The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. Here's what might happen on Championship Saturday.
Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.
David Cutcliffe will win National Coach of the Year
There have been a lot of firsts this year for Duke. This year marks the first time Duke has won 10 games in a season. It is the first time in school history that the Blue Devils have earned back-to-back bowl bids. It won a game over a ranked opponent for the first time in four decades. And it won its first Coastal Division championship — outright, I might add. So while there are plenty of excellent candidates for Coach of the Year (Gus Malzahn, Gary Pinkel, Todd Graham, Mark Dantonio, Art Briles), Cutcliffe is the most deserving candidate. His team may not have a chance against Florida State this weekend but simply being in Bank of America Stadium on Saturday makes this the most historic football season in Duke's history. Cutcliffe should be honored for it.
Three underdogs will win conference title games
Florida State will crush Duke in the ACC Championship Game but Stanford (+3.5), Michigan State (+5.5) and Missouri (+1.5) could all pull off upsets. And here’s why. What do all three teams have in common? They each boast their respective league’s most athletic and most dominant defense. All three have elite defensive lines and will be facing elite rushing attacks. Offense wins games and defense wins championships. Take all three underdogs to cover and at least three (of the six) to win outright in the power-league championship games. For good measure, I am including Bowling Green and Utah State as four-point underdogs in their conference championship games to mid-major darlings Northern Illinois and Fresno State respectively.
Texas will win the Big 12 outright
Oklahoma State controls its own destiny in the Big 12 and hosts archrival Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series this weekend. But both Texas and Baylor still have a chance to win the league outright and the two will meet in Waco on Saturday. The Bears have come quickly down to earth after a big first two months and were lucky to escape a trip to TCU with a win last weekend. Texas, meanwhile, has been impressive since losing to Oklahoma State. The Sooners have had two weeks to prepare for Okie State and is coming off of their best offensive showing of the season against Kansas State. Oklahoma and Texas both win and the Longhorns clinch the Big 12 title outright and head to the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.
Mizzou will hold Auburn to under 150 yards rushing
Gus Malzahn’s zone-read offense has been virtually unstoppable all season long, averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground and using 296 rushing yards to topple mighty Alabama last week. However, Missouri leads the SEC in sacks, tackles for a loss and turnover margin and brings arguably the most athletic defensive line in the conference into the Georgia Dome for Saturday's championship game. Look for Gary Pinkel to study the Mississippi State-Auburn game tape closely this week. The Bulldogs are the only team to hold Auburn to less than 213 yards rushing this year — 120 yards and no touchdowns on 3.3 yards per carry.
Jim Mora won’t be coaching at UCLA
His alma mater Washington has been thrust into a critical coaching search and Mora has long eyed Seattle as his potential dream destination. Mora has announced that he won’t be taking the Washington job, however, what if Texas comes calling after the Baylor game? New Texas AD Steve Patterson has long coveted Mora as the potential successor to Mack Brown. The NFL also will make overtures towards the Bruins' head coach as well. Mora has stated he is staying put but what if the Longhorns or NFL makes an offer?
Braxton Miller will win the Heisman Trophy
Should my second prediction not come true and Ohio State happens to defeat Michigan State as expected, it means Braxton Miller likely will have had a fantastic game. He has led the Big Ten in total offense (295.0 ypg) and passing efficiency (164.31) in Big Ten games and is fourth nationally in rushing yards per game among quarterbacks (89.1 ypg). The Spartans' defense will be geared up to stop Carlos Hyde but will have no answer for No. 5 under center. More than 300 yards of offense and four total touchdowns on a team that is 25-0 over the last two seasons might be enough to upset the Jameis Winston Heisman apple cart.