With Virginia Tech headed to the ACC Championship, here’s a look at the other automatic-qualifying BCS conference championships this week and how each conference will determine its champion.
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP:
NEBRASKA VS. OKLAHOMA
An automatic bid to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is on the line for these two teams, as the Sooners take on the Cornhuskers Saturday at Cowboys Stadium. With Nebraska ranked 13th in the nation and Oklahoma ranked ninth, be prepared to watch these long-time rivals fight tooth and nail for the win.
Nebraska’s freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez did not play last Friday against Colorado because of an ankle injury, but he is probable for the upcoming contest against the Sooners.
Nevertheless, Oklahoma needs to worry more about Nebraska’s rushing offense than its passing offense. Nebraska ranks eighth nationally in rushing yards per game and Oklahoma’s defense ranks 63rd in rush defense. This mismatch could pose problems for the Sooners.
Oklahoma’s Landry Jones is having an outstanding season, throwing for 3,947 yards with 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He completes 66 percent of his passes, and the Sooners are ranked fourth overall in passing yards.
If Nebraska does not put pressure on Jones, the Sooners will cruise to an easy victory. Fortunately, Nebraska’s secondary is one of the best, having tallied 18 interceptions on the season.
Look forward to a hard-fought, emotional game between these two teams, as Nebraska looks to win its last conference game as a member of the Big 12 — the Cornhuskers will join the Big Ten starting next season.
NEBRASKA WINS, 27-20
SOUTH CAROLINA VS. AUBURN
The Tigers can secure a spot in the BCS National Championship Game with a win over the Gamecocks in the SEC Championship Game this weekend. Auburn is heading into this game undefeated, coming off of a huge comeback win over Alabama last week.
The two teams met earlier this season, and South Carolina blew a 20-7 lead as Auburn battled back and won the game 35-27.
Quarterback Cam Newton is the player to watch for Auburn. He has thrown for 2,254 yards this season with 24 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
He is dangerous on his feet as well, accounting for 1,336 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Newton was cleared to play by the NCAA this week after facing allegations he took money during his recruitment with Auburn.
South Carolina is currently ranked 33rd in total defense, allowing an average of 338.7 yards per game. This game will be a critical test for the Gamecocks’ defense.
However, South Carolina’s defense is not the only defensive unit in trouble. Auburn’s pass defense ranks 98th nationally, and South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has a quarterback rating of 157.7, which puts him 14th in the country, one spot ahead of the Hokies’ Tyrod Taylor.
This game boils down to which defense can stop the opposing team’s quarterback. If the Gamecocks shut down Newton, South Carolina can pull off the upset.
PREDICTION: AUBURN WINS, 35-27
The Oregon Ducks are PAC-10 champions, but if they want to secure their spot in the BCS Championship Game they must win against rival Oregon State in the “Civil War” this weekend.
Oregon State has had a disappointing season this year, with an overall record of 5-6. Although the Beavers are coming off a tough 38-0 loss to Stanford, they have nothing to lose, which could spell trouble for Oregon’s national title dreams.
Expect a close game in the first quarter, with the Ducks eventually pulling away and leaving Reser Stadium with the win and a trip to Glendale, Ariz.
PREDICTION: OREGON WINS, 35-10
Connecticut controls its own destiny in this year’s Big East race, as it heads to Tampa, Fla., this weekend to battle the South Florida Bulls. If UConn wins, the Huskies are most likely headed to the Orange Bowl to take on the winner of the ACC Championship Game.
If South Florida defeats UConn this weekend, West Virginia has a chance of heading to a BCS bowl if it can win against Rutgers.