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By UltimateCapper.com Contributing Writer, Mike Ivcic
A couple of big games this week, with now only six undefeated teams remaining at DI-A. Iowa’s loss means that the BCS is once again facing a situation in which Ohio State will be a part of the equation, though for their own sake they won’t be involved in the national championship picture. As for the entire BCS itself, it’s beginning to look more and more like the ten teams will be the six BCS conference winners, the SEC runner-up, and both Boise State and TCU. That leaves only one spot remaining for the rest of the contenders, and the end of the season could determine who gets that final spot. Unfortunately for LSU, they cannot be selected as only two teams from one conference can reach the BCS, meaning the highest remaining team in the rankings will not be eligible. Pittsburgh and Iowa are both in the top 12, but both still have huge games remaining (Cincinnati and Ohio State, respectively). Wins in those games would give those two teams their respective conference titles, eliminating the need for an at-large bid, while a loss would likely eliminate them from contention altogether. The verdict? Look for Southern Cal to earn that final berth. The No. 9 team in the most recent BCS standings has lost twice in Pac-10 play, meaning they need Oregon to lose two more games in order to win the conference. The remaining schedule of Stanford, UCLA, and Arizona is certainly no joke, but USC gets all three at home and should complete the season 10-2 and in the top 8 of the final BCS standings, more than enough to earn a bid.
BCS Bowl Projections:
Championship: Florida vs Texas
Rose: Ohio State vs Oregon
Sugar: Alabama vs TCU
Orange: Georgia Tech vs Cincinnati
Fiesta: USC vs Boise State
And now the weekly list of remaining undefeated teams:
Alabama – SEC
Boise State – WAC
Cincinnati – Big East
Florida – SEC
Texas – Big 12
TCU – Mountain West
1. #25 West Virginia @ #5 Cincinnati
Friday, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
The big East has become a virtual three team tournament for the title, beginning this week with Cincinnati and West Virginia. The Mountaineers do have a loss, but can win the Big East title anyway simply by beating both Cincinnati and archrival Pittsburgh. The stakes are a bit higher for the Bearcats, though, as they will be looking to keep their hopes of a national title, however faint, alive. They’ll have to do it without Tony Pike, who remains sidelined with that arm injury. Playing at home will certainly help Cincinnati, and they should be able to remain amongst the ranks of the unbeaten for at least another week.
Line: Cincinnati by 9.5
Pick: Cincinnati 27, West Virginia 20
2. #10 Iowa @ #11 Ohio State
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Last week, Iowa lost QB Ricky Stanzi, the game against Northwestern, and a shot at a national championship. This week, the Hawkeyes will likely lose their chance for a Big Ten title as well, catching the Buckeyes as the completely wrong time. On the other side, what was once considered a gauntlet of three difficult games to end the season suddenly seems infinitely easier. First, they blow through Penn State in Happy Valley, then get an Iowa team coming off a brutal upset at home without their starting QB, and end the season against the most schizophrenic team in all of college football in the Michigan Wolverines. Despite the loss to Purdue, it appears as though Ohio State will once again take the Big Ten title and earn themselves a bid to the BCS.
Line: Ohio State by 17
Pick: Ohio State 34, Iowa 10
3. Stanford @ #9 Southern California
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Not too long ago, Stanford was a college football doormat. Then they pulled off a 24-23 victory over USC, and the transformation was on. Enter Jim Harbaugh, and suddenly the Cardinal are legitimate Pac-10 title contenders. Meanwhile, Pete Carroll continues to field a team that is top 5 in terms of talent, but continues to struggle every so often against a team with an inferior roster. This year’s version of that was in Seattle against the Washington Huskies, meaning this home game against Stanford should be a USC win. The key will be the play of freshman QB Matt Barkley – if he plays well, USC will take it. If he doesn’t, Stanford could once again be celebrating a huge upset.
Line: Southern California by 10.5
Pick: Southern California 31, Stanford 21
4. #16 Utah @ #4 Texas Christian
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (Versus)
Once again, no one will be able to watch this game – not because it’s not on TV, but because no one can find the channel. It’s a shame, actually, because this is the single biggest BCS game on the docket. Every program near the top of a BCs conference that is on the outside looking in at the most recent bowl projections is rooting hard for Utah in this game, and then hoping BYU can turn around and beat the Utes to completely eliminate any shot of the Mountain West earning those coveted BCS bids. Don’t expect it. TCU is on a mission, and they remember last season when Utah went undefeated, including a win over the Horned Frogs. Expect them to be ready Saturday night and jam one of the final stakes into their BCS claim.
Line: TCU by 19.5
Pick: TCU 30, Utah 7
5. Notre Dame @ #12 Pittsburgh
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. (ABC)
A week ago, this matchup looked like the piece of the puzzle Notre Dame needed to leapfrog some of the mid-teen teams in the BCS standings and position themselves for a BCS bid. This week, the Irish eyes are still weeping from a second consecutive home loss to Navy and it’s the Pitt Panthers who can earn some big points with a victory. The easiest way for Pitt to earn a BCS bid is to beat West Virginia and Cincinnati and take the Big East title, but even winning here and against the Mountaineers might be enough to get them in without beating Cincy, providing they get some help in the Pac-10, Big Ten, and ACC. For Charlie Weis, a fourth loss might be the tipping point for his tenure in South Bend, especially considering the soft schedule and the last month and a half Michigan has had. This team needs 9-3, and they need it badly.
Line: Pittsburgh by 7
Pick: Pittsburgh 20, Notre Dame 16
Straight Up: 2-3
Versus Line: 1-4
Straight Up: 37-16
Versus Line: 22-30-1
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