It just feels sort of wrong to have regular season games on the first Saturday in December, doesn't it? None of them really matter, though, unless you count Baylor's (small) chances of getting knocked down a couple pegs in the bowl pecking order. Even the 'Cats don't really have much at stake, with the possible exception of the team refusing a bowl bid at 5-7.
But Jon will tell you about some of those games (along with the B1G championship and the pinnacle of MACtion) tomorrow. Today, For Entertainment Purposes Only we're focusing on five matchups that will decide who takes home a great big trophy and gets to claim dominance over all of its peer schools.
Last week I continued my descent into the abyss by going 3-7 to fall to 60-68-2 overall, while Jon stayed at .500 with a 5-5 week to go to 64-64-2. Let's get this over with.
|AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Sat, Dec 5, 11 a.m.
TDECU Stadium, Houston TX
LT: Yep, Houston gets to play a conference championship game at home. Hardly seems fair. The Cougars haven't lost at home since last November, but they have been challenged twice and Temple appears to have righted the ship following two losses in three games. I'm not sure the Owls win, but I do think they'll cover.
JM: I'm not even sure the Owls cover. Last week's beatdown of Navy revealed a team that's focused and primed, and it's really tragic that Houston had to face Connecticut without starting quarterback Greg Ward Jr. It was obviously the difference. Cougars cover.
|CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Sat, Dec 5, 11 a.m.
Houchen Industries L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green KY
LT: Yep, it's another home game. I suppose that's because they figure these smaller conference schools won't travel well to a neutral site. Probably valid. But in both cases, how do they reward the home fans? With an 11 a.m. kickoff. How rude. Still, Hilltopper faithful should still make sure they get out to this one, because their team is really good and Brandon Doughty is the kind of quarterback WKU won't see very often, plus he might play in the NFL someday. This week, he'll be busy carving up a very vulnerable USM defense. Hilltoppers cover.
JM: We tend to think of things that way, but did you notice that with one exception -- Southern Miss at Marshall -- both of these teams scored at least 32 points against every team they played outside the Power Five? In fact, you could say "outside the SEC" except USM only scored 28 on Nebraska. Meanwhile, The Golden Eagles have actually held six teams to under 20 points, while Western Kentucky's only done that to five teams. The big difference to me, though, is Marshall. Marshall crushed Southern Miss. Western Kentucky crushed Marshall. Hilltoppers cover.
|SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Sat, Dec 5, 3 p.m.
Georgia Dome, Atlanta GA
LT: At first glance, you might be tempted to think that line's a bit large, given Florida's record. But then you'll remember the Gators offense scored just six combined touchdowns in regulation against Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic before getting shut out by Florida State last week. Suddenly, this line isn't nearly big enough. Bama covers.
JM: Yeah, remember when we had embarrassing Big 12 championship games? This is going to be like that. Bama covers.
|PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Sat, Dec 5, 6:45 p.m.
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara CA
LT: This is pretty close to a home game for Stanford, and on paper, the Cardinal don't even need that advantage to cover this spread. USC already lost this game in Los Angeles. The counterpoint, of course, is that this this is the Pac-12, and anything happens. However, I still think Stanford's physicality is too much for USC. The Tree covers.
JM: I think we're all very much aware that I just don't trust USC. I think I've been right every time I've picked against them this season, although I haven't gone back to check. Let's just assume I was, and see if I can keep that one going. Cardinal covers.
|ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Sat, Dec 5, 7 p.m.
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte NC
LT: Last week, before (correctly) picking UNC to cover the spread and beat NC State, I pointed out the Tar Heels aren't ranked highly by S&P or F+. Well, this week, I'd like to highlight the fact UNC has yet to beat a team in the top 25 of S&P, and hilariously the 7-5 Wolfpack sit two spots ahead of the Tar Heels. UNC does better itself in the F+ rankings, but hasn't beaten a team in the top 40 there, which seems a lot closer to reality.
Meanwhile, Clemson sits at #2 (behind Bama) in both rankings and the Tigers have some experience destroying solid teams this season. They also have an offense capable of exposing UNC's weaknesses to go along with a defense that will undoubtedly be the toughest the surprisingly dangerous Tar Heels have faced. Clemson covers.
JM: Oh, Clemson's going to roll. I think it's cute that we (the media, as it were) keep discussing potential scenarios that involve Clemson losing in order to explain how things might change Sunday, but it's not happening. We already know who's going to the playoff, with the minor caveat that one of those four spots is "whichever team wins the Big 10". Not only is Clemson going to win, that line is absurdly low. Tigers cover.
The other three conference title games, plus a couple more regular season finales just to make it five.