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Week 14 Preview

by Big Al

The national title race and the conference races are pretty intertwined this weekend, with all the hopefuls (except Alabama) playing for something this weekend. So lets look at the teams and the games.

Alabama

They are in unless Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and UCF all win and the playoff committee picks UCF over Alabama. This last event is perhaps the least likely of the bunch, but it would make for a much more interesting playoff bracket.

Stanford vs. USC

Perhaps the least exciting of the conference championships, simply because there is no impact on the national title race. But it is a good game and I want to watch it. Kind of stupid to have it on a Friday, though. That's one less day of prep work for the biggest game of the conference season. Big question is whether USC is rested and that much more prepared after their bye week, or if they are rusty. Stanford, meanwhile, had a battle against a physical Notre Dame team. With that said, I'll expect USC to come off the bye well-prepared and ready to win themselves a conference.

Memphis at UCF

UCF is actually in pretty good shape to make the playoffs this weekend. The playoff committee could very well take an undefeated UCF as an alternative to a one-loss Alabama that didn't even win its conference. It's not a sure-fire lock, but it is a possibility. Their odds go up that much more if Ohio State manages to beat Wisconsin, because an undefeated UCF is a heck of a lot more attractive than a 10-2 Ohio State that lost to 7-5 Iowa and got annihilated in their last playoff opportunity. And they may also get in ahead of Oklahoma if they lose the Big XII title game. If UCF wins, then we will find out what sounds good to the committee. We will find out what sounds good to the committee.

TCU vs. Oklahoma

The Big XII was very upset two years ago when they were given the reason for both TCU and Baylor being locked out of the playoff in favor of an Ohio State team that was ranked below both teams in the second-to-last playoff committee rankings. That reason was that Ohio State had a playoff game for their conference championship. In reality, there was no clear choice between Baylor and TCU, so the committee went with an Ohio State team that suddenly looked pretty good after obliterating Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. Essentially, when there was no good choice between those two teams, the committee tacitly declared them both bad decisions and went in another direction. It happens.

The Big XII insituted the first playoff game and it cost them a few berths in the BCS championship game. Then they lost it when they went down to ten teams, and the lack of that playoff game was the reason given for not including them in the playoffs. Now they have a playoff game again in hopes of using it as a way to get their teams into the playoffs. And yet, it seems like every time the Big XII does these sorts of things, it blows up in their faces. I think you see where I'm going with this. I'm predicting that TCU will show everyone my conclusion this weekend.

Georgia vs. Auburn

Whoever wins this game will be in the playoffs. The reputation of the SEC is too high for the winner to not be in.

Beating a good team twice in one season is a dicey proposition. But Auburn was so dominant in the first game between these two, I see little reason to think they won't win again. So Auburn it is.

However, I will also point out that I will be rooting for Georgia because a one-loss team is a lot less embarrassing than a two-loss team in the playoffs.

Fresno State at Boise State

In a game in which I know darn near nothing about either team, I'll go with Boise State.

Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

If Wisconsin wins, they are in. If Ohio State wins, they would need so many things to go their way that I can't see a way clear to considering the idea of them making the playoffs. Anyway, Ohio State is still vulnerable to the tight end in the passing game, they still have receivers who can't catch, and their quarterback just had knee surgery. Wisconsin, meanwhile, has a fantastic offensive line, a great defensive secondary, and the best tight end in the conference. Oh, and they're probably sick to death of hearing about whether Ohio State belongs in the playoffs when Wisconsin is the undefeated B1G team. Wisconsin it is.

Miami vs. Clemson

A few years ago, losing on the last weekend of the regular season would knock a team out of the national title race. This year, it's a non-event. Or at least it is in Miami, where they did all the things they needed to do the rest of the season and took last weekend off. The only result is that Miami can't backdoor their way into the playoffs. But, seeing that the winner of this game will get into the playoffs, the front door is still wide open. Clemson walks through it even as they slam it shut on Miami.

Columns

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Week 12 Recap

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There's only one big game and the national race is clear only insofar as the top 5 teams keep winning. That's the gist of the article. Wish I had more to say on a weekend without a lot of hype.