College Football Preview-Championship Week Edition!
Written by Curt Popejoy on 12/04/2009
Welp, it's Championship week, and that means some really great things, and some not so great. First the great. There are going to be some of the best football games you will see all year. Probably some of the most exciting finishes we've seen, and kids playing harder than they have all season. The Heisman Trophy will be sorted out, the BCS Bowls will be decided and the Bowl picture as a whole will come into focus. Some kids will be heartbroken. Others will be riding high. It's what is great about college football and why for me, it's the king.
But it's not all perfect. After this week, they amount of games is going to take a big dip and it basically becomes a waiting game for the big bowl games. In the meantime I have to deal with crappy NFL football and all these other sports on talk radio. Like my man Charlie Brown says, "Good Grief".
But for now, we've got some huge games to talk about so let's get after it.
The game of the week is obviously the SEC title game between Alabama and Florida. Florida is 1, 'Bama is 2, and this is basically a National Championship Semi-Final. There's yer playoffs. Seriously, this has been a huge matchup for 2 months, and neither team let us down. Had either slipped up during the season, this game means much less, but they came through. Oh, and did I mention that 2 of the 4 biggest names in the Heisman hunt are squaring off as well? Oh yeah, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Alabama running back Mark Ingram are both looking to catch Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Stanford running back Toby Gerhart. Both guys are capable of huge games and I suspect they both will show up big for their teams.
As for the game, I think if you look at the units as they matchuip, it breaks down like this.
Alabama offense versus the Florida defense-Advantage Alabama. Florida is going to be without it's best defensive lineman as Carlos Dunlap is suspended, and a fully healthy Julio Jones gives the Crimson Tide the nod. You figure in Ingram and Trent Richardson running the ball, and Alabama should be effective assuming quarterback Greg McElroy can not make mistakes. But that's not to say minus a suspended Dunlap is without playmakers. CB Joe Haden is the best cornerback in the nation by a wide margin and his matchup with Jones(when it happens) will be huge in the outcome of the game. And with Dunlap out, the other DE, Jermaine Cunningham will have to step up. Lots of hype coming into the season but he's been all sizzle and no steak. He'll have to play better. And at linebacker, Brandon Spikes is one of the 5 best players in the nation. His job will be to stuff that 'Bama run game.
Alabama defense versus the Florida offense-Advantage Florida-A team led by Tim Tebow has to be great and it is. This unit seems to be able to move the ball at will, and the whole thing funnels through the Heisman winner. The offense the Gators run, that funky triple option zone read spread passing thingamajig is Coach Urban Meyer's Frankenstein(with body parts taken from lots of other offenses), and he's got the ultimate guy to run it. The rest of the offsense shapes up nicely as well with speed at Rb with Jeff Demps, and confident, talented pass catchers in WR Riley Cooper and TE Aaron Hernandez. On the other side of the football, Alabama boasts some really talented players as well. And it all starts up front with monstrous NT Terrance Cody. Mount Cody is te immovable object in the middle of that dline, and could neutralize some of those inside zones and shuffle passes Florida runs.If he misses all is not lost as MLB Rolando McClain, the best inside backer in the country is lined up behind him, and he is a total head knocker. The task of covering Cooper will go to Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas. He's not Joe Haden, but he's really talented and will keep them from having to double Cooper.
Alabama Special Teams versus Florida Special Teams-Advantage Alabama. Punting and coverage is practically a push, but when it comes to return men, give me Arenas over Florida return specialist Brandon James 10 times out of 10. And Florida's kicker Caleb Sturgis is good, but Leigh Tiffin is cash money. Give me Tiffin in the clutch.
So in the final analysis, it looks like a ton of great athletes are going to hit te field Saturday afternoon, and it's going to be a battle. I hate to jinx anything, but I just have a feeling Nick Saban is going to have some tricks up his sleeve particularly on defense, and they will control the clock with their run game, and upset the Gators. I think Florida is a great team, and I think this is going to be a great game, but neither team is going to pull away from the other, and I think if it comes down to a big kick, or a big return, it's Alabama's game. Roll Tide!
The next big conference title game is the Big 12 matchup between the Texas Longhorns and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. I'd love to get into a big deep breakdown of this game like I did the SEC title game, but that isn't what this game is about. I think it's great that Nebraska won the Big 12 North and they have a really impressive defense anchored by the best defensive player in the country Ndamukong Suh, but they just don't have enough talent to hang with Texas. Short of an injury to McCoy or a total meltdown that gives Nebraska lots of short fields, they don't stand a chance. Nebraska isn't built to drive the ball 80 yards at a time against guys like Sergio Kindle and Earl Thomas. Texas wins this one not in a rout but comfortably, and head on to play the Florida/Alabama winner.
The ACC title game I am now dubbing the "Backing in Bowl" since Georgia Tech and Clemson are coming into it, coming off losses. Neither team looked particularly impressive last week, although Georgia Tech make a gritty gutty comeback, and tried to win it. This game comes down to the fact that Clemson's best defensive player, DE/LB Ricky SappDerrick Morgan and S Morgan Burnett will have to contend with the explosive running back CJ Spiller. When I say explosive, I mean mostly in the return game, where he'll put the most heat on Georgia Tech. On offense he's so so in the run game, and probably won't be a huge factor. Where he can swing the tide is with a quick score on a return. But on the "which team looked worse last week-o-meter" Clemson impressed me much less, so I am going with Georgia Tech in another great matchup. is a liability in the run game, and Tech is going to run right at him all night long with that awesome triple option offense. Flip it around, and guys like DE
The Big East title and the BCS Bowl that goes with it, is also up for grabs when the Cincinnati Bearcats travel to Heinz Field to play the Pitt Panthers. This is another game where I just think superior firepower wins and the Bearcats have it. I like what Pitt does on offense and defense but Tony Pike and those weapons in the passing game are going to march up and down the field. They want to preserve their undefeated season and there's a ton more on the line for them. This is Cinci's game to lose.
The rest of the weekend shapes up nicely and has a couple more interesting matchups. Here are a couple with interesting story lines..
USC tries to salvage some dignity by not losing to Arizona
Houston battles East Carolina and the losing coach takes the KU coaching position.
Last Edited: 12/04/2009