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NCAA Football Preview: Battle for the Big East Title, Road to the BCS Championship

With college football nearing its regular season end, four teams are still awaiting their fate for bowling season. Thursday night will kick things off for the Big East in the Louisville (9-2, 4-2) vs. Rutgers (9-2, 5-1) game. The winner will punch its ticket to a BCS bowl game and a possible conference title.

Down south for the SEC, Alabama (11-1, 7-1) will battle Georgia (11-1, 7-1) on Saturday night. The winner will advance to the BCS national championship and play Notre Dame. For the loser, there’s really no consolation prize.

Louisville vs. Rutgers

Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater

Louisville will enter Thursday’s game with two consecutive losses on its back. This isn’t the way they  wanted to end things and now they’ll have to end this streak to land a coveted BCS game.

Fortunately confidence isn’t the problem for the team and this week Louisville coach Charlie Strong said via ESPN, “You always want to talk about confidence, because when you go on the road, it’s a confidence thing. You have to walk in there knowing that you are going to win the football game. Confidence isn’t shaken right now.”

But there is concern for its quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who broke his left wrist (non-throwing hand) in Saturday’s OT loss against Connecticut. While it won’t affect his passing game, the team will still need to make some changes.

To-date, Bridgewater has a 68.8 completion percentage, 3,189 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Bridgewater’s injury could be a good thing for Rutger’s defense, which has been the team’s strength this season. It sits at the top of the conference in scoring defense (13.7 average per game) and No. 2 in total defense (317.4 average and 16 touchdowns).

On the offensive side, the Scarlet Knights have top running back Jawan Jamison. He has 227 carries for 1,004 yards and four touchdowns along with his 26 receptions for 308 yards and two additional scores. He has recently slowed down thanks to an ankle injury.

With a Rutgers win, it will take the conference title and the bettors see this as a possibility. Rutgers is -3 at 43.5 over/under.

Alabama vs. Georgia

Georgia QB Aaron Murray

For the winner of this matchup, it will punch its ticket to the big game after working hard all season but interestingly, the loser may be left out of the BCS bowl party as No. 5 Florida will likely take this spot.

Georgia won the SEC East division for the second consecutive season. The team’s sole loss this year came against South Carolina on Oct. 6 (35-7) and they have put it behind them.

Thanks to a win over Florida, they won the tiebreaker and landed in Atlanta for the championship.

Once a Heisman contender, quarterback Aaron Murray is one of the country’s most efficient passers. To-date, he has 3,201 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Murray has a 66.6 percent completion rate.

But he will face Alabama’s top total defense and an offense that leads in scoring.

Alabama’s equally talented quarterback is AJ McCarron. He has 2,507 yards, 25 touchdowns, two picks and a 67.2 completion percentage.

The running back duo of Eddie Lacy, with his average of 83.4 rushing yards per game and T.J. Yeldon has Alabama at No. 2 in the conference for rushing yards per game. This could bode well on Saturday as Georgia sits toward the bottom of the SEC against the run.

Georgia does bring its own talented running back to the party with Todd Gurley. He has rushed for 1,138 yards–the most in Georgia’s history for a true freshman other than Herschel Walker. But good luck running against the Alabama defense which only gives up 77 yards per game.

Alabama is trying for its second consecutive national title and Georgia is trying to meet this season’s high expectations and erase its September 2008 meeting against Alabama (a 41-30 loss).

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the bettors see another Alabama return to the Championship game with its -8.5 and 50 over/under win over Georgia.


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