The end of a fantastic college football season is finally upon us, as this weekend features eight conference championship games, plus the Big 12 and the Sun Belt (who do not have a championship game) have a full slate of games to finish the season. In the Sun Belt, South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette will be looking to get bowl eligible. Below I have every prediction for each championship game and a few other of the important contests this weekend.
A LOOK BACK AT WEEK 13
“The Game” lived up to its billing on Saturday as Ohio State held off Michigan 30-27 in double overtime. The win by the Buckeyes creates chaos for the CFP committee. Should the committee allow an 11-1 Ohio State team into the playoff without playing in their own conference championship game, or even winning their division? This has been a huge debate for weeks, as various opinions have been voiced on the subject. I personally feel it’s the committee’s job to make sure that the best four teams in the country make the playoff, and I believe that Ohio State is one of the top four teams in the nation. Penn State fans have a legitimate complaint. The Lions have won eight straight including a win over Ohio State 24-21. Both teams finished 8-1 in the Big 10 East and by virtue of their win over the Buckeyes, they will play Wisconsin for the title. A win by the Badgers, would go along way in settling that argument.
The battle for the third and fourth spots could go a number of different ways. I believe that if Clemson and Washington win, they should be in! Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State all could steal a spot if Clemson or Washington falter. I wonder if the committee would give Oklahoma State a pass if they were to beat Oklahoma soundly. The Cowboys lost to Central Michigan on the last play of the game, that was later ruled a mistake by the officials.
MAC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
In 2013 head coach P. J. Fleck took over as head coach of the Broncos, and they went just 1-11 that season. Just a few years later and the Broncos are looking to go 13-0 for the first time in school history. If the Broncos beat Ohio Friday night, a Cotton Bowl invitation could follow. Quarterback Zach Terrell and Wide Receiver Corey Davis have had a magical season. Davis has 1,283 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. The Broncos also deploy a pounding running game, led by Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan. The two have combined for over 2,000 rushing yards. Ohio head coach Frank Solich has been around long enough to know how to defend against a powerful offense — the Bobcats have the 22nd ranked defense in the country, allowing just under 22 points per game. The Broncos sold out their ticket allotment to this game in a matter of hours. It should be a raucous crowd at Ford Field in Detroit. THE BOAT CONTINUES TO ROW, 37-20.
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Who would have thought that either Colorado or Washington would be playing in this game? The Huskies in my mind, are a year ahead of schedule in their maturation under head coach Chris Petersen. The Buffaloes are a senior-laden team, loaded with experience. These two squads are the top rated defenses in the conference. The Buffs have the top passing defense and that will be critical in shutting down the passing of Jake Browning. The offensive edge goes to the Huskies who are third in the nation, scoring 44.8 points per game. I expect this to be a tight game throughout. The Huskies might struggle early, with all the pressure on their backs to make the playoff. Colorado on the other hand will be looking to play spoiler. The difference maker in this game could likely be the play of Huskies receiver and return specialist John Ross. Ross has game breaking ability and that should be on display Friday night. I might regret picking against the Buffs, I’m 0-2 the past two weeks. WOOF WOOF, DAWGS PULL IT OFF 31-24.
AAC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
The Owls are looking for their first conference championship since 1967. A win will also give the Owls back-to-back 10 win seasons for the first time in school history. The Owls are peaking down the stretch, having won six in a row, while allowing only 10 points in the last three games! Navy remains in the hunt for a Cotton Bowl bid, but may need a Western Michigan loss to get there. I really think this game comes down to a battle of the two quarterbacks. Temple’s Phillip Walker has broken several school passing records this year. He also ranks seventh among active FBS players in total offensive yards with 10,901. For Navy, Will Worth has been dynamic since taking over for the injured Tago Smith early in the season. He has rushed for 1,181 yards and thrown for an additional 1,363. Worth has led the Midshipmen to 34 scores on their last 38 possessions, including 33 touchdowns! Temple and Navy did not play during the regular season, and this will be a game is a must-watch. This game will be decided late in the fourth quarter. MIDSHIPMEN NAVIGATE WAY TO AAC TITLE, 41-38.
CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Back in early October, Louisiana Tech defeated Western Kentucky 55-52. The rematch for the conference title should be just as exciting. Quarterback Mike White should give the Hilltoppers the edge in this game. HILLTOPPERS CLIMB TO TOP, TOP DOGS 48-41.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
This previous few games should be high-scoring offensive affairs. On the other hand, this game should provide very little intrigue. A win by Alabama will be the 25th in a row, and will secure its fourth SEC title in five years. Alabama is the best team in the country right now. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has been outstanding all year-long, and the Tide defense has been special — they haven’t allowed an offensive touchdown the entire month of November. You need two major components to beat Alabama. You must have a stout defense that can force turnovers and a dual-threat quarterback. The Gators have that type of defense, but struggle at quarterback. The Gators could keep the game close like Auburn did last week, but eventually fall short in the second half. TIDE ROLLS INTO PLAYOFF, BAMA 33-10.
MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
he winner of this game will secure a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl. A few weeks ago, San Diego State traveled to Wyoming and fell 34-33 when their two-point conversion failed on the last play of the game. The best players on the field will be running backs, Donnel Pumphrey for San Diego State and Brian Hill for Wyoming. Pumphrey is second in the FBS with 1,908 rushing yards, despite not playing in the fourth quarter, of four out of the last six games. Hill has rushed for 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns on the season. He rushed for 131 yards and two scores against the Aztecs in the last meeting. The forecast in Laramie for Saturday is 26 degrees and snow. That seals the deal for me. COWBOYS SADDLE UP FOR VEGAS, DOWN THE BEACH BOYS 26-20.
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Clemson will be trying to win back-to-back ACC titles for the first time since 1987-88. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been much more efficient in the latter half of the season, and the emergence of Mike Williams has helped the Tigers to stretch the field. Williams caught three TD passes in last weeks 56-7 rout of South Carolina. He has three 100-yard receiving games in his last four games. For Tech, first-year Head Coach Justin Fuente has the Hokies hoping for a 10-win season and their first ACC title since 2010. Quarterback Jerod Evans has been the catalyst for the Hokies, throwing for 3,045 yards and 26 scores. Evans should have some success throwing against a Tiger secondary that has been suspect at times. The key to the game will be how well Wayne Gallman can run between the tackles. THANKSGIVING NEVER ENDS, TIGERS GOBBLE HOKIES, RETURN TO THE PLAYOFF 34-24.
BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Having won eight games in a row, you could argue that the Lions are the hottest team in the country not named Alabama. Penn State can make life miserable for the CFP committee with a win over Wisconsin. A victory puts the Lions into the playoff or provides a trip to the Rose Bowl. But Injuries may be starting to take its toll on the Lions — they have lost several offensive linemen in the past few weeks, and star tailback Saquon Barkley left last weeks game with an ankle injury. On the other side, the Badgers have won six games in a row, and a win should get them a trip to the Rose Bowl. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook suffered a concussion last week and might miss the game for the Badgers. Backup Bart Houston is likely to start and should play well. This is the most intriguing game of the day. Defense will decide this game, and I give a slight edge to Wisconsin. COMMITTEE SPELLS RELIEF BADGERS, WISCONSIN 20-17.
SUPER SIX PACK: SIX GAMES, SIX WORDS, SIX PICKS
No.10 OKLAHOMA STATE 9-2 AT No.9 OKLAHOMA 9-2 This game will definitely be Bedlam. COWBOYS PUNCHED, SOONERS 41-38.
BAYLOR 6-5 AT No.16 WEST VIRGINIA 9-2 Bears have lost last five games. MAKE IT SIX, COUNTRY ROADS 45-30.
KANSAS STATE 7-4 AT TCU 6-5 Hill guides Horned Frogs to victory. FROGGY 36-28.
NEW MEXICO STATE 3-8 AT SOUTH ALABAMA 5-6 Jaguars beat Mississippi State and SDSU. JAGS GET BOWL ELIGIBLE 31-13
LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE 5-6 AT LOUISIANA MONROE 4-7 Cajuns go a raging in Monroe. LAFAYETTE GOES BOWLING 27-23.
GEORGIA STATE 3-8 AT IDAHO 7-4 No shortages, Senior day in Moscow. VANDALS PILLAGE PANTHERS 33-17.
LAST WEEKS RESULTS
FEATURED GAMES: 4-1
UPSET EXPRESS: 0-1
SUPER SIX PACK: 6-1