BCS mayhem could be Bruin

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

A few final week thoughts as the national championship race winds down to what seems like its inevitable conclusion:

- Ohio State is in. And, after their demolition of Notre Dame last Saturday night, USC seems almost certain to join the Buckeyes in the Bowl Championship Series title game Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz. Assuming the Trojans take care of business at the Rose Bowl on Saturday against cross-town rival UCLA, that is. Some suggest this game is anything but a gimme, and might actually be the Trojans' toughest hurdle to clear. The Bruins have the defence to stay in this one. And remember, too, how an unheralded UCLA team nearly burst the championship dreams of a Matt Leinart-Reggie Bush-led Trojan powerhouse two years ago.

- Michigan needs a USC loss to have any hope of another shot at Ohio State in the national title game. Failing that, the Wolverines get the Rose Bowl as a consolation prize where, ironically, 'rematch' might be the word of choice again. Yes, the folks in Pasadena really are seriously considering a Michigan-Notre Dame matchup in their game. The question is, why? As USC showed, the Irish defence is still the same one Michigan shredded 47-21 back on Sept. 16. Do we really need to see that again?

TIGERS TOPS?

- Florida and Arkansas will play for the Southeastern Conference crown on Saturday night. But LSU might well be the conference's best team right now. The 10-2 Tigers vanquished a hot Razorback team right in Little Rock last week and own the nation's No. 1 defence. Reverse an early season stumble at Auburn, and the loaded Bayou Bengals would be front and centre in the national title discussion. LSU vs. Michigan, anyone?

- And while we're at it ... is anybody in the Atlantic Coast Conference playing better than Virginia Tech? Alas, it's too late for the Hokies, too.

More fodder for the playoff advocates, we say.

The picks for Week 14 (odds supplied by Sportsbook.com):

GAME OF THE WEEK

(SEC Championship, at Atlanta)

No. 8 Arkansas (+3) vs. No. 4 Florida (Saturday, 6 p.m, CBS) -- The squawking about a BCS snub is getting louder by the week in Gainesville, but Urban Meyer's bunch better not look past the Razorbacks and do-everything RB Darren McFadden. LSU snuffed out Arkansas' slim national championship hopes a week ago. Now it's the Hogs' turn to play spoiler against Florida, which has made too many games an adventure down the stretch.PICK: ARKANSAS.

NEXT BEST THINGS

No. 13 Rutgers (+9) at No. 15 West Virginia (Saturday, 8 p.m., The Score) -- The once-downtrodden Scarlet Knights have authored the best story in college football this season and can nail down the Big East title -- and a BCS berth -- with a win here. The Mountaineers' conference chances evaporated at home against South Florida last week, and QB Pat White is on the limp. Can RB Steve Slaton get it done on his own? We'll say the home side squeaks out a close one. PICK: RUTGERS.

(Big 12 Championship, at Kansas City)

No. 19 Nebraska (+3) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC) -- Amazingly, these two old conference rivals have never met in the Big 12 title game. A win here would go a long way toward legitimizing Bill Callahan's efforts to put the Cornhusker program back among the nation's elite. But the Sooners haven't skipped a beat, it seems, since losing Heisman candidate RB Adrian Peterson. Their ground game keeps humming and QB Paul Thompson does just enough through the air. A great coaching job by Bob Stoops. PICK: OKLAHOMA.

(ACC Championship, at Jacksonville)

No. 16 Wake Forest (+2) vs. No. 23 Georgia Tech (Saturday, 1 p.m., ABC) -- Injuries felled the Demon Deacons' starting quarterback and running back early in the year, yet here they are, playing for their first ACC title since 1970. This bunch is as mentally tough as they come. But the feisty Yellow Jackets defence, combined with stud WR Calvin Johnson, have more than enough to spoil Wake's dream finish. PICK: GEORGIA TECH.

QUICK PICKS

(straight-up selections in bold)

Saturday

UCLA (+13) over No. 2 USC

No. 6 Louisville (-27) over Connecticut

No. 21 California (-28) over Stanford

Oregon State (+7) over No. 24 Hawaii

Last week -- 10-8 straight up; 7-9-1 ATS.

Season record -- 216-42 straight up; 121-120-5 ATS.

Best bet -- Oregon St. (8-5).


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