Kansas State is playing in a de-facto championship game in Waco (winner shares with TCU, of course) but as you might have heard, there are also some official title games going on. That means lots of exciting football, plus the last matchup of two Big Ten teams for more than 8 months. Rejoice!
It's a good weekend to just sit back on the couch, crack open a beer and relax. To prepare yourself, check out the picks made by Jon Morse and myself, For Entertainment Purposes Only, of course. This week, all of FEPO is in one post, since there aren't enough worthwhile games to warrant two. So today, enjoy seven picks rather than the usual five.
Only Boise State's win saved me from complete disaster last week, but Jon still went 5-5 to improve to 69-61 overall, while I went a dismal 3-7 to fall back to 66-64. Ugh.
|Friday, 6:30 p.m.
MAC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Ford Field, Detroit MI
LT:Northern Illinois is 10-2. Bowling Green is 7-5. I don’t want to do any more research, so solely on the basis of that I’m taking NIU to win the MAC Championship. And they cover.
JM: Oh, the Huskies are going to win, because that's what they do. But it should be noted that Northern Illinois is capable of not beating bad teams by a touchdown (see: Kent State), and they didn't cover seven against Ohio or Toledo either. That said, it's not really enough evidence to sway me. Huskies cover.
|Friday, 9 p.m.
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara CA
LT:Remember the time Arizona won at Eugene on Thursday night? Yeah, that was weird, and it’s not going to happen again. The Ducks are rolling now, with six straight wins by 18 points or more during a seven-game win streak. Yes, Arizona has a decent little four-game win streak of its own, but this might be the game where Marcus Mariota wraps up the Heisman, even though Amari Cooper probably deserves it more. Ducks cover.
JM: As much as I'd really like to see it happen, I just don't think Arizona can pull off yet another surprise over Oregon. Largely because after winning two in a row over the Ducks it's not a surprise anymore. Oregon's focused. Mariota is on fire. Oregon's going to win. But the Ducks aren't covering 14 against their new nemesis. Arizona covers.
|Saturday, 11 a.m.
CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington WV
LT:Marshall finally played a second game against a team with a winning record, and look what happened. They gave up 49 points in the first half and lost 67-66 in OT to Western Kentucky. Now for some reason Marshall is favored by 12.5 to beat an explosive Louisiana Tech team that has some weird losses but crushed the Hilltoppers 59-10? No. Bulldogs cover and maybe even win the Conference USA crown.
JM: I don't know if Tech's going to win, but they're going to cover. And then we'll have to hear about Skip Holtz. Oh, dear.
|Saturday, 3 p.m.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Georgia Dome, Atlanta GA
LT:Everyone talks about the loss to Indiana, but here’s something you may not have known. The Tigers lost that game without the heart and soul of their dominant defense: Defensive end Markus Golden. Shane Ray might be the better player, but Golden is the unquestioned leader. Anyway, this defense is good enough to keep the game close and while I’m not confident the offense is good enough to win, the Tigers are going to cover a two-touchdown spread.
JM: I have little to add to that. Alabama scored a ton of points Saturday against a team which responded by firing its defensive coordinator, and there's a reason for that. The Tide offense is competent, but not explosive, and yet they blew Auburn up like an RPG hitting an empty refrigerator box. Bama's gonna win, but Mizzou's gonna cover.
|Saturday, 7 p.m.
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte NC
LT:Florida State has followed a simple formula all season: Fall behind early, come back late. Well, that could be a problem against the Yellow Jackets’ ground-based attack. Jameis Winston can’t rally his team if he’s not on the field. FSU ranks 7th in the lowly ACC in run defense, giving up 148.8 yards per game. GT averages 327.9 yards per game, or 143 more than any other team in the conference. Jackets don’t just cover, they win this game.
JM: I'd love to add more trenchant commentary to this, but there's really nothing further to say. I am in full agreement with everything. The Seminoles finally depart.
|Saturday, 7 p.m.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis IN
JM: Well, this is interesting. A team which is being bandied about as a playoff contender isn't even favored in its conference championship game. Of course, there's a reason for this. What's important to remember is that J.T. Barrett was a four-star recruit who'd been Braxton Miller's heir apparent all along. So when Miller went down, Barrett was ready. Cardale Jones? Not so much. He has been part of the system ever since Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus, so he has that going for him, but until this season he wasn't even getting second-team reps, and this is the first time he's prepared to be the number one. The Buckeyes also give up 145 a game on the ground.
And they're facing Melvin Gordon. Badgers win and cover.
LT: Also, keep in mind even Barrett had some issues early on, particularly when he went 9-for-29 with 3 interceptions in a 35-21 loss in Week 2. Now Jones has just a week to adjust to playing with the starters, and he's doing it against a Wisconsin defense that gives up almost 20 fewer passing yards than any other team in the conference. If this wasn't Ohio State and Urban Meyer, I might feel sorry for the kid who had thrown exactly one pass in his collegiate career before going 2-for-3 for 7 yards last week. I'm with Jon. Badgers win and cover.
|Saturday, 9 p.m.
MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Albertson Stadium, Boise ID
JM: Woof. With a line like that, analysis is pretty simple. Fresno State lost at Boise earlier in the year by 10 points, and they've improved a bit since then. But the Broncos have engaged the afterburners since that game, absolutely crushing BYU, Wyoming, and finally Utah State to win the Mountain Division. It's a long line, and I'm nervous about it, but with an almost-certain bid to a big-time bowl game on the line I think Boise covers it.
LT: 5-3 gets you to the conference championship in the Mountain West? Ugh. Even the SEC East has two teams with better league records than that. Four of Fresno State's six losses have been by 28 points or more, including an awful 45-17 loss after a bye at home to Wyoming, who finished dead last in Boise State's division. Meanwhile, like Jon said, the Broncos have been rolling and they always seem to do well in the postseason. Boise covers.