Well folks, we made it. The end of the season is upon us. Khalil Tate not quite outrunning that Hawai’i DL seems like it was just yesterday. It all went by so quickly. But now, it’s all come down to these final ten games. And then 40 bowl games. But before that, there’s hardware to give out!
Last week’s scores were..... just so-so. UVA shocked the world and all of us by outright defeating Virginia Tech and claiming the ACC Coastal. Much more puzzling is nearly everyone wrongly picking Minnesota over Wisconsin. I’m surprised more of y’all didn’t see that coming. KENNY B still leads overall, but only by three points, and guess what, y’all? Championship week means ten games, and ten final picks to make or break your picking season. Good luck!
Pac-12 Championship: #5 Utah Utes (-6.5) vs. #13 Oregon Ducks
This was all set to be a banger of a match for an assured spot in the playoff.... and then Oregon had to ruin it all by losing to Arizona State. I told you to be prepared when venturing out into the desert like that, Ducks! The weird devil-man who lives out there is not your friend, and you should definitely not eat whatever he gives you! The Utes are very disappointed in your choices, and as punishment plan to kick your ass.... to.... the Rose Bowl? The Ducks are pretty much guaranteed to land there regardless of the outcome of this game, but the Utes stand very likely to grab a playoff spot if they win. Maybe then we’ll all finally believe they play in a power conference!
Sun Belt Championship: Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns @ #21 Appalachian State Mountaineers (-6.5)
I had a whole thing ready about how this was going to be a great matchup because it pit Cajuns from Carolina mountain people when I realized not only is this a rematch from earlier this season, it’s a rematch of last year’s Sun Belt Championship, which was also a rematch that season. The ‘Neers want three things from this year’s championship: their fourth straight Sun Belt title, Boise to lose and the AAC championship to be so bad they take the G5 New Year’s Six spot (hey, it’s technically possible), and for no one to notice the job Eli Drinkwitz has done this year so he doesn’t get hired away. Louisiana, with their first ten-win season in their history, is also hoping their coach doesn’t get poached in the offseason. This is setting up to be the best Sun Belt championship game in history. Which, it’s the second one, so that was already pretty likely.
Pick: App State
MAC Championship: Miami (Ohio) RedHawks vs. Central Michigan Chippewas (-6.5)
This year’s MAC Championship comes with an extra side of Mac, because the Mac is back! Or the Mc, I guess? I am, of course, talking about CMU head coach Jim McElwain, back in the head coaching ranks after taking a year off to coach wide receivers for Michigan. McElwain took a 1-11 team and made them 8-4, putting the Chippewas back in the MAC championship for the first time in a decade. (Remember the Dan LeFevour era? Ten whole years ago. Yep. He’s retired now!) Meanwhile, Miami..... well, I don’t know much about Miami, but I know they’re keenly aware of what happened the last time a Miami team played in a conference championship game and are looking to restore honor to the Miami name.
Big 12 Championship: #7 Baylor Bears vs. #6 Oklahoma Sooners (-9)
Throughout the entire season I kept thinking, “this Baylor team is clearly fraudulent, and proof enough will come when they play [Big 12 team X]”. This continued to not happen, right up until the Bears played Oklahoma, where they lost by.... a field goal. So now, as the Bears arrive in Dallas for a rematch, I must humbly admit they are actually good. OU is as Big 12 as they come, giving up a ton of points on the season but reaching 11-1 simply by scoring far, far more. Baylor has.... actually given up fewer points than just about everyone, which is extra impressive considering this is, you know, the Big 12. Both these teams have been big fans of needlessly close and stressful games, so if that’s what you’re looking for, the Big 12 championship will have that in spades.
Conference USA Championship: UAB Blazers @ Florida Atlantic Owls (-7.5)
AWWWWWWWWW YEAHHHHH, THE LANE TRAIN HAS ADDED AN EXTRA STOP TO ITS LINE!! The Owls bounced back from a down year last year to host the C-USA championship for the second time in three years, and Señor Freshwater is extra excited about this year’s edition because he heard his opponents like to blaze it. Those Blazers are having the best two year run in the program’s short history, but to defend their conference championship they’ll have to beat an FAU team that’s only lost once since season-opening losses to [checks notes] Ohio State and UCF. This one doesn’t have much stakes in the greater context of college football, but it’s gonna be fun to watch regardless.
AAC Championship: #20 Cincinnati Bearcats @ #17 Memphis Tigers (-9)
No, you’re not suffering from déjà vu, we literally just played this game last week. Cincinnati spend most of its season either playing opponents way closer than they seemingly should have or getting murdered by Ohio State, and that finally caught up to them when they played a quality team in Memphis and lost by an even ten points. (Which was still one point off from covering the spread, so thanks for that, Tigers.) So, as punishment for losing, the Bearcats have to go back to Memphis, who won the right to host as a result of last week’s contest, and try again. That doesn’t sound like much fun! What’s on the line? Oh, only a spot in the New Year’s Six. Memphis? If you win, it’s almost definitely you, taking a likely spot in the Cotton Bowl. Cincy? Well, that opens up some more possibilities, but you’d definitely be one of them. If you ask me, this game provides far more intrigue than the other game going on at the same time, which is....
SEC Championship: #4 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #2 LSU Tigers (-7)
I have some good news, Georgia: you won’t have to beat Alabama this year to win a championship! Now for the bad news: you’ll instead have to beat the team that beat Alabama. Surely that won’t be hard, what with the Tigers having a likely Heisman winner at quarterback and missing your top two receivers. LSU ripped the Bulldogs to shreds in last year’s regularly scheduled meeting, and have only grown stronger and more terrifying since. Does this bode poorly for a Georgia team that has coasted through the season putting forth as little effort as possible? Probably.
Mountain West Championship: Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors @ #19 Boise State Broncos (-14)
Oh, hey, wow, Boise State’s hosting the Mountain West championship again. Totally didn’t see that coming. The only thing stopping them from claiming a second conference crown in three years is a Hawai’i team they beat 59-37 back in October. So they’ll probably do it again, but hey, at least this Hawai’i team has been fun as hell. Remember when they opened the season in week 0 by beating Arizona? Remember how they did it? Yeah, it ruled. So we’ll see them again in the Hawai’i Bowl, and that’ll be fun. Sorry about the whole Boise thing, though. Speaking of the Broncos, they have the ever-so-slight chance of leapfrogging the AAC champ in the rankings to claim the G6 New Year’s Six slot, so they might be extra motivated in this game to make their claim to the committee. So, yeah, extra sorry about this, Hawai’i.
Pick: Boise State
ACC Championship: #23 Virginia Cavaliers vs. #3 Clemson Tigers (-28.5)
Friends.... we did it. They laughed at us. Called us names. Said unflattering things about our mothers. But in the end, we succeeded. Virginia ended a decade and a half losing streak against their in-state rivals, and in doing so won the ACC Coastal, completing the ACC Coastal Infinity Gauntlet. And, like every other school that helped to complete the gauntlet, they are going up against a team that is playoff (or BCS title game) bound. It’s mostly not the Coastal’s fault the Atlantic champion has won the last eight ACC titles — most of those teams (except for Pitt) were actually very good! It just happened that the best team in the Atlantic has also been the best team in all of football most years, and none of the teams not named Clemson or FSU have played in Charlotte, anyway. I don’t even know why I’m saying this like any of it matters, because we know Virginia is going to get dismantled by Clemson, and then they’re going to go to the Orange Bowl — because someone in the ACC has to — and face an extremely angry Alabama team. Yeah, sorry, Cavs. At least you have that Commonwealth Cup win.
Big Ten Championship: #1 Ohio State Buckeyes (-16.5) vs. #8 Wisconsin Badgers
Congratulations, Wisconsin! You dispatched a red-hot Minnesota team to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe and take the Big Ten West, and your reward for all that is a rematch against an Ohio State team that ground you into the dirt five weeks ago. I’m sure you’ve grown a lot since then, though — getting held to just seven points and 191 yards (250 below your season average) — will make you learn a lot of lessons, such as protecting your quarterback from Chase Young. It can also give you hope that things will get better, like, maybe if Justin Fields was hurt worse than we all thought last week. The good news is you’re pretty much guaranteed to go to the Rose Bowl regardless of whether you win or lose. It’s meaningless! Which... may be a bad thing, given it isn’t for the Buckeyes. Oh well, good luck!
Pick: Ohio State
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