At first glance, the Nebraska Cornhuskers look like they shouldn’t need to break a sweat to win the Big Ten championship game over the Wisconsin Badgers. After all, Nebraska is 10-2 and ranked 12th in the country, while the unranked Badgers are a mere 7-5 (4-4 in conference play).
However, Wisconsin came perilously close to upsetting the Huskers on their home field, losing in Lincoln only after a 17-point Nebraska comeback, and only by a three-point margin. In neutral Indianapolis, Bret Bielema’s team has a real chance to pull the upset and advance to a BCS bowl.
Here are five keys for Wisconsin if it hopes to come out on top at Lucas Oil Stadium:
1. Trust Montee Ball
Ball is the heart and soul of the Wisconsin offense, having rushed for more yards (1,528) than any Badger quarterback has thrown for this year. In the first meeting with the Huskers, though, he had a rough second half capped by a midfield fumble that sealed the Nebraska win.
1. #3 Georgia vs. #2 Alabama @ Georgia Dome
Aaron Murray and the third ranked Georgia Bulldogs with take on the #2 team in the nation, the Crimson Tide. The winner of this game will be playing in the BCS National Championship game in Miami against Notre Dame. Biggest factor? The quarterbacks in this game going up against top defenses. Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray is leading the nation in quarterback rating at 177.1 but will face the toughest defense of all of college football in Alabama. Alabama gives up just 9.3 points per game so look for Murray to struggle in the early goings. On the other side, Crimson Tide quarterback A.J McCarron is ranked 2nd in the nation in QB rating just below Murray at 176.3. McCarron will be going up against the 16th ranked defense allowing 17.7 points per game. Two top quarterbacks going against two of the top defenses. This game will be a dandy. Kickoff will take place at 4 E.T on Saturday.
2. # 16 UCLA at #8 Stanford
It’s a foregone conclusion. With Notre Dame already in the BCS title game, Saturday’s SEC championship is pretty much meaningless. It’ll just be a contest to see what team serves as the sacrificial lamb to be slayed at the Irish’s all-powerful hands this coming January.
Alabama, Georgia … geez, how will either stand a chance? Golden Dome nation has spoken and already cleared the space for that 12th national crown in the trophy case.
Mark it down, 2012 – the race to decide college football’s top dog, it’s over.
Or so Irish fans hope, if not believe.
In all seriousness, ND supporters have been kinda reserved about pushing the above notion. If anything, they’ve shied away from it … but someone has to take the fall for any avoidance of highlighting this weekend’s matchup of the country’s second- and third-ranked teams.
Why do so? Hey, why not – it gets a little boring when the SEC leads the way seemingly every week, in terms of exposure and quality.
Thing is, the most intriguing duel on conference championship week is the one that would have most going … who … what … come again?
In 2014, college football will implement a four team playoff system that will give us two semi-final games followed by a national championship game. By the time it’s in place, it will have been long overdue. For over a decade, each passing December brought debate after debate as to who really deserved to be playing in the championship game. There was never a consensus. Someone always felt like they got the shaft. Until this year.
Thanks to the SEC, we have our own semi-final game of sorts in the form of the SEC Championship. When the #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide take on the #3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs tomorrow on CBS at 4pm EST, it will be for all the marbles. Well, all but one-the big one. But it is for the right to play Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game.
Sell-out crowd. National TV. BCS bowl bid on the line.
Big East officials couldn’t possibly have been beaming with more pride and satisfaction, could they?
Talk about a slap in the face or a swift kick to the nether regions. On a night when the conference should have been enjoying some exposure and some positive words, the prevailing theme that enveloped the proceedings Thursday at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J., was hardly Big East-related.
More like, oh, here’s a couple of rent-a-cops finishing up their shift before heading over to that prettier, more stable mall a couple miles over on a permanent basis.
With Louisville announcing its intent to join the ACC in 2015 earlier this week, and Rutgers rejoicing over moving into its true home in the Big Ten by 2014 last week, current “affiliation” could muster little more than background-noise rating.
This is what the Big East has been reduced to at this point: a stage for intercollegiate athletic programs to showcase their worthiness … of something better than being in the Big East.