The College Football Notebook

November 26, 2010 7:11 AM

Black Friday's Big Three

AlabamaAuburnRivalry.jpgThe national championship race goes on display today, as undefeated teams Auburn, Oregon and Boise State will be on national television in succession and all face tests. It sounds like a great day to grab some leftover turkey, let the wife or girlfriend go shopping and lounge out in the front of the TV. Let's go game-by-game...

Auburn at Alabama (2:30 ET, CBS): I've been on record for a few weeks now in Sunday morning bowl projections that I think Alabama is going to win this game. The Tigers just don't play defense at a national championship-caliber level. You can't blow the scoreboard lights out against everybody regardless of how good your offense is. Auburn was held to "only" 24 points in their win over LSU, and the Tide can do the same. Alabama's offense is better than LSU's and by a substantial margin, and I'm looking for a big game across the board from Greg McElroy, Julio Jones, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. I expect the Alabama offensive line, buoyed by the home crowd and the hunger for a major bowl bid to increasingly assert itself as the game wears on. Auburn's had some great wins this year, but the best of them--South Carolina, Clemson, Arkansas and LSU, have all come in the friendly confines of War Eagle Stadium. Stepping into the hostile world of Bryant-Denny in Tuscaloosa is going to be a whole new ballgame and 'Bama wins this one 41-28.

Arizona at Oregon (7 ET, ESPN): It wasn't long ago that this game was looked at as a potential decider of the Rose Bowl bid. It still can be for Oregon, who clinches at least the spot in Pasadena with a win here, but Arizona has lost two straight and is struggling. Don't underestimate how important it is for Oregon to secure their Rose Bowl berth tonight. Next week's game at Oregon State is much tougher and if the Ducks are unprepared tonight, they could go from the national championship game to the Holiday Bowl in rapid order. If that whole scenario sounds pretty unrealistic, it's because losing tonight at home is unrealistic. Arizona is at its best when they get people in a scoring race--which is exactly the same approach Oregon uses, only the hosts do it far better. You won't be Chip Kelly's at their own game, not in Eugene, not with this much at stake. UA quarterback Nick Foles gets his numbers, but the Ducks roll, 52-24.

Boise State at Nevada (10:15 ET, ESPN): I love Nevada and what they've done under Chris Ault, and I'm glad to see this game getting attention as a potential spoiler spot. But I also am increasingly sold with each passing week at how complete a football team Boise is, not just by WAC standards, but by those of the national elite. With due apologies to Ohio State president Gordon Gee, who slammed Boise & TCU this week, I think the Broncos deserve a spot in the national championship game if they win this game and I don't think Nevada's defense is quite up to snuff. The viewing public will get exposed to the Wolfpack's versatile quarterback Colin Kaepernick and their solid running back Vai Taua, but they'll also be exposed to Kellen Moore putting up a truckload of points. Nevada's had a great year, at 10-1 thus far and having beaten Cal badly. I'd like to see them get into a higher-profile bowl game--something along the lines of the Holiday or Alamo--and find out how they match up against competitive teams from BCS conferences. They won't match up tonight as Boise wins 49-17.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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