out there, I just want to thank UCLA for blowing that game against Notre Dame on October 21st. Sitting on the ball, missing tackles in the final minute, and allowing Brady Quinn to get Joe Montanta-like credit for a last second-win over you allowed Notre Dame to stay eligible for a BCS-spot and will keep a far more deserving team out. UCLA is average in every sense of the word. USC is very good and still improving. I have been skeptical of the Trojans for much of the season, but with a win here, they gain dynasty status and deserve to meet Ohio State for the title. USC 49, UCLA 10.
Army vs Navy
This is one of the most enjoyable regular season matchups of any season. Navy's season is shaping up to be one of the best recent years of any service academy, as a win here would give them nine for the season. Middies' head coach Paul Johnson is a hot property that is a very real candidate for a number of job openings (North Carolina State and Alabama, most prominently) and I believe his teams' ground game will make this an easy win over the Black Knights. Navy 31, Army 14.
Championship week already? It is hard to believe that, with this final weekend of the regular-season, another outstanding college football season is winding down. Ohio State, with a perfect 12-0 regular-season record completed, has already received its ticket to Glendale to play in the National Championship Game. The Buckeyes' opponent will almost certainly come from a trio of teams in Michigan, Florida, or Southern Cal--and the latter two teams are involved in two of our featured games of the week. With only two BCS positions finalized (Ohio State to the National Championship and LSU to the Rose Bowl), the remainder of the its participants will be sorted out today. And now, onto my picks for the ITB Games of the Week: