Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Big Games That Don't Involve Notre Dame This Weekend
Championship weekend is always one of the most exciting weekends in college football. For those conferences who have championship games, it is a one game playoff where the winner gets a BCS bowl and the loser falls to a second tier bowl game. Because Notre Dame is not in a conference in football, they will never be involved in this weekend. While I am a traditionalist and love Notre Dame being independent, it does suck to not be able to be involved in this weekend. This year though, it is kind of an advantage having their spot in the BCS title game already secured.
Let's take a look at the other teams in college football that will be playing this weekend in big games.
Rutgers Vs. Louisville
It begins on Thursday with this game. The state of the Big East is an absolute mess. Teams from mid-majors, even those that have no business geographically, are trying to get in while existing members are trying to get out. Notre Dame will be leaving in every other sport for the ACC. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are gone after this year too. That is a year after the conference already lost West Virginia.
Although this is not technically a conference championship, it might as well be as the winner is most likely the one with the BCS bid. There are scenarios where it could be Syracuse that is so confusing to understand. At any rate, it is fitting that the two teams that could potentially represent the Big East will soon be gone as well. Rutgers will move on to the Big Ten in 2014 and Louisville will join Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse in the ACC.
Kent State Vs. Northern Illinois
The action continues on Friday. This is normally a game that has no significance in terms of the BCS. It is usually a case of the winner is the MAC champions but both teams go to second rate bowl games. This year is different though because Kent State is currently ranked #17 in the BCS and the rule states that a team from a non-BCS conference that is ranked #16 or higher gets an automatic BCS bid as long as they are ranked higher than a conference champion. At this time, there is no Big East team in the top 25 so they will be ranked ahead of them. The problem is that they do need somebody ahead of them to lose and fall far enough. There aren't too many options other than UCLA who is directly ahead of them. The other obstacle is the Northern Illinois is also a tough team. This should be a big game.
Stanford Vs. UCLA
The other big game on Friday is for the PAC 12 championship. It is kind of hard for me to determine who I want to win this game. Both of these teams did Notre Dame a big favor a couple weeks ago. UCLA knocked out Matt Barkley making Notre Dame's victory over USC a more certain thing. It is not to say that the Fighting Irish would not have won the game anyway, but not having Barkley in did help. Stanford helped the Irish even more by knocking off then #2 Oregon. That win lifted Notre Dame to #1 and enabled them to control their own destiny going to the title game.
The funny thing about this match up is these two teams played each other last week as they were coincidentally scheduled that way. Stanford won but here is the part that makes me wonder how hard UCLA even tried in that game. The Bruins already had their spot locked in this game with their victory over USC. However, if they would have beaten the Cardinal they would have had to play Oregon. But because they lost they get Stanford again. It makes you wonder if they didn't just use that game as the ultimate way to scout their opponent.
The winner of this game gets a bid in the Rose Bowl. The loser falls to probably the Holiday bowl. Again, a UCLA loss would likely put Kent State in the BCS with a win. So both of these Friday games have huge BCS implications.
Now for the Saturday games.
Although the Big 12 no longer has a championship game, they do still have a couple of big games that have huge BCS implications. This conference could potentially have two BCS representatives. That is huge for another conference that has had multiple members leave.
Oklahoma Vs. TCU
Notre Dame's signature moment this season was it's big win in Norman in a game where nobody gave the Irish a chance against Oklahoma. Although the Sooners are out of the national championship picture with two losses, a trip to the Sugar Bowl is a likely to happen with a win. The only potential snag is once again the situation with Kent State.
Kansas State Vs. Texas
The Wildcats will take the field for the first time since their blowout loss to Baylor that knocked them from #1 and destroyed any chance for them to play for a national championship. As disappointing as that is, a win still gives them the Big 12 championship and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. However, it won't be easy as Texas has bowl plans of their own. They won't be in the BCS but a trip to the Cotton Bowl is a pretty good consolation. The Longhorns want to be sure to lock their spot for the game in Dallas which could be against their old rival Texas A & M.
Nebraska Vs. Wisconsin
The Big Ten has had one of it's worst season's ever. It started on opening day when Michigan got hammered by Alabama. It continued as the conference suffered three losses to Notre Dame, three more to the PAC 12, and they even lost three games to the MAC. To make it even more ugly, look at the two teams that qualified. Many are still considering Nebraska a Big 12 team and Wisconsin actually finished third in their division. But they play in this game because both Ohio State and Penn State are on probation. That is the definition of an ugly year for a conference. Even with that, the winner of this game earns a trip to Pasadena to play the winner of Stanford-UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
Florida State Vs. Georgia Tech
Like the scenario with Kent State, this is a game that could really throw a wrench into the BCS. Florida State is ranked #13 with a 10-2 record and are favored to win this game. If that holds up, they go to the Orange Bowl against probably whomever escapes the Big East. However, if Georgia Tech pulls the upset then they would go to the Orange Bowl with, get this, a 7-6 record. Therefore, if they lose they have a losing record. That is just an ugly thought. The ACC has also had a down year in spite the agreement they made with Notre Dame.
Georgia Vs. Alabama
Now for the game Notre Dame fans care about the most. This is the game that will determine who Notre Dame plays in Miami. This game should be an absolute dogfight. While the Crimson Tide is favored, the Bulldogs are hungry to get a piece of the national championship pie that their conference has enjoyed that so far they have fallen short of.
Many of the experts say that Alabama is a better match up for Notre Dame because the Irish are strong against the run but the weakness is the secondary. I have watched 12 Notre Dame games this year and I think the unit led by Zeke Motta including KeVare Russell, Bennett Jackson, and Mathias Farley have done a great job. I don't see them as a weakness at all.
Regardless of who wins, it will be a tough challenge for Notre Dame in the BCS Title game. The loser will fall out of the BCS altogether as Florida figures to jump ahead of the loser to get the Sugar Bowl. Therefore, it is a winner take all to face the Irish and the loser goes to the Capital One Bowl, which is not a bad bowl, against probably Michigan.