Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor is swarmed by the UCLA defense during… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will predict the winners of the Pac-12 and Big Ten championship games. Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation with a comment of your own.
Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel
In what appears to be a severe case of déjà-vu, Stanford will take on UCLA on Friday for the Pac-12 championship and a spot in the Rose Bowl. Stanford handed the Bruins a 35-17 loss in the regular season finale, setting up this rematch. Stanford has the top defense in the league and will once again look to shut down UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin and the Bruins’ high-powered offensive attack to wrap up a spot in the BCS.
Nebraska is only in its second season in the Big Ten, but the Huskers have made their way to the conference championship game. Meanwhile, Wisconsin finds itself back in the Big Ten championship game despite finishing third in the Leaders Division. With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible to play for the title, the Badgers are the de facto representative. Riding a six-game win streak, Nebraska will make it seven in a row with a victory over the Badgers.
Mark Wogenrich, Allentown Morning Call
The vibes will be very different for the Big Ten championship game. Nebraska has won six straight games, four via comebacks, since giving up 63 points to Ohio State.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, has lost three of its last four, all in overtime. But because of NCAA sanctions to Ohio State and Penn State, the Badgers are playing for their third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl. Maybe after all the close losses, luck is on their side after all. Running back Montee Ball has a big day as Wisconsin wins, 24-21.
Stanford plays a de facto home-and-home with UCLA, having beaten the Bruins on the road by 18 just last Saturday. Beating a team twice in the span of six days probably sounds more difficult than it is. Stanford's defense is sharp, and the Pac-12 title game is in Palo Alto: Cardinal 31-20.
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
One rule of picking football games is that in rematches, take the team that lost the first time. Well, Nebraska rallied for a 30-27 victory on Sept. 29 in Lincoln. And the Badgers’ running game is much improved since then. But Nebraska has Rex Burkhead’s determination and fresh legs, and Taylor Martinez is a confident trigger-man. So I like the Huskers, despite their slippery-fingered punt returners.
I’m picking UCLA in the Pac-12 game because … well, I violated the rematch rule in the Big Ten and it must hold true at least once, right? Stanford has the momentum, not to mention one of the nation’s best defenses. But there’s the thought that UCLA held back when these teams met Saturday to avoid a title game showdown at Oregon. That seems far-fetched, but what is the world without a good conspiracy theory?
Louisville to join the ACC
Era of the dumb jock is slowly ending in college football
LSU Coach Les Miles reportedly offered $27.5 million by Arkansas