The best teams in college football are at it this weekend. For the teams remaining in the postseason hunt, it’s their last opportunity to make a case to the playoff committee.
Let’s dive in!
MAC Championship: Miami (Ohio) vs. Central Michigan at Ford Field
What a run made by Central Michigan! A season ago, they finished 1-11 with zero wins against the FBS. Now they’ll play for the MAC Championship against another surprise contender Miami (Ohio) who stunned Buffalo and Ohio to get here. This battle will be decided in a shootout. Both teams are awful on defense, but the separating factor in Detroit will be CMU’s passing attack. The Chippewas average 259 yards per game in the air, and Miami (Ohio) is 0-3 when giving up more than 250 yards passing.
Prediction: Central Michigan 32, Miami (Ohio) 25
Conference USA Championship: UAB at Florida Atlantic
Lane Kiffin has successfully turned the Florida Atlantic program around. Since he took over as head coach, the Owls have become a winning team, and are hosting the C-USA Championship. UAB’s offense has been a disaster this season. They rank in the bottom third of the FBS in total offense, meanwhile, FAU is No. 1 in interceptions and takeaways. FAU also has the best scoring offense in the conference; which should make up for their defensive woes when they aren’t generating turnovers.
Prediction: Florida Atlantic 26, UAB 24
Sun Belt Championship: Louisiana at No. 21 Appalachian State
A rematch from an earlier season date that saw ASU win 17-7 in Louisiana. In that game, App State was able to stop Louisiana’s rushing attack. It’ll be different this time around, as Louisiana has film to see how Georgia Southern was able to run the ball effectively against the Mountaineers. The Ragin Cajuns will rush for over 200 yards and edge App State in an upset.
Prediction: Louisiana 21, Appalachian State 14
Mountain West Championship: Hawaii at No. 19 Boise State
Another rematch in which Boise State crushed the Rainbow Warriors 59-37 in the first meeting. The outcome won’t be much different this time around. The Broncos can match Hawaii’s offensive production, however, Hawaii has been terrible on defense.
On the road, in a freezing environment, their defense will tire fast trying to keep up with the Broncos. Boise always has a trick up their sleeve in big games.
Prediction: Boise State 34, Hawaii 28
American Athletic Conference Championship: No. 20 Cincinnati at No. 17 Memphis
These foes met just one week ago in Memphis. The result was Memphis’ offense being too much for Cincy to keep up with. The Tiger defense generated three turnovers, and had five sacks against the Bearcats while owning the trenches when Cincy had the ball.
Winning the turnover will be key to winning the conference, and at home, Memphis has the edge.
Prediction: Memphis 31, Cincinnati 27
ACC Championship: No. 23 Virginia vs. No. 3 Clemson at Bank of America Stadium
FINALLY! Clemson is playing a ranked opponent for the very first time this season! Albeit Virginia may only be ranked to give the ACC Championship something to market. Clemson will finally have a team stand up to them… Not really though. This game could get uglier than last year’s 42-10 thrashing of Pittsburgh. The ACC hasn’t lived up to the “Power 5” title outside of Clemson and has fewer ranked members than the AAC.
Nonetheless, Clemson will cut through Virginia like a buzzsaw in every aspect of the game. Virginia will be lucky to score against the Tigers’ starters.
Prediction: Clemson 49, Virginia 17
PAC-12 Championship: No. 5 Utah vs. No. 13 Oregon at Levi’s Stadium
Another miserable season it’s been for the Pac-12. An Oregon victory would leave the Pac-12 out of the playoff again, but a Utah win could also leave the Pac-12 on the outside looking in. In order for Utah to get in, they have to win convincingly. Throw out sportsmanship, go for two if you’re up 50 with a minute to play, Utah needs a dominating performance. The Utes lead the nation in run defense, but Oregon will want to win through the air with NFL hopeful Justin Herbert at quarterback.
Still, with one of the best fronts in the FBS, Utah’s defense will lead the way to victory, however, it won’t be nearly as impressive as they need to be to beat out the Big 12 champion for a spot.
Prediction: Utah 13, Oregon 10
Big Ten Championship: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Wisconsin at Lucas Oil Stadium
No surprise here, it’s another rematch in a conference championship game. The outcome won’t be much different than when the Buckeyes trounced the Badgers 38-7 in Columbus. They’re just too good of a team to lose to a one-dimensional offense. The Buckeyes defensive front will fill the rushing lanes that Wisconsin needs to be effective. Wisconsin has a good defense, but they’ll tire out and eventually, the Buckeyes high powered offense will wash right through them.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Wisconsin 11
Big 12 Championship: No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 6 Oklahoma at AT&T Stadium
Baylor was so close to winning the regular-season matchup. They had a 28-3 lead, however, they couldn’t score a point in the second half. One thing the first game taught us (if we didn’t already learn it throughout Baylor’s season) was the Bears inconsistency. They can play great football and dominate, and they can also play a 9-6 slop-fest with TCU. Their inconsistencies cost them the first battle, and it’ll likely cost them again.
No lead is safe against Oklahoma, and once Baylor cools off the Jets, they’ll lose momentum, and lose the game.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45, Baylor 42
SEC Championship: No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 2 LSU at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
The most thrilling of conference championships will be held in Atlanta. LSU features a high octane offensive explosion, while Georgia has one of the best defensive units in the nation. LSU has faced multiple great defenses this season. They tallied 42 against Florida, 23 against Auburn, and 46 in Alabama. To beat LSU, Georgia will have to score touchdowns, and not settle for field goals. To do that means to keep the offense on the field on fourth down which can be risky. LSU doesn’t need good field position, but if its defense makes a stop near midfield, one can almost guarantee LSU’s offense will find the endzone. The Bulldogs defensive front will keep them in the game through halftime, however, LSU’s passing attack will not be denied. They will find the endzone multiple times in the second half en route to victory.
Prediction: LSU 41, Georgia 20
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