It's the first weekend of December, and you know what that means -- a slew of college football conference championship games that, to the average college football fan, mean virtually nothing. Sure, will some teams win their way into automatic bids to BCS bowls? Yes. In the spirit of...well, spirit, do the alums of these schools care about who wins the games? For the most part, probably yes...maybe.
But by and large, the only people watching most of these games with any degree of interest are friends, family, and degenerate gamblers (all of whom I obviously encourage to stay for the material after the jump).
The only game that means anything to the average, non-invested fan this weekend is Alabama versus Georgia for the SEC title, and a shot at Notre Dame in the BCS title game (presumably).
But fast forward to 2014...
....now imagine if we were in the land of the four team playoff. Look at the schedule of games this weekend and think of how many would have an impact on a four team playoff:
SEC TITLE GAME -- Alabama vs Georgia The stakes remain the same. The winner would assuredly lock up a spot as the number two seed in the four team playoff. Depending on how the game played out, would the loser stay in the mix for spot three or four? Probably not, so this remains unto itself a de facto playoff game.
PAC-12 TITLE GAME -- UCLA at Stanford A Stanford win would give them the title in the second toughest conference in the country, and with their second loss being an out of conference road loss (in overtime, no less) to number one ranked Notre Dame, I think a committee would look very favorably upon Stanford as a four seed. They also beat Oregon head to head and beat USC when beating USC mattered.
TEXAS AT KANSAS STATE Kansas State would be out for blood and style points against the Longhorns in an effort to try and make the argument that, as a one loss conference champion, this puts them ahead of Florida, Oregon, and Stanford as a three or four seed. None of those three teams can say they are a one loss conference champion.
ACC TITLE GAME -- Florida State vs Georgia Tech This game means nothing to the four team playoff this week, but certainly the level of tension of Florida-Florida State last weekend would have been amplified. Under a four team playoff format, Florida State would have been playing a de facto elimination game last weekend. Some would argue that they already were, but they had no chance of working their way into the mix this season if they won. However, in a four team playoff, they would be able to say, like Kansas State potentially, that they are a one loss conference champion with the most impressive out of conference win of any team in the country (Florida).
(NOTE: Ty Duffy of TheBigLead.com does a great job of outlining the importance of all of these games in an eight team playoff format as well.)
So rejoice slightly that the end is near for this antiquated abortion of a system, but lament that they couldn't speed the process up a little bit.
Now, this is a meaningful weekend for me. I'm trying to over .500 on my picks in the final college football weekend of the regular season. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??? So here are a few nuggets for this weekend:
RUTGERS -3 1/2 over Louisville It's the Big East Escape Bowl as Rutgers, who announced they're leaving for the Big Ten a couple weeks ago, hosts Louisville, who announced this week they would be moving to the ACC. The winner may or may not gain automatic entry into a BCS bowl game, I don't know. Frankly, I've lost track of the clusterfuck that is the Big East, where it feels like everyone not named UConn and South Florida pretty much has two losses. And by the way, would either school brag about winning the Big East? Isn't that a little like bragging about nailing some chick the day after you broke up with her? Kind of an "80's movie villain" dick move, right?
Anyway, I'm picking Rutgers basically because they were the woven into this Tom Rinaldi feature this week on ESPN:
I've done the research, and when a team is directly or tangentially involved with a tear jerking Tom Rinaldi feature, they are 124-0 against the spread the following week. Don't bother looking it up. Just trust me.
CONNECTICUT +5 over Cincinnati The Big East Left Behind Bowl. I'm picturing Paul Pasqualoni and Butch Jones both standing in the middle of the street as a bus pulls way with Pitt, Louisville, and Syracuse looking out the back window, and the two of them making the "peace" hand gesture like Forrest Gump as Jenny pulled away in the bus in D.C. Ok, obscure reference out of the way, I'm taking the points here.
Kent State +7 over Northern Illinois There is a somewhat known rule written into the BCS bylaws that if a conference champion from a non-AQ conference ("non-AQ" is BCS speak for "have not") is ranked in the top 16 and ranked above a BCS conference champion that is outside of the top 16, then said non-AQ school gains automatic entry into a BCS bowl. Kent State is sitting at 17th in the latest BCS standings, right behind 16th ranked UCLA (a double digit underdog to Stanford in the PAC-12 title game). So basically, if Kent State can pull of this upset, we are looking at the possibility of a "Florida State versus Kent State" Orange Bowl, which would make those boondoggle bigwigs from the bowl hang themselves by their bright orange sport coats.
Oklahoma State/BAYLOR OVER 87 EIGHT SEVEN POINTS. Good Lord, I'm fairly certain you could put Colorado on a field against a bunch of chairs and cones and they might not be able to score 87 points in sixty minutes. And yet I'm still not scared. This over is just so crazy I HAVE to take it.
WEST VIRGINIA -19 1/2 over Kansas Back on the "fade Charlie Weis" train this week. We only get one more chance to do it this season!
Texans -6 over TITANS The Texans are finally getting somewhat healthy (Brooks Reed's injury, not withstanding) and have had their close shaves the last couple weeks. I think the extended, quasi-bye week will do wonders for them as well. Prediction: Texans 26, Titans 13
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Last week: 3-3 Season record: 35-36-1
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.