In the penultimate weekend of the regular season (the final game is on December 11, the annual Army-Navy clash), for some schools it's Championship Week; others, it's just another weekend of football. It doesn't mean, however, that there are insignificant games awaiting the fan; consider any one of these games:
SEC Championship -- Auburn vs. South Carolina: The undefeated Tigers are the clear favorites in this matchup, led by Heisman Trophy front-runner Cam Newton. These two teams met earlier in the season, and Auburn won handily, with Newton accounting for five touchdowns. Auburn has a berth in the BCS Championship riding on the outcome of this game, so they will need to avoid another slow start, like they had against Alabama. The 8-4 Gamecocks will need every bit of trickery and wiliness from head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, to be competitive.
Big 12 Championship -- Oklahoma vs. Nebraska: This is a classic rivalry matchup for the Sooners and Huskers, but it may well be the last meeting for a very long time for these two teams, as Nebraska will compete in the Big Ten next season. Both the Sooners and Cornhuskers are two-loss teams; both teams got off to very strong starts (Oklahoma actually led the first BCS standings) before faltering slightly. Oklahoma needed a big Bedlam rivalry win over Oklahoma State to clinch their spot in the game.
ACC Championship -- Virginia Tech vs. Florida State: The ACC has not been in the news much this season, but VaTech presents an intriguing story; after losing its first two games (one of them to an FCS team), the Hokies have quietly rattled off 10 straight wins, and went undefeated in conference play. They will face a resurgent Florida State team, who finished 9-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play; the Seminoles have been getting it done with a strong defensive effort (11th in the nation in points allowed). In their nine wins, none of their opponents scored more than 20 points.
Big East "Championship" -- Connecticut at South Florida: This is the de facto conference championship for the Big East. With a three-way tie atop the standings between Connecticut, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh, all the Huskies need to do is beat South Florida in Tampa to gain the conference's BCS berth, since they hold the tiebreaker over West Virginia should the Mountaineers also win against Rutgers. The Huskies have been sniffing around the top of the Big East for a few seasons, but never have been able to get over the hump; this year could be the year the Huskies football team matches some of the success of the UConn basketball programs.
C-USA Championship -- Central Florida vs. Southern Methodist: SMU head coach June Jones has the Mustangs back to respectability finally, their arduous climb back from the "death penalty" excesses of the Eighties behind them at last. This has also been a special season for Central Florida, who earned their first Associated Press top 25 ranking earlier this season.
MAC Championship -- Northern Illinois vs. Miami of Ohio: The NIU Huskies have quietly achieved a very successful season this year, going undefeated in conference play, while constructing a 10-2 overall record and top 25 rankings in the BCS and Associated Press standings. Miami of Ohio, the "Cradle of Coaches," has bounced back strongly this season after a disastrous 2009 campaign; the RedHawks are 8-4 overall after winning only once in '09.
Other games to watch:
* Oregon at Oregon State -- can the Ducks close out an undefeated season and punch their ticket to Glendale.
* USC at UCLA -- even though both of these teams are playing out the string with little to play for, this continues to be an interesting rivalry game.
* Nevada-Las Vegas at Hawaii -- the Warriors have also constructed a solid 2010 record, in the shadow of WAC powers Boise State and Nevada. They actually lead the conference with a 7-1 mark (9-3 overall), while both the Wolf Pack and Broncos are 6-1 in the conference.