And yes, I’ve been saving this TV Guide cover for a while now. Angela Lansbury, TV’s Patrick Duffy and Betty White are OGs of television and are appropriate for just such an occasion. That’s no real exaggeration either. I think Angela Lansbury may have killed someone in her past, likely someone who disrespected her or her crew.
- Arizona State @ Arizona (ESPN, 8:00pm ET). A season that got off to such a hot start in Tucson will limp toward a finale against 5-6 Arizona State. Beyond this program being managed by the lifeless corpse of Dennis Erickson, you want to know what makes that 5-6 record more embarrassing for the Sun Devils faithful? Two of those wins are against 1-AA teams, and only one counts. Ostensibly, Arizona State is playing for nothing more than pride, but that is where you’re mistaken. With a win, Arizona State could still actually make a bowl game if there are not enough bowl eligible teams across all of 1-A. That result is entirely plausible and, if so, Arizona State could file a waiver and get into an open bowl game. At that point, the Sun Devils program is admitting it would rather hemorrhage money (there’s no way that bowl trip ends in the black) for a few more practices. Because we don’t have enough bowl games…
- Northern Illinois v. Miami of Ohio (ESPN2, 7:00pm ET). MAC Championship Game. This is a fairly exciting moment for Miami coach Mike Haywood. Narrowly losing to the Florida Gators (after taking his eye of the primary main objective of cake and beer), and thus costing the Redhawks a chance of winning the SEC East, they rebounded from that loss and the 1 win prior in Haywood’s first year to win the MAC East1. Their prize? To be taken to Detroit. They will face a Northern Illinois team that is actually ranked. The #25 Huskies have only two losses on the season, one to a fairly scrappy Iowa State team and the Zookers. Further, their head coach is only in his 3rd year after changing the direction on his job title from “Southern” to “Northern Illinois”. His name is also Jerry Kill. Why? Because, that’s why.
- Illinois @ Fresno State (ESPN2, 10:15pm ET). I do not know why the Illini have done this in the past two years (see: Illinois v. Cincinnati, 2009), though it seems it will stop with the new Big Ten format. If they were national powers (or even just better than they’ve been), then I could understand treating this a neat trip for the fan base. Wisconsin does this, occasionally scheduling odd games at Hawaii and UNLV for the sole purpose of rewarding their fan base with a trip. But, that’s just not the Zookers and Central Valley, California isn’t much of a destination for travelers. Fresno State got off to a hot start sacking Cincitucky’s Zach Collaros into next year, but have dropped games to the likes of Ole Miss, Hawaii, Nevada and were detroyed by Boise State. The last game Illinois played was against Nerdwestern, the one that had the record setting rushing performance. It shouldn’t, but apparently this non-conference game has implications for the middle-of-the-pack Big Ten teams and may affect Big Ten placements into bowl games like the Gator Bowl and the Texas Bowl. Penn State, Iowa and Michigan fans will be watching with some curiosity.
- Rutgers @ West Virginia (ABC, 12:00pm ET). Remember when Pitt had a two game lead on the Big East with four games left to play? Not anymore. They dropped two of three to Connecticut and West Virginia, two teams that now have precious tiebreakers over the Panthers. However, for WVU to advance to the BCS, they will need to win and hope Connecticut loses later in the day.
- Southern Methodist @ UCF (ESPN2, 12:00pm ET). This is the Conference-USA Championship Game that, unlike other championship games, is always held on the site of one of the participants. This year, the 9-3 Golden Knights host the 7-5 Mustangs. The record is not ideal for June Jones, but his mid-major rebuilding project has nevertheless paid some dividends in his third year. Houston, in the same division, losing two quarterbacks helped. Southern Methodist got the tie-breaker over Tulsa in the head-to-head match.
- Troy @ Florida Atlantic (ESPNU, 2:00pm ET). Sun Belt does not have a conference championship game. I don’t know why these two teams are playing against each other. If they settled their difference peacefully and merged rosters, the subsequent alliance might actally result in a 7-win team. I’m not watching this game.
- Utah State @ Boise State (ESPN3.com, 3:00pm ET). Keep on trucking, Boise. It’s senior day in Boise. The Broncos’ overtime loss to Nevada means that Boise is actually playing not for a BCS bid, but for a share of the WAC championship (Hawaii has clinched one share) in their final go-around in the conference. Rather than flirt with the Rose Bowl or a trip to Glendale, the Broncos are now playing for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco or the Humanitarian Bowl in, yes, Boise, Idaho.
- Nevada @ Louisiana Tech (ESPN3.com, 3:00pm ET). Nevada, who just beat Boise State in Reno on Colin Kaepernick and company’s senior day, will play for another share of the WAC in scenic, majestic and difficult to access Ruston, Louisiana. In terms of travel costs, I think Nevada will be glad to see the Techsters off the schedule when they move to the Mountain West.
- Oregon @ Oregon State (ABC, 3:30pm ET). The Civil War will decide the Pac 10 championship again. Well, kinda. Oregon needs the win to secure the Pac 10 outright and, with it, they will play in the BCS title game. See that children? You too can play for a national title if you don’t believe defense is an important element of the game.
- Auburn vs. South Carolina (CBS, 3:30pm ET). A week after an exhilarating come from behind victory against Alabama, the Tigers, led by the recently and inexplicably cleared Cam Newton, will look to improve their record to 0-13. A South Carolina loss will push Auburn into the national title game, a game that the NCAA will ultimately say did not happen once more details regarding Cecil Newton’s pay-for-play scheme comes to light.
- Middle Tennessee @ Florida International (ESPN3.com, 6:00pm ET). One of the cooler stories in college football this year: Florida International. For those unaware, FIU is one of the poorest, if not the poorest, 1-A program active. They routinely take asskickings, almost openly so, just to get a buyout. Sure, a lot of programs are like that, but none of those have actually cut their band and cheerleading programs in order to remain solvent. That’s FIU. FIU started the season 0-4, dropping games to Rutgers, Texas A&M, Maryland and Pitt. That may not be surprising, but they actually had fourth quarter leads against Rutgers and Pitt and were within a touchdown of A&M and Maryland entering the 4th quarter. Those two games got out of hand. FIU won 6 of their next 7 games and, with it, won the Sun Belt. This is the logical conclusion for a program led by Mario Cristobal, who dresses like his idol — Joe Paterno — for games. Not sure JoePa ever went with the beard, though.
- Washington @ Washington State (Versus, 7:00pm ET). Two teams, One Apple Cup. Again, this matchup of 5-6 Washington and 2-9 Washington State will probably be the worst rivalry game among BCS teams. Ten years ago, these showdowns had Pac 10 implications.
- Florida State v. Virginia Tech (ESPN, 7:45pm ET). ACC Championship Game, yo. Winner goes to the Orange Bowl, which is increasingly becoming a relic of its former self in the BCS era. I don’t imagine the Sugar Bowl will pass on Ohio State, but, if they do, the Orange Bowl may take us as an at-large. For all the grief the ACC gets (all of it deserved), this is actually the best possible matchup for this game. Whether or not it will get people to watch or show up to the stadium for the game remains to be seen.
- Oklahoma v. Nebraska (ABC, 8:00pm ET). OU and NU will play for the Big 8 Championship one final time before Nebraska leaves the dust belt and joins the rust belt. Selfishly, we will all be pulling for a Nebraska win. Nebraska’s 2011 Big Ten schedule starts with a game at Wisconsin, then home to Ohio State and, two weeks later, at home again to Michigan State. A “Clash of Champions” start to the Big Ten in 2011 would definitely be in order.
- Connecticut @ South Florida (ESPN2, 8:00pm ET). Simple proposition for Connecticut: win, and in. Win, and the Huskies will go to a BCS game, whoever would be compelled to take them. This is a good turnaround for the Huskies, who started the season 1-2, losing to Michigan and Temple. Besides, 8-4 just screams “BCS team”, doesn’t it? If college football had a tournament, perhaps Michigan could point to this game as a quality win and hope for an at-large from the selection committee.
- USC @ UCLA (Regional, 10:30pm ET). This will probably be on one of the Fox Sports networks. I don’t know why you would want to watch this, perhaps to see if USC can go 0-2 in its rivalry games. They lost to Notre Dame last week in the first time in forever. Other than that, why watch it? USC is on probation and UCLA is 4-7. You’re not the only one asking that question. Los Angeles’ heralded, rabid, devoted, passionate and true sports fans are asking that same question as well.