UCF (8 - 3) 27 @ East Carolina (8 - 3) 31: The American Conference faces a very unusual situation in that UCF can claim a portion of the conference title, possibly creating a three-way tie, with a win over East Carolina. What's unusual is that the Knights haven't played either of the other teams that they could be tied with: Memphis and Cincinnati. Memphis is already guaranteed at least a share, having completed their season with a 7 - 1 conference record including a win over Cincinnati, who hosts Houston Saturday. According to the conference's website, a tie at the top produces co-champs, with no tie-breaker provision, so the lack of head-to-head games between UCF and the other two doesn't matter. What does matter is whether UCF's fifth-ranked defense in points allowed can slow down an ECU team that can put a lot of points on the board, putting them 14th in the country in that category. A 10 point total in a turnover marred meltdown against Temple keeps them from a much higher ranking. UCF has only given up a total of 17 points in its last three games, all wins, but they did allow 37 in a loss at Connecticut that preceded their current streak. I've seen games in which the Pirates appeared to be unstoppable, so I'm going to give them the nod in what could be a very entertaining game.
Dallas (8 - 4) 30 @ Chicago (5 - 7) 24: Can Dallas avoid another late season swoon that costs them a playoff spot? If so, they'll need to play better in Chicago than they did at home on Thanksgiving. The same can be said for the Bears, who looked like they'd feasted on too much turkey and dressing prior to their loss in Detroit. The key to this game is whether Dallas will be able to do what they like, which is run the football. So far this season, the Bears have been statistically decent against the run, but that's most likely because their pass defense is so easy to throw on. That will be sorely tested tonight and it looks like a bad match-up for the Bears, even though the Cowboys' defense hasn't been particularly stellar. If Romo takes care of the ball, I think Chicago will have a tough time stopping both the pass and the run, probably getting outscored by a bundle in the process. On the other hand, if Chicago can force two or three turnovers, they can most likely stay in the game.