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November 18, 2008

SCS.comFor the first time in recent memory, a weekend that looked terrible on paper ended up with no drama and no surprises, unless you consider how many points Florida puts up interesting. In a weekend where the NFL has had multiple overtime games (including a tie!) and lots of drama, Saturday just did not have it. There's good news though, and that's rivalry week is here! OK, well maybe rivalry weeks, since many have moved back to November 29 this season. Still, there's a lot of intrigue and BCS possibilities on the line this weekend.

Around this time of year, it becomes appropriate to start thinking about Heisman Trophy hopefuls. This year, we can split the hopefuls into three groups. First is the Big XII Quarterbacks, including Sam Bradford at Oklahoma (188.94 rating, 3406 yards, 38 TD), Zach Robinson at Oklahoma State (178.02 rating, 2421 yards, 21 TD), Colt McCoy of Texas (177.60 rating, 3134 yards, 30 TD), Chase Daniel of Missouri (171.18 rating, 3592 yards, 30 TD), and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech (169.18 rating, 4077 yards, 36 TD). If anyone can figure out which of these players is the best in the conference, please contact every Heisman voter you know. This group is odds-on favorite to stack the New York ceremonies and take home the hardware, but it is hard to distinguish them. Bradford is the most efficient, McCoy is a dual threat, and Daniel has been to New York before. Still, team performance means a lot and Graham Harrell currently sits in the number one slot. If Tech wins in Norman and locks up the Big XII South title, Harrell will likely become a consensus front-runner in late November.

The second group does not get the publicity of the first group, but they really should. Big Ten running backs have been a sight to see in 2008, and no fewer than four men should be considered for plane trips to New York: Shonn Greene of Iowa (1585 yards, 15 TD), Javon Ringer of Michigan State (1548 yards, 20 TD), Evan Royster of Penn State (1123 yards, 12 TD) and Chris Wells of Ohio State (957 yards, 7 TD in limited time). Without these four men, the top four teams in the Big Ten likely look a lot different than it currently is. Even if you eliminate Wells for the injury time and Royster for disappearing in big games, Ringer and Greene should be on your short list. Greene has done nothing short of miraculous in carrying Iowa back to prominence, and has rushed for over 100 yards in all 11 games. Ringer's touchdown numbers lead the nation and Michigan State is not a one-dimensional team. If Michigan State were to end up Big Ten champions, Ringer might get into the discussion. Greene is already there.

The final group are the miscellaneous or others. We have returning Heisman QB Tim Tebow from Florida (167.47 rating, 1913 yards, 19 TD passing; 393 yards, 11 TD rushing). Tebow's numbers are well off last-year's pace, but that's really why Florida is back in control of their national championship hopes. Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree (1010 yards, 18 TD) also joins the contender list as a sophomore with numbers slightly off last year (1962 yards), yet the team around him has hidden his amazing talent this time around. Finally, explosive RB Knowshon Moreno from Georgia (1244 yards, 15 TD) should be considered just simply based on the astounding number of highlight-reel plays he's accumulated this season. Each of these men faces an uphill battle in overtaking the Big XII quarterbacks, but all are deserving of recognition on a great season.

The Heisman stands for most valuable player in college football. The perfect storm is a statistical maniac who is the clear leader of a national title contender. There's no Tim Tebow in the mix this season statistically, but all of the Big XII quarterbacks have been in the national title race. Despite both being deserving of a trip to New York, the Texas Tech-Oklahoma game will likely eliminate one of the quarterbacks from the discussion. Assuming five finalists and that dropout, the most deserving guys with two weeks to go are Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, Shonn Greene, and Michael Crabtree. At this point I'm calling for Bradford to win it because there is a sentiment that nobody should win a second Heisman with worse numbers like Tebow, and Crabtree-Harrell will split votes. Bradford is the call, subject to wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

Rivalry season is upon us, so for the next two weeks expect inspired football and some surprises like last year's Pitt-WVU shocker. This week finishes Big Ten conference play and will probably lock in two BCS spots unless Oregon State wins out. Michigan might be the biggest joke of the season after being a legitimate contender for a national title in 2006, but the Ohio State game is by no means wrapped up for the Buckeyes. In the wild and crazy ACC, North Carolina and NC State will have a grudge match with bowl hopes on the line. These matchups don't fill the top three games of the week, but they deserve far more attention than the undercard from last week. And if anyone can figure out how the ACC conference race will play out, please inform us at the email address linked above because we have no clue who to put in the projections! After the top three contenders from last week fell, next up witha bullseye is Miami. Good luck surviving the roadtrip to Georgia Tech, Hurricanes. The only other change is that Oregon State moves in as they stand two wins away from the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten loses a team.

BCS Projections
BCS Championship in Miami - Florida vs. Texas Tech
Fiesta Bowl - Texas vs. USC
Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs. Utah
Orange Bowl - Miami vs. Cincinnati
Rose Bowl - Oregon State vs. Ohio State

I've somehow kept the nose above water this season in the top game picks, but this week is simply loaded with tough decisions. With all due respect to a de-facto Big East championship between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the third-best game of the week is BYU at Utah. The Big Ten is not the only conference wrapping up this weekend, and the Holy War will determine if the best non-BCS conference gets a bowl bid or allows Boise State to enter the mix. These teams are very similar, except for results against TCU (The Cougars lost by 25, the Utes survived with a 3 point win). The Utes are battle tested with wins against Michigan, Oregon State, and TCU. BYU brings an edge to this game with a passing offense featuring QB Max Hall and WR Austin Collie, who has gone over 100 yards receiving in nine straight games. Utah has played more close games and better defense overall, which bodes well for the Utes at home. Utah takes the first BCS berth away with a convincing 17 point win.

The second game of the week is the Big Ten Championship. No, it's not OSU-Michigan, but instead Michigan State at Penn State. Last second field-goals in November have set this battle up (MSU to escape Wisconsin, PSU in a loss to Iowa) which will determine a share of the Big Ten title if Ohio State wins, outright if Michigan pulls the upset. While a lot of people question the Spartans' motivation in this game if OSU wins, the fact is that Michigan State has not won a Big Ten title in 20 years and this is another chance to prove this program is for real now under head coach Mark Dantonio. Penn State's defense and lack of mistakes has carried them, but this is the best offense in the Big Ten featuring QB Brian Hoyer and RB Javon Ringer opening up opportunities for each other. Penn State has a special team this season, but RB Evan Royster and company have not been impressive in their past three outings. This is the kind of game the Nittany Lions always win, but I think Michigan State has the better offense for the predicted crummy weather this weekend in Happy Valley. Spartans celebrate a Big Ten title with a 3 point win.

The top game of the week is the weekly dose of Big XII South action after a week's hiatus. Missouri awaits from the North division, but the South has a lot of business to conclude including this week's battle in Norman between Texas Tech and Oklahoma. Everybody knows about the exploits of Heisman frontrunners Michael Crabtree, Graham Harrell, and Sam Bradford. Each of these teams explodes for about 50 points per game, but the defenses are solid on both sides and should keep this shootout in the 30's at most. Oklahoma should be able to keep Texas Tech's offense off the field with RB DeMarco Murray and longer drives, but holding momentum will be key to keeping the crowd in the game. Texas Tech has not survived a true tough road test, while Oklahoma has serious wins over Cincinnati and TCU. This is just the season Texas Tech wins all of these games they are not supposed to, and this one will be the shocker of the weekend as Texas Tech clinches the Big XII South with a 7 point win.

2008 GOTW Record: 19-17
Last Week: 2-1

Fitz Top 10 - Week 12
1. Texas Tech (10-0)
2. Alabama (11-0)
3. Florida (9-1)
4. Texas (10-1)
5. Oklahoma (9-1)
6. Utah (11-0)
7. USC (9-1)
8. Boise State (10-0)
9. Penn State (10-1)
10. Ohio State (9-2)

Just Missed: Missouri, Michigan State, Ball State, Georgia, BYU

While I may not agree on all issues with Barack Obama or the seemingly endless waste of time in Congress regulating baseball, I am encouraged by the 60 Minutes and Monday Night Football interviews Mr. Obama has given in recent weeks. He not only supports an 8-team college football playoff, he is "going to throw his weight around" to see what he can do to make it happen. With the BCS about to lock up "4 More Years!" in television contracts, this is the time to put the pressure on the networks and the university presidents to make a change. Sure, the bowl system is a wonderful thing and can continue, but it is a farce that every other sport decides a champion with a proper playoff. While New England might have been the best team in pro football last season, they could not win when it counted and these opportunities should spread beyond 2 teams in the crazy college football world. So on this issue, go Mr. Obama go! See you next week when more rivalries come to the table.

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