College Football Conference Championship Preview: Power Five
We have reached conference championship week in college football. For some teams, there’s more than just a conference title on the line. With a win, certain teams can just about guarantee a New Years Six bowl or a playoff spot.
Today we will look at the power five games that will happen this weekend, how they got here, and predict who will win.
- ACC:#15 Pittsburgh Vs. #16 Wake Forest; 12/4, 8:00 pm est, ABC; This was not the matchup anyone expected at the start of the season. The preseason favorites in the conference, Clemson and North Carolina, struggled for most of the season, which opened the door for other team to step up. Pittsburgh and Wake Forest will be facing off in a matchup of likely the two best quarterbacks of the ACC this year. Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman has thrown for over 3700 yards, 34 touchdowns and helped the team to an 8-0 start that included them being ranked in the top 10 at one point. Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett has been just as good, throwing for over 4000 yards, 40 touchdowns, and has had first-round talks in the upcoming NFL draft. This should be a high-scoring affair where whoever has the ball last will most likely win the game. Prediction: Pittsburgh.
- Big 12:#5 Oklahoma State Vs. #9 Baylor; 12/4, 12:00 pm est, ABC; Oklahoma State earned the right to be hereafter coming from behind against Oklahoma last week. A win here could get them a spot in the playoffs. Baylor might have something to say about that, though, as they have been consistent all year. This is a rematch from earlier in the season that saw Oklahoma State come away with a victory at home 24-14. Expect both teams to rely on their defense as they rank first and second in points given up in the Big 12. Also, look for 1000-yard rushers Jaylen Warren for Oklahoma State and Abram Smith for Baylor to play an important role for each team. Prediction: Oklahoma State.
- Big Ten:#2 Michigan Vs. #13 Iowa; 12/4, 8:00 pm est, Fox; Michigan beat Ohio State. I repeat, Michigan beat Ohio State!!!! That win not only got them into the Big Ten championship and a potential playoff spot with a win. It also got Jim Harbaugh the win that every Michigan fan was waiting for him to get. Iowa, meanwhile, had to overcome a two-game losing streak mid-season and a struggling that only scored 14 points total to reach this game. Both teams rank in the top-10 in points given up in all of Division 1-A college football. For Michigan, the key will be to get running backs Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum going early and often. If Iowa’s defense can prevent them from having a big day on the ground, they will give themselves to play spoiler. Prediction: Michigan.
- PAC-12:#17 Utah Vs. #10 Oregon; 12/3, 8:00 pm est, ABC; The first power five conference championship will be a rematch from earlier this year. This is the second time in three weeks that Oregon and Utah will face off against each other. Utah won that matchup, dominating Oregon 38-7. For the Ducks to get revenge in this game, the running game needs to be at its best-come game time. Oregon was held to under three yards a carry in the game against Utah a few weeks ago. If Utah does more of the same on defense and gets the production from their running game (over 200 yards, four touchdowns), this game might be a repeat of earlier. Prediction: Utah.
- SEC:#1 Georgia Vs. #3 Alabama; 12/4, 4:00 pm est, CBS; This is probably the game that could affect the college football playoffs the most. If Georgia wins, Alabama is most likely out as a two-loss team that struggled last week against a 6-6 Auburn team. Alabama wins, and anything goes when determining who will get in. Georgia has one of the best defenses in all of college football, ranking first in yards and points allowed and fourth in sacks. On paper, that does not look well for Alabama after giving up seven sacks against the Tigers. However, there’s a reason Nick Saban has won seven championships as a college coach. This may be the ultimate chess match in any of the championship matchups. Prediction: Georgia.