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December 1, 2011

Week 14 primer: Title time

It's sad but true: This is the final full week of the season (Army-Navy is next week).

Obviously, though, the final week means conference title games and a de facto title game in the Big 12. The Big East's BCS bid also is to be determined.

Here's a look at each game involving a FBS team this weekend.

THURSDAY

West Virginia (8-3) at USF (5-6), 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: USF is trying to become bowl-eligible, while WVU knows that if it wins and Cincinnati wins over UConn on Saturday, it will be in the BCS. USF has lost six of its past seven.
THE LINE: WVU by 1.5 THE PICK: WVU 30-21

FRIDAY

MAC championship game in Detroit: Northern Illinois (9-3) vs. Ohio (9-3), 7 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Each school is making its third appearance in this game, and each is 0-2; NIU was upset last season by Miami. This is the 15th MAC title game and the eighth at a neutral site.
THE LINE: NIU by 3.5 THE PICK: NIU 34-28

Pac-12 championship game: UCLA (6-6) at Oregon (10-2), 8 p.m., Fox
THE BUZZ: There's no buzz about this one. The reason is simple: When one of the participants comes in off a 50-point loss and is playing with a lame-duck coach, it's hard to get excited about the game. A victory puts Oregon in the Rose Bowl for the second time in three seasons but just the fourth time since the 1957 season.
THE LINE: Oregon by 31.5 THE PICK: Oregon 52-17

SATURDAY

Conference USA championship game: Southern Miss (10-2) at Houston (12-0), noon, ABC
THE BUZZ: Houston is in line for a BCS bid if it wins this; Southern Miss appears Liberty Bowl-bound regardless. This is Houston's third appearance in the league title game; it has won once - over Southern Miss in 2006. That is the Golden Eagles' only appearance in the title game. Recent history is on Southern Miss' side: The East Division representative has won each of the past four championship games.
THE LINE: Houston by 13 THE PICK: Houston 38-27

Syracuse (5-6) at Pittsburgh (5-6), noon, ESPN2
THE BUZZ: The winner becomes bowl-eligible; the loser bemoans missed opportunities at different points of the season. Syracuse has lost four in a row; the Orange are 5-1 when scoring at least 21 points but 0-5 when scoring fewer than 21.
THE LINE: Pitt by 10.5 THE PICK: Pitt 23-17

Connecticut (5-6) at Cincinnati (8-3), noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: UConn must win to become bowl-eligible; Cincinnati, meanwhile, can nab the Big East's automatic BCS bid if it wins and West Virginia loses on Thursday.
THE LINE: Cincinnati by 9 THE PICK: Cincinnati 34-20

Iowa State (6-5) at Kansas State (9-2), 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
THE BUZZ: Iowa State leads this series 49-41-4, but K-State has won 17 of the past 21. K-State is seeking its first 10-win season since 2003. Iowa State struggles to stop the run, which is good news for a K-State offense that relies heavily on its ground game.
THE LINE: K-State by 10.5 THE PICK: K-State 37-24

Wyoming (7-4) at Colorado State (3-8), 2 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Wyoming is trying to win five conference games in a season for the first time since 2006. This is the 103rd meeting in a series that began in 1899.
THE LINE: Wyoming by 5.5 THE PICK: Wyoming 31-21

UNLV (2-9) at TCU (9-2), 2:30 p.m., Versus
THE BUZZ: TCU already has clinched at least a share of the Mountain West title and can win it outright by beating the Rebels. Considering that TCU has won the past three against the Rebels by a combined 133-20, it seems likely it will win the title outright.
THE LINE: TCU by 38.5 THE PICK: TCU 56-10

Texas (7-4) at Baylor (8-3), 3:30 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: This is just the second time since 1982 that the Longhorns aren't finishing the season against Texas A&M. Baylor has a legit shot at just the second 10-win season in school history; the first came in 1980.
THE LINE: Baylor by 2.5 THE PICK: Baylor 35-30

Utah State (6-5) at New Mexico State (4-8), 3:30 p.m., Altitude2/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Utah State already has accepted a bid to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, where it will play a MAC team. For now, though, Utah State is focused on winning its seventh game for the first time since 1993 and just the second time since 1979.
THE LINE: Utah State by 13 THE PICK: Utah State 38-20

SEC championship game in Atlanta: Georgia (10-2) vs. LSU (12-0), 4 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: LSU looks to be a lock to play in the national title game regardless. The Tigers are looking for their 11th SEC title and the first since 2007. Georgia is seeking its 13th SEC crown and the first since 2005. LSU is 3-1 in title games, while the Bulldogs are 2-1. They're 1-1 against each other in the championship game.
THE LINE: LSU by 13.5 THE PICK: LSU 27-10

Idaho (2-9) at Nevada (6-5), 4 p.m., WAC syndication/Altitude/Comcast Sportsnet California/ESPN GamePlan
THE BUZZ: Nevada has won six in a row in this series. The Wolf Pack are fifth in the nation in total offense, and Idaho is 112th.
THE LINE: Nevada by 20 THE PICK: Nevada 48-21

Louisiana-Monroe (3-8) at Florida Atlantic (1-10), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This is the final game in the career of FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger, 77, who announced his retirement before the season. FAU got its first victory of the season last week, and you can bet the Owls want to send Schnellenberger out with a victory.
THE LINE: ULM by 7 THE PICK: FAU 27-24

Middle Tennessee (2-9) at North Texas (4-7), 4 p.m.
THE BUZZ: This has been a season to forget for MTSU, but Blue Raiders K Alan Gendreau needs one more point to become the leading scorer in Sun Belt Conference history; he has 294, which ties him with former Louisiana-Lafayette TB Tyrell Fenroy. This is UNT's best season since 2004, when the Mean Green won seven games; they hadn't won more than three in a season since.
THE LINE: North Texas by 5.5 THE PICK: North Texas 36-23

Troy (3-8) at Arkansas State (9-2), 4:30 p.m., Sun Belt syndication/ComcastCharter Sports Southeast
THE BUZZ: Troy has been a huge disappointment. Arkansas State, meanwhile, already has clinched at least a tie for the Sun Belt title and will win it outright with a victory over the Trojans. This is the Red Wolves' first winning season since 1995, and they haven't had double-digit wins since 1986, when they made the Division I-AA playoffs.
THE LINE: Arkansas State by 17.5 THE PICK: Arkansas State 44-21

New Mexico (1-10) at Boise State (10-1), 6 p.m., The mtn.
THE BUZZ: Boise State QB Kellen Moore has set a Mountain West single-season record with 38 TD passes. He needs one more to tie the school record he set in 2009. Boise averages 302.7 passing yards; New Mexico averages 305.2 total yards. (Note the spread, which is the highest of the season.)
THE LINE: Boise State by 48.5 THE PICK: Boise State 62-16

BYU (8-3) at Hawaii (6-6), 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: BYU is bound for the Armed Forces Bowl, while Hawaii must win to become bowl-eligible. This is the fifth WAC opponent of the season for BYU, which is 4-0 so far.
THE LINE: BYU by 7.5 THE PICK: BYU 33-17

Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis: Michigan State (10-2) vs. Wisconsin (10-2), 8 p.m., Fox
THE BUZZ: Michigan State beat Wisconsin 37-31 on a final-play "Hail Mary" on Oct. 22. The winner heads to the Rose Bowl, while the loser seems bound for either the Capital One or Outback bowl. This is the 11th meeting since 2000, and each has won five times in that span.
THE LINE: Wisconsin by 9.5 THE PICK: Wisconsin 28-21

ACC championship game in Charlotte: Clemson (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (11-1), 8 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: This is the seventh ACC title game; it's Virginia Tech's fourth appearance and Clemson's second. Clemson won 23-3 in Blacksburg on Oct. 1, but the Hokies haven't lost since and come in on a seven-game winning streak. The Tigers, meanwhile, have lost three of their past four.
THE LINE: Virginia Tech by 7 THE PICK: Virginia Tech 28-20

Oklahoma (9-2) at Oklahoma State (10-1), 8 p.m., ABC
THE BUZZ: The Big 12 title is on the line. An Oklahoma State victory sends them to the BCS for the first time. OU has won four of the past five league titles and is seeking its 33rd 10-win season, the most in the nation. Oklahoma has won eight in a row in the series, including a six-point win last season in Stillwater, and leads this series 82-16-7. The Sooners are 35-6-5 in Stillwater.
THE LINE: Oklahoma State by 3.5 THE PICK: Oklahoma 38-34

Fresno State (4-8) at San Diego State (7-4), 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network
THE BUZZ: This is the 51st meeting between these in-state foes, but the first since 2002. SDSU is guaranteed back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1995 and '96.
THE LINE: San Diego State by 8 THE PICK: San Diego State 34-24

SATURDAY, DEC. 10

Army (3-8) vs. Navy (4-7) in Landover, Md., 2:30 p.m., CBS
THE BUZZ: Both have had disappointing seasons, but a victory in the classiest of all rivalries would be a great way to enter the offseason. Navy has won nine in a row and 11 of the past 12 in the series. And none have been close, either: The last time an Army-Navy game was decided by eight or fewer points was in 2000.
THE LINE: TBA THE PICK: Navy 23-13

LAST WEEK

37-16 straight up, 23-27-1 against the spread

YEAR TO DATE

558-193 straight up, 306-337-4 against the spread (no spread on games involving FCS schools)

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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