CF Week 15 Picks

The 2008 College Football Season is coming to a close this weekend as several championship games are set to kickoff. Our writers and handicappers hand out four predictions for Saturday’s games.

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Boston College vs. Virginia Tech, 4:00 PM ET

For the second straight season, Boston College and Virginia Tech are meeting in the ACC championship game with a spot in the Orange Bowl on the line. Unlike a year ago, this matchup was unexpected.

The 18th-ranked Eagles look to win their first ACC title and earn their first trip to a BCS bowl game on Saturday in Tampa when they face the Hokies, who are seeking their second straight conference championship.

Last season, quarterback Matt Ryan led Boston College (9-3, 5-3) to 11 wins, tying the 1940 school record, and a No. 10 ranking in the final AP poll - its highest ranking to end a season since it finished No. 4 in 1984. Ryan led the Eagles to a comeback win over Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3) in the regular season, but the Hokies avenged that defeat with a 30-16 victory in the league championship - their second straight ACC title.

After Ryan was selected third overall by the Atlanta Falcons in this year's NFL draft, the Eagles were picked to finish fourth in the ACC's Atlantic Division.

Boston College lost its conference opener to Georgia Tech, but went on to win eight of its next 10 games and claimed its second straight division title with a 28-21 victory over Maryland last Saturday.

Pick: Virginia Tech View game matchup | Best line Pick

Alabama vs. Florida, 4:00 PM ET

Toward the bottom of the Top 25 in late August, Alabama wasn't even expected to emerge from its season opener at the Georgia Dome with a win.

Three months later, the Crimson Tide still haven't lost.

Yet, upon returning to Atlanta for Saturday's SEC championship game, top-ranked Alabama will be a decided underdog against No. 2 Florida, with the winner claiming not only conference supremacy, but a likely spot in the BCS title game.

The Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0 SEC) were ranked 24th in the preseason AP Top 25, an indication that improvement was expected from a team that went 7-6 and didn't receive a single poll vote at the end of Nick Saban's first season in Tuscaloosa. A five-point underdog to preseason ACC favorite Clemson on Aug. 30 in Atlanta, Alabama dominated the No. 9 Tigers, holding the ball for more than 41 minutes of a 34-10 victory.

Alabama leads the all-time series with Florida 21-13, and this marks the schools' first meeting since 2006. It's the sixth time they've played for the SEC championship, with the Gators leading 3-2.

Saturday will be the 40th time the AP's top two teams have met, with No. 1 holding a 23-15-1 edge. This is the first 1-2 matchup in a conference championship game.

Pick: AlabamaView game matchup | Best line +10

Oklahoma vs. Missouri, 8:00 PM ET

In last season's Big 12 championship game, Oklahoma won a second straight conference title and spoiled Missouri's national title hopes.

In this year's title game Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium, it's the No. 4 Sooners who will try to avoid an upset against the No. 19 Tigers - and stay in the BCS' top two - as star quarterback Sam Bradford plays hurt.

By entering this week No. 2 in the BCS rankings, Oklahoma (11-1, 7-1) beat out Texas and Texas Tech for a spot in Saturday's game and a chance to win a third consecutive Big 12 title game. All three schools finished tied for first in the South Division and the Sooners advanced on the conference's fifth tiebreaker - BCS rankings.

Oklahoma moved past Texas in those standings, even though it lost to the Longhorns earlier this season, by putting up 60-plus points against ranked teams in the past two weeks. The Sooners demolished then-No. 2 Texas Tech 65-21 and defeated then-No. 11 Oklahoma State 61-41 last Saturday.

Pick: OklahomaView game matchup | Best line -17

USC at UCLA, 4:30 PM ET

Southern California's chances of playing in the national championship game for the third time in five years are fading. The Trojans' chances of winning at least a share of their seventh straight Pac-10 title, however, haven't looked better in months.

After winning their eighth straight game and seeing their top challenger for the conference crown fall last week, the fifth-ranked Trojans look to clinch the Pac-10 championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl when they visit crosstown rival UCLA on Saturday.

USC (10-1, 7-1) lost its conference opener to Oregon State on Sept. 25, an inauspicious start to the Trojans' defense of their six-year conference title run.

Since then, however, the Trojans have won eight straight games - including seven in conference - by an average of 33.1 points. Last Saturday, Mark Sanchez passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns, USC 's hard-hitting defense thoroughly dominated Notre Dame, and the Trojans rolled to a 38-3 victory over the Irish.

Pick: UCLAView game matchup | Best line +32.5

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Posted: 12/4/08 9:00 PM ET


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