Buffalo 24 Northern Illinois 20
We got Friday Night MACtion in Detroit as Buffalo faces Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship at Ford Field. It has been a magical year for the Bulls as they posted a record of 10-2, one of the best seasons in school history. Seeking their first MAC title in a decade, Buffalo has to go through Northern Illinois, their nemesis who has beaten them ten straight times. Buffalo has also struggled on neutral fields, but the Huskies don’t have the firepower that Buffalo has and don’t have the size and skill. Look for Buffalo to control the game on the ground and win a close one.
Washington 34 Utah 20
Of all the power five conferences, the Pac-12 is the only one that is not a factor in the National Championship as nearly every team was a letdown, resulting in no teams in the Top Ten, as the season came to an end. Washington was expected to be the brightest light but they often failed in the big moment as quarterback Jake Browning underwhelmed in his senior year. The Huskies got a big game by Myles Gaskin in the snow to beat Washington State for the Apple Cup and the North Division. They also beat the Utes early in the season at Huskie Stadium. Utah has played well with Jason Shelley under center, but in Levi’s Stadium with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line, this is a tall order looking for the veterans of Washington to win this one.
Oklahoma 51 Texas 40
In the traditional Red River Showdown, Texas announced to the world they were back, by beating Oklahoma 48-45 in the Cotton Bowl, as Cameron Dicker the kicker nailed the game-winning field goal. The Longhorns had a fine season under second-year coach Tom Herman, and are close to being a national contender again. However, they are not quite there yet, as the Sooners led by Heisman hopeful Kyler Murray will fight it out for Ohio State this weekend for the coveted fourth spot in the playoff. The Sooners lack a lot on defense, but Murray is playing at a high enough level to win as they avenge their only loss of the season and make their case for the Playoffs.
Appalachian State 38 Louisiana 17
Hooray, the Sun Belt Conference has joined the party and now has a championship game. This means now every conference in Division 1-Football Bowl Subdivision has a title game. Even the conference that should not be in FBS. Even the conference that serves the cupcakes up to the Power Five, when they want a practice game. Appalachian State is new to the Sunbelt and new to FBS. Early this year the Mountaineers beat Louisiana in Cajun country now on their turf they will do it again, the first ever Sunblah Conference Championship. Let the snoring begin.
UAB 31 Middle Tennessee 27
Are you ready for a miracle? University Alabama-Birmingham is the program that would not die. In 2014, the University announced they would shut down the football program due to a lack of funding, which resulted in a large public outcry and an outpouring of new support. As a result, they returned three years later and made a bowl game. Now they are seeking to win their first Conference Championship. Never bet against people or programs that die one day and are resurrected two days later. Look for the Blazers to walk over Middle Tennessee and turn Gatorade into champagne.
Memphis 31 UCF 20
Last season Central Florida was the only team to finish unbeaten. Despite this, they were not a factor in the College Football Playoff picture, due to the American Conference not being a part of the power five. The Golden Knights are unbeaten again at 11-0. However, the player that has been most responsible for their winning streak is gone after a devastating knee injury. Not only was McKenzie Milton’s knee torn he needed vascular surgery just to save his leg and has possible nerve damage. UCF has the game at home, but Memphis was the team that came closest to beating them with a healthy Milton. Look for the Tigers to end the streak and win the conference title game on the road.
Alabama 37 Georgia 17
Forget the Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl, the 2018 College Football Playoffs begins where it ended last year at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, with Alabama facing Georgia. In that game, the Crimson Tide rallied to stun Georgia, as Tua Tagovailoa became a star. Tagovailoa had gone on to have a great season and could win the Heisman Trophy with Alabama going 12-0 while winning every game by at least 20 points. The Tide will continue to roll, but the Bulldogs will give them their toughest fight of the season. Unless Jake Fromm can outgun the Alabama quarterback they won’t win, and the Tide defense is too good for that to happen.
Boise State 31 Fresno State 20
Here we are on the blue turf of Boise once again for the Mountain West Conference Championship. The Broncos have typically dominated in these games, beating Fresno State in 2014 and 2017. Boise State comes into the game playing their best football, as Brett Rypien had finished strong after a slow start. This includes a 24-17 win over Fresno State on November 9th. At the time, the Bulldogs were ranked 16th as Boise State claimed the Milk Can again. Last week Boise was equally impressive in beating Utah State to earn the right to play in this game.
Clemson 48 Pittsburgh 6
In 2016, Clemson on the way to a National Championship lost to Pittsburgh at home. This year’s Tigers team maybe even better than the one that won two years ago with a killer defense that has been dominant at times. Pitt is only in the ACC Championship because the Coastal Division imploded. With five losses, the Panthers are hardly the second best team in the conference but the structure of the playoffs have them in thanks to winning the division. This one will be over fast as Clemson takes the Panthers to the woodshed in the home of the NFL’s Panthers.
Ohio State 31 Northwestern 10
Last week Ohio State not only beat Michigan they sent a message that they belong in the College Football Playoff. While they are ranked behind Oklahoma at #6, the Buckeyes should be able to make the leap if they have just as strong showing in the Big Ten Championship. Northwestern has had a solid season, at 8-1 in conference play, but the Western Division in the Big Ten has been bad all year. All the power teams are in the Big Ten Eastern Division and the Buckeyes ran through that gauntlet in impressive fashion, ending with a 62-39 beatdown of the Wolverines.