There are just 15 more games left before we find out who will be in the playoff. Eight conferences will crown a champion this weekend and those games will decide who’s in. This season has gone by so fast, but it isn’t over yet.
MAC Championship: Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green (Friday) This was the matchup I predicted at the beginning of the season. Northern Illinois lost their final game, but got help when Western Michigan beat Toledo. Bowling Green didn’t have much competition in their division and that could hurt the Falcons. Both of these teams are capable of scoring a lot of points, but I think NIU’s defense will be the key to this game. A low scoring game favors NIU. Bowling Green has some great players on their offense and could outrush the Huskies. Bowling Green got beat by Toledo 44-28 and NIU beat the Rockets. This is an interesting matchup. I am picking Northern Illinois.
SEC Championship: 2Alabama vs. 18Florida This was not what I predicted. The Crimson Tide are playing some great football even though Auburn hung with them in the first half. Derrick Henry has my Heisman vote and I think he’ll have another good game. Alabama’s defense is scary good and will have Kirby Smart for the rest of the postseason. Florida’s only score was a safety in their game against Florida State last week. I think they will do better than that in this game but not by much. These teams are 1 and 2 when it comes to sacking the opponent’s QB, so expect some big defensive plays. Alabama has to win this game for the SEC to have a team in the playoff. I’m going to be at this game (thanks, mom!) and I can’t wait. I am picking Alabama.
Big 10 Championship: 5Michigan State vs. 4Iowa This is a very hard game to pick because this game could be 40-35 or 10-7. I’m not going to give Iowa the respect they think they deserve until I see them beat a good team. Michigan State needed two last second wins to get to this game. If I’m being honest, I believe Ohio State is the best team in the Big 10, but that doesn’t matter now. I would also be much more impressed if Iowa had to beat the Buckeyes rather than Michigan State. I think Michigan State and their defense will be better than Iowa. The Spartans also found some offense last week and Connor Cook looked good. This game will show us if Iowa really as good as their record says. I am picking Michigan State.
Pac 12 Championship: 20USC vs. 7Stanford First of all, congrats to USC and Clay Helton. It is extremely impressive to see a team who fired their coach midseason in their conference championship game. Both of these teams had great games last week against rivals. I think this will be a pretty high scoring game. Stanford has been known for their defense, but their offense has shined since losing to Northwestern. These two met earlier in the season and Stanford won 41-31. This USC team is a lot better than they were in week 3. Expect a couple kick/punt return TDs or pick sixes in this game. The Pac 12 has a lot of flash and last second heroics. One of these QBs might need to channel Aaron Rodgers at the end of this game. I am picking Stanford.
ACC Championship: 1Clemson vs. 10North Carolina I have been arguing for North Carolina since they were left out of the first CFP rankings. I think the Tar Heels should be ranked above Florida State. They lost their first game to South Carolina because they committed 3 turnovers in the red zone (2 in the end zone). Clemson has been strong all season and deserve their #1 ranking. These teams love to score. The matchup between Deshaun Watson and Marquise Williams should be an entertaining one. I feel bad for the defenses in this game. If I were a betting girl, I’d take the over. I think the team who has the ball last will have a chance to win. I am picking Clemson.
American Championship: 22Temple vs. 19Houston Temple has been a good team, but their loss to USF is still confusing. Houston’s loss to UConn also makes no sense to me. I think Houston has the better chance to win this game because of their offense. Greg Ward Jr. has been great this season and their backup is pretty good too. The winner of this game will get to play in a New Year’s Six bowl. I expect a relatively high scoring game between these two. Neither have shown that their defense can overpower the other, but it might come down to a defensive play. I am picking Houston.
MWC Championship: Air Force vs. San Diego State Air Force was a surprise this season in the Mountain West. Even thought the Flacons lost to New Mexico last weekend (another surprise team in the MW), they have looked good this season. San Diego State went a perfect 8-0 in conference play this year, but they did not have to play Boise State or New Mexico. I expect most of the offense in this game to come on the ground. Donnel Pumphrey from SDSU has been a great RB all season and I think he will have a good game. Air Force had turnover troubles in their loss to New Mexico, so they will need to take care of the ball if they want to win this game. I’m excited for this matchup against two very good teams. I am picking San Diego State.
CUSA Championship: Western Kentucky vs. Southern Miss If you like scoring, this is the game for you. Both of these teams rank in the top 10 in points per game, each averaging more than 41 points. If you take a bathroom break when the game is on, you could miss a couple scores. The two QBs in this game, Brandon Doughty for WKU and Nick Mullens for USM, have had amazing seasons. Doughty has thrown 42TDs to just 6INTs and Mullens has thrown 35TDs and 9INTs. Get your popcorn ready for these two quick-striking offenses. Southern Miss had won 4 games in their last 3 seasons, and are looking for their 10th win of the season with this game. This should a fun one. I am picking Southern Miss.
Big 12 and Sun Belt Games
Texas at 12Baylor
West Virginia at Kansas State
Georgia State at Georgia Southern
Texas State at Arkansas State
New Mexico State at ULM
Troy at ULL
Appalachian State at South Alabama