It's the season of conference championships in college football. Everyone knows about the SEC and the other big boys. But as always, there are other title games providing great matchups. One mid-major championship has big-time BCS implications.
Conference USA: In this championship game, the University of Central Florida Knights tangle with the Tulsa Hurricane on Saturday afternoon. Both teams have identical records in overall and conference play (9-3 and 7-1, respectively). On November 17, Tulsa pulled out a 23-21 squeaker at home.
Knights quarterback Blake Bortles threw for 2,600 yards as the leader of a team that finished 24th in scoring. Their bread and btter, however, is the run game. Latavius Murray would probably be a much bigger name if he hadn't missed the Knights' first three games.
Tulsa likes to run it, too, frequently handing the pill to Alex Singleton and Trey Watts, who gashed UCF for 122 yards in their first meeting. The Hurricane led the conference in sacks behind the fearsome tandem of DeAundre Brown and Jared St. John and finished a very respectable 33rd nationally in total defense. No question these two are going to pin back their respective ears. UCF will need to keep the Bortles jersey clean if they want to move the ball down the field with regularity.
MAC: Kent State could go to the Orange Bowl with a win. But to be in the running, they'll first need to come over Northern Illinois and quarterback Jordan Lynch.
Both teams are 11-1 and 8-0 in the conference. What a turnaround it's been for both programs, particularly 19th-ranked Kent State, which finished 5-7 in each of the two previous seasons.
The Golden Flashes depend heavily on junior running back Dri Archer, who leads the team in rushing and receiving. He must be doing something right, as Kent State ranks 11th national in the running game. Northern Illinois may not be impressed, though. They're ranked ninth thanks to Lynch, the conference MVP and a double threat under center who has a combined 39 touchdowns on the year. That's three-niner.
This one might come down to who can get the most stops—or who has the final possession.