Mark Edwards' predictions: Go with AU, barely; look for JSU to win on road
by Mark Edwards
medwards@annistonstar.com
Dec 06, 2013 | 2842 views |  0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Auburn fans should have reason to celebrate in Atlanta on Saturday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Auburn fans should have reason to celebrate in Atlanta on Saturday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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Few expected Missouri and Auburn to meet for the SEC championship, but they’re here, so let’s stop being surprised and instead break down what should be a great matchup.

Both third-ranked Auburn (11-1) and fifth-ranked Missouri (11-1) are strong on the ground.

Auburn ranks fifth nationally in rushing offense, while Missouri is 18th.

Missouri is 14th nationally against the run. However, playing against a good run defense didn’t seem to bother Auburn last week against Alabama.

If there’s a difference between these two teams, it’s that Missouri is tied for fifth nationally in turnover ratio, and in a game such as this, that might be the difference Saturday. We’re not counting on it, however.

An interesting note: Missouri hasn’t won a conference championship since winning a share of the old Big Eight title in 1969, and the last time the Tigers won a conference outright was the Big Eight in 1960.

In 1969, Missouri beat both Oklahoma and Nebraska to win a share of the league crown along with the Cornhuskers. Missouri advanced to the Orange Bowl, losing 10-3 to an unbeaten Penn State team. The center for the Nittany Lions was Warren Koegel, now the Jacksonville State athletics director. ... Auburn 26, Missouri 23.

FCS playoffs second round: Jacksonville State (10-3) at McNeese State (10-2): McNeese State is fourth in FCS in scoring with 42.5 points a game, while JSU is 20th with 36.4.

Both are good running teams, with JSU holding a slight edge at 238-222.

You could take your pick between the two teams, but most probably would take the Cowboys because they’re at home.

Even so, JSU is 5-1 away from home, with Eastern Illinois accounting for the lone loss. ... Jacksonville State 38, McNeese State 35.

ACC championship, No. 20 Duke (10-2) vs. No. 1 Florida State (12-0): Duke has won eight straight, including four by seven points or less. FSU leads the nation in scoring defense and fewest passing yards allowed. ... Florida State 42, Duke 14.

Big Ten championship, No. 2 Ohio State (12-0) vs. No. 10 Michigan State (11-1): Ohio State has won 25 straight. Michigan State was one of those victims, falling 17-16 a year ago. The Spartans are No. 1 nationally in total defense and rush defense. ... Michigan State 20, Ohio State 17.

Pac-12 championship, No. 7 Stanford (10-2) at No. 11 Arizona State (10-2): A Stanford win sets up the slim possibility of an Alabama-Stanford Rose Bowl. The last time those two teams played was Jan. 1, 1935, when Bear Bryant was playing. The Crimson Tide won 29-13 in the Rose Bowl.

Stanford is No. 3 against the run and the defending Pac-12 champions. ... Stanford 27, Arizona State 21.

No. 18 Oklahoma (9-2) at No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1): Oklahoma State has beaten Texas and Baylor, and a win Saturday will clinch a Big 12 championship. Oklahoma has won nine of the past 10 in this series. ... Oklahoma State 40, Oklahoma 30.

No. 15 Central Florida (10-1) at SMU (5-6): Central Florida’s best wins are at Penn State and at Louisville. The Knights can clinch the American Athletic title outright. ... Central Florida 35, SMU 28.

No. 23 Texas (8-3) at No. 9 Baylor (10-1): If Oklahoma State loses, the winner of this one will win the Big 12 outright. Both Baylor and Texas have only one loss in league play... Baylor 34, Texas 21.

Memphis (3-8) at Connecticut (2-9): This one has a couple of connections with local interest. Connecticut is coached by former Alabama player T.J. Weist, who played for Bill Curry in the 1980s. UConn is 2-5 since Paul Pasqualoni was fired and Weist was named interim coach.

Memphis defensive back Bobby McCain, an Oxford High graduate, has six interceptions this season. That’s 0.75 per game in which he has played, which would lead the nation if he had played enough games. He has appeared in eight of the team’s 11 contests, which isn’t enough to qualify for NCAA statistics. … Connecticut 28, Memphis 27.

Mountain West championship, Utah State (8-4) at No. 24 Fresno State (10-1): Utah State has allowed only 16.8 poins a game, while Fresno State scores 47.3 points a game. ... Fresno State 31, Utah State 24.

Last week: 8-2 (I missed on Auburn-Alabama and UCLA’s win over Southern California.)

Overall: 110-30.
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