In addition to the various conference championship games, there are some intriguing regular-season finales taking place this Saturday which warrant our attention, as they have an impact on everything from B.C.S. bowl berths to top 25 rankings.
As always, my competence at forecasting the outcomes of college football games is suspect at best (as evidenced by my erroneous prediction in the M.A.C. championship game), so I must warn you from the outset . . . whatever you do, Don't Bet On It!
Also, while you're at it, don't go out dressed like this, either. (Photograph from Daily Skiff.)
Air Force at Texas Christian---The Horned Frogs cling to a spot in my top 25 and this is their last chance to impress me before the Poinsettia Bowl. T.C.U. heads into its home finale riding a six-game winning streak, during which Gary Patterson's squad has limited every team it has faced to 300 or fewer yards of total offense while outscoring the opposition 152-13 in the first half. The Texas Christian record book is being rewritten, as the seven best single-game offensive yardage totals in Horned Frog history include two contests played in the last two weeks. I question whether the Falcons have anything for the Frogs, so I'm picking Texas Christian to get it done at home.
Oregon State at Hawaii---This ought to be a better game than three or four of the conference championship tilts. The 8-4 Beavers are Sun Bowl-bound after home victories over the Trojans and the Ducks, but O.S.U. fell to Boise State, Cal, and U.C.L.A. by a combined margin of 108-34. The Warriors boast a potent offense captained by quarterback Colt Brennan and emotions are mixed among the Oregon State faithful, who realize just how infrequently Pac-10 fans get to look at an out-of-conference opponent and observe, "Wow, they sure do score a lot of points!" Expect plenty of fireworks in the Aloha State as the Warriors win a shootout with the Beavers.
Before there was Colt Brennan . . . before there was Colt McCoy . . . there was Colt Seavers.
Southern California at U.C.L.A.---This game deserves our attention, if for no other reason than the fact that it caused Peter Bean and Orson Swindle to engage in a bizarre two-part exchange that was noteworthy because the comparison of famous U.S.C. and U.C.L.A. alums omitted the most convincing argument for the University of California at Los Angeles . . . U.C.L.A. alumna Brooke Burke. Dudes, am I the only one paying attention around here any more? I'll be pulling for the Bruins in spite of their girlish color scheme, but let's not kid ourselves; the Trojans are going to win in a walk.
Rutgers at West Virginia---The respective combatants' recent losses to Cincinnati and South Florida, respectively, have tarnished this matchup somewhat, although those results probably attest as much to the improving depth of the Big East as they do to the inability of what have not historically been powerhouse programs to handle their newfound success. The Scarlet Knights' loss to the Bearcats likely had little impact on their postseason prospects; an undefeated State University of New Jersey probably would have been shut out of the national championship game, anyway, so a B.C.S. berth in a bowl with an actual name and a long history and tradition is just as much up for grabs as it ever was. The Mountaineers, on the other hand, have to be disappointed with the role of spoiler after entering the season with lofty expectations buoyed by their Sugar Bowl win . . . not to mention distracted by the rumors surrounding W.V.U. head coach and Hoss Cartwright lookalike Rich Rodriguez. The couches of Morgantown will be safe on Saturday as the Cinderella season continues for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers alumna Kristin Davis and friend applaud the Scarlet Knights' 2006 success. (Photograph from CanMag.)
Army v. Navy---Some of you, I realize, aren't planning to watch the Army-Navy game. You probably have better things to do with your time . . . like, for instance, passing out campaign buttons supporting Fidel Castro's candidacy for the presidency of the United States, pushing little old ladies into traffic, and appearing before Congress to testify in favor of a Division I-A college football playoff, you dirty rat fink communist! While the Black Knights aren't competing for national championships the way they once did, this remains one of the great rivalries in all of sports and watching this game will just plain make you proud to be an American. Picking the outcome of the contest itself is pretty easy; the Cadets' head coach previously held the same position at Georgia Tech, while the Midshipmen's head coach previously held the same position at Georgia Southern. No contest; I'm going with the guy who ran the second-best football program in the Peach State. Go Navy!
Those predictions represent my final round of prognostications from the 2006 regular season, so it is only fitting that I conclude as I began, with an exhortation that, over the course of the autumn, has been confirmed as wise: Don't Bet On It!