A short review of the previous week usually goes here. The spot was good. Ohio State won. That is all.
Last week ATS: 6-7 (4-2 National, 2-5 B1G)
Season ATS: 80-84-4 (34-36-1 National, 46-48-3 B1G)
No. 17 Western Michigan (-19) v. Ohio - Friday 7:00 PM EST - ESPN2
Western Michigan will try and continue their dream season on Friday night when they take on Ohio in the MAC Championship Game in Detroit. The Broncos haven’t played in the MAC title game since 2000, when they played Marshall, who isn’t even in the conference anymore. After going 1-11 three years ago, Western Michigan is knocking on the door of an undefeated season. The turnaround by the Broncos has been so impressive that P.J. Fleck has been a hot candidate for a number of Power Five coaching jobs.
Ohio has won four their last five games, with their defense being a major reason why Frank Solich’s team has turned their season around. The Bobcats have not only recorded 41 sacks this year, but the 105 rushing yards they are giving up to opponents this year is fifth-best in the country. Ohio will need even more out of their defense if they want to slow the Western Michigan offense which is powered by quarterback Zach Terrell, who has thrown for 30 touchdowns and just one interception, and his favorite target Corey Davis, who last week set the FBS record for career receiving yards.
This very well could turn into a Western Michigan, but all the pressure is on the Broncos in this one. Not only is Western Michigan trying to secure a Cotton Bowl bid, but they also have to deal with the possibility that Fleck could be leaving soon to take a bigger job. I’m not saying Ohio is going to ruin Western Michigan’s undefeated season, but they’ll at least keep it closer than many expect.
Western Michigan 35, Ohio 20
No. 8 Colorado v. No. 4 Washington (-7.5) - Friday 9:00 PM EST - FOX
We got a couple first timers here! Both Colorado and Washington will be participating in the Pac-12 Championship Game for the first time. The stakes are a little higher for Washington in this one, as the Huskies need a win to stay in the conversation for the College Football Playoff.
Aside from a loss to USC, Washington has had little trouble throughout the year, and that held true in the Apple Cup last week. Quarterback Jake Browning now has 40 touchdown passes on the year with 16 of those going to John Ross and 14 going to Dante Pettis.
Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau doesn’t quite have the stats that Browning does, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t any less important to his team. Colorado was leading Michigan in Ann Arbor earlier in the year when Liufau suffered an ankle injury, and the quarterback barely played in Colorado’s other loss this year to USC. Just as impressive for the Buffaloes has been their defense, but they’ll face quite a test from the Washington offense.
Many expected Washington to be in this position heading into the season, but the same can’t be said for Colorado. At this point the Buffaloes are playing with house money, and if Washington makes the College Football Playoff then Colorado should be heading to the Rose Bowl. Washington’s offense will be just a little too much for Colorado to handle.
Washington 37, Colorado 24
Temple v. No. 19 Navy (-3.5) - Saturday 12:00 PM EST - ABC
This will be the first time in 136 years of football in which Navy will be playing for a conference championship. Alright it might not be quite impressive considering Navy was an Independent for 134 years. The Midshipmen will be trying to state their case that they should be the Group of Five representative in the Cotton Bowl and not Western Michigan (presuming the Broncos win on Friday night).
Quarterback Will Worth will have his work cut out for him against a Temple defense that is allowing just 273.4 total yards per game. Worth has rushed for 25 touchdowns this year, and has scored in 11 straight games, which is the longest active streak among FBS players. Not bad for a guy who was thrust into action when Tago Smith was injured in the season opener.
Navy has put up a ridiculous amount of points since losing to Air Force earlier in the year. The Midshipmen have scored at least 42 points in six of their last seven games, including 66 against East Carolina and 75 against SMU in their last two games. Even with that, I think Temple has the tools to slow down Navy with their stingy defense and actually upset the Midshipmen here.
Temple 24, Navy 21
No. 10 Oklahoma State v. No. 9 Oklahoma (-11) - Saturday 12:30 PM EST - FOX
Bedlam should have plenty of offensive fireworks on Saturday as the Cowboys and Sooners battle for the Big 12 title in Norman. Wide receiver Dede Westbrook will look to add to a stellar year so far that will likely get him invited to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony next week. Westbrook has caught 70 passes for 1,354 yards and 15 touchdowns so far this year.
I’m not going to dive too much farther into this game since I think this might just be a few too many points to be laying with Oklahoma. Sure the Sooners have tightened up some on defense of late, but Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys should be able to get enough points to keep this within double digits. This should be a fun back-and-forth affair, but Bob Stoops gets his 10th Big 12 title.
Oklahoma 45, Oklahoma State 38
No. 1 Alabama (-24) v. No. 15 Florida - Saturday 4:00 PM EST - CBS
This will be the perfect game to take a nap during to make sure you are fresh for the late games. Alabama has been squeezing the life out of their opponents all year long. How good has Alabama’s defense been? The Crimson Tide hasn’t allowed a touchdown since they played Texas A&M in late October.
Florida has been struck by injuries all year long, but somehow they still made it to Atlanta. The SEC Championship Game will be no different, as the Gators could be without seven starters on defense. Austin Appleby will start for Florida, but there is a chance Luke Del Rio could also see some time.
With all the injuries for Florida I’m tempted to take Alabama here, but I just can’t quite do it. Aside from a third straight SEC title, there isn’t much at stake for Alabama here. Even if the Crimson Tide lose, they’ll still be in the College Football Playoff. Alabama will assert their normal dominance here, but I’m not convinced it’ll be by 24 points in the end.
Alabama 31, Florida 10
No. 3 Clemson (-10.5) v. No. 23 Virginia Tech - Saturday 8:00 PM EST - ABC
If there was going to be an upset of the three teams that current make up the four College Football Playoff teams, this is where I could see it happening. Virginia Tech has had a tremendous first season under head coach Justin Fuente. So good in fact that Fuente was named ACC Coach of the Year earlier this week. Quarterback Jerod Evans has set Virginia Tech single-season records with 26 touchdown passes and 3,752 yards of total offense.
Deshaun Watson hasn’t been quite as good as last year, but the standard coming into this year was pretty high. Watson has thrown for 34 touchdowns, but what has hurt him has been 14 interceptions. The Tigers looked sharp last week as they had little trouble taking care of rival South Carolina.
Both teams are hard to get a read on since at times they have destroyed opponents, while at other times they have played down to their competition. I think both teams come out sharp, with Clemson securing the win late. Virginia Tech plays Clemson tough and shows the future is bright in Blacksburg under Fuente.
Clemson 34, Virginia Tech 27
No. 6 Wisconsin (-2.5) v. No. 7 Penn State - Saturday 8:00 PM EST - FOX
Wisconsin will be hoping this trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game goes nothing like their last trip. What happened the last time you ask? Well that time a third-string quarterback led Ohio State to a 59-0 win over the Badgers. Something like that certainly won’t happen this time, as this should be a competitive game throughout.
Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook suffered a concussion last week in the win over Minnesota, but has been cleared to play on Saturday. The Badgers have both Hornibrook and Bart Houston take snaps to try and keep the Nittany Lions off guard. Wisconsin will need Corey Clement to continue a strong season in which he has rushed for 1,140 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Penn State isn’t fully healthy on offense either, with Saquon Barkley nursing a foot injury he suffered last week against Michigan State. Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley will have to try and find a way to solve a Wisconsin defense that not only leads the country with 21 interceptions, but is allowing opponents less than 300 yards of total offense per game.
Something has to give in this contest, with Wisconsin having won six straight games, while Penn State has won eight straight games since losing to Michigan earlier this year. This game will look exactly what you’d expect a Big Ten game to look like. It won’t be pretty but Wisconsin takes home a close victory, and since they likely won’t make the College Football Playoff, the Badgers secure a spot in the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin 24, Penn State 20