Last week ATS: 12-3 (6-2 National, 6-1 B1G)
Season ATS: 87-90-2 (38-39 National, 49-51-2 B1G)
Last weekend pretty much couldn’t have gone any better. Not only did Ohio State beat up on Michigan, but MC&J closed a lot of distance on .500. With some strong picks in this weekend’s conference championship games, we could head into bowl season with a winning record.
Championship Week games (All games Saturday unless otherwise noted):
MAC Championship Game: Northern Illinois v. Buffalo (-3.5) - Friday 11/30 7:00 PM EST - ESPN2
Tyree Jackson is the best quarterback in Buffalo right now; college or pro. The junior quarterback has 31 total touchdowns this year, and the Bulls have put together their best season in school history. Buffalo will be making their second appearance in the MAC Championship Game a decade after upsetting an undefeated Ball State team in 2008.
Even though Northern Illinois lost their final two games of the regular season, the Huskies did just enough to emerge from the MAC West and earn their eighth appearance in the MAC Championship Game. The Huskies are pretty limited on offense, scoring 21 points or less in half of their games this season.
Unless their defense shows up, it’s hard to see the Huskies being able to keep pace with Buffalo in Detroit. If Northern Illinois falls in a hole, the Huskies don’t have a passing attack that will allow them to make up any ground. Buffalo secures their second MAC Championship with a double-digit win.
Buffalo 37, Northern Illinois 23
PAC-12 Championship Game: No. 17 Utah v. No. 11 Washington (-5.5) - Friday 11/30 8:00 PM EST - FOX
Despite having won their last three games, Utah comes into this game in a really tough spot. The Utes lost starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss for the season earlier in the month. Not only does Utah have to overcome injuries in this game, but they also have to clear a mental hurdle after falling to Washington 21-7 earlier in the season.
Washington is playing some of their best football of the season at the right time. Last week the Huskies went into snowy Pullman and continued their domination of rival Washington State. A big reason for the improved play has been the return of running back Myles Gaskin from injury. After missing two games at the end of last month, Gaskin has rushed for at least 135 yards in each of the last three games.
Utah will give a solid effort, but it won’t be enough to extract some revenge on Washington. Chris Petersen will have his team ready to continue the roll they are on, while linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven will make life miserable for the Utah offense.
Washington 27, Utah 17
Big 12 Championship Game; No. 14 Texas v. No. 5 Oklahoma (-8) - 12:00 PM EST - ABC
What a time to be alive. We get a second helping of the Red River
Rivalry Classic Shootout Showdown this year, and if it is anything like October’s battle, we are in for a treat. The Longhorns jumped out to a 45-24 lead on the Sooners, but Oklahoma was able to battle back to tie the game before Texas kicked a game-winning field goal with nine seconds left.
After losing to Oklahoma State and West Virginia, Texas has won their last three games. The Longhorns didn’t inspire much confidence with their last performance though, hanging on to beat Kansas. Texas certainly has the advantage on defense, but the question is will they be able to score enough points to upset the Sooners for the second time this year.
As tough as it is to lay this many points with Oklahoma’s terrible defense, I think we see a more inspired performance from the Sooners on Saturday. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray needs just two more touchdowns to reach 50 this season, and he’ll get those and a couple more for good measure. The Sooners state their case for a spot in the College Football Playoff with a double-digit win over their rival.
Oklahoma 44, Texas 31
AAC Championship Game: Memphis v. No. 8 UCF (-3) - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
If there was ever a time for Memphis to beat UCF, this would have to be it. These two teams have already met three times in the past two years, with the Golden Knights winning all three of those contests. The Tigers have been getting closer though, falling by just a touchdown in double overtime in last year’s conference title game, and suffering a heartbreaking one-point loss at home earlier this year.
UCF is riding a 24-game winning streak, but they have to be deflated after losing quarterback McKenzie Milton to a devastating injury last week. While it’s possible that the Golden Knights could rise up behind Darriel Mack Jr., it’s going to be a tough task to be able to produce enough offense to keep up with Memphis quarterback Brady White and running back Darrell Henderson, who has rushed for nearly 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns this year. The Tigers finally break through and hand the Golden Knights their first loss since 2016.
Memphis 41, UCF 34
SEC Championship Game: No. 1 Alabama (-14) v. No. 4 Georgia - 4:30 PM EST - CBS
Finally things are about to get real for Alabama. The Crimson Tide have coasted along all season, but now they’ll be playing a team that they know can at least hang with them. Last year the Bulldogs took Alabama to the limit in the College Football Playoff Championship Game, and this year Georgia knows that — unless chaos unfolds — they will likely need a win to make the playoff for a second straight season.
Much like how their loss to Auburn last year woke Georgia up, the same can be said for this year’s loss to LSU. Since then, the Bulldogs have really gotten D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield going on the ground, with both nearing 1,000 yards on the season. The key for Georgia will be the offensive line giving Jake Fromm some time to try and find some holes in a stout Alabama defense.
This might not be the classic of 2012 with Alabama squeaking out a 32-28 win over the Bulldogs, but Georgia will give the Crimson Tide some problems in this game. The Bulldogs will fall short of the upset, but they should at least be able to hold Tua Tagovailoa in check enough to keep this game within two touchdowns.
Alabama 31, Georgia 21
Mountain West Championship Game: No. 25 Fresno State v. No. 22 Boise State (-3) - 7:45 PM EST - ESPN
Earlier this month I picked against Boise State on the blue turf when Fresno State came to Boise. The pick was looking good for over half the game, but then the Broncos put together a miraculous comeback. I’m not going to get fooled twice. Boise State registers their third straight win over the Bulldogs, and second straight in the Mountain West Championship Game.
Boise State 27, Fresno State 20
ACC Championship Game: No. 2 Clemson (-28) v. Pitt - 8:00 PM EST - ABC
At first I was wondering what would be Clemson’s motivation in the ACC Championship Game to win big. With a win, the Tigers are at least locked into the second seed, and if Alabama wins, there’s likely no margin of victory that will see Clemson leap the Crimson Tide.
But I think Clemson is going to want to send a message in this game. The Tigers lost to the Panthers at home back in 2016, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Clemson keep their foot on the gas a little longer in this game. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the Panthers are reeling after losing to Miami last week by three touchdowns. Expect the Tigers to put on a dominating display in Charlotte.
Clemson 51, Pitt 17
Big Ten Championship Game: No. 21 Northwestern v. No. 6 Ohio State (-14.5) - 8:00 PM EST - FOX
Ohio State knows they need a performance similar to 2014, when they decimated Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game to impress the College Football Playoff Committee. Had it not been for an embarrassing loss to Purdue, the Buckeyes might not need to take Northwestern to the woodshed to sway the committee.
Northwestern has won nine games this year, but the majority of those wins have been pretty ugly. Just one of those wins have been by more than 10 points. The Wildcats do have veteran quarterback Clayton Thorson to try and help them spring the upset against the Buckeyes, but his back will certainly be against the wall trying to solve an Ohio State defense that played great last week.
If Ohio State plays to the level this week that they did last week against Michigan, Northwestern stands no chance. The Wildcats are ravaged by injuries in the secondary, which should allow Buckeye quarterback Dwayne Haskins to add to his monster totals this season. If Haskins is able to find success through the air, it will open up the ground game for Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins.
Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald prides himself on defense, but asking his team to slow down Ohio State is just too much to ask. The Wildcats haven’t played a team of Ohio State’s caliber this year and it will show on Saturday night. The Buckeyes eliminate any thoughts of an upset early on, and will continue to pile on the points throughout the game.
Ohio State 48, Northwestern 20