November 29th, 2012 by Patrick Sturgeon
It’s the last week of the regular college football season and ESPN America’s PATRICK STURGEON (aka “Paddy The Brick”) once again gives a personal overview of his top three College Football games to watch live on ESPN America this week and picks his winner for each game.
WEEK FOURTEEN GAMES TO WATCH
Notre Dame Update
That sound you heard early Sunday morning about 4:30am UK time was Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans rejoicing worldwide. The Irish, playing in their 125th season had booked a ticket to the BSC National Championship game after defeating USC and finishing the season ranked #1 and unbeaten at 12-0. I know the BCS playoffs don’t start until 2014, but Saturday night’s road victory by Notre Dame was indeed a de-facto semi-final game one. Had ND lost, they were out of the national championship picture. Notre Dame used an overpowering defense lead by Manti Te’o and a steady offense spearheaded by running back Theo Riddick to hold back the Trojans 22-13.
Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals and freshman QB Everett Golson continued to impress as the Irish completed their first perfect regular season since 1988. I remember the last National Championship very well; I was working in Phoenix as a sports producer and covered the Fiesta Bowl game versus West Virginia. I was lucky enough to be at Sun Devil Stadium the last time Notre Dame walked off the field as National Champions. Little did I know it would be 25 years until the opportunity to win another title would materialize again for the Fighting Irish.
To think the season started on a sunny day in Dublin, Ireland on Sept 1, 2012 when the Irish opened their season by defeating Navy. Up next for the Irish, a date in Miami against the winner of the SEC Championship game between #2 Alabama and #3 Georgia. Is Notre Dame a team of destiny? I would like to think so. But then again, remember I am a huge ND fan.
#11 Oklahoma at TCU
Our first game on Saturday is a tough Big 12 encounter. Oklahoma needs to beat TCU, then get help later on from Texas (see below) to win the Big 12 title outright and gain an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game. If OU and K-State both win, then they will share the Big 12 title, but the Wildcats will get the BCS invite based on their victory over the Sooners. Oklahoma will have to wait to see if they can also land a major bowl bid. So for a conference without a championship game, there is still a lot to play for on the last day of the regular season in the Big 12. Oklahoma’s other loss of the season was to #1 Notre Dame, so OU should have enough firepower to handle TCU.
However, the game is in Fort Worth, Texas and the Horned Frogs are fresh off an upset win at Texas last week. But if you have been reading my column all season long, you’ll know that I am a total homer when it comes to Oklahoma because their head coach Bob Stoops is from my home town of Youngstown; Ohio, so I am always rooting for my guy Bobby.
Besides, last week they defeated in-state rival Oklahoma State 51-48 in overtime. The Sooners sent the game into overtime after Blake Bell “belldozed” his way into the end zone on the final play of the 4th quarter. Running instead of passing with the clock ticking down took some guts, but that’s the kind of guy Stoops is. A Youngstown guy. Oklahoma is riding a four-game winning streak and Landry Jones is fresh off a 500-yard passing day and three touchdowns on a school-record 71 pass attempts, so I expect the winning ways to continue for Boomer Sooner.
Final Score: Oklahoma 45, TCU 31
SEC Championship Game: #2 Alabama vs #3 Georgia (Georgia Dome – Atlanta)
Saturday night’s SEC Championship game is the de-facto national semi-final game two. The winner of Alabama – Georgia will play Notre Dame for the national title on Jan 7. Georgia is in the SEC title game for the second straight season, while Alabama is playing in the title game for the first time since 2009. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide have not played each other since 2008, when ‘Bama took a 31-0 halftime lead before winning 41-30 in Athens, Georgia. So even though these two programs play in the SEC, they really don’t play that often, which makes this game even more compelling. Everyone seems to be picking Alabama to win with ease, and defend their title against ND. It’s hard to argue their rational.
QB AJ McCarron has helped Alabama lead the nation in scoring. The Tide’s defense produced its fourth shutout of the season with a 49-0 win over Auburn last week and are the number one defense in the country. But there is something about Georgia that peaks my interest. OK, their QB Aaron Murray usually struggles against Top 10 teams, but he is due to break that bad run at some point. I also love their running back duo known to diehard fans as “Gurshall” . This season, Todd Gurley has rushed for 1,138 yards, more than any other true freshman in Bulldog history except the legendary Herschel Walker. Keith Marshall added 720 yards. In order to pull off the upset, Georgia needs to run the ball via “Gurshall”, eat up the clock, and keep the game low scoring. They will not win a shoot out with the talented Crimson Tide. Someone has to root for the “Dawgs”, so why not me. I am putting my entire season of predictions on the line and going with Georgia. Linebacker Jarvis Jones, the projected number one pick in the 2013 NFL draft will make a defensive play late in the 4th quarter to seal the win for the under-“dawgs”.
Final Score: Georgia 21, Alabama 20
#18 Texas at #6 Kansas State
The Little Apple, (aka Manhattan, Kansas) is the site for our last game of the evening. Had K-State not lost to Baylor a few weeks ago, this game would be another national semi-final so to speak. Not only did the Wildcats lose their national title aspirations, but QB Collin Klein lost his lead in the Heisman Trophy voting. Klein will still get the invite to the Big Apple in a few weeks for the ceremony, but unless he throws for 6 touchdowns and 600 yards, he is looking at a second place finish to Texas A&M freshman Johnny Manziel (aka Johnny Football).
Regardless of these two setbacks, the stakes are still very high for Kansas State. A victory over Texas will secure the Cats the Big 12 title and a BCS bowl bid. More importantly, it is the millions of dollars that the athletic department will get as an appearance fee. I am talking about lots of golf balls, volleyballs, softballs and new uniforms being purchased for the other athletic teams on campus. Texas is hoping to be rescued by back up QB Case McCoy, who will be playing for injured starter David Ash. You might remember Case’s big brother Colt, who starred for the Longhorns a few seasons ago. But Texas doesn’t have those kinds of championship teams any more, and K-State is averaging over 40 points per game. I expect the Wildcats to win big at home. After all, when I am not rooting for my beloved Kansas Jayhawks, I am more than happy to cheer for our in-state rivals. Besides, head coach Bill Snyder is getting up there in years, he is only 73.
Final Score: Kansas State 42, Texas 24
Last Week: Once again, I was 3-0 on the weekend. The Ohio State – Michigan game was very close, coming down to the closing moments before the Buckeyes held on for a 26-21 win. (I predicted 28-24, not bad). Alabama crushed Auburn 49-0, and Auburn coach Gene Chizik was dismissed on Sunday – two years after winning the national championship. That is how tough keeping your job in college football is, one year you are coach of the year and national champion, 24 months later you’re out. The night cap was one for the ages, Notre Dame’s defense held on at the very end to defeat USC 22-13. Ironically, I had 24-14. Talk about luck of the Irish.
About the author
PATRICK STURGEON (aka ‘Paddy the Brick’) is the Director of Programming for ESPN America. He has been working in the TV sports business for 25 years. Patrick started his career in Arizona where he was a Emmy Award winning sports producer and director. He moved to the Europe in 1994 and has been with ESPN America since 2003. He has a broadcast journalism degree from the University of Kansas (Go Jayhawks!).
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