Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Preparing for the ACC, SEC Championship Games

A little preview of what each team has gone through this season and how I think they are preparing mentally for these games which will send two teams to the BCS.

SEC Championship Atlanta, GA 6:00 CBS
Arkansas saw an undefeated SEC season go by the wayside last Friday in a 31-26 loss to the suddenly BCS bound LSU Tigers. Still, the Razorbacks have had a great season and can still secure a BCS bid with a win over Florida. In one year, Houston Nutt has gone from almost being fired to other schools wanting to hire him away. The Razorbacks live and die by Darren McFadden and the many dimensions he brings to the game from lining up at QB in the "Wildcat" Formation to running back to receiver. Another fascinating story from Fayetteville this season is the progress of Gus Malzahan, the high school coach turned offensive coordinator and originator of the "Wildcat".

Florida has one test left on the SEC gauntlet they faced this year. The Gators survived the SEC East, played three of the top four teams from the West (winning two) and survived a scare from rival Florida St last week. Urban Meyer has been openly discussing his distaste for the BCS system over the last two weeks regarding the possibility that Florida may be left out of the BCS Championship despite and 12-1 record in the SEC. I have a hard time believing this is not creating a small distraction from the game on Saturday and may put a chip on the shoulder of Arkansas as well. The offense played one its better games on Saturday, giving themselves (and the Gator D) some more confidence that they can match the Hogs quick strike ability.

ACC Championship Jacksonville, FL 1:00PM ABC
Wake Forest beat Maryland this past weekend in College Park to secure a bid into this weekend's ACC Championship Game. The Demon Deacons bring many school firsts into this contest: First 10-win season, first time ranked for seven straight weeks in AP Top 25, first time going undefeated on the road (6-0). However, this team filled with fourth and fifth year players will not be interested in any congratulatory pats on the back for making it this far. Another motivating factor for the Deacs will be the point spread they face underdogs on the opening line (+2) against a team they are ranked higher than.

Georgia Tech on the other hand has a huge mental challenge this week getting ready to play after a crushing, sixth consecutive loss to archrival Georgia on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets were very dejected after the loss even though they still control where they end up in a bowl game. This Tech team wrapped up their division two weeks ago with a win over North Carolina, but has had to wait two weeks to find our who their opponent would be. Some fans feel as if this season has lost its luster because of the loss to the hated Bulldogs, but the players must realize how much they still have to play for.

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