We have reached the end of the regular season. Another year of college football is almost behind us. Why does it go by so fast? This weekend of conference champions has major playoff implications. The current top 4 teams all play this weekend meaning they all have a chance to lose. TCU is probably the only one not on upset alert (they host Iowa State). The top 4 are far from being set in stone. There are 14 games this weekend, and you can bet that I will watch as much of each game as possible.
9Kansas State at 6Baylor This is a huge game for Baylor. Right now they are on the outside looking in, even though they beat 3rd ranked TCU. If the Bears want a chance to get into the playoffs, they will need to make a statement against Kansas State and get some help from some other teams. Baylor QB Bryce Petty suffered a concussion last week against Texas Tech but is expected to be ready for this Saturday’s game. I’m not sure this will be a blowout, but I don’t think it will come down to last second heroics either. It should be a good game. I am picking Baylor by a TD.
MAC Championship(Fri): Northern Illinois vs Bowling Green
Preseason Prediction: Bowling Green over Northern Illinois
I might be kicking myself for going against my original prediction from late August. I got to see Northern Illinois live earlier this season, and they are definitely not as good as they were with Jordan Lynch. Their offense has not been as productive as it was in the last couple of years, but I think they are better than Bowling Green. The Falcons are on a two game losing streak and gave up 41 points to Ball State in their final game. Bowling Green ended 16th ranked NIU’s hopes for a BCS bowl in last year’s MAC Championship. The Huskies will be looking to take back the title. I am picking Northern Illinois by 3-7 points.
Pac-12 Championship(Fri): 7Arizona vs 2Oregon
Preseason Prediction: Stanford over UCLA
Stanford let me down big time this year. I had them in the final four in my preseason predictions. And then they beat UCLA to end their Pac-12 Championship Game hopes. Thanks a lot. Getting back to reality, Oregon has one loss this season and it came at the hands of this Arizona team. I don’t think it will happen twice. Marcus Mariota is an amazing QB (even though he isn’t my Heisman frontrunner) who has helped lead his team to a chance to compete in the first College Football Playoff. Arizona is a force to be reckoned with. They have a real chance to create some chaos in the final rankings. I am picking Oregon by 7-10 points.
C-USA Championship: Louisiana Tech vs Marshall
Preseason Prediction: Marshall over UTSA
I feel so bad for the players at Marshall. They were 11-0 and had a chance to go to a major bow game. Last weekends OT shootout with Western Kentucky probably ended that chance. This makes me worried about how they will play in this game. Will they be down because the game really doesn’t have the same implications? Louisiana Tech, on the other hand, is coming off a huge 45-point win over Rice to win the C-USA West division. These factors lead me to believe this will be a close and high scoring game. I think Marshall is the better team and QB Rakeem Cato will really want the conference championship to finish his college career. I am picking Marshall by a TD.
SEC Championship: 1Alabama vs 16Missouri
Preseason Prediction: Alabama over South Carolina
This game worries me. Missouri played a lot better than I expected them to against Arkansas. Alabama was also not as good against Auburn as I thought they would be. The Crimson Tide allowed 44 points and 630 yards. Missouri is coming in with a lot of momentum and has a real chance to take out the top ranked Tide. I don’t think they will, but they have a chance. Mizzou has been in the SEC for just 3 years and this will be their second straight year in the conference championship game. That is an impressive feat and they still don’t get the respect they probably deserve (that includes from me). Amari Cooper and TJ Yeldon will need to have another great game for Alabama. Missouri is a physical and fast team that can wear their opponents out. I think Alabama has enough talent and experience to win this game. It will come down to which team wants it more. I am picking Alabama by 10 points.
ACC Championship: 4Florida State vs 11Georgia Tech
Preseason Prediction: Florida State over North Carolina
Georgia Tech seemingly came out of nowhere this season. They played a great game against a Georgia team that seemed to be unstoppable on the ground. Florida State was somehow able to get by with Jameis throwing 4INTs. Florida State dropped to 4th in the CFP rankings this week despite a perfect regular season record. It has not been pretty. There luck is going to have to run out sometime. Remember last season when Auburn saw their luck run out with 13 seconds left in the National Championship game? Georgia Tech missed the PAT after their TD in OT last weekend. I was pretty sure that would mean Georgia would win by 1. But Hutson Mason threw an INT to seal the Yellow Jacket’s victory. That’s pretty lucky. This might be the biggest game of the weekend. I am picking Florida State by 3-7 points.
Big 10 Championship: 13Wisconsin vs 5Ohio State
Preseason Prediction: Michigan State over Wisconsin
Michigan State. The other team I predicted would be in the final four that let me down. Their loss to Ohio State let everyone know the Buckeyes were here to play. Despite losing their Heisman Hopeful QB Braxton Miller before the season and an ugly home loss to Virginia Tech, Ohio State went undefeated in conference play for the 3rd consecutive year. This might also be the 3rd consecutive year Ohio State doesn’t win the Big 10. They will have to play this game without star QB JT Barrett after he suffered a broken bone in his ankle in the 4th quarter of the Michigan game. Cardale Jones will be at the helm for the rest of the season. I think Ohio State has been playing their best football when it counts, but losing your best player right before the conference championship game is never a good thing. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon has been insane this season. He is my Heisman favorite and I don’t feel right picking against him. I think Ohio State will keep him under 200 yards, but he doesn’t need that much to make a difference in the game. I’m really excited to watch this game. It should be a good one. I am picking Wisconsin by a TD.
MW Championship: Fresno State vs 22Boise State
Preseason Prediction: San Diego State over Boise State
San Diego State was so close! Fresno State might not even be able to go to a bowl if they lose this game because they would be 6-7! But, it is what it is. Boise State has already beat Fresno State this season. They have won their last two games by a combined 113-33. A win in this game will send the Broncos to a New Year’s Six bowl game. And I couldn’t pick Fresno State and feel right about it because they lost to UNLV. And while I love my Rebels, you shouldn’t be able to lose to them and win your division. I think Boise State will get things done in this game and we should end the weekend with a predictable game. But this is college football. Stranger things have happened. I am picking Boise State by 10 points.
Iowa State at 3TCU
Oklahoma State at 20Oklahoma
UCF at East Carolina (Thurs)
Houston at Cincinnati
SMU at Connecticut
Temple at Tulane