Tony's Tip Sheet

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Last updated: 12/05/2013 6:34 PM
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Football
Tony's Tip Sheet – Championship Week Edition
By Tony Gerdeman

As far as Ohio State reaching the BCS National Championship Game is concerned, the rooting interests are laid out pretty neatly. Buckeye fans really only need to root for Ohio State to win on Saturday, and barring a bunch of voters being easily manipulated, it will be OSU playing for it all in January.

Just for your information, Michigan does not play this week. I don't want you to be looking for a prediction for their game on Saturday, because there isn't one. Last week was their last game – they lost to the Buckeyes on a heart breaker. You should've seen it, it was a classic.

There are still other teams playing this weekend, including a team from the state of Michigan. But again, if you are looking to find out who the Wolverines are playing this Saturday, they aren't playing anybody, so don't bother looking.

Thursday December 5

Teams: #19 Louisville (10-1) at Cincinnati (9-2)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 3
Cheer For: Louisville

This is going to be a huge game in the American Athletic Conference, as these two teams will battle to see who might finish second in the standings behind UCF! The winner of this game, however, could also win the conference, provided UCF loses their game this weekend at SMU. The bad news for the winner of this game is that they'll then have to watch every second of UCF at SMU on Saturday. I'm not sure it's actually worth winning the game if that is the end result. Cincinnati 31 – Louisville 28

Friday December 6

MAC Championship Game (Detroit, MI)
Teams: #14 Northern Illinois (12-0) vs Bowling Green (9-3)
Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest: 3.5
Cheer For: Bowling Green

Look, we all love Bowling Green. After all, Bowling Green is where we honed our Euchre skills in high school before we all departed for colleges of our own. But asking them to take down Northern Illinois is a bit extreme. The one thing going for the Falcons, however, is that this game is being played in Detroit, and winning in the state of Michigan is pretty routine for teams from Ohio. Northern Illinois 38 – Bowling Green 31

Saturday December 7

Teams: #17 Oklahoma (9-2) at #6 Oklahoma State (10-1)
Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ABC)
Interest: 3
Cheer For: Oklahoma

From my experience of late, it's best to choose the “OSU” in any rivalry game, and with this one being a home game for Oklahoma State, it's a no brainer. Granted, the Cowboys are playing a ranked team, which isn't always the case for an “OSU” rival, so this one should be tougher than most. But it's been two months since Oklahoma State was involved in a close game, and I'm not sure if that will change this week. The Sooners will stick to the ground and attempt to burn clock to keep OSU's offense off of the field. It will help, but it won't be enough. Oklahoma State 35 – Oklahoma 24

CUSA Championship Game
Teams: Marshall (9-3) at Rice (9-3)

Time (TV): 12:00 pm (ESPN2)
Interest: 1.5
Cheer For: Rice

Now before you dismiss Marshall's chances in this game because they are a “U of M” and no “U of M” has EVER played in a conference championship game, I would like to remind you that Marshall is actually an “MU”. They are Marshall University, not the University of Marshall, so let's show a little bit of respect here, okay? Marshall 37 – Rice 28

Teams: #25 Texas (8-3) at #9 Baylor (10-1)
Time (TV): 3:30 pm (FOX)
Interest: 3
Cheer For: Texas

It's pretty amazing to think that even though Baylor and Oklahoma State are ranked in the top 10, if Texas somehow wins this game, then they will also win a share of the Big XII Championship. In fact, if they win and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, then they'll win the conference outright and land the Big XII's BCS berth. Of note, if Texas loses this game, the 2013 senior class will be the first at Texas to fail to win a conference championship since 1989. I think the Longhorns absolutely have the athletes on defense to make some plays against Baylor, but I don't know if they have the offense to keep up. People are writing off the Longhorns in this one, and they've been burned for it this season at times. I'm taking Baylor, but I feel like Texas is going to make this one interesting. Baylor 41 – Texas 31

SEC Championship Game
Teams: #5 Missouri (11-1) vs #3 Auburn (11-1) (Atlanta, GA)

Time (TV): 3:30 pm (CBS)
Interest: 5
Cheer For: Missouri

This game is going to be very interesting and entertaining. CBS will have an hour of studio shows to tell you how much the winner of their game will deserve to go the BCS Championship Game. I wonder if the first half hour will be dedicated to Auburn or Missouri. Auburn is in this game on the heels of the greatest thing ever witnessed, and Missouri is here because winning a division in the SEC just isn't that hard anymore. The winner of this game will be headed to the BCS National Championship if Ohio State loses later in the evening, so even though you might expect Auburn to be emotionally spent after last week, this game would be impossible not to get up for. I think James Franklin will give Auburn's defense fits on the ground, and that will make Henry Josey even more effective running the ball. Missouri's front four is no pushover, and they'll probably have better coaching than Alabama did a week ago. The key, however, may be Mizzou kicker Andrew Baggett, who is only 13-20 on kicks of 30 yards or more. He has also missed three extra points this season. Auburn got a win last week because of an opponent's poor kicking. They'll need it a second week in a row to get this one. I don't think it will happen. Missouri 42 – Auburn 38

Teams: USF (2-9) at Rutgers (5-6)
Time (TV): 7:30 pm (ESPN2)
Interest: 1
Cheer For: Rutgers

The best thing about the college football season ending is that I won't have to come up with something to write about in these Rutgers previews. It's not easy to just type and type and type with no direction in mind. Sure, I can look at my desk and think I really need to throw that can of Diet Coke away, but does that mean I'm going to? Not very likely. Let's see, what else can I look at for inspiration...how about this cup from a milkshake I made last night. That's definitely going to have to be rinsed before going into the dishwasher. Let's see, what else...you know what, I really need to pick up around here. If Rutgers wins this one, they'll be bowl eligible. Now whether that actually means a bowl will select them or not, I cannot say. Especially when seppuku is always an option. Rutgers 30 – USF 17

PAC 12 Championship Game
Teams: #7 Stanford (10-2) at #11 Arizona State (10-2)

Time (TV): 7:45 pm (ESPN)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Arizona State

This will be the second matchup of the season for these two teams, as Stanford already won at home 42-28 over ASU, which came the week after the Sun Devils played Wisconsin early in the season. The most interesting aspect of this game for me will be how far #7 Stanford drops after they lose this game. Will they fall to eight? Nine? Will they go up to #6 for finally losing to a quality opponent? It's anybody's guess! The Sun Devils are a three-point favorite in this one, so just imagine the credit Stanford will receive for a one-point loss. The only team to stay within 13 points of Arizona State at home this season was Wisconsin, who lost by just two points. Oregon State was the closest in conference, losing 30-17 three weeks ago. Stanford may do better than that, but they won't do better than the Badgers. ASU's run defense has been up and down this season, but I think it will be up enough this time around. Arizona State 34 – Stanford 24

ACC Championship Game
Teams: #1 Florida State (12-0) vs #20 Duke (10-2) (Charlotte, NC)

Time (TV): 8:00 pm (ABC)
Interest: 4
Cheer For: Duke

There's a pretty good chance that Florida State is going to pull this one out. If Duke wins this, and Ohio State loses against Michigan State, then we'll be witnessing another SEC vs SEC national championship game. For that reason alone, maybe America should be rooting for Florida State here. Florida State 42 – Duke 31

Big Ten Championship Game
Teams: #2 Ohio State (12-0) vs #10 Michigan State (11-1)

Time (TV): 8:00 pm (FOX)
Interest: 5
Cheer For: Ohio State

It's the game the nation has been waiting for since they realized that Ohio State might go undefeated. “Finally,” they said, “A defense that can stop Ohio State's running game!” That's the big question in this game. Nebraska had success against MSU, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, but no other team has done better than Indiana's 3.4 yards per carry – and 64 of the Hoosiers 91 yards rushing came on one play, so obviously even that middling bit of success was a fluke. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are leading the nation at 7.0 yards per carry, and their season-low rushing total in a game was 192 yards against Wisconsin early in the season. In the seven games since then, Ohio State is averaging 345.6 yards rushing. I just don't think Michigan State can stop the Buckeye running game without giving up something in the passing game. Playing in a controlled environment should help Braxton Miller throw the ball better than he has. He won't need to wear gloves, which will also help. If Miller is accurate, the Buckeyes would need to turn the ball over a few times to lose. The major concern for Buckeye fans will, amazingly, be Michigan State's offense against Ohio State's defense. The Spartans have nothing to lose, so they'll pull out every trick in the bag, but they're also going to continue to be a very basic offense. The MSU running game is solid, but it's not great. The passing game is okay, but it's not great either. This is the type of offense that Ohio State matches up with very well. If the turnovers are even, and Braxton Miller completes 60% of his passes, the Buckeyes win by two touchdowns. Ohio State 31 – Michigan State 19

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