It Is Championship Week
This is a time when several top teams will be knocked off
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
War Eagle, everybody! This week, the Auburn Tigers football team earns some much needed rest after a brutally tough schedule. It has been a happy week at work for Auburn fans as discussion of Auburn’s spectacular 48–45 win over the Tide in the Iron Bowl has been the talk of the town. This weekend, Tiger fans can watch the championship games and speculate on future bowl destinations. I’ll get into those matchups after the jump.
After taking Thanksgiving off and loading up on turkey, the Auburn men’s basketball team was back in action last night. Rust was apparent as Auburn had a hard time shooting the basketball early. Defense and rebounding kept Auburn in it, but the Tigers trailed the Furman Paladins 39–31 at halftime. Furman heated up after the half and quickly pushed the lead to 46 to 32. Then, the Tigers started attacking the basket with more regularity and started eating away at the Furman lead.
Auburn caught and passed the Paladins, but the Furman shooters kept hitting timely shots and had it tied at the end. After a missed reverse-layup attempt by Auburn’s J’Von McCormick, the game went to overtime. Fortunately for the Tigers, Furman sharp-shooters Noah Gurley and Clay Mounce fouled out, and Auburn’s Isaac Okoro and Danjel Purifoy pulled Auburn ahead. Okoro hit a couple of free throws late to ice the game, and Auburn came out with an 81–78 victory. The Tigers are 8–0 this season!
A look at other championship games this weekend after the jump!
Tonight at 7:00 PM on ABC, the Oregon Ducks take on the Utah Utes in Santa Clara California for the PAC-12 title. Auburn nipped the Ducks in the first game of the season this year, and I will be pulling for them in this game. Much like the Auburn matchup, a good Oregon offense will be going against a stout Utah defense. I would think that the location of the game would help Oregon in terms of attendance. A Utah win would generate a big headache for the Playoff committee, I think.
A trio of 11:00 AM games start Saturday off. Baylor battles Oklahoma in Arlington Texas in the Big-12 Championship Game, on ABC. I’d have to think that the winner of this game is in the Playoff, but we just never know; one just never knows about that bunch. I think Oklahoma probably has more brand appeal, but that is not supposed to matter.
Also at 11:00 AM is the Sun Belt title game, which will be played in Boone, North Carolina on ESPN. Appalachian State is at home, hosting the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. This game features tough, well-rounded teams that have just 3 total losses between them this season. The teams already already have met this season with the Mountaineers taking a 17–7 decision in Lafayette, Louisiana. Appalachian State also has scalps of major conference teams North Carolina and South Carolina in its belt and should add a Sun Belt title to its display case, tomorrow.
The final 11:00 game is the MAC championship, which will be played in Detroit on ESPN2. It is Miami of Ohio vs. Central Michigan in that one.
At 12:30 PM, UAB visits Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Florida for the Conference USA title on CBS Sports Network. A tough Blazer defense will have to contend with an always imaginative Lane Kiffin offense. No one is giving UAB much chance in this game, but UAB head coach Bill Clark has been doing the impossible pretty routinely the past few years at UAB. On an interesting note, I’ve seen it speculated elsewhere that the SEC could possibly end up with one or both of these coaches at some of the currently vacant positions in the SEC.
At 2:30 PM the Cincinnati Bearcats will play the Memphis Tigers for the AAC title in the Liberty Bowl stadium in Memphis on ABC. The teams played each other just last week with Memphis winning 34–24. The Tigers are a scoring machine this year and should roll again.
The SEC Title Game kicks off at 3:00 PM in Atlanta on CBS. The Georgia Bulldogs and LSU Tigers will tangle for the crown. Georgia’s defense is formidable, but Auburn’s 4th quarter surge against the Dawgs is a good blueprint. LSU has just the sort of offense to overshadow Georgia. I really don’t think Georgia will be able to keep up.
Also at 3:00 PM, Hawaii travels to the blue smurf-turf in Boise, Idaho to play Boise State for the Mountain West trophy on ESPN. I haven’t watched much of either team, but I’d think the home-field advantage will factor into this one.
In the 6:30 PM nightcap, Virginia tangles with Clemson in Charlotte, North Carolina on ABC for the ACC Title. This might be the most lopsided game of the day and in Clemson’s favor.
At 7:00 PM, we’ll have the B1G championship in Indianapolis, Indiana on FOX. Ohio State takes on Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a formidable defense, but no one has been able to stop the Buckeyes this season. Ohio State is also pretty good on defense. I think Wisconsin will make this game closer than many folks expect, but I do not foresee a Badger win.