Conference Championship Saturday* Preview
Week 15 of the college football season is upon us. It is a special week in that it signifies conference championship matchups. I had to put the apostrophe in the title as we are blessed with an excellent contest this evening out west. This weekend, we will all have the opportunity to watch 10 conference championship games, including five from the Power 5, and five from the Group of 5. The games with the most interest, especially to the College Football Playoff Committee include No. 1 LSU vs No.4 Georgia, No. 5 Utah vs No. 13 Oregon, and No. 6 Baylor vs No. 8 Oklahoma.
Pac-12 Championship Game: No. 5 Utah (11-1) vs. No. 13 Oregon (10-2)
The opening match up on Friday evening could go either way between the Utes and the Ducks. Utah's defense is among the best in college football, only giving up 241.6 yards per game, which ranks 3rd in the country, and just 4.2 yards per play, which ranks 4th in the country. How will Oregon signal caller Justin Herbert handle the pressure? Oregon's opportunity to earn a playoff spot evaporated after they lost their second game of the regular season, but a win on Friday night would be a double edged sword for the PAC12 eliminating Utah from playoff contention as well. The Ducks will earn a hard fought W tonight and open a playoff spot for a Big12 member.
Big 12 Championship Game: No. 7 Baylor (11-1) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma (11-1)
Speaking of that Big12 member, how do we do? Baylor's only loss of the season happened just two weeks ago to the hands of Oklahoma. How about this turn around from Baylor Bear head coach Matt Rhule, who went 1-11 in his first season. Now the Bears are one win away from potentially earning a CFB invite. Oklahoma has ridden the shoulder of transfer QB Jalen Hurts, who has done it through the air with 3347 yards and 31 touchdown passes, and more importantly, on the ground as well with 1217 yards and 18 scores. A complete game from the 'Bama transfer could earn him a seat in NYC for the Heisman presentation. The Sooners win another close one, and earn a final four spot.
Sun Belt Championship Game: Louisiana (10-2) vs. No. 21 Appalachian State (11-1)
Going to be completely honest here, I really do not know much about either team, but that is why I did my research. The Appalachian Mountaineers made a name for themselves when they took down the almighty Michingan Wolverines, and since moving to the FBS, they have been keeping thing competitive. Forward to 2019 and this team has been in the rankings practically all season long. The Ragin Cajuns from Louisiana are averaging 500 total yards of offense, which ranks 8th in the country, but App State is on a roll with the best 12 game record in school history. After a 17-7 win earlier in the season, we are rolling with the Mountaineers in this one.
MAC Championship Game: Miami (Ohio) (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (8-4)
#Maction is back! This one will start off close, but slowly Central Michigan will pull away. These two teams boast the top defenses in the country, but Miami's defense crumbled last week, allowing 578 yards in a 41-27 loss to Ball State. With that being said, the Chippewas will walk away victoriously.
Conference USA Championship Game: UAB (9-3) vs. Florida Atlantic (9-3)
Statistically, the UAB Blazers have the fifth best defense in the country, giving up an average of 270 yards per game. However that will not matter come Saturday when they take on Lane Kiffin's Owls offense. In a home game for FAU, double down on the -7.5 favorite.
American Athletic Conference Championship Game: No. 20 Cincinnati (10-2) vs. No. 17 Memphis (11-1)
This is going to be a sneaky fun game. While some of these other teams have already played against each other earlier in the season, Cincinnati and Memphis faced off just last weekend where Memphis held up to a 34-24 victory at the same stadium they will play at on Saturday. The Tigers have lost back to back AAC Championship games to UCF and are looking for redemption. Look for Memphis to cover the -9 point spread and earn a spot in a New Years 6 Bowl Game.
SEC Championship Game: No. 4 Georgia (11-1) vs. No. 2 LSU (12-0)
In what might be the most important of the 10 conference championship games, both teams can solidify their spot in the college football playoffs with a win. Some might even say with a LSU loss, they could still earn a shot as the number 4 seed. However, we do not think that Coach O and his Tigers team will have to worry about that. Heisman favorite Joe Burrow is putting up close to 390 yards through the air per game and leads the county with a ridiculous completion percentage of 78.3%. While the Tigers defense is not what it used to be, it will be good enough to stump Jake Fromm, who has had a disappointing junior season. LSU wins by at least two tuddys.
Mountain West Championship Game: Hawaii (9-4) vs. No. 19 Boise State (11-1)
Ok Hawaii, we see you! The Rainbow Warriors are making their first conference championship game behind their pass happy offense. With a kickoff at 4pm EST, us on the east coast will be able to enjoy watching this team play, as most of us are not staying up until midnight every Saturday night. The Broncos from Boise State have already defeated Hawaii 59-37 in October, and senior quarterback Jaylon Henderson has been balling in his last three games, throwing for eight scores and just one interception. Expect lots of offense and for Boise St. to cover the -14 point spread
ACC Championship Game: No. 23 Virginia (9-3) vs. No. 3 Clemson (12-0)
Will Clemson finally get challenged before the college playoffs? With the second ranked defense, and third ranked offense in college football, look for Clemson to hang up some points, and some big boy points, like 50. It has been a great story for Virginia, but they are about to run into a buzz saw. Clemson will enter the college football playoffs undefeated for the second year in a row. Dabo Swinney is on a mission. He is coming for you Paul!
Big Ten Championship Game: No. 1 Ohio State (12-0) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (10-2)
If you thought the Badgers would upset the Buckeyes earlier in the season, then you are an idiot. Ohio State rolled to a 38-7 victory. If you think Wisconsin has a chance on Saturday, then you are an idiot. The Buckeyes are the most complete team in the country, with the number one offense, and the fifth defense, and are coming off back to back wins against ranked opponents. Most schools cannot even say that. Ohio State is led by three potential Heisman finalists in Justin Field, J.K. Dobbins, and Chase Young. How crazy is that? The only shot Wisconsin has is if Jonathan Taylor has 250 all purpose yards, controls the ground game, as well as the clock and keeps Fields and company off the field. Huge ask, but Taylor is one of the best in the game.