FROM THE STANDS: Championship Week

Pardon the hokey ESPNism, but it’s Championship Week in college football. The power five (Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12) have their conference championship games this weekend and by the end of Saturday night we will have champions crowned (not only in the power five, but the AAC, MWC, Sun Belt, MAC and others I am likely forgetting) and by Sunday afternoon we will know all the bowl game matchups and, most importantly, who the final four teams for the first-ever college football playoff will be. TCU’s beat down of Texas and Florida State and Baylor squeaking by teams they should have hammered helped the Frogs jump to No.3 in last week’s standings, behind Bama and Oregon with Florida State slipping to four. It’s disturbing if you are a Baylor or Ohio State fan, but I think both teams can help themselves immensely this weekend with wins. Maybe? Other things need to happen, but a big win is a must for both. But so much can happen depending on who wins and, as we saw last week, who struggles and who dominates. Here’s your primer for Championship Week and what needs to  happen for the big players:

SEC Title Game: No.1 Alabama vs. No.16 Missouri: A Bama win and there in as the No.1 seed. A Missouri win and it’s total and utter chaos. If you are rooting for two Big 12 teams to get in/known commodities to be left out, jump on the Mizzou bandwagon. A Tigers win will likely eliminate any SEC team from making the final four since Missouri can’t possibly jump everyone in front of them to get in, meaning the door is open for others, two of those others being both TCU and Baylor (more will need to go down for that to happen, but it’s a big step). I don’t think they have a shot, but my favorite 5th-grade-cornerback-turned-defensive-end is convinced his Tigers (and they are his; a gear-wearing fan since he was 3) are going to “blow it up and make everyone cry.” I like the confidence. If you are anti-establishment, anti-SEC and anti-Finebaum like me, start the “M-I-Z!” chant.

Pac-12 Title Game: No.2 Oregon vs. No.7 Arizona: I think the winner of this game gets in. Obviously if the Ducks win, they are a 100% lock. But if Arizona can pull off the upset, making it their second win over Oregon this season, I think they get a spot. If you are rooting for chaos, this game offers very little in my opinion. The winner of this game is going to the final four. I am taking the Ducks in the rematch.

ACC Title Game: 4.  Florida State vs. No.11 Georgia Tech: The committee is trying to find ways to push the Seminoles out, evidenced by their dropping the only undefeated team to No.4 last week in the standings. If Florida State wins, they will make it in. I don’t think there is any way in the world they can justify leaving them out if they win; but if the Ramblin’ Wreck can find a way, it’s more chaos. A Florida State loss opens the door for a number of possibilities. I suppose a big win by the Yellow Jackets and losses by Baylor, Bama and Oregon could give them a shot to get in, but it’s very doubtful. More likely, an FSU loss opens the door for Baylor and/or Ohio State.  If you are rooting for chaos, root the Jackets, but I expect Florida State to squeak by, as they do.

Big Ten Championship: No.5 Ohio State vs. No.13 Wisconsin. The Buckeyes do not control their own destiny anymore as TCU jumped them into the top four. With TCU playing Iowa State at home, the odds of them dropping are zero. With the Pac-12 getting a spot for their winner, it  leaves two openings. The Buckeyes need a big win and a solid game from their new quarterback and they need someone above them to lose. I suspect they will be BIG Missouri and Georgia Tech fans… But it ain’t happening, folks. I think Wisconsin makes Ohio State have to open it up to win the game and they won’t be able to, and Melvin Gordon cements his place at the Heisman Trophy ceremony with a big game, putting it away late for Wisconsin.

Big 12 Championship: No.6 Baylor vs. No. 9 Kansas State: I’ve been under the impression all year that once the games were all played, the committee would see that 11-1 Baylor and 11-1 TCU were similar and the determining factor would be Baylor’s win over TCU for which Big 12 team made it in. I’m not so sure anymore. It’s looking a lot like the 2008 season for Texas, who won a thriller over ou but lost the spot in the Big 12 Title Game because the voters just thought ou was playing better at the end of the year. But they can turn this around, maybe. First off all, they need to absolutely smoke K-State, just like TCU did. It needs to be in the 50’s if not higher, and not at all close. Secondly, they need someone to lose and they’ll be rooting for the same teams Ohio State is. Lastly, they need the PR firm they hired to remind everyone on the committee what happened Texas/ou weekend (that’s when they beat TCU) and take that into consideration. TCU is not going to struggle with Iowa State, so Baylor needs help. One problem with all this: Bryce Petty is banged up. He was nearly-concussed (or maybe fully concussed) vs. Tech, but he’s going to play. With a healthy Petty they struggled last week, and now he’s banged up. I think K-State is going to give them fits. Remember, if K-State wins, they get a piece of the Big 12 Title. The Big 12 office completely contradicted it’s “one true champion” message earlier this week when it announced if Baylor and TCU finished 11-1 it would name them co-champions, caving to the media and opening the door for the selection committee to take “Conference Champion” TCU. By that logic, a win by K-State would mean they tied with TCU as conference champions, right? Exactly. I have a feeling Kansas State is going to ruin Baylor’s party by beating them and knocking them out. I wonder if that happens if the Big 12 will reverse themselves again and declare TCU the “one true champion” to clear it all up? Wouldn’t surprise me.

Around here the big news is where Texas could land. From everything I’ve seen, the Longhorns are not getting out of the state of Texas for their bowl game as the are likely headed to the Texas Bowl, played at the home of the Houston Texans (that’s in Houston). It’s December 29th and it’s at 8 pm on ESPN against an SEC opponent. The hype machine that is ESPN is giddy with thought of Texas playing in front of a huge home crowd for the bowl game, and playing someone from their beloved SEC only makes it more exciting. Three teams are on the table: LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M. I have thoughts on this:

Texas vs. Arkansas. This game would be interesting with the way both teams want to run the ball. It might be over in 90 minutes. Initially I like this matchup for Texas. The Hogs have turned the corner, smacking Ole Miss in a shutout to highlight their 6-6 season. They are huge, physical and strong and, as you well know, they hate the Texas Longhorns. The stands would be full and the game would be entertaining…  But that entertainment might be too regional for ESPN. Does anyone around the country care about Texas/Arkansas except the people in Texas and Arkansas?

- Texas vs. LSU. This game would pit two national programs against each other. With Houston an easy drive for LSU and Texas fans and plenty of both already living in the area, you can be sure the stands would be full and the tailgating (drinking) would be at unprecedented levels. LSU is a little more polished than Texas at this point, but they are similar in that both like to run the ball, struggle to throw it and play good defense. While this doesn’t have the emotion that Texas/Arkansas does for the fan bases, it’s more of a national draw than Texas/Arkansas and I expect more TV sets would be on this one that Monday night.

- Texas vs. A&M. This is the one ESPN wants and the one everyone that likes college football wants to see. It wouldn’t be the sexiest game with a 6-6 Texas team vs. a 7-5 A&M team, but the college football fans outside of the state know both programs and how it ended and with no NFL game that Monday night, it’s one people would tune in for.

So what’s it going to be? Texas vs. A&M seems like the choice, but I’ve heard the SEC doesn’t want that game and they decide where their teams go. I’ve heard the Texas coaches really want the Ags, but I don’t know how much the administration does. On either side. There was lots of bad blood when the relationship ended and there is much to be lost, both politically and athletically, for both schools. My guess is this game is postponed and played at a later date, when both programs are playing better and the stakes are higher. If I had to guess, I think it’s Texas/LSU. That seems like a good alternative. But what do I know?


Odds and Ends:

– No.6 Texas travels to No.1 Kentucky on Friday night. That is going to be fun. The Horns don’t have a lot of pressure on them in my opinion, because even if they lose and lose big it wouldn’t surprise anyone. Rick Barnes isn’t afraid to play anyone, is he? After the reception the terrible UConn students gave the Longhorns upon arrival at the arena last Sunday, they are surely ready for anything. Get’em, Horns.

– The No.2 seed women’s volleyball team gets started in the Tourney Friday night as well, playing Northwestern State at Gregory (on LHN). If they win, they likely get the Aggies in round two.

Quincy Vasser  is a Longhorn. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end from Navarro Junior College decommitted from Georgia earlier this week and committed to Texas on Wednesday. This is monster news. He’ll be here in the spring and will compete immediately for the defensive end spot vacated by Cedric Reed. Welcome aboard.

– Nothing but unsubstantiated rumors at this point, but Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller could be on the move as a graduate transfer. Call me.

– I’m not ready for football season to end.

– Here’s a weird thing – Texas baseball starts in 10 weeks.


This week in the Big 12

TEXAS (6-6/5-4)   END OF REGULAR SEASON

WEST VIRGINIA (7-5/5-4)   END OF REGULAR SEASON

TEXAS TECH (4-8/2-7)   END OF SEASON

KANSAS (3-9/1-8)   END OF SEASON

No.12 KANSAS STATE (9-2/7-1) @ No.6 BAYLOR (10-1/7-1)   6:45 pm   ESPN
See above. The Bears have been trending down and I think it continues and all their arguments for being ranked above TCU are moot. Yes, I used moot in a real sentence. That’s being a grown up.

OKLAHOMA STATE (5-6/3-5) @ No.20 oklahoma (8-3/5-3)   2:30 pm   Fox Sports 1
So what is the age cutoff for a person to sit RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DOOR of a store and wait for someone? You know what I mean, right? You see someone parked on the curb, literally, right by the door of a grocery store, or Stein Mart, or whatever. I don’t mean a pregnant lady, or someone loading a huge box in the car. No, just someone waiting for someone else to shop. This move is reserved for older people. We all know this. But what if you are in your 30’s? I say no, you are too young to do that. Park your car in the back (facing the door, blocking a few parking spots at the back no one is using) and watch the door like the rest of us do. Save that spot 10 feet from the entrance for the elderly. Right? What’s the cutoff age?

IOWA STATE (2-9/0-8) @ No.3 TCU (10-1/7-1)   11 am   ABC
The line on this game is 32. Who thinks TCU covers this? I do.

 

Back on Monday with bowl game updates

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