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December 3, 2009 Although every week is important in the college football season, the sheer fact of the matter is that late October and November have been very lackluster. At least until last week and the subsequent fallout. Rivalry week brought some big upsets and some near season-changers for the six undefeated teams still in the running for the BCS Championship. Rivalry week saved college football and caused a very strange occurrence you may never see again. There are still six undefeated teams as there have been every week in November since Iowa lost, but now every other team in the remaining 114 FBS institutions has sustained two or more losses. There are absolutely zero one-loss teams going into the final week of the season thanks to the middle of the polls being death row throughout November. Teams such as Oregon and Ohio State have risen back into the top 10 despite sitting two losses behind the teams right in front of them. This season would be a true test of any playoff system with 8 teams, let alone a BCS Championship system for two. Let the controversy continue.

The biggest news from rivalry week is certainly the coaching changes. One huge surprise, one no surprise. In the not surprising file, Charlie Weis has officially ended a rocky five year tenure at Notre Dame following a three game losing streak and a 6-6 record. The Fighting Irish may not even choose to play in a bowl game, and the program better hire correctly this time as 18 million dollars is the cost of making mistakes and their credibility is long gone. Whether the replacement is a big name like Brian Billick, an up-and-comer like Brian Kelly, or a nobody...this is one of the most important decisions in the landscape of college football. In the total surprise file, Florida State forced out Bobby Bowden after his own 6-6 finish. Florida State should have handed him the keys to the castle permanently after 14 straight top 10 finishes from 1988 to 2001, the Seminoles have fallen on slightly harder times now. Still, Joe Paterno had the same problems at Penn State and that school's loyalty has been rewarded since 2005. Bowden will likely never be passed on the all times wins list or at least not for a very long time, and the second-most winning coach in college football history needs to be honored for his success at a program that was nothing before he arrived. Good luck to both these gentlemen in their future endeavors.

Coaching firings was not the only bad news from this past week, as Pete Carroll and Rick Neuheisel took sportsmanship to a whole new level. Late in the evening over on the left coast, USC was wrapping up another conquering in the Rose Bowl of the Bruins by kneeling on the ball with a two touchdown lead and less than a minute to go. Still, UCLA had all three timeouts left and Neuheisel called one of them following the kneel down. So Carroll called a long bomb and USC delivered for another touchdown. Apparently Carroll forgot how it felt to be bashed rudely by Stanford's Jim Harbaugh a couple weeks ago, as the Bruins and Trojans then nearly came to blows in a midfield brawl. I'm all for a good hatred in a rivalry, but seriously guys? Coaches need to be role models and the actions of both coaches failed the test miserably Saturday night. Perhaps there's a valuable lesson both can teach their kids down the road, but for right now, each coach needs to take a second look at the sportsmanship manual in the offseason before they meet on the field again.

Before jumping into the wealth of de facto and real championship games this week, it is time for one final look at the BCS Bowl Projections. Ohio State has won the Big Ten and will be slotted against the winner of Oregon and Oregon State this week in the Rose Bowl. The winner of the SEC Championship and Texas will be in Pasadena for the championship game if Texas wins the Big XII against Nebraska. The ACC Champion will be slotted into the Orange Bowl, so the winner of Clemson and Georgia Tech goes there. What's left is the Big East champ, which will be the winner of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, and four at large teams. The SEC runner-up will lock one up, TCU will earn the automatic berth, and the other two should be Boise State and either Iowa or Penn State. If Cincinnati loses to Pittsburgh, Iowa or Penn State will still be picked over a one-loss Bearcat team. If Nebraska upsets Texas, that likely knocks out Boise State because the Fiesta is the most likely falling spot for Boise as an at large. That's how it shakes out as the guesswork is at an all time high with one week to go.

2010 BCS Bowl Projections, 1 Week To Go
BCS Championship - Florida vs. Texas
Orange - Georgia Tech vs. TCU
Fiesta - Iowa vs. Boise State
Sugar - Alabama vs. Pittsburgh
Rose - Ohio State vs. Oregon

This week we have five games of the week, as all five BCS conferences outside the Big Ten are determining a BCS berth in a winner take all game. The first game of the week almost loses out to the C-USA and MAC Championships after last week, but the ACC Championship pits Georgia Tech versus Clemson. Each team lost to their SEC rival by giving up a metric ton of yards on the ground last week, but this is more troubling for Clemson as the Yellowjackets feature an option running attack that is hard to stop. QB Josh Nesbitt will be the primary focus of the Clemson defense, but look for RB Jonathan Dwyer to have another big day against the Tigers as he did in a 30-27 win back in September between these two teams. Clemson freshman QB Kyle Parker has a bright future ahead of him, but expect the Ramblin Wreck defense to make Parker the difference in this game. C.J. Spiller could have a big Heisman-tpye performance, but this looks like a matchup where Georgia tech will load up against the run and stop the mediocre Tiger offense. Yellowjackets to the BCS with a 10 point win.

The second game of the week is a Civil War, this year taking place in primetime on Thursday night as Oregon State visits Oregon. Two great offenses will meet with most of their weapons intact from last year's Ducks blowout, but OSU learned a lot that night last November. Most importantly, the Beavers learned that stopping Oregon comes with stopping QB Jeremiah Masoli. This is easier said than done though, as Masoli is just as likely to burn you with his running as his passing. Also look for RB's LaMichael James and LaGarrette Blount to keep the clock running and try to keep the Beaver offense off the field. One big difference form last year's game is that Oregon State comes in with all weapons this time with RB Jacquizz Rodgers and WR James Rodgers racking up huge numbers again. In a battle of great offenses, the maxim is that the better defense will prevail. This year should be no different, and the better defense belongs to the Ducks. With the homefield advantage Autzen Stadium provides, this will be too much for Oregon State to overcome and the Ducks win by 13.

The third game of the week is one Boise State fans will be tuned into as Texas takes on Nebraska for the third time in the history of the Big XII Championship. Texas is a huge favorite in this one but that has never mattered when these two teams meet on the field. Since a shocking second loss in a row to Iowa State, the Cornhuskers have locked down teams on defense and helped their offense to five straight wins. The Longhorn defense was exposed by the Aggies last weekend, so expect QB Zac Lee to continue the trend by targeting his favorite receiver Niles Paul early and often. Although Nebraska should put up some points against the Longhorns, the determining factor in this game is the matchup of the Blackshirts defense against the vaunted Longhorn offense. Colt McCoy will be looking to put one more gem up on the table for Heisman voters. McCoy has largely had to handle the load himself, and look for the Nebraska defense to bring some pressure and try to hold strong in the secondary. Although the Cornhuskers actually match up well in the defensive backfield against the Longhorns, there's too much on the line for Texas to let this one go. A lot closer than expected, but McCoy puts the game away on a fourth quarter drive for a 7 point win.

The fourth game of the week is the de facto Big East championship as Cincinnati visit Pittsburgh. Like the Bengals on the pro side, the Bearcats are hoping to dominate Heinz Field and take home a great season. Cincinnati has a nearly unstoppable offense as both quarterbacks Tony Pike and Zach Collaros will likely see play. Pike is the more dangerous passer, especially with WR Mardy Gilyard running past defenders. Pittsburgh has a solid defense under Dave Wannstedt, but they have seen nothing quite like the challenge coming this weekend. Pittsburgh QB Bill Stull actually has better statistics than Tony Pike, but Stull has played a full season while Pike has missed a third of the season. Take nothing away from the Backyard Brawl, as Pittsburgh will be ready to get rolling against the questionable Bearcat defense. RB Dion Lewis will be the cornerstone of the Panthers attack, as keeping Pike and company off the field is the best path to victory. Cincinnati looks like a sure bet to outscore the Panthers, but I suspect this is the bump in the road that stops the great Brian Kelly story. Cincinnati must hope this is not the end of the Kelly era when Notre Dame comes calling, but Cincinnati shockingly misses the BCS with a 3 point upset loss.

The fifth game of the week is only the second regular season battle of #1 versus #2 in recent memory, and hopefully Florida and Alabama lives up to last year's version or the previous 1 vs 2 in 2006 as Ohio State outscored Michigan. This game simply has it all: Heisman frontrunners, undefeated teams, great coaches, and the highest stakes possible. This will be the final stand of college football's greatest player Tim Tebow, but he may just be outshined by Alabama RB Mark Ingram, who is looking to rebound from a miserable Iron Bowl. Each team has a dominating defense, so it is hard to imagine more points than last year's 28-24 finish. Alabama QB Greg McElroy has been making Crimson tide faithful forget about breaking in new quarterbacks, but the Gators will still look to feast on the occassional McElroy mistake. While it would be refreshing to see Nick Saban fight for Alabama's first national title in 20 years, Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer have been there and done that, over and over in the past four years. Two national title rings do not come easily, but the Gators will have the rare chance at a third ring after their defense carries them to a 4 point victory just like last year.

2009 GOTW Record: 25-14 (64.1%)
Last Week: 3-0

Fitz Top 10 - Week 13
1. Florida (12-0)
2. Texas (12-0)
3. TCU (12-0)
4. Alabama (12-0)
5. Cincinnati (11-0)
6. Boise State (12-0)
7. Ohio State (10-2)
8. Oregon (9-2)
9. Iowa (10-2)
10. Penn State (10-2)

Just Missed: BYU, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Oregon State

Well it has been another great season, and I look forward to seeing you all back for bowl season as I will not be covering the sole game next week when Navy and Army meet. There's a lot to look forward to this weekend though, so enjoy everything from the Civil War on thursday night to the reveal of the BCS schedule on Sunday night. If Texas loses to Nebraska, it will be very interesting to see which of the three remaining contenders plays the SEC Champion...will it be an SEC runner-up in an unprecedented rematch, TCU who did all they could as a non-BCS conference school, or Cincinnati as the only remaining undefeated BCS conference school (assuming they win). This would be a debate worth more than just one day, but that's all we will have on Sunday to discuss if the perfect storm happens. Even if Texas wins, the national title match up will be one of the best in recent memory. It's almost a win-win for the BCS in a year where that does not seem possible. We'll see you come bowl season, and it's been a true pleasure seeing everyone again this season. Have a great week!

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