We have finally made it to Conference Championship Week. The week that will determine what teams make the College Football Playoff, and what teams will go to the bowl games that most folks don’t watch. There are familiar faces playing in conference championships (Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State) and newcomers that can spoil playoff opportunities for those teams (Arizona, Georgia Tech, Missouri). With Mississippi State losing the Egg Bowl to Ole Miss, it clears the picture for what teams have a shot to make the top four. I’ll go through all the games that will shape the College Football Playoff.

SEC Championship Game
Missouri vs. Alabama

After sweating through a shootout victory (in the Iron Bowl) against Auburn, Alabama plays the SEC East Champion Missouri Tigers who won the division by default. Alabama should win this game handily but we all know crazier things happen in these championship games. Even with a loss, it would still not shock me if the committee decided to select Alabama. Their resume is strong with their only loss coming to Ole Miss on the road. It will come down to if the committee values a conference champion with an easier schedule (i.e. TCU, Ohio State), or a 2 loss team from the SEC that lost in the championship game. I’m kind of hoping Alabama loses just to see what the committee will do.
Prediction: Alabama 28 Missouri 17

PAC 12 Championship Game
Arizona vs. Oregon

Some could say that Arizona backed into this championship game. In order for Arizona to make this PAC12 championship game, they needed UCLA to lose to underachieving Stanford team. Well, UCLA lost and by virtue of beating Arizona State, they punched their ticket to Santa Clara. Unfortunately, they play one of the most explosive teams in the country. The good news for Arizona, they have already beaten Oregon this year. The bad news for Arizona, they have to try to beat Oregon twice in one year. Oregon will be coming into the championship game with Marcus Marriotta firing on all cylinders. He at this point is unstoppable and Arizona’s defense will have to replicate their success from their prior meeting. If Oregon wins, they are a lock for a spot in the playoff. If Oregon loses, they are guaranteed to be left out as their resume is not as strong as an Alabama.
Prediction: Oregon 41 Arizona 31

B1G Ten Championship Game
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State

Ohio State just has really bad luck. They lost Braxton Miller in the beginning of the year for the entire season and they thought all hope was lost. They brought in JT Barrett who struggled in their only loss (to an underwhelming Virginia Tech team) but since has played like a Heisman trophy candidate. Then in matter of moments, on a play that didn’t originally look as bad, JT Barrett breaks his ankle and is done for the year. They are now on quarterback number 3 and will need to beat a Wisconsin team that will run you out of a stadium. If Ohio State wins, they should make the playoff but how much does the committee deduct points for Ohio State losing their quarterback? It will be an interesting debate next Sunday if Ohio State wins and say Alabama loses. Do you put in an Alabama team with 2 losses but no conference championship? Even though Alabama has played a tougher schedule? I think it will be a moot point as Wisconsin will shove Melvin Gordon down the Ohio State defense and physically out match a defense that is an elite pass defense, but not as strong against the run.
Prediction: Wisconsin 28 Ohio State 20

ACC Championship Game
Georgia Tech vs. Florida State

Has there ever an 11-0 team that has been as unimpressive as Florida State? This team should have loss 4 games this year but, a credit to them, they have found ways to pull out victories. Even against Florida, they did everything they could to lose the game, and they still found a way to win. If they beat Georgia Tech, they will get into the playoff and most likely will be the last seed and have to play Alabama. Georgia Tech does have a shot to win this game (to be fair every team that has played FSU this year has) but, will need to eliminate turnovers. Georgia Tech is one of the few teams that still runs an option offense. The key for Georgia Tech is to control the time of possession which will enable their defense to not be exposed. As much as I want to see Florida State lose, their defense is too talented.
Prediction: Florida State 27 Georgia Tech 13

BIG 12 Regular Season Finale (i.e. they stink and don’t have a championship game)
TCU vs. Iowa State
Baylor vs. Kansas State

These are going to be the games that through a monkey wrench in to the playoff picture. Baylor and TCU played a game earlier this year where Baylor won. As of right now, the committee has TCU ranked ahead of Baylor due to TCU having a stronger strength of schedule. If they both win next weekend, Baylor (due to beating TCU) will win the BIG12. We have heard week after week, that the committee will be favoring conference champions. Will they leap-frog Baylor over TCU for the last playoff spot if it came down to it? They haven’t done this yet but, this weekend could be the cause.
Prediction: TCU 41 Iowa State 24, Baylor 40 KSU 31

This last weekend will be exciting for some teams and agonizing for teams that have to sweat it out. I have a feeling that with the controversy that will be created with this playoff selection process, that the playoffs will be expanded to eight teams by 2016.
Final College Football Playoff Rankings
1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Florida State
4. Baylor

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