The ACC Championship Game gives us Clemson versus Virginia Tech. The Tigers of Clemson have been hit and miss this season. When they are playing well, they are as good as anyone. Other than a one point loss to Pittsburgh, the Clemson Tigers would be an unbeaten 12-0. As it is, the 11-1 Tigers take on the surprising 9-3 Hokies of Virginia Tech. Before the season started, probably most people had North Carolina winning the ACC Coastal. But, the Hokies with new coach Justin Fuente shocked everyone by winning enough games to claim the title. Fuente has already been named coach
of the year by some people and deservedly so.
Clemson has much more to lose than Virgina Tech with a playoff spot on the line. But, Clemson has also been in this position before. Both of these schools had an easy time of it last week while beating up on in-state rivals very thoroughly.
Clemson is the better team, but which Tiger team will actually show up. They should prove a little better than Virginia Tech, but watch for the Hokies with a couple of years under Fuente’s belt. If he sticks around, the Hokies could be a traditional national powerhouse.
The SEC Championship Game features top ranked Alabama and Florida. This is a rematch from last season’s game which wasn’t a blowout, but it really wasn’t that close, either. Just face the facts, SEC fans, there truly is Alabama and then the rest of the schools. The Crimson Tide will either blow out Florida, or they will take them lightly and be upset. Win or lose, Alabama is playoff bound for
sure. The SEC game has not been interesting since 2012 when Alabama held on to beat Georgia. This game should continue the recent trend of boring one sided games won by the SEC West champion.
The SEC Least, or East, is just terrible right now.
The Big 10 was partially a surprise. Wisconsin was anticipated because the Big 10 West has little opposition right now. But, Penn State was not expected at all and all talk of James Franklin being unable to coach has suddenly gone away as the Nittany Lions finished their regular season with a nice 10-2 record. The Badgers, as usual, have a rock solid defense. Plus, they also have their usual top running game. Like Wisconsin, Penn State has a tough defense, but not quite up there with the Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin defenses. Penn State has the top Running Back in the Big 10 in Saquon Barkley and a super gutsy Quarterback in Trace McSorley.
I’d like to pick Penn State, but Wisconsin probably wins this game in a close one.
The Pac 12 game features Washington with a shot at a playoff and the nation’s biggest surprise in Colorado. The Buffaloes shocked the nation after being down so long with a surprising 10-2 record. A person could tell they were different when they traveled to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan. Even though that was one of their two losses, they still looked much better than in recent years. Their defense is ranked 13th in the nation in total yardage which is outstanding when figuring the offenses
in that conference. The Husky defense is ranked right up there as well at 17th. This game could actually be a defensive battle. But, both teams also have strong players on offense. This has been an amazing season for Colorado, but Cinderella generally loses in the championship games and Washington is just the better team right now.
Navy and Temple square off in the AAC championship. The American Athletic Conference may not get the national exposure, but these teams are pretty tough just ask Brent Musburger and Ole Miss. Navy is 9-2 on the season and Temple is 9-3. With the unorthodox offense that the Naval Academy runs, I feel like Temple won’t have time to be ready for that. I am picking the Navy to win, but Temple is no slouch.
For all the marbles in Conference USA, Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech will get it on. This game is a rematch from October 6th with 8-4 Louisiana Tech getting a very narrow win over Western Kentucky, 55-52. But, Western Kentucky is hot right now and playing really well and I think the win this round.
The MAC features undefeated Western Michigan taking on 8-4 Ohio. The 12-0 Western Michigan Broncos shouldn’t take the Ohio Bobcats lightly because the Bobcats almost upset Tennessee and all 4 of their losses were close. Former Nebraska coach Frank Solich is the head coach at Ohio and even though he is 72 years old now he should not be disregarded. PJ Fleck, the head coach at Western
Michigan, is half his age at 36. But, he’s one of the hottest young coaching names out there right now and the MAC is breeding grounds for future head coaches.
Western Michigan is just really good and should win this game, but it may be tougher than some expect.
It’s always a surprise when Boise State is not in the Mountain West championship game, but they aren’t. It’s San Diego State with their defense and their top Running Back in Donnel Pumphrey taking on the Wyoming Cowboys and their own Running Back star in Brian Hill. These two teams just played a couple of weeks ago with the Cowboys just getting by the Aztecs 34-33 in a thriller. It’s hard to beat a good team twice which is the only reason I am going with the Aztecs. Well, that and their outstanding defense.