Conference Championship week in college football can be one of the most exciting weeks all year. Many teams trying to make the College Football Playoff are putting everything on the line in order to secure their spot in the Top 4. There are marquee matchups across the board which makes it a great week to be a college football fan.
Pac 12 Championship: Colorado (10-2) @ Washington (11-1)
With all the power houses of the Pac 12 going through a rebuilding stage, the door was open for two outsiders to make it into the championship game this year. Colorado has emerged from the bottom of the Pac 12 South to surprisingly win the entire division. Led by their strong defense, the only two blemishes on Colorado’s record were two early losses to Michigan and USC. They’ve played great football down the stretch with wins against Washington State and Utah. As for Washington, the Huskies have been undoubtedly the best team in the Pac 12. They looked like locks to be in the College Football Playoff but after losing to USC late in the year there was a little uncertainty in Washington. Since the USC loss, Washington has won the rest of their games and are #4 in the most recent rankings. A win and the Huskies should be in the Top 4.
Matchup to Watch: Jake Browning vs Colorado’s Pass Defense
Prediction: Washington 31 Colorado 13
SEC Championship: Alabama (12-0) @ Florida (8-3)
Nick Saban has once again built the best team in college football. The Alabama defense is shut down and their running game is insane. The Crimson Tide’s defense is 1st in scoring only allowing only 11.4 points a game. Besides Western Michigan the Tide have the only unblemished record in the NCAA. Florida on the other hand has a solid defense as well. They’re 5th in the league when it comes to scoring, only allowing 14.6 points a game. In all the Gators victories, they’ve allowed under 14 points. Their defense will have be on their game if they want to slow down an Alabama offense that is ranked 15th in rushing yards and 19th in scoring. The Gators and the Crimson Tide will duke it out on Saturday afternoon in the SEC title game for the second year in a row.
X Factor: Florida’s offense needs to find a way to score. Whether it’s on offense, defense, or special teams the Gators need to put up points, which they’ve struggled to do all year.
Prediction: Alabama 26 Florida 3
ACC Championship Game: Clemson (11-1) @ Virginia Tech (9-3)
Clemson, like Alabama has also has reloaded their squad from last year. The Tigers, are good statistically on both sides of the ball. They have the 5th best passing offense and average 40 points a game. Their defense is good statistically as well with the 8th best scoring defense. Clemson, like Washington, looked like they were locks in the playoff for the majority of the year. But after a late loss to Pittsburgh, the Tigers’ playoff spot was in jeopardy. The college football rankings committee didn’t punish the Tigers very hard after their loss, so after winning their next two games Clemson is currently #3 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. A win in this game will guarantee them a spot in the Playoff. As for Virginia Tech, it’s been an up and down season. They had impressive wins against the North Carolina, Miami, and Pittsburgh but had 3 losses against Tennessee, Syracuse, and Georgia Tech. Virginia’s offense has been up and down all year but statistically is in the middle of the pack. There defense is the same way. They’ve had some good games and some not so good games. Virginia Tech is going to have to put it all on the line if they want to spoil the Tigers chances of making it into the College Football Playoff for the second year in a row.
Matchup to Watch: Virginia Tech QB Jerod Evans vs Clemson QB DeShaun Watson
Prediction: Clemson 42 Virginia Tech 23
Big Ten Championship Game: Wisconsin (10-2) @ Penn State (10-2)
Wisconsin and Penn State have had very similar seasons with both of them going 10-2. Wisconsin lost in consecutive weeks, first to Michigan and then to Ohio State. They were both good games but Wisconsin just couldn’t find a way to pull off the upset. If there is any area of concern for the Badgers it would be their inability to pass. They have the 106th best passing offense in the nation but have made up for it on the ground with the 44th best rushing attack. Where Wisconsin flourishes is on defense where they’ve only allow 13.7 points per game which is the 3rd best in all the nation. As for Penn State, many think that the Nittany Lions have no business being in this game. Ohio State, a team in Penn State’s division, is ranked #3 in the country and many think that Penn State being in this game is going to spoil the Buckeyes’ resume with no conference championship. But Penn State, after starting off slow with losses to Pittsburgh and Michigan early in the year, have looked like a completely different team. Penn State’s statement win of the season was against Ohio State and besides being 8-1 in conference play is the reason why Penn State is in this game. Penn State is solid across the board and will look to make another statement win on Saturday night against Wisconsin.
X Factor: Time of possession. Wisconsin’s slow and methodical offense will look to keep the high tempo Nittany Lions off the field but if Lions are able to shut down the Wisconsin rush attack it could mean more opportunities for Penn State to score and points will be scarce in this one.
Prediction: Penn State 20 Wisconsin 16