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SEC, Big 12, ACC Conference Championship Previews

SEC: Auburn (12-0) vs. South Carolina (9-3)

Kevin: OK, everybody who had Auburn vs South Carolina at the beginning of the year raise your hands. Seriously, the odds of this happening had to be very narrow at the beginning of the season. Florida and Georgia both under-performed this year and South Carolina beat both of them to take the SEC East Crown. Auburn had a much tougher road as they are in the same division as 4 other Top 25 teams but still finished the year unbeaten. All year I was waiting for Auburn to lose but as the year went on Auburn seemed to get stronger. They fell behind against Georgia and Alabama but showed a lot of mental toughness and came back to win both of those games. It's just hard to bet against Auburn right now. That being said, I will be rooting against them as I just can't root for Nick Unfairley after his repeated late hits to my redshirt freshman QB Aaron Murray.

Prediction: AUBURN 31 SOUTH CAROLINA 24 

Ross: On one hand, you have an Auburn team that seems like a team of destiny after the way they came back from the dead against Alabama and pulled off an incredible comeback win.  They also happen to have the best player in college football this year (Cam Newton), who's playing at an incredibly high level.  And they have one of the best defensive players in college football, too, in Nick Fairley.  On the other hand, you have a South Carolina team that seems to have flipped a switch in the last three weeks, turning in three straight dominant performances, including blowout wins over Florida (to clinch the SEC East) and Clemson (to win a rivalry game).  Stephen Garcia's not turning the ball over, Marcus Lattimore is running like a man possessed, Alshon Jeffery is the best receiver no one talks about, and the defense is stoning people.  Oh, and they did come awful close to knocking off Auburn when they played earlier this year, until Newton Hulked up in the fourth quarter and the Cocks helped out by turning the ball over four times.  So... they could win, right?  Yeah, they could, but only a fool would bet against Cam Newton at this point -- and I don't feel like being a fool. 

Prediction: AUBURN 38, SOUTH CAROLINA 31

Big 12: Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Nebraska (10-2)

Kevin: This is a HUGE game for Oklahoma and the Big 12. Nobody in the Big 12 wants to see Nebraska win the Big 12 title in their last season in the conference. OU is riding a 3-game winning streak over Texas Tech, Baylor and rival Okie State. Nebraska comes into the game having lost to Texas A&M just before blowing out Colorado. I really don't have a feel for this one but I just think OU is going to tough it out.

Prediction: OKLAHOMA 27 NEBRASKA 24

Ross: How fitting that the last-ever Big 12 Championship Game features the two teams that defined the conference that birthed the Big 12 -- the Big 8.  Oklahoma and Nebraska had one of the game's most legendary rivalries in the 70s and 80s and while it was unavoidably diminished when the Big 12 was formed and they stopped playing each other every year, it's still a pretty good thing -- especially when both teams are good, which is the case this year.  Neither team is great (they each have two losses for a reason), but they've both been very impressive for stretches of the season.  Oklahoma seems to be rounding into form at the end of the season, especially on offense (three straight efforts of 40+ points) and for all of Bob Stoops' failures in BCS bowls, he's been a killer in the Big 12 Championship Game (5-1).  On the other hand, Nebraska has a far better defense than what Oklahoma has been playing.  The key for them will be whether Taylor Martinez is healthy enough to be effective in this game -- Nebraska blew out Colorado without him, but they aren't going to get solid performances from the usually lousy Cody Green or two touchdown passes from a running back (Rex Burkhead) too often.  Defense usually wins championships, but going against Stoops in a game like this is usually a losing proposition.

Prediction: OKLAHOMA 27, NEBRASKA 20

ACC: FSU (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (10-2)

Kevin: FSU showed some fire that I didn't know they had in them last week when they took Herban Meyer and Florida to the woodshed. That being said, Virginia Tech is on a 10-game winning streak. Who would have thought that after falling Boise State and then James Madison (yes, James Madison) that Virginia Tech would be undefeated in the ACC. I can't bet against the Hokies in this one.


Ross: What do you know, it's a rematch of the first-ever ACC Championship Game (from 2005), which FSU won 27-22.  FSU has historically owned Virginia Tech (22-11-1 all-time and 2-1 since VT joined the ACC) and they enter on a three-game winning streak and off a dominant thrashing of their long-time nemesis, Florida.  On the other hand, Virginia Tech is riding their own 10-game winning streak (longest in the country outside of TCU, Oregon, and Auburn) and they're 2-1 in ACC Championship Games.  These two teams seem fairly evenly matched, but when in doubt with the ACC, just go with Virginia Tech -- they usually come out on top.


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