With most regular season games concluded, all eyes are on the various conference championships being staged this weekend. The games should not only be immensely entertaining, but they will also set the stage for the college football playoff system and the bowl games.
From the Power 5 conferences with championship games this weekend, the following will make it or break it for some teams.
Arizona v. Oregon
The Pac 12 is the only Power 5 conference holding its championship match up on Friday night. The Pac-12 Football Championship Game will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers.
Oregon comes into the game ranked No. 2 in the nation; Arizona is ranked No. 7. The two teams have already met once this season, with the Wildcats handing the Ducks their only loss 31 to 24 in Eugene. The Ducks clearly have vengeance on their minds and will need the win to lock up a playoff berth. The loser will likely represent the conference in the Rose Bowl game.
Our prediction: Marcus Mariota enhances his Heisman Trophy credentials with a big night. Oregon 42, Arizona 31.
Alabama v. Missouri
The Tide just may be everyone’s favorite team to hate. Especially if you are Auburn. Alabama will meet up at 4 p.m. on Saturday for the SEC championship game in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. Alabama is the top-ranked team in the nation despite having lost to Ole Miss 23 to 17 on Oct. 4. Since then, the Tide has taken care of business.
Missouri is ranked No. 15 in the nation and has losses to Indiana and Georgia under its belt. Both those losses were at home and the Indiana loss did the most damage. Should the Tigers upset the Tide, they won’t be considered strong enough to qualify for the playoffs.
Our prediction: Missouri will hang with Alabama for nearly three quarters before Blake Sims tosses a pair of TDs to blow this game open. Alabama 34, Missouri 17.
Florida State v. Georgia Tech
Oh to be the last unbeaten team in the nation! For Florida State, they’re scratching their heads as to why that record is not good enough for the top ranking. Instead, the Seminoles find themselves ranked No. 4 with three one-loss teams ahead of them and both Ohio State and Baylor breathing down their necks.
Florida State is the defending national champion, but hasn’t played as well as it did last year. Even so, they win every game —barely so in some instances. The Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game will be played at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.
Our prediction: After winning six games this season by a touchdown or less, we think the Seminoles will have their hands full with the No. 11 Georgia Tech Yellowjackets. Jameis Winston will have a very good game, but he’ll make a mistake that Tech will turn into a score and gain the upset. Georgia Tech 37, Florida State 34.
Wisconsin v. Ohio State
After being stunned at home by Virginia Tech 35 to 21 in the second game of the season and recovering from losing their star quarterback, Ohio State has been a team on a mission. Backup quarterback J.T. Barrett has been nothing less than stellar, playing like the Heisman candidate that he is.
Barrett, however, went down with a broken ankle on the first play of the fourth quarter. Moreover, teammate Kosta Karageorge was a game no show. He was later found dead, the victim of a self-inflicted wound. This 1-2 punch has stunned the Buckeyes who must find a way to vanquish the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers at the Big Ten Championship Game Saturday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Our prediction: With two highly regarded quarterbacks on the injury list and the death of a fellow player, the mood at Ohio State is definitely subdued. Sophomore QB Cardale Jones will have to fill in some big shoes and he isn’t likely to put up the numbers to blow the Badgers away. We think this game will be the best of the four major conference championships to watch this weekend with the winner decided late. Ohio State 33, Wisconsin 31.
When all is said and done we see Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Ohio State receiving playoff invites. The losers of these games will have the consolation of appearing in a New Year’s Day bowl game just the same.