Skip to content

Predictions 101 — Week 14

Nick Saban AP

Last week, we went 5-2 straight and versus “the number,” nailing the three biggies at the top of the list.

Let’s see how we do with the regular season’s final set, which is dripping with BCS implications.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Nov. 29, thru Sat., Dec. 1)

1) No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Georgia in SEC title game at Atlanta
Sat., Dec. 1 — 4 p.m. ET, CBS

This SEC championship game doubles as a national semifinal, but in our mind it’s also for all the marbles. Either the Crimson Tide or Bulldogs will earn the honor of winning the SEC’s seventh consecutive BCS championship with a victory over No. 1 Notre Dame in Miami on Jan. 7.

While quick to jump to the conclusion above, we’re slow to adopt the prevailing opinion that Alabama will beat Georgia.

If we had the choice, we’d take the Bulldog defense over the Tide’s. Georgia linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree are as good as it gets at their respective positions, and they’re just the beginning.

Despite the rock steady quarterbacking of junior A.J. McCarron, the Alabama offense will experience its share of three-and-outs.

When the Bulldogs have the football, the same can be said. The big question revolves around how Georgia triggerman Aaron Murray rises to the occasion.

Against the two toughest teams he’s played this season, Murray struggled. In the Dawgs’ lone loss, a 35-7 debacle at South Carolina on Oct. 6, he was just 11-of-31 for 109 yards with an interception. Although Georgia beat Florida, 17-9, three weeks later to earn this trip to Atlanta, Murray wasn’t the reason. In fact, the Bulldogs won in spite of the three INTs he threw during a 12-of-25 performance that yielded 150 yards and a touchdown pass.

Murray hasn’t been picked off in any of the four games since the Cocktail Party, but the fact that four of his seven interceptions this season came against the only two teams that are even remotely capable of playing defense at Alabama’s level is worrisome.

Murray, who also hasn’t been able to get Georgia over the hump in its past two bowl games, is trying something new this week. He imposed his own personal media blackout, presumably to restrict questions about not being a big-game quarterback from affecting his performance.

We don’t look at that as a good sign and it tipped the scales.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 7 1/2

The pick: Alabama 23-20

2) No. 14 Nebraska vs. Wisconsin in Big Ten title game at Indianapolis
Sat., Dec. 1 — 8:17 p.m. ET, FOX

The Badgers haven’t had the season they expected, losing five regular-season games and going .500 in league play. But they aren’t about to conclude that this just isn’t their year and roll over for the Cornhuskers.

It’s quite the opposite actually. This is Wisconsin’s second chance, a holiday gift like no other.

If they play their cards right, the Badgers are potentially 120 minutes of football away from being crowned Rose Bowl champions. (No Oregon in Pasadena … just Stanford or UCLA!)

Remember that Wisconsin gave Nebraska all it could handle in Lincoln on Sept. 29. The Badgers appeared headed to victory after taking a 27-10 lead in the third quarter, but the Huskers scored 20 answered points on four consecutive drives.

Wisconsin had a chance to win the game in the final minutes, but tailback Montee Ball fumbled on a fourth-and-one, allowing the Cornhuskers to run out the clock.

Ball ran for 90 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. But in the end, his team netted only 56 rushing yards.

Nebraska had far less difficulty, rumbling for 259 yards on the ground.

That’ll even out a bit in the rematch and the game will go down to the wire. Something tells us the Badgers will go for a two-point conversion or take some chances in the fourth quarter to avoid overtime, which has been a 0-3 proposition for them this season.

Opening point spread: Nebraska by 2 1/2

The pick: Nebraska 24-23

3) No. 17 UCLA at No. 8 Stanford in Pac-12 title game
Fri., Nov. 30 — 8 p.m. ET, FOX

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai‘i.

After winning Round 1, which determined that there would be a rematch with Oregon watching on TV, Cardinal head coach David Shaw said: “I expect them to give us everything. I expect this to be a very tough, physical game. It’s going to be 10 times harder. We’re going to get their best shot.”

We share that belief. After exchanging opening drive touchdowns and holding Stanford to a trio of three-and-outs, UCLA head coach Jim Mora clearly called off the dogs.

Following the 35-17 Cardinal victory, an ornery L.A Times columnist asked Mora if he treated the contest like an NFL preseason charade in order to avoid playing Oregon and hide game plan elements from Stanford. The exchange was supremely entertaining.

After the first-quarter stalemate, who could blame Mora for going vanilla against a team that’s clearly a far easier matchup than the Ducks? Why not avoid Eugene as if the plague had broken out there? Palo Alto is beautiful this time of year.

Check how many times Mora had Jonathan Franklin run the ball on first down. The predictable play calling was designed to finish the game, not win it.

Round 2 will be a back-and-forth affair that will surprise many. In the end, Mora’s gamesmanship will come up short in a tight contest. A final clock-killing drive, showing what Stanford is made of, will seal it.

Opening point spread: Stanford by 10

The pick: Stanford 34-27

4) No. 13 Florida State vs. Georgia Tech in ACC title game at Charlotte, N.C.
Sat., Dec. 1 — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Both teams are busy licking their wounds on the way to this ACC Championship Game.

The Seminoles saw their faint BCS title hope go up in flames in a 37-26 loss to Florida last Saturday, while the Yellow Jackets were brushed aside, 42-10, by Georgia on its way toward a possible BCS title game appearance.

The difference in this contest is that Florida State’s defense has the ability to bounce back from its leaky outing. Georgia Tech’s problems on that side of the ball figure to persist.

That’s not to say that the Seminoles will shut down the Yellow Jacket option attack, after allowing the Gators to roam for 240 yards on the ground, but even with the loss of defensive end Tank Carradine to a knee injury, they clearly have the athletes to keep it in check.

Look for E.J. Manuel and the rest of the FSU offense to spring a bunch of big plays to easily claim a spot in the Orange Bowl (against … see below).

Opening point spread: Florida State by 13

The pick: Florida State 37-20

5) Louisville at Rutgers
Thurs., Nov. 29 — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Cardinals are ticketed for the ACC and the Scarlet Knights are bound for the Big Ten, but we’re still talking about the Big East here, so this predicting business is unquestionably an effort in futility.

Nevertheless, there’s important stuff going on in Piscataway. If the Scarlet Knights win, they play in their first BCS game. If the Cardinals are victorious, they’ll likely get the Orange Bowl nod.

Cardinal quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will play with a broken left wrist. The Louisville running game is equally banged up with running back Senorise Perry on the shelf (ACL). In its last two games, Louisville has rushed for a total of only 75 yards.

All of that doesn’t add up to success versus Rutgers, which is allowing only 13.7 points per game.

Opening point spread: Rutgers by 2

The pick: Rutgers 26-17

Permalink 32 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Alabama Crimson Tide, Articles, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Louisville Cardinals, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Rumor Mill, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Stanford Cardinal, Top Posts, UCLA Bruins, Wisconsin Badgers
32 Responses to “Predictions 101 — Week 14”
  1. niubears says: Nov 28, 2012 8:50 PM

    Really, you leave the MAC Championship game out of your predictions. That’s dumb. But no worries, I’ll do the work for you.

    NIU – 37 Kent State – 21

  2. mshassen2015 says: Nov 28, 2012 9:13 PM

    I think its going to be a better game then most think, if Ga come’s and plays they way they can it will be a good game….

  3. jason1214 says: Nov 28, 2012 9:30 PM

    It will be a close game, but I give Bama the edge at QB and coaching
    Tide 24-17

  4. necr0philia says: Nov 28, 2012 9:37 PM

    GA hasn’t won an NC game since 1980. All the pressure is on them and we know how Aaron is under pressure. Good luck GA.

  5. rsmeans says: Nov 28, 2012 11:08 PM

    I love your columns but I have one big disagreement. Georgia does not have nearly as much talent on their defensive side as Alabama. Jones may be great but the remainder of the defense including Rambo is good but not great. You simply have to look at the points and yards they give up each game. I am not impressed with their last four victories which came against Ga S., GT, Miss, and Auburn–none of which are good teams. Nevertheless anyone in the top 10 can beat anyone else on a great day so the game has a lot of mystery. Alabama 35 Ga. 17.

  6. irishdodger says: Nov 28, 2012 11:38 PM

    Hopefully GA shows up, but history suggests otherwise. They’re loaded w/ talent so there’s really no excuse. They’ve only beat two FBS teams with winning records so their résumé thus far is unimpressive. They’ve also given up a ton of points to some bad teams (UT, KY, etc). But that’s what’s great about CFB…you never know…they could TCB & be National Champs. Has a National Champ ever had a 4-TD blowout loss on their résumé?

  7. badgerbuck says: Nov 28, 2012 11:52 PM

    Alabama 41 Georgia 14

  8. cupete says: Nov 29, 2012 2:09 AM

    If it’s such a sure thing that Alabama or Georgia will beat Notre Dame, imagine how bad either of these teams would crush USC. At least ND is saving us from an all SEC national championship that almost nobody outside of SEC territory would watch. I think your pick of Alabama by 3 seems pretty reasonable.

  9. pricecube says: Nov 29, 2012 2:14 AM

    Kansas State vs Texas and TCU vs Oklahoma will decide the Big 12 champ…

    Although neither have NC implications, I am surprised they are not worthy of mention here. Both games seem more significant than Louisville vs Rutgers.

  10. gamustangdude says: Nov 29, 2012 2:50 AM

    Stats are stats, they don’t win football games nor do they determine who wins football games. The fact of the matter is that UGA has been playing lights out football since that Kentucky game. Over the Past 5/6 games UGA has looked like the they are the better team. No doubt Alabama won’t be easy, nor will UGA “roll” but people you who say “well stats say, blah blah, blah” are ridcoulus to me. What did the “stats” say about the A&M game? What did they “stats” say about when UGA played Flordia? “Well Alabama, won’t give up turnovers like Florida did” Yeah got it, everyone forgets that UGA had three turnovers as well. Alabama is solid, but they have struggled against teams who can move the ball. UGA is not one demsnsional, they can throw and run. If Aaron protects the ball, UGA has a great chance, if Aaron does not, Alabama will win.
    Think what you want about stats, stats tell one side of the story, however what you’re stats don’t tell you is that statistically, UGA has had the better defensive numbers over the past five games than Alabama and LSU. Ever since that Florida game, the UGA defense has looked very dangerous.

  11. gamustangdude says: Nov 29, 2012 2:51 AM

    sorry meant dimensional

  12. tommy57 says: Nov 29, 2012 6:10 AM

    Sorry, but if I’m Wisconsin, I’m embarassed to even be in the game, knowing that I lost to both teams (OSU and PSU) whom I jumped over to get here.

    Absent NCAA ridiculous and ineffective sanctions, this should be #17 Nebraska at #2 (or even 1) Ohio State.

    This is an asterisk game no matter who wins – if it’s Nebraska, they didn’t have to play Ohio State; if it’s Wisconsin, they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

  13. normtide says: Nov 29, 2012 8:36 AM

    I think it was Twain who said: there are lies, damn lies, and then there is statistics. Throw the stats out, this game is a gut check, who wants it more. I hope it is Bama, but if UGA wins, I will root for them in the NC.

  14. chicagoirish23 says: Nov 29, 2012 8:41 AM

    If anyone has followed Notre Dame this season they should know better than to assume they are going to lose, to anyone. Either way as an Irish fan this season has been amazing and the fact that people are still doubting them makes it even better for me. If they lose, well nobody expected them to win. But if they win the SEC will be crushed and Notre Dame will truly be the Kings of College Football once again.

    I want Bama….
    Go Irish!

  15. steincj36 says: Nov 29, 2012 9:57 AM

    Why do we even play the games? We’re already crowning the SEC as national champs, so why play the game?

    Discover paid a ton of cash to sponsor a game which apparently doesn’t even need to be played. That’s why no one will watch it, right?

    ND vs USC was the 5th highest rated TV college game in the last 25 years. The 4 games above it were all 1 vs. 2 match ups. This NC game will get he highest TV ratings ever. And we don’t even need to play the game…..

    I don’t fault you, Mr. Blogger, for putting this stupidity out there. I fault whoever you boss is. We’ve already had blowhard pundits eating crow by shining golden helmets and prancing around a TV set in a leprechaun suit. What will you do?

  16. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 29, 2012 10:03 AM


    UGA’s schedule is something like 72nd in the nation… I know Bama’s isnt that good either. But UGA got DRILLED by SC. Bama lost by 5 because they didn’t run the ball up the middle from the 1 yd line, they tried to get cute and the Aggies intercepted it. Not only that, the Tide spotted the Ags 20 points and still almost won.

    I imagine a tight game in the high 20’s with Bama winning but not covering.

  17. florida727 says: Nov 29, 2012 11:15 AM

    I’ve got no dog in the proverbial fight since my Gators lost to Georgia, but look at the lineup of games this weekend and tell me college football isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread…

    Alabama – Georgia
    Nebraska – Wisconsin
    UCLA – Stanford
    Florida State – Georgia Tech
    Louisville – Rutgers
    Kansas State – Texas
    TCU – Oklahoma
    Northern Illinois – Kent State

    All I can say is God bless the guy or gal that invented the “Last” button on the remote.

  18. WingT says: Nov 29, 2012 1:18 PM


    I so agree with you – college football is really exciting. There are some great games this weekend.
    I can’t wait until we have a 4 team playoff.

  19. 808raiderinparadise says: Nov 29, 2012 2:39 PM

    I watched Bama enough to this year but not Georgia, mostly only in highlights and short spans.

    Being a ND fan I ‘m thrilled to play either, I also have 0 preference. Its the Championship, if you have a preference of opposition, you don’t think your team is good enough.

    I think its ridiculous how many people are “rollling” with the tide in this one.

    This year has been nutty down the stretch, Bama’s offensive line is the key … for Georgia its the signial caller scared of microphones.

  20. florida727 says: Nov 29, 2012 3:17 PM

    The only objection I take to your write-up, John, is the assumption that either Alabama or Georgia will beat Notre Dame in the championship game. I’m not saying Notre Dame will win. In fact, if forced to choose, sure, I’d pick the SEC team, simply because I’m biased :) I’m also not a fan of the Fighting Irish.

    I will say this though: we’re going to find out exactly how good a coach Brian Kelly is. He’s got about a month to game plan for who he’s going to face. If he’s as good as advertised, he’ll come up with a plan to beat whichever one he faces.

    That’s what’s intriguing about the championship game this year: does the SEC continue its run of titles, or are the Irish really the best in the country? I know I’ve been critical of Notre Dame winning so many close games by small margins, at home no less, against less than stellar competition (Purdue, Pitt, etc.). They can shut me up in a hurry if they can beat Alabama or Georgia. And if they do, I’ll be the first to congratulate them.

  21. gamustangdude says: Nov 29, 2012 4:09 PM

    8to80texansblog says:
    Nov 29, 2012 10:03 AM

    UGA’s schedule is something like 72nd in the nation… I know Bama’s isnt that good either. But UGA got DRILLED by SC. Bama lost by 5 because they didn’t run the ball up the middle from the 1 yd line, they tried to get cute and the Aggies intercepted it. Not only that, the Tide spotted the Ags 20 points and still almost won.

    I imagine a tight game in the high 20′s with Bama winning but not covering.


    Not sure where you got 72 from but UGA’ SoS is 42 right behind Alabama who’s at 39. This is according to Jeff saragin’s college football poll not me, I dont pull numbers out of thin air like you do. Nice try. The fact of the matter is Alabama lost, despite how you try to sugar coat it. Unlike you I admit when UGA laid an egg you can’t. Stats have nothing to do with this game, that was my point. If Alabama wins it will be due to Aaron Murray inability to perform against a top tier team… Yet again. If Aaron Murray protects the ball I don’t see how Alabama can win unless UGA’s defense lays an egg. UGA has been playing better football than Alabama in these last few games. If UGA continues its’ momentum Alabama will struggle.

  22. bw1980 says: Nov 29, 2012 11:24 PM

    Fuck all of you NBC shit staggers. Honor of winning SEC’ s seventh straight. Guess what, fags, ND will show up. Fuck the SEC and fuck NBC.

  23. normtide says: Nov 29, 2012 11:31 PM

    Isn’t NBC and ND in bed together? And blasting curse words does not make you seem tough, in real life or on-line.

  24. rsmeans says: Nov 30, 2012 2:40 AM

    bw1980 is an idiot. Too bad he is not in the south we could teach him a few manners.

  25. tide4life says: Nov 30, 2012 11:23 AM

    How good of you to demonstrate all the class and integrity we’ve come to expect from a program which considers itself annointed of God. You are a wonderful spokes-ass for good ol’ ND.

  26. 410keith says: Nov 30, 2012 12:22 PM

    Go university!!!!!

  27. florida727 says: Nov 30, 2012 2:35 PM

    #bw1980, ever consider “Hooked On Phonics”?

  28. sassysooner says: Nov 30, 2012 2:56 PM

    As Normtide said, saying f*ck NBC as a ND fan is like telling yourself to f*ck off. Hilarity.

    Keep it classy, bw1980.

    As for ME? This Sooner wants to see ND win. No shame in losing to the top team in the country…as long as they go on to win the national championship! lol 😉

  29. redzonerocks says: Nov 30, 2012 3:56 PM

    For what its worth, lets remember that the day of the SC game that UGA got beat, Aaron Murray was notified that his father had cancer. I don’t think football was first and foremost in his mind that day.

    Should be a great game, and the winner WILL stomp Notre Dame.

  30. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 30, 2012 5:53 PM


    I got mine from the NCAA website and it changed from the last time I saw it. UGA played the 83rd toughest schedule now. (just as a note… Florida played the toughest schedule in the nation)

    I’m pretty sure the NCAA statistics website is not “thin air”…

    Secondly, I’m an Aggie so I have no dog in the fight, just an outside observer,

    Third, if you look at the last few QB’s that have beaten the Tide they are mobile QBs. (Manziel, Newton, Jefferson, Tebow) If your QB can get out of the pocket and make things happen with his feet, you can beat Bama. Other wise… good luck.

  31. gamustangdude says: Dec 1, 2012 12:26 AM


    Ok did you even look at the how they ranked the teams or just saw “toughest schedule” and went with it? They used only one criteria for determining their “toughest schedule” they looked at a teams opponents win/loss record. Essentially what they are saying is that because Eastern Michigan combined opponents won 63 games and Alabama’s opponents won 57 games, Eastern Michigan had a “tougher” schedule than Alabama. Despite the fact that the eastern Michigan’s toughest opponent was Kent State and Northen Illinois. While Alabama played teams like LSU and A&M.m now if you believe that Kent State and Northern Illinois are better than LSU and A&M then use you “reference,” but it’s not a Strength of Schedule reference cause all it does is rank teams according to their opponents win/loss record without any thoughts to the opponents themselves. Nice try though.

    Here’s another reference

    BTW you do have a dog in the fight, if Alabama wins then A&M would be the only team able to say “we beat the SEC champions” Making it one of the biggest regular season victories in A&M history. If UGA wins then A&M just won against a good Alabama team. There’s a difference.

  32. greggatx says: Dec 1, 2012 10:37 AM

    Georgia is the better team and will win in a close one! Go Bulldawgs!! No matter which team wins I foresee Notre Dame winning it all!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!