Conference championship games are always must see TV, and this 2018 set of classics could be more compelling than ever since the inception of the playoff. The No. 1 Crimson Tide takes center stage at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to square off with the No.4 Georgia Bulldogs in a must victory for the Dawgs if they want to get into the playoff and an equally important game for the Tide as they hope to win the SEC and cement their spot as the Number 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. If Georgia were to defeat the Tide that would set up an interesting scenario if OU and Ohio State both win their respective championship games. If Georgia wins, I like Clemson to be number 1, provided they are victorious over Pitt in the ACC title game, Georgia number 2, the Crimson Tide number 3 and Oklahoma No.4. If the Crimson Tide emerges victorious, I like them 1, Clemson 2, I guess Notre Dame 3, though I’m not buying them as a top 4 team, and OU at No.4 if they defeat Texas. Notre Dame just got by USC, which has talent and was playing hard for their embattled Coach Clay Helton last Saturday, but it wasn’t impressive. Notre Dame is undefeated and while that’s hard to do, I don’t see them as a top 4 team. My top 4, and this is my personal opinion, is 1. Alabama, 2. Clemson, 3. Georgia and 4. Oklahoma regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s games. Notre Dame will probably get in there, but for the best matchups, those are the top 4 teams.
But you gotta play the games. Here’s a look at the riveting action that starts tonight in the Pac-12 and the MAC.
Last Week: 18-8
Overall: 223-67, 77%
SEC Championship Game
No.1 Alabama (12-0, 8-0) vs. No.4 Georgia (11-1, 7-1)
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, 71,000
3 PM CT
Brad, Gary, Jamie
Bama by 13 1/2
How do you stop Tua Tagovailoa and the Bama scoring machine? Next to impossible. Georgia is tasked with that tremendous challenge and it’s beyond difficult. Georgia’s going to have to score some points to keep up and that’s a formidable challenge in itself against Quinnen Williams, Mack Wilson, Deionte Thompson and the vaunted Tide D. Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift are top of the line running backs, but the Georgia O line has to open up holes for them to be effective and set up the play action passes for Jake Fromm, Riley Ridley and the Georgia receiving corps, which is prolific. So are Holyfield and Swift for that matter. But the Crimson Tide offense with Tua and his immensely talented receiving corps in Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III, the electric Jaylen Waddle and super tight end Irv Smith, are a major load to stop. Then you throw in the awesome Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris and Najee Harris and you’re usually in for a long afternoon defensively. Georgia has their hands full and it’s too much to handle. The great Crimson Tide advances into the playoff at 13-0 and secures it’s number 1 ranking in the playoff. The Tide could very well be headed to the Cotton Bowl, Jerry’s World in Arlington, TX, on Saturday, December 29th, to face the No.4 team. The Orange Bowl is a possibility, but I’m hearing more buzz from the Cotton Bowl.
Crimson Tide 49, Dawgs 28
Big 12 Championship
No.14 Texas (9-3, 7-2) vs No.5 Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1)
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX “I, will, get by.” 100,000
11 AM CT
Sean, Todd, Holly
OU by 7 1/2
OU has its struggles on defense, but not on offense. I like the sensational Kyler Murray and the OU offense to put up a lot of points but not as many as usual as Texas plays decent defense. I see OU moving into the playoff with the victory over the Longhorns.
Oklahoma 45, Texas 35
No.2 Clemson (12-0, 8-0) vs. Pittsburgh (7-5, 6-2)
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C., 75,412
7 PM CT
Chris, Kirk, Maria
Clemson by 27 1/2
Blowout. Clemson moves into the playoff at No.2.
Clemson 52, Pittsburgh 17
Big Ten Championship
No.6 Ohio State (11-1, 8-1) vs. Northwestern (8-4, 8-1)
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indy, 70,000
7 PM CT
Gus, Joel, Jenny
Buckeyes by 14 1/2
Urb and the Buckeyes take care of business against a scrappy Northwestern team, that is a group of high overachievers and very impressive, but don’t have enough horses here. But Urb regrets the Purdue loss in which his team got blown out by the Boilys, 49-20. That’ll cost them a spot in the playoff. But the Rose Bowl’s a pretty good consolation.
Ohio State 49, Northwestern 34
No.17 Utah (9-3, 6-3) vs. No. 11 Washington (9-3, 7-2)
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California, 68,500
7 PM CT
Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Bruce Feldman
Wash by 5 1/2
The Huskies were extremely impressive in defeating the then No.8 Washington State Cougars on a snowy night in Pullman, 28-15. I see Chris Peterson and his team hitting their stride now. Always like Utah, they’re a hard-nosed, solid football team, but like the way the Huskies are playing now a little bit better.
Washington 30, Utah 24
American Conference Championship
Memphis (8-4, 5-3) vs. No.8 Central Florida (11-0, 8-0)
Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL. 45,301
2:30 PM CT
Bob Wischusen, Brock, Allison Williams
UCF by 3
With UCF star quarterback McKenzie Milton out for the season now after a knee injury he sustained last Friday against South Florida, I like the Tigers, which were super impressive last Friday in a victory over Houston, to upset the Golden Knights and move into a high caliber bowl. Tough luck for UCF losing Milton.
Memphis 42, UCF 34
Mountain West Championship
No.25 Fresno State (10-2, 7-1) vs. No. 22 Boise State (10-2, 7-1)
Albertsons Stadium, Boise, 36,387
6:45 PM CT
Steve Levy, Grease, McShay
BSU by 2
Fresno State is a pretty good team, but after last Saturday’s victory over Utah State, the Broncos moved to 121-8 on the Blue Turf since 1999. I like that magic to continue tomorrow night.
Boise State 31, Fresno State 28
Conference USA Championship
UAB (9-3, 7-1) vs. Middle Tennessee (8-4, 7-1)
Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN, 30,788
12:30 PM CT
CBS Sports Network
Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, John Schriffen
MTSU by 1
UAB had it going for a good while until they lost in their 11th game to A&M, 41-20, then got hammered by MTSU, 27-3 last Saturday on the road at Floyd Stadium. They’ve had a good season overall, but they’re limping home. I like Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill and his team to just get by the Blazers this week in a hard fought contest.
MTSU 27, UAB 24
Northern Illinois? Are you kiddin me? (7-5, 6-2) vs. Buffalo (10-2, 7-1)
Ford Field, Motown, 65,000
6 PM CT
Clay Matvick, Dan Orlovsky, Paul Carcaterra
Buffalo by 3
The Buffalo Bulls, not to be confused with the Buffalo BIlls, get over the top here. Buffalo’s got a pretty solid team though Northern Illinois is scrappy. There will be some serious MACtion in this game.
Buffalo 48, Northern Illinois 44
Stanford (7-4, 5-3, Pac-12) @ California (7-4, 4-4)
Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA. 63,000
2 PM CT
Stanford by 3 1/2
Cal can play some pretty serious defense. They had 2 pick 6’s last Saturday against Colorado in a 33-21 victory, and they’ve already upset Washington in Berkeley, 12-10. Like the Golden Bears to pull off the upset in the 121st playing of “The Big Game.”
Cal 31, Stanford 24