It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No not Christmas, College football has entered it’s crucial part of the season with conference championship games this weekend playing a big part in forming the final 4 for January’s College Football Playoff. Let’s dive in and quickly breakdown each matchup of the power 5.
Note: All teams rankings below are as of the college football playoff ranking as announced Tuesday December 15th.
Previews are done as of Wednesday 16th of December and any changes to the current schedule/previews due to COVID have happened after publishing.
PAC-12: Oregon (Unranked) v USC (13)
I am so excited to see what the Huskies can do in the PAC-12 title game...oh wait...
The original PAC-12 Championship was scheduled to be Washington v USC but thanks to COVID-19, Oregon gets the call up as a way of finishing 2nd in the PAC-12 north. Oregon won the PAC-12 Conference last season and by default, have a chance at back-to-back titles in a season where they have regressed and sit outside the AP top 25.
USC have been the spotlight of the conference this season and understandably so, QB Kedon Slovis has had a promising season throwing for 15 TDs, 9 of which have been to the dynamic wide-receiver duo of Drake London (3 Rec TD’s) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (6 Rec TD’s). USC’s chances of making the college football playoff are only 7%, a PAC-12 Championship win will however help their chances at making a New Year’s six bowl, at least something to root for. For Oregon, the hopes of an upset and to finish 4-2 on the year and finish back in the AP top 25 is on the cards, all confidence boosters for next season.
Prediction: USC 30, Oregon 17
Big 12: Iowa state (6) v Oklahoma (10)
OU have gone from being rattled to being the rattler (see what I did there, Spencer I see you). Starting off 1-2, OU are now 7-2 and are playing for their fourth straight Big-12 Championship (Since Big-12 returned in 2017). Insane. An intriguing part of OU’s comeback this season has been from their Redshirt Freshman’s improved QB play. Spencer Rattler has looked more and more comfortable each week and has shown signs of improvement in his game, specifically in his decision making with the football.
Iowa State have surprised me this season. Coming into the year I expected them to be in the low end of the AP Top 25, around 21-25, but I certainly did not expect them to be 2 spots out of the college football playoff. The Cyclones like to run the football as Iowa State’s Ground game is one of the best in the Big-12, Averaging 199.9 rush yards per game. They will have to be at their best on Saturday, as OU’s front 7 has been stout in stopping the run, giving up on average only 88.1 rush yards per game which not only is best in the Big-12 but Fourth in the entire FBS.
Prediction: OU 37, Iowa State 33
Big 10: Ohio State (4) v Northwestern (14)
How many members of the Big 10 committee does it take to jerk-off Ohio state. Answer – All of them. Ohio state are 5-0 and with the big 10 removing their 6-game minimum for the conference championship game eligibility, Ohio State find themselves in another title game. Now it’s completely understandable as to why the Big 10 committee has done this, as a conference you want to see a team from your conference make the college football playoff. It’s that simple. If Ohio state win the Big 10 championship game there is no doubt that they will be either the 3rd or 4th rank in the college football playoff.
Ohio state are a good football team and they should win this game, but I wouldn't completely write-off Northwestern. Northwestern are the 14th ranked team in the country for a reason. Their Defence. A Defence that statistically is the 2nd best in the FBS in terms of average points per game, only giving up 14.6 points per game. Now Ohio state averages 46.6 points per game on offence with Star Dual-threat QB Justin Fields leading the helm with his dominant trio of Master Teague, Chris Olave & Garrett Wilson. Northwestern have their work cut-out but in a year of 2020 where anything has happened, Northwestern winning the big 10 isn’t as crazy as it sounds.
Prediction: Ohio State 28, Northwestern 17
ACC: Clemson (3) v Notre Dame (2)
If you can only watch one game this weekend, this is it right here. Clemson v Notre Dame for the second time this season. There were many critics of Notre Dame’s win over Clemson in November as Clemson were missing their Superstar QB Trevor Lawrence as well as having multiple injuries on the defensive side of the ball. This time, Trevor Lawrence is back and many, many people are backing the Tigers to win their 6th ACC title in a row. Why wouldn’t you back the tigers? Trevor Lawrence is 33-1 as a starter in his college career, with that 1 loss being to arguably one of, if not the best college team in history in the 2019 LSU tigers. Notre Dame are nowhere near that of the 2019 LSU tigers, so how do they beat Clemson, Again?
This game will come down to who dominates the line of scrimmage. If Notre Dame can control the line of scrimmage, they’re in with a real chance. Sophomore Running back, Kyren Williams had a monster game in the previous game against Clemson in south bend, running powerfully behind one of college football’s best offensive lines. Notre Dame will need more of the same against a Clemson defence that is capable of stopping the run in this second matchup.
Most importantly if Notre Dame want to win this ball game, the defence is going to have to play their best game of the season. Notre Dame need to keep Trevor Lawrence in the pocket and not allow him to extend plays outside the pocket with his arm or legs for big gains. The pass rush needs to be consistent to keep Lawrence under pressure and entice him into a turnover or two. If Notre dame beat Clemson not only will it be an upset again, but it will sure mess with the heads of the college football playoff committee. And that’s what I’m predicting (Well, hoping).
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Clemson 24
SEC: Florida (7) v Alabama (1)
After being shocked by LSU last week, Florida face Alabama in the SEC championship game where if they play anything like they did against LSU, it’ll be curtains by half-time. Now some have pointed out that the gators were maybe looking ahead of the schedule for the reason behind their LSU loss but they did not play disciplined football and that’ll need to change if they are to upset number one Alabama. This game has been touted as the battle of the Heisman front-runners, that being Kyle Trask of Florida and Mac Jones of Alabama. The QB match-up makes this game extremely enticing, especially with both QB’s having outstanding seasons this year and lingering around that first-round status for the upcoming NFL draft.
When you compare both these teams however, Alabama is just completely loaded from top to bottom. Alabama is extremely well coached by Nick Saban and their offence under play-caller Steve Sarkisian has been explosive. Talk about weapons, Mac Jones has arguably the best two weapons in college football with Najee Harris pounding the rock and Devonta smith reeling the ball in from everywhere. For Florida, they’re sweating on the health of Kyle Pitts to be healthy for this match-up. Pitts has been a match-up nightmare this season and a go-to option for Kyle trask, especially in the redzone where his height and athleticism contribute to him being the match-up nightmare that he is. Along-side Pitts has been standout Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney, whose shiftiness and speed make him capable of creating a big-play out of nothing.
It’ll be hard for Florida to stop Alabama, whom are my pick to win the national title.
Prediction: Alabama 48, Florida 23
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