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College Football Weekend Preview: SEC Shouldn't Be Guaranteed Spot in National Championship

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College Football Weekend Preview: SEC Shouldn't Be Guaranteed Spot in National Championship

There are four teams worthy of being in the BCS national championship game this season as long as they finish undefeated: Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame.

Sorry Louisville, you'll have to settle for a BCS bowl game instead, which isn't a bad consolation. Your schedule just isn't up to snuff. And sorry Ohio State, the NCAA won't let you in.

If it comes down to only two undefeated teams when the regular season is over, then those two teams should play for the whole ball of wax (or a crystal trophy) no matter who they are, no matter their conference affiliation.

Look, I wholeheartedly agree that the SEC is the best conference in the country. I don't need convincing of that. I've been on board with that notion a long time ago.

But if Alabama loses, whether it's to Texas A&M this weekend or to its opponent (likely Georgia) in the SEC championship, I'm sorry Tide, Bulldog and Gator supporters, you have to watch the game on television.

No SEC team has played a schedule so obviously superior to the other undefeated teams that they deserve to get their one-loss ticket punched to Miami.

To get to the national championship, it's all about winning all your games. If you lose even once, you better hope all those other teams lose another game too.

Watching Notre Dame football isn't pretty. With the exception of the Oklahoma games, its offense has struggled pretty much all year long. But they find ways to win, mainly due to Manti Te'o and a damn good defense, and that's all that matters.

Just for argument's sake, let's say Alabama and Oregon lose before the end of the season but Notre Dame and Kansas State win out. A Fighting Irish-Wildcats national championship isn't exactly going to move the needle. But it better happen if they're the only two left standing.

This is a call to the human pollsters, the voters that are included in the Associated Press, Coaches' and Harris polls, to keep the undefeateds (minus Louisville) on top. The computers can't be controlled, but the human voters have a duty. That is my demand.

The Wisconsin Connection

Remember when I said that Wisconsin-Purdue was the de facto Leaders Division championship in the Big Ten? Yeah, sorry Indiana.

This week is the real Leaders Division championship, and Wisconsin is in for a battle at Indiana. Yes, Indiana. And we're not talking about college hoops.

Credit goes to head coach Kevin Wilson for getting the Hoosiers headed in the right direction and giving them a downright dangerous offense.

Indiana actually controls their own destiny in making it to the Big Ten championship, as hard as that might be to believe. But so does Wisconsin.

What Wisconsin has to be prepared for is a passing attack at Indiana that averages more than 300 yards per game. This is a team that put up 49 points at home in a loss to Ohio State that features a respectable defense.

Indiana is improving every week and will be fired up for this game. The Badgers are going to have be a ball-control offense that keeps the rock away from Indiana.

Word out of Madison is that Curt Phillips is going to be the starting quarterback. Despite the three ACL tears, he's known for his mobility and has been used in a cameo role to run the read option this season. But if Phillips is going to hold onto the job, he's got to be able to pass the ball as well.

Prediction: The Badgers aren't going to be riding high and mighty into this game. They've been humbled with three losses this season, and they'll be fully aware that Indiana will be motivated for this game. Attention might be on Phillips, but the ground game will keep the chains moving. Ultimately, Wisconsin will outlast Indiana in a close one. Badgers win 35-31.

Green Bay fans will enjoy a story by the Associated Press about the sons to former Packers Paul Coffman and Mark Murphy who currently play for Indiana.

Player Q&A

This week's Player Q&A is with Iowa junior C.J. Fiedorowicz who's one of the top-ranked underclassmen tight ends in the nation. His 4-5 Hawkeyes take on Purdue this weekend.

Question: This season appears to have been an up and down one for Iowa so far, down lately, what's your impression on how things have gone for the Hawkeyes this season?

Fiedorowicz: Obviously it's not as well as we had hoped or expected. Going 4-5 is not something you want as one of your goals. But we're a young team and have a lot of talent. When it comes to Saturdays, we got to execute the big plays when we're called upon. There's no little thing that's hurting us, but as a group, we've got to make plays.

Question: You're currently on a three-game losing streak. What's it going to take to stop that on Saturday?

Fiedorowicz: We've met as a team, and the leadership group all decided that we would do a few more things extra than we have been in the past. It something we've got to really change, keep working hard, not give up and play Iowa football on Saturday.

Question: Based upon the way the season has gone, things change. What's the ultimate goal now for the end of the season? Is it to become bowl eligible?

Fiedorowicz: Definitely. Six games is hopefully bowl eligible, but we're looking to finish it out right and get seven. Right now we're just concentrating on Purdue that's our main focus right now to get to six or seven wins.

Question: Give me a scouting report on Purdue. What makes them dangerous?

Fiedorowicz: They've got a big defensive line. They've got that big D-tackle, No. 93 that puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback. They've got a lot of athletes, offense and defense. Their record doesn't really speak to who they are. At the beginning of the year, they were picked to win the other side of the conference, so we know that they're a good team that we definitely can't look past.

Question: Tell me about yourself. What is the best thing you do on the football field, your best quality?

Fiedorowicz: Right now, coach has been asking me to block, and I think I've been blocking pretty well this year. Mark Weisman's been down the past couple games. Whatever the coach asks me to do, I'm going to do to my fullest. And right now my blocking has improved tremendously.

Question: Last year you had three touchdowns in 16 receptions, and then this you have more receptions but zero touchdowns. Are you ready to reverse that trend?

Fiedorowicz: Definitely. Everyone wants to score touchdowns. But this year, it's been more when we get in the red zone, we're running the ball. When it's inside like the five-yard line, we usually run the ball. We have I think 12 rushing touchdowns and only four receiving touchdowns. As long as we get in the end zone, I'm not too worried about (personally) getting in the end zone. But of course, when my number's called, I'd like to score touchdowns.

What Happened Before Saturday

It's time to pay respect to the MAC that's having of the best seasons in conference history.

There were two entertaining mid-week games this week, which is great. Football on Tuesdays and Wednesday evening is fantastic viewing for the hardcore fan.

On Tuesday evening, Ball State upset 25th ranked Toledo, giving the Rockets their first conference defeat of the season. Then on Wednesday Bowling Green took down an Ohio team that came into the game with an 8-1 record.

A special acknowledgement goes out to Bowling Green sophomore running back Anthon Samuel whose 15-yard touchdown runs in the second quarter was one of the best scoring runs I've ever seen. Seriously. Elusiveness, several broken tackles. It was a thing of beauty. I've looked for highlights, but I can't find any, which is a shame.

Even though the favorites and home teams lost this week, it shouldn't dampen what's otherwise been a great season for the MAC. An anticipated matchup between Kent State and Northern Illinois in the conference championship will be worth your time. Unfortunately it goes head-to-head with the Pac-12 championship.

Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and an editor at Cheesehead TV. To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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jmac3444's picture

apparently Wisconsin was not in for much of a battle today

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