Rapp’ 6-Pack: 2012 Championship Week

By Jeff Rapp, December 1st, 2012

Thanks for popping open the 6-Pack. We intend to have a lot of fun with this segment and maybe, just maybe, inform and enlighten along the way.

Is there anything better than flipping the channels on the remote on a football Saturday or Sunday and assessing how awe-inspiring your prognostication genius is? Of course not.

And the best part about the 6-Pack is you don’t have to do anything. You can simply point a finger at me and laugh as I stumble along trying to predict the unpredictable – football.

Each week I’ll take a stab at six games – some of marquee status and some not – from both the collegiate and professional ranks. And I will do so without a net, meaning I will try to pick against the point spread.

This year, I have picked Ohio State’s league game, three other college games of interest and two NFL games in select weeks.

Remember, this is all done for entertainment purposes only. In no way am I encouraging anybody to go out and blow hard-earned cashola on ballgames. Also, to be clear, my predictions regarding the Buckeyes are based only on a hunch – and not because of any treasured inside information.

The last time out I correctly picked the Buckeyes to cover against Illinois and went unscathed on college games. Now we move onto championship week, but without OSU.

After taking off last week, I’m back with another half-dozen picks.

The results from last time, up-to-year totals, perfect predictions (if there are any) and this week’s picks are below:

Last week’s picks: 4-1-1
Record for the season: 15-8-1
Ohio State games: 3-1
Total college: 10-5-1
NFL: 5-3
Nailed right on the head: 0

Game 1: Kansas (1-10) at West Virginia (6-5)
When: Sat., 2:30 Eastern (FSN)
Line: Mountaineers by 20
Analysis: Yes, West Virginia has fallen off the map. Five straight conference losses will do that to anybody. However, two undeniable factors remain – A) Geno Smith is still a wonder to behold leading WVU’s high-powered throw game, and B) Kansas is dreadful. The Jayhawks try to slow down foes with a pretty effective running game but aren’t built to contain topflight Big 12 passing. Plus, their attempt to go after foes through the air is high-schoolish as quarterback Dayne Crist completes less than half of his passes and has thrown just four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Kansas ranks in the bottom 10 of the country in passing (151.5 yards per game, 117th) and point per game (19.0, 115th). This is no contest, and should be ugly early.
Also Intriguing: Smith heads into his senior sendoff with gaudy seasonal passing statistics of 327 of 466 (70.2 percent) for 3,597 yards, 37 TDs and just five interceptions.
Pick: The bleeding finally stops – WVU by 35

Game 2: No. 2 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 3 Georgia (11-1)
When: Sat., 4 p.m. Eastern (CBS)
Line: ’Bama by 7½
Analysis: Everyone expected to see Alabama playing in December for the SEC championship, but how did Georgia get here? Well, the Bulldogs have scored 37 or more points in nine of their 12 games and are averaging 38.0 ppg, good for 17th in the country. They also have been stingy on defense, allowing just 17.7 ppg (15th). That’s a winning formula. QB Aaron Murray has been big-time this season, throwing for 3,201 yards and 30 TDs. The only slip-up looks like an aberration now – a 35-7 loss at South Carolina. But Alabama is still the team to beat in the matchup, which will decide Notre Dame’s opponent in the BCS National Championship Game. It has the cool and experience to handle the pressure at hand and QB A.J. McCarron has been virtually unflappable in his career. And then there is the ’Bama defense, which has been stifling with the exception of the week Johnny Manziel came to town.
Also Intriguing: This SEC title game will be played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. While Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide isn’t likely to be intimidated even in what amounts to an away game, the setting certainly won’t hurt Georgia, which was undefeated at home this year.
Pick: Hard to knock out the champ – Tide by 3

Game 3: No. 23 Texas (8-3) at No. 7 Kansas State (10-1)
When: Sat., 8 p.m. Eastern (ABC)
Line: K-State by 10½
Analysis: The Big 12 can’t share the championship spotlight today since the conference has just 10 teams (and the Big Ten has a dozen – go figure) and therefore does not have a title game on tap. However, the schedule maker did pretty well with Oklahoma taking on TCU early in the afternoon and this little ditty in prime time, among other conference clashes. If the Wildcats can hang on at home they will essentially lock up a BCS bowl berth, presumably a date in the Fiesta. Bill Snyder’s team has had two full weeks to digest the nightmare at Baylor on Nov. 17 – which cost his team a run for the national championship and his quarterback, Collin Klein, serious candidacy for the Heisman Trophy. Klein, who has more than 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing this fall, will be playing to end his career at home on a good note. Texas will be looking for win No. 9 and a New Year’s Day bowl appearance. Coach Mack Brown is expected to call on QB Case McCoy, who has performed well but may not be ready for a game of this magnitude.
Also Intriguing: Texas rolled at Ole Miss in the first trip away from Austin but has been underwhelming on the road since. The Longhorns have nipped a few league foes but were bombed 63-21 by Oklahoma in Dallas in the Red River Rivalry.
Pick: Klein waves goodbye a (big) winner – ’Cats by 16

Game 4: Wisconsin (7-5) vs. No. 14 Nebraska (10-2)
When: Sat., 8 p.m. Eastern (FOX)
Line: Cornhuskers by 3
Analysis: Four of UW’s five losses have been by a field goal while the other, vs. Ohio State, was by a touchdown in overtime. The Badgers have a premier back in Montee Ball, won last year’s Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis and have represented the conference in the last two Rose Bowls. That would explain why a 10-2 team is favored by a mere three points over a 7-5 team on a neutral field. But those records also indicate something pretty obvious – Nebraska is the clear-cut better team here. Wisconsin lost an opportunity to beat the Cornhuskers on Sept. 29, losing grip of a big lead in a 30-27 loss. Since then Wisconsin has dealt with injuries, changes at quarterback and other hardship while NU has bounced back nicely from a blowout loss at Ohio State. Head coach Bo Pelini said his team needed to win out after that setback in Columbus and his players have answered the bell with six straight league wins.
Also Intriguing: Most associate Wisconsin with being the top power rush team in the conference but Nebraska actually ranks eighth in the nation in rushing and has compiled more than 3,000 yards on the ground behind tailback Ameer Abdullah, quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead, who returned to action last win in the win over Iowa. The Cornheads average 5.3 yards per attempt via the ground and Wisconsin’s top tackler, Chris Borland, is ailing.
Pick: Nebraska has a Bo also – ’Huskers by 9

Game 5: Cardinals (4-7) at Jets (4-7)
When: Sun., 1 p.m. Eastern (CBS)
Line: NYJ by 4½
Analysis: Well, where do we start with the Cardinals? Actually there is not much to say other than they have a horrid offensive line and one of the worst quarterback situations the league has seen in a while and have lost seven straight games – all this after a mirage of a 4-0 start. That train wreck outweighs the one in the Meadowlands even though the Jets haven’t come close to living up their arrogance or promises of Tim Tebow impacting games. Larry Fitzgerald is still a stud, but he’s averaging just 11.4 yards per catch for the Cards and the Jets have the secondary to pay him a little extra attention. It may not matter if Arizona continues to leave Ryan Lindley – or whoever is under center – vulnerable to blitzes and continues to display one of the league’s worst running games.
Also Intriguing: Not much.
Pick: Tebow or not Tebow? (it doesn’t matter) –  Jets by 14

Game 6: 49ers (8-2-1) at Rams (4-6-1)
When: Sun., 1 p.m. Eastern (FOX)
Line: Niners by 7½
Analysis: The media sure is jonesing for a good QB controversy and since the Jets haven’t provided one as expected much of the weekly chatter has been about San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh calling Alex Smith his starter but also announcing that youngster Colin Kaepernick will take the controls vs. the Rams Kaepernick is mobile, feisty and appears to be a good fit for the Niners. He played well just a few weeks ago at home vs. the Rams, but that game ended up a 24-24 tie, the first in the league in several years. The Rams blew several opportunities in that game but showed they could move the ball between the 20s and open up some lanes for RB Steven Jackson. On the flip side Frisco RB Frank Gore has been a pain in the Rams’ side over the years and will look to go over 1,000 yards for the season with a big day at the Edward Jones Dome.
Also Intriguing: The Rams have been miserable out of their division but impressive in it, posting a 3-0-1 record against NFC West foes.
Pick: Finally, we have a winner – Niners by 3

Enjoy the games!