ACC and Big 12 Championships Game Previews
By Contributing Fanspeak Writer Geoff Nelowet
ACC Championship Game: (10) Georgia Tech vs. Clemson
If Georgia Tech does not play in a BCS game, it will be one of the biggest disappointments of the college football season. The Yellow Jackets had an opportunity to solidify their spot in the top-12 in the BCS rankings last week against Georgia, but they could not pull out a win against a rebuilding – but talented – program.
The ACC title game will be a rematch between the two teams. In the second week of the season, Georgia Tech knocked off Clemson on a field goal with 57 seconds to play. Georgia Tech had been winning 24-0 at halftime, but Clemson came roaring back in the second half to tie the game.
Georgia Tech will be in a world of hurt should they not win this game. Tech won eight straight games before losing to Georgia last week, and they impressively defeated the strength of the Atlantic Coast Conference over the course of the season. Should they lose, it will be all for naught, as they will end up in a non-BCS game – a major squandering of a program-elevating opportunity.
Clemson is probably the worst team Georgia Tech wants to face: The Tigers have arguably the best running back in the country in C.J. Spiller, they have one of the most talented teams in the conference, and they were dominated by this Tigers team in the second half of their first meeting. Clemson will be extremely confident coming in.
Georgia Tech, though, has the talent to win over anyone in the ACC – which they did aside from their loss to Miami. Their triple option is not only a rarity in top-ranked college football, but it is nearly unstoppable, and especially in short yardage situations. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Jonathan Dwyer are the two best runners in the ACC behind Spiller, and they have embarrassed some of the best defenses in the country. Clemson’s defense is ranked 14th nationally, so the Yellow Jackets will have to repeat their dominance against another top unit.
These are two exceptionally talented teams, and both should come into the ACC Championship game expecting win. Clemson will upset Georgia Tech, and they will avenge their early-season loss. Final score: Clemson 24 Georgia Tech 20
Big 12 Championship Game: (3) Texas vs. (22) Nebraska
Undefeated Texas is a win away from a BCS title birth, and it will be senior quarterback Colt McCoy’s last game in the state of Texas. Not only that, but McCoy is also a major player in the Heisman Trophy race, and a win in Arlington could put him in the driver’s seat. McCoy has literally everything to play for, and it will take Nebraska’s absolutely best effort to hand McCoy’s Longhorns a loss.
Nebraska has lost six of seven to Texas since joined the Big 12, and it will be an uphill climb for the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is a respectable 9-3 on the season with their only losses coming to Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, and Iowa State. Nebraska is a tough team, but they will have no answer to McCoy’s attack.
Aside from McCoy, Texas is a well-rounded team. Jordan Shipley is one of the best receivers in the nation, and he alone can take over a game. Shipley has 99 receptions on the year and almost 1300 receiving yards with two games to play. The Longhorn defense has been steady and reliable nearly all season, and the growth of this unit is what makes Texas superior to last season’s 12-1 team.
Texas is clearly a heavy favorite, but Nebraska should not be slighted. The ‘Huskers have won five straight games coming in, and they are playing their best football of the season. Nebraska has a good running game with Roy Helu Jr. earning over 1,100 yards this season with nine touchdowns. Nebraska’s best player, though, is on the defensive side of the ball in Ndamukong Suh. Suh has dominated the line of scrimmage all season, and he will most likely be a top five NFL draft pick this April. Suh could cause major problems for the entire Texas offense.
Texas will win this game, but Nebraska will keep it close for the first half before Texas pulls away. Final score: Texas 29 Nebraska 17