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Column: Reasons to root for random teams on Championship Weekend

Without the Buckeyes playing today, I’ve got to make up reasons to be invested in these conference title games.

Syndication: The Enquirer Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

So, friends, it feels strange for us to be here at conference championship weekend and not have an Ohio State Big Ten Title Game to look forward to. After their painful defeat to TTUN last weekend, we here in Buckeye Nation are left to watch college football without our natural rooting interests.

While our own Josh Dooley is rooting for chaos and the very, very, very, very unlikely option that the Buckeyes can still sneak into the playoff, I am far more realistic and resigned to the fact that OSU will be (rightfully) on the outside looking in. So, instead of holding onto that slim chance, I am now in the need for something to wet my whistle with this weekend.

So, I am going to run through the championship games to be played on Saturday and decide — for either personal or financial reasons — who’s bandwagon I am going to jump on for the day! Join me, won’t you?


MAC Championship | 12 noon ET | ESPN
Kent State (-4) v. Northern Illinois

This one is an easy one, Kent State is in Ohio; Northern Illinois is in Illinois. I’m rooting for Ohio. Also, there are multiple LGHL staffers (hi Jordan and Justin) who are Kent State alums, so I’m riding with the Flashes.


Big 12 Championship | 12 noon ET | ABC
No. 9 Baylor v. No. 5 Oklahoma State (-7)

Earlier in the week, Oklahoma State was just a 5.5-point favorite, but that has ballooned as we’ve gotten closer to the game. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, as we sit here just minutes before kick, they are favored by a full touchdown and an extra point.

So, while I am naturally attracted to rooting for teams with the initials O., S., and U., Mike Gundy bugs me, and the Pokes losing is one of the dominos in Josh’s chaos theory, so might as well start the day off with something interesting.

Give me the Bears!


Mountain West Championship | 3 p.m. ET | FOX
Utah State v. No. 19 San Diego State (-6)

Now here is the first one that I have no immediate reaction to, so let’s look at the line for this one. DraftKings has the over/under at 49.5, so they are asking whether or not these teams will combine to score 50 points or not.

Utah State has scored at least 25 points in nine of their 12 games this season and are averaging 32.2 points per, but San Diego State has only broken the quarter century mark three times all year, and have the ninth rated scoring defense in the country — giving up just 17.3 an outing.

If you combine those two averages, you come out to (you guessed it) 49.5 points, clever little oddsmakers. So, I am going to go with the under in this one. Let’s go defenses.


Fun Sun Belt Championship | 3:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Appalachian State (-2.5) v. No. 24 Louisiana

This one’s easy, Louisiana’s head coach Billy Napier will be leaving after the season to become the new head man in Gainesville with the Gators and App State gave us the greatest gif in the history of giffing.

Go Mountaineers!


SEC Championship | 4 p.m. ET | CBS
No. 1 Georgia (-6.5) v. No. 3 Alabama

My natural inclination is to say, “Who cares?” and just not watch what will likely be a bit of a rock-throwing battle. But, I am who I am, and I will probably end up watching this one anyway. So, I am going to root for the team that is coached by a former Ohio State assistant, which means I’m pulling for the Crimson Tide.

I know that might sound sacrilegious, but I lived in north Georgia when OSU lost to SEC teams in back-to-back BCS Championship Games, and those UGA fans acted as if their team had actually won those titles; I guess it just means more to them.

So, for that, I will never root for the Dawgs. Therefore, I guess I’m rooting for ‘Bama... no, you know what? I’m not rooting for ‘Bama to win, I’m just going to root for UGA to lose. Perhaps a distinction without a difference, but it just feels better in my heart.


American Championship | 4 p.m. ET | ABC
No. 21 Houston v. No. 4 Cincinnati (-10.5)

Let’s not get cute here, folks, I’m going Bearcats! I know that Ohio State fans can be fickle (pun totally intended) and they can be all over the place in how they feel about other in-state teams, but Luke Fickell is an OSU icon both on and off the field. So, if you aren’t rooting for him, then I don’t know what you’re doing.

Also, I picked UC to make the playoffs at the beginning of the season, so this is as much about my ego as anything else! The rest of my predictions were garbage, so might as well get one thing right.


ACC Championship | 8 p.m. ET | ABC
No. 15 Pitt (-3.5) v. No. 16 Wake Forest

Woof, this is the non-B1G primetime game? Honestly, I might just watch a movie tonight instead of football, because I have absolutely zero interest in this game, rooting or otherwise.

I guess I’ll go Pitt, just because it will be funny for the ACC to have a champion in the Rust Belt.


Big Ten Championship | 8 p.m. ET | FOX
No. 2 Michigan (-12) v. No. 13 Iowa

Who cares? I’m not watching.