By: Joe Curci
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We’ll if you are a Rutgers’ fan you probably woke up this morning with a sense of anger, disappointment, and outright disgust
The Scarlet Knights had every opportunity to win that game last night, and 50,000+ watched a BCS bowl bid fade into the night illuminated by the Scarlet tones on the Empire State Building. It seemed as if the stars were aligned for Rutgers.
Louisville would not start their star QB due to a broken wrist and a bum ankle. It was determined he could not take a snap under center and head coach Charlie Strong went with Senior backup Will Stein. Strong pulled Stein in the second quarter and in Kirk Gibson like fashion Teddy Bridgewater limped out and led the Cardinals to a 20-17 win in Piscataway.
This loss hurts on many levels. As many alumni and current students left the stadium last night there was one simple question going through their heads… When are we going to get a shot at the BCS like that again? As the Scarlet Knights head to the BIG 10, no longer will they have to put aside teams like South Florida, Temple, & UCONN. Instead they get Ohio State, Michigan, & Nebraska. The paychecks get much higher, but the level of competition gets even tougher, and it could be a while before Rutgers is playing for a shot at the BCS again.
As the regular season begins to wind down the bowl scenarios are shaping out. This year will be like most, filled with controversy and frustrated teams. There are a crop of teams that fall into the mix of being “really good” but not “great”. With Notre Dame’s win at USC the Irish have locked up a spot in the National Championship Game. They will most likely take on the winner of the SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia. It’s interesting that it sets up like a mini playoff format, Notre Dame getting the bye for having the best record and the #2 & #3 seeds having a play in game for the other spot in the title game. The only irony in the whole thing is that the winner of the SEC title game will be at least a 7 point favorite against Notre Dame so go figure.
Now, in terms of this year’s Heisman candidates, I think it’s very simple. If you want your “Heisman Moment” or fairy tale story you would look to either Manti Te’o or Johnny Manziel. Both had tremendous seasons, yet both have stigmas against them winning the award. Many say that voters don’t like to vote for a defensive player; in fact you would have to go back to 1997 (Charles Woodson) to find a non quarterback or running back to take the honors. To me it makes sense that Johnny Manziel wins this year. Many say the voters don’t like to vote for a freshman, but I think it’s because of being a freshman that he deserves this award even more. Taking a team from 6-6 last season into the SEC and going 10-2 is no small task. Going in to Tuscaloosa and defeating the defending national champions is no small task. Passing for over 3400 yards, rushing for over 1000 yards and accounting for 43 touchdowns are no small tasks. Johnny accomplished all that in his first year, and in a year where there is no overwhelming favorite, Manziel has stood out, and been consistent all season long. Johnny Football could soon be Johnny Heisman.
SEC Championship Game
#2 Alabama vs #3 Georgia 4:00 p.m. CBS
Throughout the season Alabama was a shoe in to play in January for another national title. There have been a few hiccups along their journey and now they will have to win this game over Georgia with the winner taking on Notre Dame. AJ McCarron has had his share of ups and downs. A fierce comeback against LSU, followed by the devastation of losing at home to Texas A&M. McCarron will now once again be under the limelight, with the rare chance to play in back-to-back BCS title games. He will have to beat yet another great defense.
Georgia has been tremendous this season. They fell down 21 points at South Carolina, but rebounded at home to beat Florida just two weeks later, and find themselves in the hunt for the nation’s big prize. This game will come down to the Georgia offense’s ability to put points up on the board. Can Aaron Murray get the job done in a huge spot? The bottom line is this. I think Georgia is a great team in the best conference in college football, and I know that recently there has been an anti-SEC movement. You can’t argue the stats and when 1 conference is responsible for the last 6 National Championships, they probably can be considered the best. Alabama got hit by a prefect storm. I firmly believe that had they played A&M any other week they would have won, but they got caught with a little bit of an LSU hangover, and it cost them. They will be ready for Georgia, and I’m not convinced Georgia has enough to win this game.
PICK: Alabama 31 Georgia 13
Pac 12 Championship Game* Friday
#16 UCLA vs #8 Stanford 8:00 p.m.
I was surprised how big the margin was last week between these two teams, and I really thought UCLA would have kept it closer. Stanford has been red hot, and will not let their foot off the gas in this one. If UCLA has any shot they have to get Johnathan Franklin more involved, and they cannot afford any turnovers. Even if the play a prefect game I think the Cardinal still have the edge.
PICK: Stanford 41 UCLA 21
#18 Texas @ #6 Kansas State 8:00 p.m.
The season came crashing down for Kansas State in a quick 60 minutes against Baylor. Many people pointed to this game as the final step in what could have been a title game bound season. Now the Wildcats will have to make sure they win just to ensure a BCS bid. This is Collin Klein’s last chance in front of the country to make his case for the Heisman. Texas is no pushover, and I think they will play well, but I expect Kansas State to rebound and make a statement as they head to the bowl season.
PICK: Kansas State 48 Texas 27
#11 Oklahoma beats TCU after a dramatic win over OK State. OU 38 TCU 21
Wisconsin ends the season on a high note with an upset with at home over #12 Nebraska 23-20.
#13 Florida State destroys Georgia Tech 44-13.
Can #17 Kent State slow down #21 NIU’s offense? I think they can — Kent State 31 NIU 28.
Follow Joe Curci on Twitter @JoeyBaboots
Who do you think will win the SEC Championship Game? Be heard in the comments below…