Which conference championship game will be the biggest upset?
Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion by leaving a comment.
David Teel, Newport News (Va.) Daily Press
Barring Herschel Walker’s return to Heisman form, Georgia won’t score enough against LSU. And absent an NCAA waiver to play a baker’s dozen on defense, UCLA can’t slow Oregon. So the options are limited. Michigan State, a 9.5-point pup against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, is the irresistible play. The Spartans have won four straight, and in October they beat the Badgers, 37-31, on Kirk Cousins’ 44-yard Hail Mary to Keith Nichol. Wisconsin, too, has won its last four, by an average margin of 30.8 points, no less. Plus, Russell Wilson and Montee Ball are one of the game’s most dynamic quarterback-tailback tandems. But Michigan State ranks third nationally in total defense and sixth against the run. That will send the Spartans to their first Rose Bowl in 24 years.
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
The biggest upset would be if anyone is still watching the Pac-12 title game in the fourth quarter. Oregon should be up at least five touchdowns by then, and UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel will be contemplating why he left his job as a volunteer assistant coach at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle.
That game that could surprise the betting public will be played in Indianapolis. Michigan State has beasts on the defensive line and speedy skill guys, a brainy quarterback and a chip on its collective shoulder for being underrated all season. I still give an edge to Wisconsin and its spectacular offense, but an upset in the Big Ten title game would not surprise me at all.
[Updated at 1:09 p.m.]
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
UCLA, which carried Rick Neuheisel off the field during his last practice Wednesday, is going to take that emotion to Eugene on Friday and shock...
...Nobody. What, are you kidding? UCLA over Oregon in the first Pac-12 title game would be like the U.S. Hockey team beating the USSR in the Olympics. Oh, wait, that happened. Anyway, UCLA is not going to beat Oregon, so we have to look elsewhere for a conference-championship upset. Oklahoma is an underdog at Oklahoma State but has won eight straight games in the Bedlam series. Michigan State and Wisconsin are each10-2, so either team winning the Big Ten would not be a shock. Virginia Tech and Clemson, well, that's a pick-it game. So we're going to dig deep and pick Southern Mississippi over Houston in the Conference USA title game. If it happens, you read it here first. If it doesn't, please delete this ASAP.]
Photo: Wisconsin football team celebrates a victory. Credit: Jeff Hanisch / U.S. Presswire