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GBH WATCHLIST: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

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Unleash your inner Paul Johnson, if you dare.

"Basketball? Only if there ain't shit else on to watch."
"Basketball? Only if there ain't shit else on to watch."
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The end is near, but it's not here yet.

Football season hit our collective consciousnesses like a Mongol Horde descending from the off-season steppes on August 28th, and it's been an up-and-down tussle since then, to say the least. Now the dust has almost settled as we gear up for one last flurry of bowls before that stretch of hundreds of Groundhog Days arrives rudely as we come down from New Year's.

Winter, slumbering in the open air, wears on its smiling face a dream... of spring. Ciao.

So here is our last batch of watching notes, provided in chronological order, and incomplete, as usual:

doug.keegan

PAC 12 Championship | #2 Oregon vs. #7 Arizona | 8:00PM Friday FOX

WHY

With Arizona sneakily creeping into the #7 spot in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, the PAC 12 Championship Game could very well be a playoff play-in game. Realistically, Marcus Mariota will put a stamp on a Heisman-worthy campaign as Oregon activates Death Blossom in retaliation for the Wildcats' upset win in Eugene earlier this season. But anyone who enjoys ultimate Michigan Man schadenfreude and/or a general environment of chaos has to pull for Rich Rod and company. The total in Vegas is a robust 73, so kick back and bask in the radiant warmth of toasted secondaries.

THE ESSENTIALS

Crackers and a big block of brie paired with several bottles of a fruity, low tannin red like a Chilean Pinot Noir. Then crack open a 40 of Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor and pour it out for the last late night PACtion of 2014.

Go ahead and park a big jug of Gatorade and at least 800mg of Ibuprofen by the couch for the inevitable hangover. One final college football Saturday awaits, and the occasion demands that you're equal to the task.

oscarwildecat

SMU @ UCONN | 11:00AM Saturday | CBSSN

WHY

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but: this is it.  The final real college football weekend of the year, before visions of Division II playoffs and Belk Bowls dance in our heads.  So while the rest of you watch Skip Holtz fail his way into a Conference USA championship, or watch Gary Patterson systematically disembowel Paul Rhoads, I will be watching performance art of the highest order: 0-11 SMU against 2-9 UConn in front of literally dozens of fans at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut.  (You can actually bet on this game. UConn is favored by 11.5 - AMERICA IS AN AMAZING AND WONDERFUL PLACE.)

Honestly, June Jones quit recruiting/coaching/caring about 36 months ago, and the poor kids on the field deserve far better, but there's a morbid perversity in watching a collegiate team thrown together with no thought of anything other than 'where is my next Mai-Tai coming from' take the field in actual competition. Godspeed Tom Cable.  Godspeed.

ESSENTIALS

The final full bore college football Saturday demands breakfast tacos, bloody marys, and a Paul Johnson skinsuit, not necessarily in that order.  Proceed slowly, drink the day in, and Pony Up with caution.

Lucas Jackson

ALABAMA vs MISSOURI  | 3:00 PM Saturday | CBS

WHY

Because this is how SEC democracy dies…..to tremendous applause.  For the past two seasons, Mizzou has been the beneficiary of timely losses by their division brethren, incredible turnover luck, and astoundingly boneheaded playcalilng by their opponents (see A&M in 2013 and 2014).  They’ve avoided the meat of the SEC West as well (no games against Bama, LSU, or Auburn during those two years).  Mizzou can scrap and surprise, but their underdog story ends today. You can stamp "guaranteed" on that and ship it US MAIL, because there is no damn way the SEC officials let Bama lose and miss out on that playoff money.  None. Pay close attention and see if you can spot any suspicious behavior.

That said, I’m hoping for one of two results:


Scenario A: The Controversial Bama win -  Mizzou doubles Amari Cooper the entire game, neutralizing Kiffin’s shortsighted game plan.  Timely fumbles by Yeldon and Henry keep Mizzou in the game in true Tiger fashion.  A late TD puts Mizzou ahead, 22-20 with 1:20 remaining.  Three straight pass interference calls get Bama into FG range and they boot the game winner as the clock expires.  The internet burns.


Scenario B:  The TURBODEATHMURDER - Bama rips the Tigers limb from limb.  Gary Pinkel leaves for Michigan.  Many tears.  Ivan Drago vs Apollo Creed. THROW THE DAMN TOWEL!

(*how did Ivan Drago not get a rematch? He would if it boxing were college football.  See: LSU/Bama 2011)

ESSENTIALS

Wear black. Mourn for Mizzou.  Mourn for the end of the 2014 regular season. Eat your feelings by devouring Golden Flake in true SEC fashion.

Dr. Norris Camacho

ACC Championship | #4 Florida State vs. #11 Georgia Tech | 6:45 PM Saturday, ABC

WHY

Not for the reasons you think. Watching the defending national champs and hoping for their demise has been an exercise in futility this season as they have managed to butt-trip their way out of various predicaments valiantly prevail over the haters somehow in increasingly dramatic fashion this season. No, this game for me is about watching Georgia Tech as one man continues to bend the entirety of major college football to his own will. The Jackets may never win a national title, but by cracky they're going to go bowling all the time, win ten games every now and then, and piss you off when you least expect them to. Their defense has been scoring in flurries lately, and when they get the fullback working into those inside gaps, it's really a thing to behold. I had this conversation with my pal Broncanous Mendenhall as the end of the UGA-GT game unfolded:

DNC: Georgia Tech just unfolds awkwardly down the field

BM: Like a long, boring novel.

DNC: A Russian novel, full of tragedy

...and sometimes redemption. For Coach Paul Johnstoyevski.

THE ESSENTIALS

That free Dr. Pepper that came with the Thanksgiving ham, and also yeah the last bits of Thanksgiving ham itself in a sandwich.  Will also be avoiding #FSUTwitter with a vengeance and sneering like Paul Johnson at commercials I don't like. You ask Sheriff CPJ for some pepper spray for your burrito, son, and he'll have an entire 3-oz. can in your eyes before you can say "yuueurrgghhlleh!"

cpjwalktall

Hypno-Toad

#9 KANSAS STATE @ #6 BAYLOR  | 6:45 PM Saturday |  ESPN

WHY

There is something admirable - and let's just go ahead and say it: Christ-like - about the tradition of Baylor quarterbacks systematically ignoring the destruction of their own bodies in the interest of the betterment of their team. Unfortunately for RG3, even Jesus Himself wouldn't be able to drag the Redskins into the playoffs without 3 concussions and a torn PCL. Now Bryce Petty is following in those footsteps on the beach by suiting up against Kansas State after suffering concussion like symptoms. Also he fractured that transverse process earlier this season. He has a trick knee that aches when it rains. And he's got an arm off.

Nebraska made a bit of a stir this week by hiring a new head coach who has the gall to be over 60 years old. Meanwhile, every school not currently coached by Nick Saban would consider Bill Snyder a homerun hire despite being alive during the Roosevelt administration. He will ramble into town in a '52 Ford pickup, swap out that rusted old secondary for a refurbished juco unit he got on the cheap from a guy he knew during the war, then teach the left guard how to make a fish hook using just a Bowie knife, twine from the general store, and a Letter Of Intent from a 3 star RB prospect. Trouble is, Bill ain't comin' to your town. He can't set roots outside of state lines, and a twister is like to up and return him from whence he came. Folks 'round these parts say that the winds of change in Kansas are what made him, and someday they will unmake him.

THE ESSENTIALS

Admit it: no one likes Baylor. Go 'Cats!