Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Ole Miss all had a bad Rivalry Week but not as bad as your humble correspondent. Thanks to those losses and three others I had my worst week of the season (4-6). Good thing it will soon be over. That record dropped us to 93-37 on the season.
As punishment for my poor performance, we’ll only pick five games today. Here, because I know you have been breathlessly waiting, is the final Fearless Friday Forcecast for the 2009 regular season. Thanks for being here for what has been quite an incredible ride.
1. Alabama vs. Florida (SEC Championship): There is not a whole lot more you can say about a 1 vs. 2 matchup with everything on the line. The winner gets the SEC title, a shot at the national title, and perhaps the Heisman Trophy winner. Florida is the defending national champions and has won 22 straight games. Florida has one of the best quarterbacks we will ever see in Tim Tebow. Florida won 31-20 when these two teams met this time last year. Logically, we should go with Florida. But something tells me, and it’s just a hunch, that Alabama is going to play well and Tebow won’t have as much time to throw as he did a year ago. Alabama gets a field goal at the buzzer in another instant classic. Alabama 17, Florida 14.
2. Georgia Tech vs. Clemson (ACC Championship): A lot has happened to these two teams since their first meeting on Sept. 10. Clemson started 2-3 and then became one of the hottest teams in the country. Georgia Tech lost to Miami the week after beating Clemson (30-27) and then regrouped and proceeded to win eight straight games. Both teams were on the top of the world before getting beat last week in rivalry games against the SEC. This game will come down Georgia Tech QB Josh Nesbitt and Clemson RB/kick returner C.J. Spiller, who returned the seventh kickoff of his career for a touchdown last week. I’m giving the edge to Georgia Tech, but it’s going to be close. Georgia Tech 31, Clemson 28.
3. Nebraska vs. Texas (Big 12 championship): Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was kept under wraps earlier in the season because the Longhorn coaching staff did not want to risk injury. In the past five games Texas has turned McCoy loose. Last week he threw for 304 yards and ran for 175 more in a tough road win over Texas A&M. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has a good defensive scheme for the Texas spread offense, but the Cornhusker offense won’t be able to keep pace with McCoy. Texas wins and advances to the BCS championship game. Texas 35, Nebraska 24.
4. Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (Big East championship): Cincinnati (11-0) has a chance to go to a BCS bowl for the second straight year if the Bearcats can win on the road against Pittsburgh. This is a contrast in styles. Cincinnati is a wide open team behind quarterback Tony Pike (2,048 yards, 23 touchdowns), who has finally healed from a midseason arm injury. Pittsburgh is a blue collar team behind freshman running back Dion Lewis, who is the nation’s No. 4 rusher (131.5 ypg). Rumors are swirling that Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly is headed to Notre Dame. I just think the passing combination of Pike to Mardy Gilyard (93.8 ypg) will be too much for the Panthers. Cincinnati 28, Pittsburgh 24.
5. Houston at East Carolina (Conference USA championship): Houston (10-2) has non-conference wins over Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Mississippi State plus one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country in Case Keenum, who needs only 78 yards passing to reach 5,000 for the second straight year. The Cougars are leading the nation in scoring at 44.9 points per game. It sounds like East Carolina is overmatched, even though the Pirates are at home. But remember that while the Houston offense is the best in football, the defense is among the worst (110th nationally), giving up 445.2. I still like the Cougars. Houston 42, East Carolina 31.
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