College Football: Predicting This Weekend's Championship Games
Somehow this weekend will be the last one of the regular season in college football. It seems like just yesterday that Preseason Top 25 rankings were being released, and nobody outside of College Station knew who Johnny Manziel was.
This final weekend of college football brings us a slew of conference championship games, one of which will determine Notre Dame’s opponent in the BCS National Title Game.
With that in mind, read on to get a prediction from everything to the Conference USA championship to that of the mighty SEC.
MAC: Northern Illinois vs. Kent State
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Be prepared to live in a world that features a team that lost to Kentucky by 33 points in a BCS game.
There is a very real chance of exactly that happening if Kent State defeats Northern Illinois. The Golden Flashes will need Stanford to beat UCLA and Kansas State to defeat Texas as well, and both of those teams are favored.
However, while Kent State features one of the most dynamic rushing attacks in all of college football, the Cinderella story will not come to be thanks to Jordan Lynch.
Lynch is the quarterback of a sneaky-good Northern Illinois team that has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for another 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns. That’s Johnny Manziel-level right there.
Northern Illinois has not lost since a heartbreaking one-point defeat at the hands of Iowa in the season opener and will give Kent State’s defense fits all day.
Northern Illinois 38 Kent State 24
Conference USA: Central Florida vs. Tulsa
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While the rest of the non-BCS conference world has focused on the exciting and high-scoring brand of football so lovingly deemed the MACtion, Central Florida and Tulsa have quietly put together good seasons in the Conference USA.
In fact, Central Florida hung with Ohio State and Missouri earlier in the year, while Tulsa gave Arkansas fits and beat Fresno State.
These two teams met previously with the Golden Hurricanes narrowing out the Knights 23-21 in Tulsa.
Tulsa will once again try to use its effective rushing attack to beat the Knights, but this time there will be a different story.
Central Florida’s defense, which is fairly stout for a C-USA squad, will contain Tulsa enough to come away with the conference crown. The Knights will use their own rushing attack to control the clock and come away with a narrow victory.
Central Florida 24 Tulsa 20
Pac-12: Stanford vs. UCLA
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I feel as if I have already seen this movie.
Stanford annihilated UCLA this past weekend to the tune of 35-17. What’s more, that game was played on the Bruins’ home field.
The game will be much closer this time around, even though it will be at Stanford. Brett Hundley and Jonathan Franklin are too good of players to be bottled up completely two weeks in a row, even if Stanford’s defense is excellent.
This game will come down to the fourth quarter execution of the Cardinal offense. Stepfan Taylor will make just enough big plays and chain-moving runs to get Stanford the win and a Rose Bowl appearance.
Stanford 27 UCLA 21
Big Ten: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin
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Nothing like a conference championship game that features a third place team in its own ridiculously named division.
Wisconsin only gets to play in this contest because Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller are paying for the transgressions of Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor. However, that doesn’t mean Montee Ball and company are just going to roll over and die.
The first game between Nebraska and Wisconsin was one of the more entertaining ones in the Big Ten all season. The Huskers eventually outlasted the Badgers in what could only be considered as an offensive shootout.
Taylor Martinez and a potentially healthy Rex Burkhead will, once again, defeat the Badgers and continue Nebraska’s late season run. The Huskers are the best team in the conference that is eligible to play in the Rose Bowl, so this may be the best news for Big Ten fans.
Nebraska 31 Wisconsin 17
ACC: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech
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Someone make it stop.
For the second season in a row, we will be treated to a conference championship game that features a team with a 6-6 record that will ultimately have to petition the NCAA for bowl eligibility at 6-7.
Last year, it was UCLA falling to Oregon, and this time around, it will be Georgia Tech falling to Florida State.
The Seminoles may still be reeling from their loss to archrival Florida, but they do not need their A-game to walk away with a conference crown in this one. Florida State’s defense is good enough to stop the Jackets option attack, and E.J. Manuel will have no problem putting up plenty of points when he has the ball.
Florida State 41 Georgia Tech 10
SEC: Georgia vs. Alabama
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It seems as if most people are handing this game to Alabama and already looking ahead to an epic Crimson Tide versus Notre Dame national championship clash.
Well, Georgia poses a much tougher test for Nick Saban than many think.
If the Tide have a weakness, it is probably their secondary. Fortunately for Bulldogs fans, Aaron Murray will be under center looking to take advantage of those potential holes.
Despite my warnings, Alabama is still going to win this game. Sure, the secondary may need a bit of work, but the defense, as a whole, will not let the Bulldogs come away with a victory.
Furthermore, A.J. McCarron and the offense will make the plays necessary to win, which will set up a title matchup between two of the most storied programs of all time.
Alabama 28 Georgia 17