Mark it down: Miami vs. Florida

Nov 27, 2001 8:09 AM

Miami and Florida will face each other for the BCS national championship in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3.

Nothing is signed, sealed and delivered but all the credible evidence points in that direction. Both the Hurricanes and Gators have other games to win before going to Pasadena, but are substantial favorites to prevail.

The Hurricanes head into Blacksburg this Saturday to take on Virginia Tech, one week after the Canes blew out the Washington Huskies, 65-7. You can look for another blowout here.

Florida’s task is more daunting, but still is easily attainable. The Gators must beat Tennessee in Gainesville this Saturday and then win the SEC championship game in Atlanta.

The Rose Bowl would seem to be a perfect setting for a championship game involving two Florida-based teams in that it’s the perfect neutral site. Each school will take home $13.5 million.

The Big 12 title game will take place Saturday at Texas Stadium in Irving. Until last weekend, the two teams considered locked in were Oklahoma and Nebraska. But two gigantic upsets turned everything around.

The Sooners were bushwhacked by Oklahoma State, thereby moving Texas into the stop spot in the South. But it was in the North that the most astonishing game of the season was played when Colorado ripped the Cornhuskers, 63-36.

Colorado coach Gary Barnett had pointed his team for that game and Nebraska, the No. 1 team in the BCS computer rankings, was not prepared for the blitzkrieg the Buffaloes unleashed.

Texas and Colorado met earlier in the season with the Horns winning, 41-7. But this is a different Colorado team.

And the winner of the Big Ten championship is”¦the envelope please”¦Illinois. This is one of the great surprises of the season.

By winning over Northwestern on Thanksgiving Day and Michigan losing to Ohio State two days later, the Illini became sole possessors of the championship. They’ll go to a BCS bowl, probably the Fiesta, where they will play Oregon.

Meanwhile, joy ran rampant in Columbus after the Buckeyes posted their first victory at Ann Arbor since 1984.

Saturday, Dec. 1

Navy vs. Army: Always a great spectacle, frequently an exciting contest, this game in Philadelphia holds a special place in college football. It’s even more special this year. Tough game to pick, but when in doubt, take the points Take Navy (+2½).

Penn State at Virginia: It would have been better for the Cavaliers if this game was  played earlier in the year when Penn State was going bad. The Nittany Lions are rolling. A win gets them a bowl bid. Take Penn State (—5).

Miami at Virginia Tech: Even though the Hurricanes are better at home than on the road, in their current form they are positively dazzling. Take Âí­Miami (+11½).

Notre Dame at Purdue: It will be hard for the Irish players to stay focused as the media will go heavy on the future of Irish coach Bob Davie. Take Purdue (—1½).

Oregon State at Oregon: The Ducks are headed for a BCS bowl, while the Beavers have been a disappointment.  Oregon State did show life in upsetting Washington. Take Âí­Oregon State (+10).