Welcome to Championship Weekend in college football!
Russell Wilson leads Wisconsin against Michigan State in Big Ten title game.
The championships in all six BCS conferences will be decided this weekend with championship games in the ACC, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 and the end of the regular season in the Big East and Big 12.
Some of the suspense is gone since it appears that LSU and Alabama will be rematched in the BCS national title game – even if LSU somehow drops the SEC title game to Georgia (not like that is likely, of course).
During Week 13, I was 19-4 straight-up. I am now 245-69 straight-up for the year.
I was 13-10 against-the-spread. I am now 165-133-4 ATS for the year. I’m 32 games over .500. I am just about assured of a winning season. Let’s put it over the top this week.
Here are my picks for the key games in Week 14:
* No. 23 West Virginia (-2 ½) at South Florida, Thursday, 8 p.m. (ESPN) -- WVU needs a win over USF to clinch a share of its seventh Big East title. The Mountaineers can also get the BCS bid that goes with it, at least it seems, if they win and Cincinnati beats Connecticut on Saturday. That would forge a three-way tie with WVU, UC and Louisville. The highest rated team in the BCS rankings would get the bid, likely to the Orange Bowl. WVU has won three of its last four games. USF has limped home with six losses in its last seven games. The Mountaineers have only won once -- in 2005 -- in three meetings at Raymond James Stadium. WVU won 20-6 last year in Morgantown. West Virginia 31-21
* Ohio U. vs. Northern Illinois (-3 ½), MAC Championship Game at Detroit, Friday, 7 p.m. (ESPN2) -- This OU’s third MAC East title since 2006, but the Bobcats have not won the overall MAC title since 1968. The series with Northern Illinois is tied at 9-9. OU won the last meeting at home in 2009 (38-31). OU has won five straight, while NIU has won its last seven. Can the OU defense contain an NIU offense that hit the 40-point mark nine times? Hmmm. Ohio U. breaks through 31-28
* UCLA at No. 9 Oregon (-32 ½), Pac-12 Championship Game at Eugene, Ore., Friday, 8 p.m. (FOX) -- It’s been a great week for UCLA. The Bruins lost to rival USC 50-0, they fired coach Rick Neuheisel and they got NCAA clearance to still play in a bowl even if they lose this game to drop to 6-7. Still, because USC is ineligible, UCLA gets to rep the Pac-12 South. Oregon gets to host this game, but even Ducks fans are keeping their distance from what is a certain coronation. The teams did not play in the regular season. The Bruins lead the all-time series 39-25. But Oregon has won the last three meetings, including a 60-13 win at home last year. Oregon 60-13 (I could not resist)
* No. 24 Southern Miss at No. 6 Houston (-13 ½), Conference USA Championship Game at Houston, Saturday, noon (ABC) -- QB Case Keenum and the Cougars need a win to clinch the first-ever BCS bid for a C-USA team. Houston is 1-1 all-time in the C-USA title game with the win coming against Southern Miss in 2006 (34-20). The teams did not play this year. USM took a 59-41 win at home last year. Houston went from 5-7 last year to 12-0 this year. Make it 13-0 and make the next stop at the Sugar Bowl. Houston 44-27
* Syracuse at Pittsburgh (-10 ½), Saturday, noon (ESPN2) -- Syracuse has lost its last four games, while Pitt has lost four of its last six games. Pitt dropped a 21-20 heartbreaker last week at West Virginia to fall out of Big East contention. Syracuse last won at Pitt in 2001 with four straight losses by an average of 17 points. With each team at 5-6, the winner is bowl-eligible and the loser is not. Pittsburgh 29-26
* Connecticut at Cincinnati (-9 ½), Saturday, noon (ESPN) -- UC has won three of the last five in the series, although UConn won 38-17 at home last year. UC can win its third Big East title in three years with a win. A win and a WVU loss would send UC to a BCS bowl. Cincinnati 27-24
* Iowa State at No. 11 Kansas State (-10 ½), Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (Fox Sports Net) -- K-State can get to 10-2 with a win. Iowa State has won three of its last four games. K-State comes in off wins over Texas A&M and Texas. K-State has won three in a row over Iowa State, including 27-20 last year in Kansas City. Kansas State 34-21
* No. 22 Texas at No. 17 Baylor (-2 ½), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ABC) -- Baylor QB Robert Griffin is probable in his return from a head injury. Baylor already has its best season since joining the Big 12 at 8-3, and a win over Texas and a bowl win would give the school its second 10-win season ever. The winner likely plays Penn State in the Insight Bowl. The loser goes to the Holiday Bowl. Texas leads the all-time series 73-23-4. Baylor won last year at Austin (30-22) to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Horns. Texas (and I don’t know why) 36-33
* No. 14 Georgia vs. No. 1 LSU (-13 ½), SEC Championship Game at Atlanta, Saturday, 4 p.m. (CBS) -- Would LSU let up on the gas pedal since, barring a 45-0 loss, the Tigers should be headed to the national title game? After an 0-2 start, Georgia has won 10 straight, including a 31-17 win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta last Saturday. LSU leads the all-time series 15-12-1. They are 1-1 in SEC title games with an LSU win in 2003 and a Georgia win in 2005. LSU won the last meeting in 2009 at Georgia (20-13). Both defenses are in the top five nationally. Should be a good one. LSU 23-20
* No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 3 Oklahoma State (-3 ½), Saturday, 8 p.m. (ABC) -- There is no Big 12 title game any more, but this will suffice. Oklahoma leads the all-time series 81-17-7 and has won eight straight over Oklahoma State, including 47-41 last year in Stillwater. This game is a virtual toss-up. Even with a win, it seems unlikely Oklahoma State can get into the national title game. The winner would get a BCS bid to the Fiesta Bowl, though. Oklahoma State has never played in a BCS bowl. First one to 40 wins. Oklahoma State 47-42
* No. 5 Virginia Tech (-7 ½) vs. No. 20 Clemson, ACC Championship Game at Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, 8 p.m. (ESPN) -- This is a rematch from Oct. 1, when Clemson took a 23-3 win in Blacksburg. That was Tech’s only loss, though, and the Hokies have looked real good in their seven wins since then. That includes a 38-0 win over Virginia last Saturday. Clemson stumbles in off three losses in its last four games, including a 34-13 shiner at South Carolina. Tech has won five of the last six games in this series. The Hokies are in the ACC title game for the fourth time in five years and fifth time in seven seasons. Everything just says Virginia Tech. So … Virginia Tech 35-25
* No. 15 Wisconsin (-10) vs. No. 13 Michigan State, Big Ten Championship Game at Indianapolis, Saturday, 8 p.m. (FOX) -- This is also a rematch from Oct. 22, when Michigan State won 37-31 at home on a Hail Mary pass. Both teams have won their last four games coming in. Wisconsin seeks a second consecutive Rose Bowl berth, while the Spartans hope for their first Pasadena trip since 1988. I like Michigan State a lot. But Wisconsin’s offense with QB Russell Wilson and RB Montee Ball is hard to beat. Saturday will mark the 51st all-time meeting between Michigan State and Wisconsin, with the Spartans owning a 29-21 advantage. Since 2000, the teams have met 10 times with each having won five matchups. Like the first one, this one goes down to the wire. Wisconsin 34-31
Hey, enjoy this big weekend of college football. We will grade these picks on Sunday.
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