Welcome to The Funvee Tailgate! Conference Championship Week is here! The road ahead for the next two days until the Playoff Committee announces the Final Four looks to be chaotic, and I love it. LET’S FIRE IT UP!
Fifth CFP Poll:
No CFP post this week, a very busy week at work kicking off December. The fact that there aren’t too games this weekend means I can still squeeze in a quick rant about the rankings. I want to say any of the Top 10 could be in the mix but it really seems that isn’t the case. Oklahoma and OK State, no matter how hard they try, can’t seem to have their de facto Big XII championship game matter to the committee and it’s the Big Ten’s fault. I’m not just referring to four Big Ten teams in the top seven, but the Big Ten can be linked to the other squads in the mix as well. Ohio State CRUSHED Oklahoma which is probably why the favorite in tomorrow’s faux Big XII championship is only #9. Colorado played Michigan incredibly close and may have been able to win at the Big House if the Buffs didn’t lose their QB. Speaking of UM, moving only to #5 after we all thought they were eliminated? I get OSU being #2, they deserve it; they’ve survived this wacky season better than anyone, well aside from Bama. When I think of a playoff system, especially a four-team system, I like to think of these divisional “championship” games as well as the conference championships to be the preliminary rounds to Final Four. Almost like the qualifying systems every continent uses for the FIFA World Cup (didn’t think you’d get that kind of football reference here, did you?). In my mind, Michigan should be done after that loss. In a “perfect” system using this “qualifier” logic: OSU would be done as well but extenuating circumstance (ie: chaos in the final weeks) gives them a spot. Of course, we could see more chaos this weekend, we haven’t seen an upset in Championship Week since the Playoff-era began, which could further cause controversy. Any which way today and tomorrow go, we’ve see a lot of what the Playoff committee cares about more: giving the best teams or the conference champs a shot at the title.
Big Games This Week:
EIGHT official conference championship games between today and tomorrow, nine if you include the Oklahoma/Oklahoma State game. Drop all the plans you had because this should be a great weekend of College Football.
Two games tonight to get your beak wet:
- MAC Championship Game: #17 Western Michigan vs. Ohio at 7:00 on ESPN2 from Ford Field in Detroit — WMU is looking to complete the perfect season and is heavily favored in this matchup. Between WR Corey Davis and RB Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan is an offense juggernaut comparatively to the Bobcats. WMU wins.
- Pac-12 Championship Game: #8 Colorado vs. #4 Washington at 9:00 on FOX from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA — A game that will come down to which defense will step up and stop the opposition. Colorado might have the edge on defense, but Washington has a much bigger edge on offense. As great as it would be for Colorado to win, the connection of Jake Browning and John Ross will overpower the Buffs. Washington wins.
A potentially chaotic slate for Championship Saturday:
- American Championship Game: Temple at #19 Navy at noon on ABC — So here’s something that the committee is dreading: if Navy wins, they could potentially be the highest ranked “Group of Five” team, meaning they get an automatic bid into a “New Years Six Bowl” (Six non-playoff Bowls, formerly the BCS Bowls). Here’s the thing: Navy’s final regular season game is next weekend, the Army/Navy Game. If Navy is the AQ Group of Five team and loses, then they technically shouldn’t have that AQ bid anymore. I have a feeling that as long as Western Michigan wins, the committee will give the Broncos the AQ bid. Back to this game, Navy’s homefield advantage gives their triple-option offense a good shot at the Owls. The key for Temple will be the passing game. If TU QB Phillip Walker gets it going, the game could be over fast. I’m going full homer here: Temple wins.
- De facto Big XII Championship Game: #10 Oklahoma State at #9 Oklahoma at 12:30 on FOX — BEDLAM in Norman. Oklahoma has all the tools to pull away quick in this game. Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook continue their Heisman campaigns with a very high note. Oklahoma wins.
- Baylor at #16 West Virginia at 3:30 on FS1 — The only non-championship Top 25 game shouldn’t even be close: Mountaineers win.
- SEC Championship Game: #1 Alabama vs. #15 Florida at 4:00 on CBS from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta — Barstool’s Big Cat brought up an interesting hypothetical on Russillo and Kanel yesterday: if Alabama punts on every first down, how much do they win by? I think by at least ten points, their defense is that dominant. Alabama wins.
- ACC Championship Game: #3 Clemson vs. #23 Virginia Tech at 8:00 on ABC from Camping World Stadium in Orlando — Clemson only being a ten-point favorite here shouldn’t be too surprising. The Tigers have played in a lot of close calls this season that resulted it close wins or the loss to Pitt a few weeks ago. VaTech has been solid in the back-half of the season and looks to capitalize with an ACC title. I think of all championship games with current Top 4 teams, this one will likely be the most chaotic. Deshaun Watson gets it done though. Clemson wins.
- Big Ten Championship Game: #6 Wisconsin vs. #7 Penn State at 8:00 on FOX from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis — This will be the closest of all the championship games. Penn State’s defense has the capacity to make Wisconsin make mistakes and the Badger defense can stop Saquon Barkley and expose Trace McSorley. Wisconsin is a team on a mission since falling to Ohio State. They’ve got a chip on the shoulder thinking they should have been the ones to take down OSU, not Penn State. Badgers win.
A lot of chalk in my picks but most of them can get out of control quickly if the underdog isn’t careful. Pac-12, ACC, and Big Ten Championships should be incredibly exciting and could influence the committee’s decision for both the Final Four, and the New Year’s Six. I’m going to give projections for the Bowls (even though they’ll likely be dead wrong):
Fiesta Bowl: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Wisconsin
Peach Bowl: #2 Clemson vs. #3 Washington
I’m sticking true to my beliefs that the committee will pick solely from the crop of conference champions. I believe that the committee will take Wisconsin’s win over Penn State as the “Top 25 win” they need to make the Playoff and OSU is left out due to not winning the Championship. I’m likely wrong here as OSU is one of three one-loss teams as survived through the rankings, as I noted at the top of this article. We’ve seen the committee hose teams who were in the Top 4 coming into this week and were inactive so I’m thinking they pull that move again.
Rose Bowl: Penn State (Big Ten #2) vs. Colorado (Pac-12 #2) — Although not written in stone, the Rose Bowl traditionally keeps the Big Ten/Pac-12 ties even when the champion competes in the National Championship picture whether BCS or CFP. It has been the runner-up to usually take the champ’s spot here but again, not set in stone.
Sugar Bowl: Michigan (At-Large) vs. Oklahoma (Big XII Champ) — Similarly to the Rose Bowl, the runner-ups have been selected for this game as well but it’s much more loosely followed for the non-Rose Bowl games but it is very possible Florida could be here instead of Michigan. I put the Wolverines here because the committee tries to pick the “most compelling matchups possible.” What better than two teams who both lost to Ohio State.
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech (ACC #2) vs. Western Michigan(AQ from Group of Five) — Put VaTech in as the runner-up for the ACC’s New Years Six Bowl and one stipulation for the opponent is #2 SEC, #2 Big Ten, or Notre Dame. Florida fits the #2 SEC bill and the Gators and Hokies would make for an interesting showdown. HOWEVER, the only two remaining teams to pick would be Ohio State and Western Michigan. OSU/WMU would be a blowout, sorry Broncos, so I’d give the Buckeyes an SEC team to give the Big Ten some street cred and put Western Michigan here. The Hokies would probably win but are the most compelling opponent of the bunch for Western Michigan.
Cotton Bowl: Ohio State (At-Large) vs. Florida (At-Large) — Putting the remaining teams here in a Bowl game for At-Larges. Technically, a “Group of Five” school should be playing here but I ruled “most compelling matchups” over the tie-ins, especially when only one “At-Large Only” is amongst the lot of New Years Six Bowls.
Disagree with my picks? Did I miss a matchup you wanted me to talk about? Let me know in the comments!Follow @geordo9