Conference Championship Week Preview

bama vs uga title game
Saturday will produce a rematch of last years national title game in the exact same stadium. (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Friday

MAC: Northern Illinois vs Buffalo, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2

This game will be an interesting contrast of styles. Buffalo is lead by their offense and their dynamic quarterback Tyree Jackson, while Northern Illinois is clearly lead by their defense, one that is only giving up just under 21 points per game this season and has been even better than that in conference play. I think with the style of these two teams and with the fact that Northern Illinois is coming in on a two-game losing streak, will lead to a win for Buffalo.

Pick: Buffalo

Pac-12: (17) Utah vs (11) Washington, 8:00 PM ET, FOX

This is a rematch of a game that was played earlier this season and it was won by the Huskies in Salt Lake City by a score of 21-7. In that game the Utes had Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss and they will have neither of those two in this one. Now Armand Shyne and Jason Shelley have done a fine job replacing those two, but with the momentum that Washington gained in the Apple Cup and with the newfound running game they showed, I think they’ll get the win in this rematch and Utah will really struggle to score.

Pick: Washington

Saturday

Big-12: (14) Texas vs (5) Oklahoma, Noon ET, ABC

How’s this one for a conference title game? We get the Red River shootout in the last weekend of the season with playoff implications? Sign me up. Of course the one loss on the season by Oklahoma was at the hands of Texas and that was on a last-second field goal by Michael Dicker after a furious comeback by Oklahoma. The Sooners are horrible on defense and that will likely leave Texas with a very good chance to win this game, but I think the Oklahoma offense won’t let them fall behind this time and Kyler Murray will have one big last statement to make while trying to chase down the Heisman and he’ll put his team in position to make the college football playoff.

Pick: Oklahoma

Sun Belt: Louisiana vs Appalachian State, Noon ET, ESPN

This game is a significant mismatch on paper. The divisions in the Sun Belt are nowhere close to even and Appalachian State beat Troy, who is the second best team in the conference, last week to clinch a spot in this game and to be able to host it. Both of these offenses can produce points, but the Louisiana defense is not good and Appalachian State is giving up 15.4 points per game this season. I don’t think this one will be too close.

Pick: Appalachian State

C-USA: UAB vs Middle Tennessee, 1:30 PM ET, CBS Sports Net

These two teams played just last weekend and it was a blowout in favor of Middle Tennessee, 27-3. They are now hosting this game with the momentum and confidence they gained last week. I don’t think this game will play out anything like the game last week did in terms of the spread, but I do think last week will have an impact and Middle Tennessee will win this game because they’re at home and they have the more dynamic offense.

Pick: Middle Tennessee

AAC: Memphis vs (8) UCF, 3:30 PM ET, ABC

Under normal circumstances of this season this would be a sizable win for UCF, but McKenzie Milton was lost for the Knights last week and now Darriel Mack Jr. will have to step in and try and fill his production as much as he can. Mack Jr. was able to run the ball last week when he was thrown into action against USF, but he really struggled throwing the ball, going only 5/14. I think this will play a huge factor in this game, but UCF will ultimately have enough talent to win out, but it will be a close one and they will need their defense to really step up and do a good job on Darrell Henderson.

Pick: UCF

SEC: (1) Alabama vs (4) Georgia, 4:00 PM ET. CBS

This will of course be a rematch of last years national title game which saw Alabama win in overtime. The stakes are not small in this one either, as Georgia is playing for a spot in the college football playoff. Alabama would probably be okay to get in still with a loss as long as it were a close loss. Georgia is still very good, but they aren’t quite as good to me as they were last season, especially on defense. Now they are still very good on defense, but even the slightest of drops can make a big difference. Georgia should have the personnel to do a good job on the Alabama offense, but I think over the course of four quarters, Alabama will be able to wear them down enough to get a win.

Pick: Alabama

MWC: (25) Fresono State vs (22) Boise State, 7:45 PM ET, ESPN

This is another rematch of a game that was very close just earlier in November and that one was also in Boise and it went in favor of the Broncos by a score of 24-17. These two teams are really evenly matched and I could definitely see this one coming down to the wire just as their matchup earlier this season did. Boise State was able to establish a really strong ground game last week as they clinched the Mountain division with a win over Utah State. I expect them to try and do that again with Alex Mattison and then for Fresno State, their chances of winning this game will come down to Marcus McMaryion.

Pick: Boise State

ACC: (2) Clemson vs Pitt, 8:00 PM ET, ABC

Great job getting here Pitt, but the Coastal division of the ACC was really weak and this game has no reason to be close.

Pick: Clemson

Big Ten: (21) Northwestern vs (6) Ohio State, 8:00 PM ET, FOX

Northwestern has had a very strong conference season and they’ve had some games where Clayton Thorson has been able to show out. Unfortunately for them, I think this is more of a season to build on than a season that’ll see them win a conference title and get to the Rose Bowl. Ohio State looked explosive last week against Michigan and this has the feel of the game where Cardale Jones lead Ohio State into the conference title game against Wisconsin and the Buckeyes won 59-0 in 2014 before going on and winning the national title. Now I definitely don’t see them winning quite that big because this defense isn’t nearly as good as that national title defense was, but I could see them scoring 60 and I think they’ll be out to try and make a statement, feeling like they need to make a big statement to give the committee something to think about while they’re trying to figure out which four teams to put in the playoffs.

Pick: Ohio State

Advertisements

Let's Discuss Some Sports!