By Jonathan Lowe
December 2, 2016
There’s not much to say. It’s the two days of the year that provide a lot of joy and celebration. The trophy games turn into efforts for trophies. Yes, it’s a wild stretch. But on Championship Weekend, a lot of wild stuff happens. Here are the key games and my ill-fated predictions for their outcomes.
MAC Championship: Ohio vs. Western Michigan
This game usually has some flair to it. And if you’re the statistical favorite, be anxious about raising the trophy. Since 2000, the team with the worse of the two records won more than you would think (7-6 in favor of the worse record, with 3 years where the records were the same). All I’m saying is that the Broncos should be weary. The Bobcats will look to keep that trend out in front, but WMU is playing for more than just a showcase spot on New Years’ Eve or Day. If the Broncos win, it would give them only their second outright MAC crown in program history (the other was 1988, and they shared the title in 1966).
My Prediction: Western Michigan (27), Ohio (24)
Pac-12 Championship: Colorado vs. Washington
The Buffaloes are the story of the season. They’re looking to make the “worst-to-first” their own in a very tough way by doing it in a 12-team college football conference. This CU team reminds many of the glory days of this program throughout the 1990s. For the ultimate prize, they’ll look to top a program that hasn’t seen much sustained success since…well, the early 1990s. Most feel that the Huskies should be into the national semifinals with a victory. Everyone knows they’ll be out with a loss.
My Prediction: Washington (24), Colorado (20)
American Championship: Temple at Navy
If Western Michigan stumbles, the Midshipmen could be there to pick up the slack and represent the Group of 5 in a New Years’ Six bowl. One question, though. What happens if the Middies lose to Army next Saturday? The CFP committee might delay that particular announcement until after the Army-Navy game on the 10th. For Temple, this is the second straight season that they’ve found themselves on the road for the conference title game. Last year was a magical season for the Owls. This time, they’d like to show that the magic has stuck around.
My Prediction: Navy (27), Temple (20)
Big XII Championship (de facto): Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
The Sooners have rebounded very well from their early 1-2 start. Eight straight victories have them on the precipice of another conference crown. It appears that Bob Stoops has too much traffic in front of him to make a return to the national semifinals. The real intrigue might come around if the Cowboys win. Remember that Week 2 loss that wasn’t? Could that controversial result against Central Michigan come back into question if Bedlam goes Mike Gundy’s way?
My Prediction: Oklahoma (48), Oklahoma State (44)
SEC Championship: Alabama vs. Florida
Basically, this is only a question of “Coronation or Potential Cracks in the Armor?” The Tide are in. If that’s not the case, I’ll sing the song “Barbie Girl” in public…in a Speedo. No matter how much ranting Nick Saban does, I’m sure that he has a good idea his team will be playing in either Atlanta or Glendale on New Years’ Eve. For Florida, like last week, this game is for pride. Pride wasn’t enough to lift the Gators over Florida State. Will it lead to a better result against the mighty Tide?
My Prediction: Alabama (24), Florida (10)
ACC Championship: Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
The Tigers are in the same position that Washington is in. If they win, Clemson will solidify their position as a national semifinalist (a return trip for them). A loss means that they, and the ACC, will be shut out of the running. A convincing win led by their senior QB could also put DeShaun Watson back into discussion for the Heisman Trophy. I understand that Louisville’s Lamar Jackson still has the clearest path, but he doesn’t have another opportunity to show off his dynamic skills.
My Prediction: Clemson (41), Virginia Tech (23)
Big Ten Championship: Wisconsin vs. Penn State
The last two years, this game has had a fairly significant impact on the seeding for the CFP. This season, it’s not that the conference won’t be represented. It’s that this game may not even matter when everything settles on Sunday. The Nittany Lions and Badgers weren’t supposed to be here. However, wins over Ohio State and LSU (respectively) set the stage for this. The Buckeyes (and, perhaps, Michigan) appear to be participating in the playoff AHEAD of the conference champ. Does Penn State (lost big to Michigan) have a gripe? Does Wisconsin (lost close to both) have a gripe? Will the noise be enough to create some change to the postseason system in the near future? Signs point to no on all accounts.
My Prediction: Wisconsin (20), Penn State (16)