They say that diamonds are forever. Personally, I never got to play for a championship during my college days, and that eats at me a bit. Playing for a championship is special and it gives a team and its coaches a chance to show that all the blood, sweat, and years from the previous weeks would not go in vain.
All of the chips are on the table now. It is win or go home for several of the teams playing for conference titles this weekend. It doesn’t get much better than that. A stumble at this point in the season will cost someone a chance to go into the playoff in January and leave the door open for someone else.
#22 Temple vs. #19 Houston
This actually a game I am really looking forward to and will have the opportunity to take in this weekend. The Cougars missed a chance at having a perfect season when they stumbled against UConn and a few weeks ago, but they gathered themselves and made it into the conference title game. First year head coach Tom Herman and his squad will host the championship game in his first year down in Third Ward, and they looked more than ready after blowing the doors off against Navy. Temple has been a really good football team this year (they came up short against Notre Dame) but I have a hard time picking against Herman and the Cougs this weekend with Greg Ward back healthy.
#20 USC vs. #7 Stanford
With Clay Helton named the head man out in LA, the Trojans are now focused on trying to bring home a Pac-12 title this year. They will have a tall order ahead of them as they take on Stanford, who is coming off a big win against Notre Dame in the final seconds up in Palo Alto. A win for USC would definitely cement the feel good story of the year for Helton and his team, but will they be able to slow down Heisman hopeful Christian McCaffrey who shattered Reggie Bush’s conference record for all-purpose yardage? As things sit now, I am leaning towards the Cardinal getting the job done.
#18 Florida vs. #2 Alabama
This will be one of the more lopsided games of the entire weekend. To be honest I just want the Gators to try to keep this game competitive, but I don’t have any faith in Florida quarterback Treon Harris. Florida had to go to overtime with FAU, then they just got beat up by Florida State, and now they have to go to Atlanta and face a very good Alabama team? Yeah I don’t like the odds of this one being very fun to watch unless you are an Alabama fan. Plain and simple, you have to have a decent quarterback in order to beat a Kirby Smart/ Nick Saban defense and the Gators don’t have that this year.
#12 Baylor vs. Texas
Injuries, injuries, injuries. Both teams in this matchup have been hit hard with the injury bug, and this game wasn’t looking great before that happened. Both teams will be without their starting quarterbacks, and the Longhorns will be down several starters in the defensive front seven, which should make for big day on the ground for the Bears. Baylor’s offense didn’t look good at all against TCU with Chris Johnson under center, but I bet they will find a way to work out the bugs and get back on track against a Texas defense who just gave up a ton of points and yards to Texas Tech on Thanksgiving.
#10 North Carolina vs. #1 Clemson
Very intriguing matchup right here. Since opening the season with a close loss to South Carolina, the Tar Heels have ripped off 11 straight wins and have put themselves in position to play spoiler to Clemson’s perfect season. One game away from the college football playoff, you can bet that Dabo Swinney and the Tigers will not be overlooking UNC. This game should end up with plenty of points on the board, and I give the quarterback edge to Clemson with Deshaun Watson, who is having an outstanding year. I like the Tigers to hold off the upset minded Tar Heels and to advance into the playoff.
#5 Michigan State vs. #4 Iowa
This game is a toss-up for me. With Connor Cook back in the lineup for the Spartans, they definitely have more than a puncher’s chance to knock off the Hawkeyes, who have come out of nowhere to be in prime position to make the college football playoff with a win on Saturday. At the beginning of the year I didn’t have either one of these teams making it to the title game, or even close to sniffing the playoff with the way Ohio State was coming back loaded and an easy path schedule wise. Both teams are well coached and are very gritty by design, and this has the look of a game that will be decided by a field goal. *Flips coin* I am taking the Spartans on Saturday in a tight one.
Prediction: Michigan State