Bracketology/Bowls Expert

The picks: Championship week

Everything will be settled after this weekend. All the conference championships. All the bowl matchups. There won't be anything left but the whining.

Speaking of whining, I hope you didn't take my picks to Vegas. I was 23-11 straight up last week, which isn't bad, but the exact opposite -- 11-23 -- against the spread. Note to self: Never bet rivarly games.

Overall, I'm 81-36 straight up, but 52-63-2 vs. the spread.

Louisville at Cincinnati (+3½): Keg of Nails. Did you know ... Cincinnati has played just one team ranked better than 80th this season? They won that game (Houston), but lost twice to the dregs. Not surprisingly, the Bearcats rank dead last in strength of schedule. Cincinnati needs to win, have Central Florida lose, and then pass the Knights in the BCS standings to win the league tiebreaker. However, I don't think it will cone to that. Louisville wins and covers.

Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois (-4): MAC Daddy. Only a four-point line? I like Bowling Green and the Huskies' defense is suspect, but I still think NIU wins, covers and is off to Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl.

Duke vs. Florida State (-29): ACC Championship Game. Can I wait for Thursday's press conference in Tallahassee? No? OK, Seminoles win and cover.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (-9½): Bedlam. Bedlam is a great name for a football game. The Cowboys are on a roll and the Sooners don't have the horses to stop their rivals from capturing the Big 12 title. OSU wins and covers.

Texas at Baylor (-15): The Bears need help to win the Big 12 or make the BCS as an at-large, but none of that matters if they don't beat the Longhorns. Texas has been playing better in league play, but the Horns aren't up to this challenge. Baylor wins and covers.

Michigan State vs. Ohio State (-5½): Big Ten Championship Game. SEC people probably didn't know Michigan State existed until this week (even though Nick Saban coached there), but now they are all wearing green. The Spartans are the league's only realistic hope of keeping its BCS championship streak going. Their defense will give the Buckeyes problems, but they don't quite have enough offense to pull this out. Ohio State wins and covers.

Stanford at Arizona State (-3): Pac 12 Championship Game. No league ate its own like the Pac-12, which not only doesn't have an undefeated team, but doesn't even have a one-loss team. The Cardinal won comfortably the first time, but that game was at Palo Alto. This one is not, but I think Stanford's style is tough for the Sun Devils to handle. Stanford wins and covers.

Missouri vs. Auburn (-2): National championshp, er, SEC Championship Game. SEC fans think those are the same thing. Auburn fans have been filling my timeline with mostly unprintable diatribes for over a month because of a perceived lack of respect. Now, I will incur their wrath for a different reason. I'm picking them. Can't wait to see how Auburn pulls it out this time. Auburn wins and (barely) covers.

Central Florida at SMU (+10): UCF goes to the BCS with a win or Cincinnati loss, which means this game could be meaningless by kickoff. The Knights win if Cincinnati does, but the Mustangs win if UCF doesn't need it. SMU covers either way.

Marshall at Rice (+5): Conference USA Championship Game. Marshall fans are not happy that this game is in Houston. It shouldn't matter though. The Herd go thundering into the Liberty Bowl. Marshall wins and covers.

Utah State vs. Fresno State (-3½): Mountain West Championship Game. The stakes aren't as high as Fresno State originally hoped. The Bulldogs might have a letdown, but should still find a way to win. Fresno State wins, Utah State covers.

 
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