OK, so after four weeks of projecting the same two teams to land in the national title game, let’s just have a little fun this week, why don’t we?
Take nothing away from Auburn. The Tigers, with controversy swirling all around them last week, still handled a dangerous Georgia team that had upset on its mind.
With all that said, however, let’s face it: The Tigers still have major issues on defense and the trail to a perfect record, going through Alabama and South Carolina in the SEC title game, will be a bear for a team and a program that is still finding its way.
So, let’s just say for purposes of discussion here, that Auburn stumbles along that road. And let’s just say, with Virginia Tech’s resurgence helping Boise State and Utah’s collapse hurting TCU, that the blue-blooded Broncos jump up to No. 2 in the BCS by season’s end, setting up a colossal clash vs. No. 1 Oregon.
Yes, what a matchup that would be, a rematch of a dandy from last regular season. And with running back LeGarrette Blount, who threw the postgame sucker punch in the last matchup between these two, now in the NFL, perhaps we’ll actually get a clean game.
But that doesn’t matter to the bettors, anyway, does it? What they care about is the line, the action, the buzz. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at this week’s projected matchups and pointspreads.
And joining us in the discussion this week is Jay Kornegay, the executive director of Las Vegas Hilton Sports Book:
BCS Championship Game: Boise State (+4) vs. Oregon
Be careful here. Remember, the object of spreads, at their roots, is to get two-way action. And this line would fit that bill.
“Boise has beaten the Ducks two years in a row and one of them at Oregon,” Kornegay said. “The public perception favors Oregon.”
Exactly. So, knowing that, expect that line, if it happened, to jump up on Oregon’s side. There’s too much offense, there’s too much of a reputation among the BCS conference schools to keep the Ducks from not being the public’s choice.
But we all know what happens when the Broncos are underestimated, especially in BCS settings, right? Ask Oklahoma. Ask TCU.
Either way, this would be one interesting tilt.
Sugar Bowl: Auburn (+2.5) vs. Ohio State
Let’s not give up on Auburn for good. Let’s just project a loss to Alabama and then a win over South Carolina in Atlanta to win the SEC. That gives them a berth in the Sugar Bowl, a national stage, and plenty of positive publicity … all of which the program needs.
The Buckeyes, however, are back. They had their slip, they picked themselves up and they are streaking toward the finish line. Keep in mind, this team was ranked No. 1 not too long ago and, as Oregon found out last year in the Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes can handle speed and can wear down perhaps any team in the country in a big game.
“Usually when a team has national championship aspirations and they lose late in the season, they perform poorly in their bowl game,” Kornegay said of Auburn, if this were to happen, of course. “This fits into that mold. The Buckeyes can stop the run and nobody has done that against the Tigers… yet.”
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech (+4) vs. TCU
Keep that motivation angle in your heads for this one. The Horned Frogs have done all the right things, but in the end, the computers may not agree. If that’s the case, TCU may end up with a date in Miami vs. the ACC champion.
“If Boise State leapfrogs the Frogs,” Kornegay said, “how motivated will TCU be?”
It’s a good question. But on talent alone and considering Virginia Tech’s track record against these Mighty Mite programs (please see the opening week loss to Boise State), the pointspread nod would go to the Frogs.
Fiesta Bowl: Pitt (+8) vs. Nebraska
Well, we say it every week… only because it’s true: Someone has to win the Big East. Even though Pitt lost to UConn, the Panthers still have a favorable road to the BCS party.
Of course, when they get there, it might be ugly.
“Mismatch,” Kornegay said. “The Cornhuskers defense is way too fast for Pitt’s offense. We might start to question the Big East’s automatic invite.”
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin (+4.5) vs. Stanford
The Badgers have the best chance to win the Big Ten outright and they’re playing like it. And regardless of what other projections and other breakdowns might say, we have a hard time thinking the Rose Bowl committee won’t be amped up for a classic clash of styles between the two conferences that have made the Rose Bowl what it is today: the Pac-10 and the Big Ten.
But what we also love about this matchup are the reputations. Flash and dash from Stanford. Smash and crash from Wisconsin - and a whole lot of red in the stands.
“A very good, competitive matchup,” Kornegay said. “Stanford’s defense is better than most people think. Wisconsin is not run-oriented as in years past. (Stanford quarterback) Andrew Luck is the difference.”