So this is it.
One weekend--one game, really--to complete the bowl picture, and the national championship picture, for the 2012 college football season.
This weekend is Championship Weekend in college football, and hey, all due respect to the Big Ten and the ACC and the MAC and the others, but there's really one game that the nation cares about on Saturday.
That game, of course, is the SEC Championship showdown between Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide and Mark Richt's Georgia Bulldogs. The SEC title clash has quite rightfully evolved into one of the showcase events of the college football year; in recent years, it's also served as a de facto national title game semifinal, as the winner of this one has been all but guaranteed a spot in the BCS National Championship.
Whether or not that is "fair" is a discussion for another time, though it should be noted that college football is a game that has been built on unfairness. I mean, inequity stands at the very heart of this sport. That's kind of what makes it fun.
But I digress. The games are almost upon us. So let's go ahead and get to the picks.
MAC Championship Game: No. 21 Northern Illinois vs. No. 17 Kent State (Friday, 7 p.m., ESPN2): Yes, NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch is a fantastic player, and yes, this is a kid who probably deserves at lot more Heisman hype than he's received. He will be, very simply, the best player on the field in this edition of the MAC title game. And yet I find it strange that the oddsmakers have made the Huskies such big favorites in this one; Kent State may not be loaded with stars, and Kent State may not be accustomed to playing in such big games. But coach Darrell Hazell will most certainly have this bunch ready to play. Look for Kent to win, and maybe even score a BCS bowl bid as a result. Kent State 24, NIU 20
Pac-12 Championship Game: No. 16 UCLA at No. 8 Stanford (8 p.m., FOX): A fascinating game that probably won't draw many viewers. I mean, I get the reasoning behind the Friday night kick, but it's a TV ratings risk. As for the game? I'm all in on David Shaw. I'm all in on Stanford. By the way, where's Oregon? Stanford 31, UCLA 27
SEC Championship Game: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Georgia (4 p.m., CBS): I've had a lot of so-called experts tell me that, talent-wise, there really isn't much of a difference between Georgia and 'Bama. I get that. I really do. I'm also willing to write off the Dawgs' meltdown against South Carolina as a somewhat of a fluke. What I'm not willing to write off is Mark Richt's recent record in big games. Quite simply, it's not good. And then there's Nick Saban. Enough said. Alabama 28, Georgia 14
ACC Championship Game: No. 13 Florida State vs. Georgia Tech (8 p.m., ESPN): Honest question: What game would you rather watch? This one , or the MAC title game? If you answered the latter, you're correct. Florida State 41, Georgia Tech 17
Big Ten Championship Game: No. 12 Nebraska vs. Wisconsin (8:17 p.m., FOX): I love the 8:17 p.m. start. That's just so Jim Delany, just so modern-day Big Ten, just so very transparent of the fact that, in the year 2012 in college football, television money comes first, and everything else comes second. Speaking of coming in second (or, um, third), Wisconsin came into this season knowing that they basically had a free pass to play in this game, thanks to the sanctions over at Penn State and Ohio State. And pretty much all season, they've played like it. Nebraska is hardly without flaw, of course, but Wisky has been one of the bigger disappointments in the nation this year. That disappointment will continue. Nebraska 31, Wisconsin 21