College Football Championship Weekend Primer

Nick SabanSEC Championship: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Florida, 4:00 PM ET CBS
This is going to be an absolute battle and I for one think that this is going to be extremely close throughout. Ironically, even though ‘Bama is the top team in the nation, many college football purists have been clamoring for weeks that Florida is the true No. 1. It’s hard to argue that point with the way the Gators have destroyed opponents by a 414 to 97 margin since losing to Ole’ Miss on the last Saturday in September. Still, the Crimson Tide have one of the most disruptive defensives lines in the nation and while the Florida offense is incredibly explosive, defense will win this game in the end. If ‘Bama can get to Tim Tebow and disrupt the flow of the Gator offense, the Tide might be able to rely on Glen Coffee and their ground game to grab victory, finish the season undefeated and secure a spot in the national championship. A win won’t be as easy to come by as it was last week against Auburn, however, as the Gators boast one of the fastest defenses in the country. Oddsmakers have made Florida a 9.5-point favorite but ‘Bama has a great shot to win outright. If we’re making predictions, I say the Gators win, but don’t cover.

ACC Championship: No. 17 Boston College vs. No. 25 Virginia Tech, 1:00 PM ET, ABC
Ah the ACC…the red-headed step child of the 2008 Championship Weekend. Ten of the 12 teams in this conference finished with a 5-3 or 4-4 record and arguably the best team in the ACC (Georgia Tech) won’t even play for a title due to a tough loss to Virginia back in September. But despite the allure of the SEC and Big 12 championship games, this matchup pits two of the best defenses in the nation against each other as VA Tech ranks sixth nationally and BC is eighth. The Hokies held opponents to only 268 yards or less in six of their 12 games while offensively, BC has totaled 244 yards or less in four of its last six games. In their first meeting this year, VA Tech returned two interceptions for touchdowns, while BC scored on a punt return to edge the Hokies 28-23. Defense is going to win this game and VA Tech has a small edge in that department, but the Eagles have been very opportunistic this season, forcing a remarkable 16 turnovers in their last five games. Oddsmakers have made this game a pick ’em and while it’s hard to back a struggling Hokies’ offense, defense wins this game and I say VA Tech is your ACC Champion at the end of the day.

Oklahoma SoonersBig 12 Championship: No. 20 Missouri vs. No. 2 Oklahoma, 8:00 PM ET ABC
Regardless of whether or not you think Texas should be playing MIZZOU this weekend, this is the matchup that the BCS produced so live with it. The Tigers essentially have a small edge with the game being played at Arrowhead Stadium, but they better hope for bad weather to slow down Sam Bradford and OU’s explosive offense. While Chase Daniel and the MIZZOU have taken a backseat to OU, Texas and Texas Tech over the past couple weeks, the Tiger offense is still dangerous and posses a threat to Oklahoma and a defense that was absolutely shredded by Oklahoma State last weekend. Still, this game will come down to whether or not MIZZOU has enough defense to slow down Bradford, DeMarco Murray and a host of talented Sooner receivers. No opponent has even come close to containing Bradford. TCU’s and Texas were the only two teams to hold OU to under 40 points this season and the Sooners have scored 60-plus points in their last four contests. Oddsmakers have made OU a 17-point favorite and while it’s tempting to thing Daniel will keep the game close, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Other Notable Games:

No. 5 USC at UCLA, 4:30 PM ET ABC
The last time the Trojans traveled to Pasadena, they were upset 13-9. Ironically that was also the same year Oregon State beat USC in Corvallis. And who beat USC earlier this year in Corvallis? Hmm…

Navy at Army, 12:00 PM ET CBS
The most underrated rivalry in college football will once again be on display this week in Philadelphia.

No. 12 Ball State vs. Buffalo, 8:00 PM ET ESPN2
This game might not get the attention of the other title games, but the MAC has produced some quality NFL-caliber players over the years, including Ben Roethlisberger, Chad Pennington and Randy Moss. And this game features one more: Ball State QB Nate Davis.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Week 3 College Football Primer

Time to check out the big games, top matchups and potential upsets as college football heads into Week 3.

Mark SanchezTop 25 Action:
No. 5 Ohio State (2-0) at No. 1 USC (1-0), Saturday 8:00 PM ET ABC
OSU head coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday that Heisman candidate Beanie Wells will play Saturday in Southern Cal. The Buckeyes are going to need all the offensive firepower they can get against one of the best front sevens in the nation. USC quarterback Mark Sanchez shredded Virginia for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1, but OSU’s defense is loaded with experienced talent. This is one of the most anticipated college football games of the year and should be a tight contest, although oddsmakers have made the Trojans 10.5-point favorites. (Check out our offical Ohio State-USC smack talk thread as well.)

No. 13 Kansas (2-0) at No. 19 South Florida (2-0), Friday 8:00 PM ET ESPN2
This is a tremendous matchup to kick off the Week 3 schedule as Kansas and its high-powered offense take on South Florida, which has the No. 1 ranked defense in college football. In their two wins, the Jayhawks averaged over 450 yards a game, but they go up against a Bulls’ defense Friday night that has only allowed an average of 161.5 yards per game. Oddsmakers have listed South Florida as a 3-point home favorite.

No. 10 Wisconsin (2-0) at No. 21 Fresno State (1-0), 10:30 PM ET ESPN2
Marshall rolled out to a 14-0 lead on the Badgers last week before Wisconsin eventually settled down and hammered the Thundering Heard 51-14 to improve to 2-0 on the year. Fresno State dismantled Rutgers 24-7 in New Jersey in Week 1 and should be well rested coming off a bye last week. One thing to keep an eye on is the health status of Wisconsin TE Travis Beckum, who missed the Badgers’ first two games this year with a bad hamstring. Beckum is highly regarded as one of the top tight end prospect in college football and is expected to play this weekend.

Chris SmelleyNo. 2 Georgia (2-0) at South Carolina (1-1), Saturday 3:30 PM ET CBS
Before being upset by Vanderbilt last week, the Game Cocks were supposed to be Georgia’s first real test of the 2008 season. One has to assume that South Carolina is going to come out fired up after being bounced from the top 25 following their loss to the Commodores. The Bulldogs absolutely hammered Central Michigan last week, but can’t take anything for granted this Saturday playing a pissed off Steve Spurrier squad. SC is a 7.5-point home underdog.

Upset Watch:
UCLA (1-0) at No. 18 BYU (2-0)
Washington gave BYU all it could handle in Week 2 before the Cougars eventually eked out a 28-27 win. And the last time we saw the Bruins, they were upsetting Tennessee in the first week of the season. While this wouldn’t be a huge upset, it would be the second time in two chances that UCLA knocks off a ranked opponent. And with Fresno State, Oregon, California, ASU and USC on their schedule, the Bruins will have plenty of opportunities to make some noise and possibly become one of the best surprises of the season. BYU is currently an 8-point favorite.

Other notable games:
No. 14 East Carolina at Tulane – Saturday, 3:00 PM ET
No. 3 Oklahoma at Washington – Saturday, 7:45 PM ET
Arkansas at No. 8 Texas – Saturday, 3:30 PM ET

UCLA opens the Rick Neuheisel era with a big win over Tennessee

The Rick Neuheisel era is off to a dramatic start with a 27-24 victory in OT over 18th-ranked Tennessee. Quarterback Kevin Craft rebounded from four first half interceptions to lead a comeback in the second half.

Craft has a nice arm and he showed some character with his performance tonight. If he keeps improving, UCLA can do some serious damage in the Pac-10. USC fans have to be a little nervous. Their days of being the only show in town might be coming to an end.

Week 1 College Football Primer

The line is old, tired and clichéd by I’m going to use it anyway: Football is back!

This is the opening week of college football with action kicking off Thursday, August 25 and running through Labor Day, Monday, September 1. Below is our Week 1 College Football Primer.

Top 25 Action:
No. 20 Illinois at No. 6 Missouri – Saturday, August 30, 8:30pm ET
Ron Zook and the Illini try to build on their 2007 success with a trip to Missouri to take on the No. 6 Tigers. Quarterback Chase Daniel looks to start his Heisman Trophy campaign off with a bang as he’ll face an Illinois defense that ranked 83rd in the nation against the pass last season. Even though this looks like a mismatch in favor of Missouri, clearly oddsmakers feel that the Illini can keep the game close considering the Tigers opened up as 8.5-point favorites.

No. 24 Alabama at No. 9 Clemson – Saturday, August 30, 8:00pm ET
The Tigers are considered the favorites to win the ACC this season, but Tommy Bowden’s crew has found a way to underachieve in the past. Clemson arguably has the best senior quarterback in the country Cullen Harper and the ACC’s best backfield tandem in James Davis and C.J. Spiller. For Alabama, Nick Saban’s team is expected to be improved this year and should give Clemson a game this weekend.

Keep your eye on:
Hawaii at No. 5 Florida – Saturday, August 30, 12:30pm ET
Hawaii lost their all-time leading passer Colt Brennan to the NFL and head coach June Jones to SMU, but the Warriors are still expected to light up the scoreboard. The Gators are clearly the better team, led by 2007 Heisman winner Tim Tebow, but Hawaii is no cupcake opponent. Think there might be some points scored in this game? Oddsmakers have established the over/under total at a whopping 71 points.

Upset Watch:
Appalachian State at No. 7 LSU – Saturday, August 30, 5:00pm ET
The Mountaineers couldn’t do it again could they? LSU is solid in the trenches and should be able to overpower tiny App State, but the same was said last year when the Mountaineers rolled into Ann Arbor and knocked off Michigan. With the explosive Armanti Edwards at quarterback, anything is possible.

Other noteable games:
No. 3 USC at Virginia – Saturday, August 30, 3:30pm ET
Washington at No. 21 Oregon – Saturday, August 30, 10:00pm ET
No. 18 Tennessee at UCLA – Monday, September 1, 8:00pm ET

Related Posts