Game of the week
SEC championship: Auburn vs. Missouri
One bad quarter. Thats all that stands between Missouri and an undefeated season. Two wild plays. Thats all that stands between Auburn and a 9-3 record. The teams meet in Atlanta in the most unlikely of title games with Mizzou picked sixth of seven in the SEC East and Auburn selected fifth in the SEC West in the preseason poll. Auburn has the nations fifth-ranked rushing offense at 318 yards per game but quarterback Nick Marshall is capable, averaging 148 yards per game. The Tigers have a more balanced attack, led by quarterback James Franklin. Defensive end Michael Sam leads the SEC in sacks (10 1/2) and tackles for loss (18).
Upset of the week
Big Ten championship: Michigan State over Ohio State
The Buckeyes and their offensive machine take on Michigan State and perhaps the nations top defense in Indianapolis. Can Ohio States front line have enough success against the Spartans to open things up for running back Carlos Hyde, who averages 7.8 yards per carry? Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook has improved throughout the season and was second team all-Big Ten, behind Ohio States Braxton Miller. If the Spartans can get enough offense, they can shake up the BCS race.
Others to watch
Atlantic Coast championship: Florida State vs. Duke
Who would have thought? Duke has reached the ACC title game in Charlotte, N.C., for the first time, and coach David Cutcliffe is getting plenty of consideration for national coach of the year. But can the Blue Devils keep it close against the top-ranked Seminoles? Duke has made a two-quarterback system work with Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette. Florida State needs to maintain focus even though QB Jameis Winston wont be charged after a sexual-assault investigation. The Seminoles are 16-0 all-time against Duke.
Pac-12 championship: Stanford at Arizona State
This is a regular-season rematch with Stanford taking it to the Sun Devils 42-21 on Sept. 21 on The Farm. Arizona State won its next eight Pac-12 games, clinching its first division crown. The Sun Devils are on home turf and look for their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1996. Stanfords success is easy to identify. The Cardinal run, leading the Tyler Gaffney, and stop the run with the best in the country. Running back Marion Grice is out for Arizona State.
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Once again, Bedlam figures prominently in the Big 12 championship. In each of the three years of the 10-team Big 12, this winner has taken at least a share of the Big 12 crown. The Cowboys are a West Virginia loss away from being in the national championship conversation. Theyve been terrific since Clint Chelf replaced J.W. Walsh at quarterback in late October and averaged nearly 48 points in the five games since then. Oklahoma is coming off its best offensive game of the year, a 41-31 victory at Kansas State two weeks ago when quarterback Trevor Knight amassed 253 total yards and passed and rushed for a touchdown.
Texas at Baylor
In the final game at 63-year-old Floyd Casey Stadium, Baylor can grab a share of its first Big 12 championship. The Bears open $260 million Baylor Stadium next year. Former Houston Astros owner Dratyon McLane, a Baylor alum, kick-started the fund-raising with a contribution, and ground was broken. Now, can the Bears go out in style? After a 9-0 start, the Bears got hammered by Oklahoma State and barely got by TCU. The winner of this game will share the Big 12 championship and will play in the Fiesta Bowl if Oklahoma State loses. That hardly seemed possible for Texas after its 1-2 start. But the Longhorns battled back for a respectable season.
Big 12 bowl projections
• Fiesta: Oklahoma State vs. Northern Illinois
• Cotton: Baylor vs. LSU
• Alamo: Oklahoma vs. Oregon
• Buffalo Wild Wings: Texas vs. Nebraska
• Holiday: Kansas State vs. Stanford
• Texas: Texas Tech vs. Michigan
SEC bowl projections
• Sugar: Missouri vs. Central Florida
• Orange: Alabama vs. Clemson
• Cotton: LSU vs. Baylor
• Capital One: Auburn vs. Wisconsin
• Outback: South Carolina vs. Iowa
• Chick-fil-A: Texas A&M vs. Duke
• Gator: Georgia vs. Michigan
• Liberty: Vanderbilt vs. Marshall
• Music City: Mississippi vs. Georgia Tech
• BBVA Compass: Mississippi State vs. Rutgers
| Blair Kerkhoff, email@example.com