As college football’s regular season wraps up, the time has come to crown each conference’s champion. The SEC and BIG 10 championship will be the final tests for Georgia and Michigan, in which both have essentially solidified a spot in the playoff, barring any chaotic results in these games. The Big 12 and Pac 12 championships are a tad bit different, as USC and TCU have done everything they have needed to do so far, but a slip up could give the playoff committee a reason to bring Ohio State or Alabama back in the conversation. Here are my previews and predictions for all four conference championship games:
SEC Championship: Georgia (12-0) vs LSU ( 9-3)
LSU had a slim chance to get into the playoff after a shocking opening game loss to FSU and a blowout loss at the hands of Tennessee. They were on a 5-game winning streak until a loss to a sad Texas A&M team last week, essentially ending any chances they had to sneak into the playoff even with a win in this game. Georgia, on the other hand has had very little trouble all season, going 12-0 with commanding wins over Tennessee & Oregon. The Bulldogs have talent, depth, and the swagger of the reigning National Champs.
Brian Kelly and LSU rebounded from a terrible way to start his career in Baton Rouge, but they are going to be outmatched in this one. Vegas set the spread at 17.5, which indicates everyone predicting a blowout in this game. The Georgia offense will flex its muscles on the ground, setting up opportunities to get their game-changing Tight Ends in space through the air. Georgia will roll in this one, winning the game 42-20.
Game Pick: Georgia -17.5
Big Ten Championship: Michigan (12-0) vs Purdue (8-4)
After last week’s rivalry win against Ohio State, this could be a letdown spot for the Wolverines against an inferior opponent like Purdue. I do not see them coming out flat in a championship game, as Jim Harbaugh will have his guys juiced for this one. They will establish the run from the start of the game and will look to hit big plays when the chances present themselves. Purdue’s star QB’s status as he is back home mourning the death of a family member, but QB Coach Brian Brohm feels confident he will be ready to play in this one.
For Purdue, this is the first time playing in the Big Ten Championship, while Michigan is looking to repeat as champions since the 2003-2004 season. This one will be all Michigan, as they are riding high after last week’s win and will dominate both sides of the ball, especially if they can come out hot.
Game Pick: Michigan – 16.5
Big 12 Championship: TCU (12-0) vs Kansas State (9-3)
This game is shaping up to be the best of the weekend as both teams are having historic seasons that would look much better capped off with a Big 12 championship. These teams met earlier in the season in a game where TCU was down 28-10 before scoring 28 unanswered points en route to a victory. Kansas State has not forgotten about that, as they will look to avenge that loss and end TCU's perfect season. On the other sidde, Max Duggan has surprised everyone this season with his play, as he has brought the Horned Frogs a win away from their first CFB berth.
Unlike the first two games, I cannot see either team pulling away in this matchup. TCU is chasing perfection and a CFP trip, while Kansas State still has a sour taste in its mouth from the first matchup, where they let a 28-10 lead slip away. I think Sonny Dykes has TCU locked in for this matchup, and the offense will be humming while the defense will do a good job slowing down Deuce Vaughn, the star Running Back for Kansas State.
Game Pick: TCU -2.5
Pac-12 Championship: Utah (9-3) vs USC (11-1)
Utah is the sole reason USC has only one loss on the season, and that was in a game Utah did not lead until the final minute. Both teams know how to score, as the first matchup combined for 85 total points. USC has the Heisman favorite, Caleb Williams, playing his best football right now, and this will likely be a game where he will be relied upon heavily. Both offenses will look to go shot for shot, while the defenses will pounce on any mistakes possible.
This matchup will most likely produce the high-scoring game of the weekend, as both teams are dangerous on the offensive side of the ball. Lincoln Riley’s team knows that a loss could end their hopes of sneaking into the final playoff spot, but a convincing win could move them up to #3, avoiding a matchup with assumed #1 Georgia until the Championship game. The Trojans will play hard with all of this in mind and should be able to hold off the Utes to avenge the midseason loss.
Game Pick: USC – 2.5