League titles on the line in all six BCS conferences
By Mitch Light
No. 67 Ohio vs. No. 57 Northern Illinois (MAC Championship Game)
Northern Illinois, winner of seven straight, brings an explosive offense to Ford Field in Detroit. NIU ranks ninth in the nation in total offense and has scored 40 points or more in nine of its 12 games. Ohio, too, can score points, but Frank Solich’s club leans on its defense. The Bobcats allowed only 350.7 yards and 22.0 points per game.
Northern Illinois 34, Ohio 21
No. 54 UCLA at Oregon (ACC Championship Game)
This isn’t what Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott had in mind when the league expanded to 12 teams to set up a conference championship game. Oregon is a 31-point favorite over a UCLA team that went 6–6 overall and is fresh off a humbling 50–0 loss to USC. Oh, and the Bruins have fired their coach.
Oregon 48, UCLA 14
Saturday, Dec. 3
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 15 Georgia (SEC Championship Game)
LSU has all but locked up a spot in the national title game, but the Tigers still have plenty to play for — a coveted SEC championship. Les Miles’ club proved once again why it’s deserving of the No. 1 spot in the polls with a thorough, 41–17, victory over Arkansas on Friday.
LSU 34, Georgia 17
No. 7 Oklahoma at No. 3 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State is ranked No. 3 in the BCS, but it appears as though the Pokes are a long shot to play in the national title game — even with a convincing win over Oklahoma coupled with an LSU loss to Georgia in the SEC title game.
Oklahoma State 41, Oklahoma 33
No. 6 Virginia Tech vs. No 25 Clemson (Pac-12 Championship Game)
Clemson established itself as a legitimate national title contender — at the time — with a dominating 23–3 win at Virginia Tech back on Oct. 1. Times have changed. The Tigers are now 9–3, having lost three of their last four games, each by 14 points or more.
Virginia Tech 34, Clemson 24
No. 10 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 Michigan State (Big Ten Championship Game)
The Badgers will have an opportunity to avenge their “Hail Mary” loss when they face Michigan State in the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans have had a fine season — they won 10 games for the second year in a row — but Wisconsin is the best team in the Big Ten. The Badgers have been mauling the opposition with a devastating rushing attack and an efficient passing game.
Wisconsin 27, Michigan State 20
No. 42 Iowa State at No. 12 Kansas State
Kansas State still has a shot at its first BCS bowl since 2004. Here’s what needs to happen: The Wildcats need to beat Iowa State (likely); Oklahoma State needs to beat Oklahoma (very possible); and Michigan, which doesn’t play, needs to remain outside the top 14 of the BCS standings (it is No. 16 now). Not bad for a team that was predicted by most — including Athlon Sports — to finish ninth in the Big 12.
Kansas State 31, Iowa State 17
No. 115 New Mexico at No. 13 Boise State
This is the final game before the Bob Davie era begins at New Mexico. It will be a major surprise if the margin of victory for Boise State is less than 40 points.
Boise State 51, New Mexico 0
No. 29 Texas at No. 16 Baylor
Texas somehow won at Texas A&M over the weekend despite gaining only 237 yards of offense. Yards and points should be easier to come by in Waco, but the Horns might not be good enough offensively to outscore the Bears.
Baylor 30, Texas 27
No. 116 UNLV at No. 17 TCU
It’s TCU’s final game as a member of the Mountain West. It will not be close.
TCU 47, UNLV 10
No. 38 Southern Miss at No. 18 Houston (C-USA Championship Game)
Houston is one win away from its first Conference USA title since 2006 and its first-ever spot in a BCS bowl. With a win over Southern Miss, the Cougars are likely headed to the Sugar Bowl to face Michigan. But first things first: Southern Miss is a very good team that won 10 games in the regular season, highlighted by a 30–24 win at Virginia in September.
Houston 47, Southern Miss 31
No. 66 Connecticut at No. 32 Cincinnati
Connecticut needs to win to become bowl-eligible in the first season of the Paul Pasqualoni era. Cincinnati needs to win to grab a share of the Big East title. Cincinnati is the better team.
Cincinnati 31, Connecticut 20
No. 82 Syracuse at No. 53 Pittsburgh
It’s been a disappointing third season for Doug Marrone at his alma mater, but the Orange (5–6 overall, 1–6 Big East) can still become bowl-eligible with a win at Pittsburgh. The Panthers, too, need to win to extend their season. Not sure it will be a great game, but there is a lot at stake for both teams.
Pittsburgh 27, Syracuse 14
No. 56 BYU at No. 78 Hawaii
The Cougars haven’t been overly impressive, but they’ve still managed to win eight games — so far — in their first season as an Independent. Usually, a trip to Hawaii is no easy task, but the Warriors are struggling (despite beating Tulane last week).
BYU 41, Hawaii 30
No. 111 Troy at No. 62 Arkansas State
Arkansas State is one away from wrapping up a perfect 8–0 mark in the Sun Belt Conference. Hugh Freeze has done a tremendous job in a very short time in Jonesboro.
Arkansas State 33, Troy 14
No. 63 Wyoming at No. 110 Colorado State
Wyoming has very quietly enjoyed a solid 2011 season. The Cowboys are 7–4 overall and 4–2 in the MWC. With a win over rival Colorado State — the two schools are only 65 miles apart — Wyoming will secure a third-place finish in the league standings.
Wyoming 34, Colorado State 13
No. 102 Fresno State at No. 64 San Diego State
Fresno State has a losing record in the WAC for the first time in the 15-year Pat Hill era. And it’s only the second time in the past 13 years that the Bulldogs will not be playing in a bowl game.
San Diego State 33, Fresno State 15
No. 71 Utah State at No. 101 New Mexico State
Utah State recovered from a slow start — which included several painfully close losses — to win four straight games. The Aggies (of USU, not NMSU) are headed to a bowl game (the Idaho Potato Bowl) for the first time since 1997.
Utah State 30, New Mexico State 10
No. 112 Idaho at No. 72 Nevada
Nevada proved there is life after Colin Kaepernick, averaging over 500 yards of offense for the fourth straight season. Idaho, on the other hand, has struggled after the graduation of its standout quarterback, Nathan Enderle.
Nevada 44, Idaho 14
No. 113 Middle Tennessee at No. 98 North Texas
It’s been a nightmare season for Middle Tennessee, which is 2–9 overall with wins over two of the worst FBS teams in the nation — Memphis and FAU.
North Texas 21, Middle Tennessee 17
No. 107 UL-Monroe at No. 117 Florida Atlantic
Mercifully, Howard Schnellenberger’s final season in coaching will not end with an 0–12 record. The Owls finally broke through last week with a 38–35 win over UAB. They will, however, likely send their coach out with a 1–11 mark.
UL-Monroe 28, Florida Atlantic 10
Last week — 40-12
Season — 526–139