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Conference Championship Weekend

Conference Championship Weekend

Welcome to the Jungle! It’s time to get it on! Basically, this is the first round of the College Football Playoffs. Teams can still make it to the CFP, like Notre Dame, who gets to sit out for an extra week, since they don’t play a Conference Championship game, but this is where everyone else begins. Almost everyone else. Alabama didn’t play a Conference Championship game last year, but still won the National Championship.

Pac-12 Championship Game
Utah vs Washington – at the beginning of the season, I’m willing to bet that precious few people thought this was how it would end up. I know I certainly didn’t. Washington, U-Dub, was the pick, to be sure, but few thought they’d be at 9-3. Having said that, it’s a given that the Huskies have disappointed. Nothing about them says they are a dominant football team. Oh, sure, they’ve won, but most of the season they’ve been more “eh” instead of “wow”. In their defense, every one of their losses has been close, five or fewer points in each one. U-Dub is heavily reliant on their passing game, not like Washington State reliant, but still reliant, except when they aren’t and they rely on their running game. Are you confused yet about the Huskies’ offense yet? Don’t feel bad, just read on. As QB Jake Browning goes, so goes the offense, mostly. In recent games, RB Myles Gaskin has become a larger and more important factor, like, against Washington State, he was the star of the game. Earlier this season, 2018, Washington and Utah met and the Huskies’ Defense shut the Utes down. Utah scored a touchdown in the first quarter, and then, for the next three quarters, they couldn’t tie their shoes, much less hold on to the football. Husky RB Gaskin ran for 143 yards on 30 carries and he was the star of that game, too. In contrast to the disappointing play of the Huskies, Utah has been a pleasant surprise. In a very weak southern division of the very weak PAC-12, the Utes wound up with a 9-3 record and all three of their losses were to fellow members of the PAC-12;- both Washington schools and Arizona State. Against BYU last week in the Holy War, Utah had to score 28 points in the final 16 minutes to win, but they did it. They need heroics against Oregon, as well. Some of the players say all this proves is that they find a way to win, and they have a point. The Utes have replaced their starting quarterback, twice, but their position play hasn’t dropped off. UU relies a lot on that Run, Pass, Read, and, against an undisciplined defense, this works great! Against a team that knows what to expect, it might stumble. The Utes lost to Washington the third game into the season, 21-7. They’ll do their best to extract revenge, and I’m sure they want to win this rematch, but it’s not going to happen. Huskies win, not going to the playoffs, but they will enjoy playing in the Rose Bowl.

Big 12 that only has ten teams Championship Game
Texas vs Oklahoma – The first time these two teams met it was for the Red River Rivalry, their annual matchup. In this rematch, also in Dallas, the question is, will that hate for each other carry over into this game, as well? More than likely, yes. These two schools do not like each other, these two states do not like each other, and I’m not sure that the common air they breathe likes each other. There is no golden cowboy hat trophy at stake, Texas owns that until at least next year. In the latest CFP rankings, the Boomer-Sooners are number #5, leap-frogging Ohio State. The reason for this is because OU passes the eye test and OSU doesn’t. In only one game have Oklahoma scored fewer than 30 points, and that was against Army. Army, you know, the United States Military Academy, West Point. Great leaders, less-than-great football teams in the last thirty years. OU had to go into overtime to get by the Black Knights. On top of that, OU was shut out the entire second half of the game. Think about it, Army was able to shut down the high-flying, Pass-happy, Offense. How did they do it? Simple;- The Black Knights held on to the ball and made LONG drives down field. Army’s time of possession was 44:41 compared to Oklahoma’s 15:19. The formula is simple. Keep OU’s offense off the field. If they can’t get into a rhythm, they can’t run up the score. Texas handed OU its only loss. In that game, the Horns joined in the shootout, but UT still owned the time of possession margin, 33:50 compared to 26:10. Also, the Longhorns made OU play catch-up from three touchdowns down in the fourth quarter just to affect a tie. Here is what UT needs to do;- hold on to the ball, and put the Sooner offense in desperation mode. Scoring on OU is no problem, they have the worst defense on Tatooine, so if the Brunt Orange can unleash the stampede early, the Crimson of Oklahoma is going to find it hard to win. Note: You can’t give the Sooners two free touchdowns, like West Virginia did last week, so ball control and security are important for the Longhorns.

SEC Championship Game
Alabama vs Georgia – There is not a living fan of college football that is not excited about this game. It’s a rematch of the National Championship game. UGA players have blood streaming from their eyes, as they gnash their teeth for revenge. In the CFP Championship, they had Bama beaten, I mean, game over, the Crimson Tide wrapped up and posted, but St. Saban inserted Tua into the game, and the rest is history. However, this is not the same Bulldog team from a year ago, just like it’s not the same Bama Hammer. The Dawgs’ defense is questionable, we’re not talking Oklahoma questionable, but they are questionable, nevertheless. The UGA offense has performed great, mostly. When they try to get too cute, or deviate from the basics, they get all out of synch, such as what happened against LSU. They tried to out think themselves and they lost the game. If they repeat that against Alabama, the Crimson Tide will eat their lunch. I’m going to tell Georgia how to win this game. Are you listening, Bulldogs? Here it is;- “Dance with who brung you.” Interpretation- “Run. Da. Bawl!!!!” They MUST establish their running attack. Granted, it’s going up against the best run defense in the nation, but if you want to be the best, beat the best. If they can move the ball with their ground attack, it opens up their offensive playbook. If they can’t run, QB Jake Fromm is in for a very long, and rough, night. Alabama has also tried to outsmart themselves. They were tied with the Citadel at halftime, and, against Auburn, the Tide only had a seven point lead in the Iron Bowl. What (almost) happened? Same thing that that did happen to UGA. Bama got away from their strength and got out of their lanes. When they remembered the girl they brought to the dance, like, in the second half of both games, things became better. So here is what Bama’s datebook looks like. Tua has to connect early with his receivers. Georgia knows they were burned, and burned badly, by him passing the ball. If he connects early and often, the Dawgs’ defense will start doubting what to do cause that’s when Bama starts pounding the ball on the ground. UGA will hesitate to commit to stopping the run in fear of getting passed over. They remember only too well the 2d and 26 situation of the Championship game. The Crimson Tide Defense cannot, must not, will not, have a slow start. If they allow Georgia to turn their ends run like they allowed The Citadel and Auburn to in their first halves, Georgia won’t let Bama recover in the second half, regardless of who’s playing quarterback. Alabama should win, (in my mind they better win) but this is not going to be an easy game, not at all. I’d hate to have a blood pressure device on me for this game, it will not be a pretty tracing.

ACC Championship Game
Clemson vs Pitt – Let’s get one thing straight;- Clemson’s entire defensive line could have entered the NFL draft last year and all would have been chosen in the first or second round. The reason they came back for this year is because they wanted to win a national championship, plain and simple. They thought they were the big boy on the block last year, until they were thumped by Bama in the first round. It hurt their feelings and they want the Boo-Boo to stop hurting. First, though, they have to win the ACC Title. Everyone is saying the right words, and phrases, things like, “Pitt presents a great challenge for us”, and, “This Panther team will show us things we haven’t encountered all year”. I don’t think there is a man on that team that doesn’t know they are far better than Pitt. They should own this game. More than likely they’ll be able to rest their hippie quarterback in the second half of the game. Entering this game, Pitt is not in good shape. They were on a four game winning streak in closing out their season, but then they tripped all over themselves against Miami, and it was not a case of them overlooking the Canes. I’m not going to buy that. The only saving grace for the Panthers is that every now and again, they are capable of playing a game far above their heads and resulting in an upset. They have a history of doing this, and, so far this year, they haven’t done it. Could this be their game? Doubt it, but one never knows. The Tigers are huge favorites by, like, 27 points, and if I was a betting man, I’d take the bet and give the points.

Great White North Championship Game
Northwestern vs Ohio State – The Wildcats have beaten every team on their schedule that did not have a winning record. Wisconsin and Iowa fell, as well, which is what got Northwestern into the Championship game. Good formula for success. The problem lies in that they lost to opponents that had winning records, Wisconsin and Iowa being exceptions. Even though Ohio State lost to Purdue, and lost badly, very badly, they beat everyone else, and have a heavy winning record. So how is Northwestern going to win this game? First thing is to call the Purdue coaching staff and have a long talk with them, take them out to lunch, or coffee, and pick their brains. The NW defense needs to step it up, OSU had problems in their loss, not because they couldn’t move the ball, but they bogged down in the redzone and had to kick field goals. The Buckeye defense is, well, let’s just say they have tried very hard this year, but they’re not dominating. They held off Rutgers, and they kept those Wascally Green Wave Tulane players from reaching the endzone, but that’s about it. Everyone else has scored, and scored multiple times, wait, except Michigan State, but that’s more on MSU being schizophrenic more than anything else. Ohio State enters this game when everyone thought they’d never make it here. They lost to Purdue, only, they didn’t just lose to Purdue, they got beat down like a new fish in prison. It was brutal. Since then, they’ve played against Nebraska, Michigan State, Maryland and Michigan, and the way they abused the Wolverines was simply epic. It would be a shock and an half if Ohio State doesn’t win this game, but the sad news for them is, that even if they do win, they’re more than likely going to be left out of the playoffs yet again. Sorry, but that Boilermaker loss is too much for the Committee to swallow.

Short Smokes

Fresno State has to play Boise State for the Mountain West Championship on the blue rug again. These Bulldogs can’t catch a break, and they’ll lose in Boise.

Northern Illinois is going to lose, too, to Buffalo, for the MAC Title

Drake is taking on Iowa State in a make-up game. I’m picking the Cyclones

East Carolina has to play one more game against NC State, doubt the Pirates will enjoy it.

South Carolina knew they weren’t going to be in the SEC Title game so they scheduled their make-up game with Akron. The Gamecocks could lose this one if they’re not careful

VA Tech will get upended by Marshall in Blacksburg

Stanford vs California was supposed to happen last week, but, due to the fires caused by the California Government not allowing the forests to be managed, they had to postpone the game until this weekend. Stanford is still going to win.

Memphis lost to Central Florida by one point earlier this season;- one lousy point! The Tigers want revenge, and chances are, they’ll get it, because UCF lost their starting QB. Something bothers me about winning teams having winning attitudes, even if their leader goes down. What if UCF beat Memphis for the fourth time in two years, even without their favorite Hawaiian quarterback?

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